History of the Jews in Lithuania

Condolences

Davidas Ščiupakas has passed away at the age of 84. He was born in 1938. An active member of the Lithuanian Jewish Community who sat on the executive board, he held a doctorate in medical science. He served as a member of the governmental Health and Environmental Sciences Committee and authored numerous books and academic articles on medicine. He also taught many medical students.

He helped launch the book “Lietuvos Jeruzalės medikai” [Medical Experts of the Jerusalem of Lithuania] in 2017 which contained recollections from more than 70 authors about Jewish doctors in Lithuania.

Our deepest condolences to his widow Eva and their sons.

Šiauliai to Open Righteous Gentiles Square

Šiauliai to Open Righteous Gentiles Square

Šiauliai mayor Artūras Visockas invites the public to attend the opening ceremony for the city’s new Square of the Righteous Gentiles at 10:15 A.M. on October 22 at the intersection of Vilniaus and Ežero streets in Šiauliai, followed by a ceremony for planting Japanese cherry trees at Dainai Part at noon, located at Jonas Jablonskis street no. 16. At about 1:30 representatives of the Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum will deliver a talk at the Aušra Museum located in the Venclauskiai manor at Vytauto street no. 89 including a lunch and discussion with actual Righteous Gentiles and their descendants. Please report your intention to attend by calling (8 41) 50 05 31 or by writing an email to agne.areliunaite@siauliai.lt

Hour of Music Marked 80th Anniversary of the Holocaust

Hour of Music Marked 80th Anniversary of the Holocaust

Judita Leitaitė, teacher at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, performed a concert with her singing students Aija Jermoloviča, Jūratė Minelgaitė, Greta Rimšaitė, Gabija Žvinklytė, Natalija Dmuchovska, Skirmantė Vaičiūtė, Giedrius Gečys and Joris Gudelevičius at the Lithuanian Jewish Community October 12.

The hour of music was dedicated to commemorating the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania.

POLIN Museum and the Polish Memory Wars

POLIN Museum and the Polish Memory Wars

At 4:00 P.M. on October 15 the Lost Shtetl project and Vilnius University will continue the series of discussions called “Public Conversations about History.” During these discussions we will raise the issues of historical truth, memory wars and the motivations behind choosing to serve one ideology or another.

This time the topic is “The POLIN Museum and Poland’s Memory Wars.” We will engage historian and former POLIN director Dariusz Stola in conversation.

POLIN, the Polish museum of Jewish history, opened in 2014 and has had millions of visitors since then. The museum successfully addresses the complex past of Poles and Jews. But when POLIN demonstrated an exhibit about the anti-Zionist campaign of 1968 and expressed opposition to Poland’s new law on Holocaust complicity, right-wing nationalists and politicians in the ruling party attacked the museum.

Dariusz Stola will talk about the museum’s achievements and about how everything changed when the culture wars began dividing the country. In the discussion we’ll talk about how national commemoration policy rejects a critical judgment of the past as a “shaming methodology.” We will reflect on how these factors affect us.

Moderators: Sergejus Kanovičius and Paulius Gritėnas

The discussion will take place in English in the Theater Hall of Vilnius University. Certificate of vaccination or equivalent required for entry.

More information available here.

Lithuanian Pledges Made at Malmö Forum

Lithuanian Pledges Made at Malmö Forum

Statement by Lithuania at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism

Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism
October, 12-13, 2021

Pledges by Lithuania for 2021-2025

The Lithuanian government is engaged in a number of initiatives on Holocaust remembrance and education, which are to be implemented within a 5-year perspective. The most significant of them include opening new museum spaces and updating existing school curricula incorporating modern teaching recommendations on the Holocaust. This is an important contribution to raising awareness and educating society not only about the Holocaust but also the ages rich history of Jews in Lithuania. It was extensively presented during the year 2020, which was officially dedicated to the Vilna Gaon and saw a significant increase of interest in Jewish life, history and heritage in Lithuania.

Lithuanian President Says Country Ready to Implement EU Strategy for Fighting Anti-Semitism

Lithuanian President Says Country Ready to Implement EU Strategy for Fighting Anti-Semitism

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Battling Anti-Semitism Thursday called for educating young people and resisting hate-speech and attempts to falsify history.

He said the great tragedy of the Jews of Lithuania touched almost every city and town and left a void. He said while it’s not possible to fill that void, it is necessary to insure the lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten.

“We have to make sure the future generations remember and think about what happened. There is no other way to guarantee the horrific events of the past never happen again. Our pledges today must become specific actions aimed at the young generation and all of society,” he said.

Presenting Lithuania’s pledges for Holocaust remembrance and fighting anti-Semitism, the president stressed the importance of educating society, strong academic research and the preservation of Lithuanian Jewish heritage. The Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum being expanded for this purpose will help better reveal the rich history of the Jews of Lithuania, he said.

Condolences

Chaim Šapiro has passed away. He was born in 1938. He was a member of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, a Soviet deportee and a Social Department client. We send our deepest condolences to his daughter and son.

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky Attending Forum in Sweden to Battle Anti-Semitism

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky Attending Forum in Sweden to Battle Anti-Semitism

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky is taking part in meetings in Malmö, Sweden, for commemorating the Holocaust and battling anti-Semitism. The forum is addressing issues of preservation of historical memory, Holocaust education and the crimes of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes.

“This forum draws attention to the sad truth that there remain very few people throughout the world who survived the Holocaust and are able to testify about it. Today we must find new ways to preserve and transmit memory, new methods of education. Another big challenge is that the history of the Holocaust is being distorted and used for disinformation and propaganda, and a rising tide of anti-Semitism, both in real life and especially on the internet. In order to fight this, we must rally the education system and museums, but also educate our governments and the public, and that’s what this forum is about,” Faina Kukliansky said.

The LJC chairwoman who was officially invited to the forum will meet with European Commission’s coordinator for fighting anti-Semitism Katharina von Schnuberin, World Jewish Congress executive vice-president Maram Stern and other officials responsible for preserving Holocaust memory and fighting anti-Semitism. Kukliansky said the international community is watching how Lithuania acts towards Holocaust victims with a special focus on historical memory and justice.

Following the forum in Malmö, chairwoman Kukliansky plans to return to Lithuania with Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of the international affairs department of the American Jewish Committee, who will discuss anti-Semitism, Holocaust commemoration and the future of the Jewish community with representatives of the Lithuanian government and public figures.

The forum taking place in Malmö on October 13 and 14 is graced by the presence of the King of Sweden and his consort, King Carl XVI Gustaf and HM Queen Silvia, and more than 80 heads of state, journalists and influencers. It is being held at the initiative of the Kingdom of Sweden and the motto for the forum is “Remember, React.” It is being held on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and on the 20th anniversary of the founding of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, with the date moved from 2020 to 2021 because of the public health panic.

LJC Chairwoman Attends International Forum in Malmö

LJC Chairwoman Attends International Forum in Malmö

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky has travelled to Sweden to attend an international forum in Malmö dedicated to Holocaust commemoration and fighting anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is an attack on European values, and any racist actions or those fueled by hate are irreconcilable with human rights and the principles of democracy. Let’s try to overcome division in society by actively presenting Jewish culture and traditions to the broader public. The indirect or hidden anti-Semitism and the distortion and denial of Holocaust history we are still seeing continue to be a painful insult to people of Jewish ethnicity,” Kukliansky said.

During the discussions in Malmö Kukliansky will meet with heads of delegations and special envoys and officials responsible for preserving Holocaust memory and fighting anti-Semitism, including the EU’s Katharina von Schnuberin and others.

In Sweden she will also meet with Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international affairs for the American Jewish Committee.

Launch of Book about Rescuers

Launch of Book about Rescuers

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will host the launch of the Lithuanian book “Dešimties stebuklų liudytojai” [Witnesses to 10 Miracles] by Rimantas Stankevičius at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, at the Community located at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius.

The book’s title comes from a quote by Litvak Holocaust survivor Sameul Bak, who said at least ten miracles had to occur for him to have survived. It tells the story of rescuers at the Benedictine Monastery in Vilnius, Juozapas Stakauskas, Vladas Žemaitis and Marija Mikulska, who hid twelve Jews from September of 1943 to July of 1944.

The book launch will feature a panel of speakers including Ginas Dabašinskas, Libertas Klimka, Indrė Valantinaitė, Benediktas Stakauskas and author Rimantas Stankevičius. The discussion will take place in Lithuanian.

Lithuanian Parliament Awards Prize to Daniel Šer, 12, Youngest Chess Champion Ever

Lithuanian Parliament Awards Prize to Daniel Šer, 12, Youngest Chess Champion Ever

The Lithuanian parliament holds an annual chess tournament in March before March 11, Lithuania’s Restoration of Independence Day, but the date was moved to the fall due to health fears for two years in a row now. The 27th annual Lithuanian Seimas Cup took place on October 8 this year and Daniel Šer, 12, a Makabi Athletics Club member from the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, caused a sensation. He became youngest ever champion in the annual competition. His name will adorn a trophy which will be housed in the parliament’s museum. Well done, Daniel!

Chess Tournament to Commemorate Late President Boris Rositsan

Chess Tournament to Commemorate Late President Boris Rositsan

A chess tournament was held at the Lithuanian Jewish Community on Sunday to commemorate Boris Rositsan, FIDE master and long-time president of the Rositsan and Maccabi chess club. His widow and friends shared their memories and remembered his extraordinary sense of humor, love of food, love for his family, for chess and for life.

Markas Petuchauskas Is 90

Markas Petuchauskas Is 90

by Ginas Dabašinskas, Vilnius Jerusalem of Lithuania Jewish Community

And over those nine decades I never happened to meet theater expert, art historian and professor Markas Petuchauskas, I’ll allow myself to say in a bit of fun.

But I always knew Markas Petuchauskas is, first of all, the constellation of the publication “Literatūra ir menas,” where my student contact with theater studies, more precisely theater criticism, began. He is among the ranks of the other great lights–Irena Veisaitė, Egmontas Jansonas, Irena Aleksaitė and Dovydas Judelevičius, all of whom, unfortunately, have passed on.

Eight months ago, or maybe nine, I received a passage from a book about to go to press from Markas Petuchauskas. The passage was called “Fiddler on the Roof of Vilnius” and was dedicated to the memory of Vilnius-born violinist Jascha Heifetz.

The author only had one condition: not to change anything.

Biržai Jewish Association Marks 80th Anniversary of the Holocaust

Biržai Jewish Association Marks 80th Anniversary of the Holocaust

The Biržai Jewish Culture and History Association in Biržai, Lithuania, commemorated the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania on October 3. The Prabudimo orkestras organization co-sponsored the event, and members of the Panevėžys Jewish Community were invited to attend the commemoration and concert held at the Palace of Culture in Biržai.

Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman attended, spoke and thanked the hosts. He said there was a large Jewish community in Biržai before the war which included doctors, teachers, merchants and artisans who helped create Lithuania’s future.

Švenčionys Commemorates 80th Anniversary of the Holocaust

Švenčionys Commemorates 80th Anniversary of the Holocaust

Locals and visitors gathered October 3 at the Menorah statue marking the territory of the former ghetto in Švenčionys to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust there. Švenčionys Jewish Community chairman Moisėj Šapiro, Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris, Švenčionys regional administration mayor Rimantas Klipčius, Polish ambassador to Lithuania Urszula Doroszewska, Ela Gurina, high school history teacher Danguolė Grincevičienė and others attended and spoke.

Concert to Commemorate Grosse Aktion in Kaunas Ghetto

Concert to Commemorate Grosse Aktion in Kaunas Ghetto

At 7:00 P.M. on Friday, October 8, the Kaunas Jewish Community and the organization Prabudimo orkestras will hold a concert at the Kaunas Cultural Center to mark the 80th anniversary of the so-called grosse aktion in the Kaunas ghetto. The cultural center is located at Vytauto street no. 79 in Kaunas.

This will a repeat performance of the Symphony from the Jerusalem of the North by Jievaras Jasinskis. Entry is free to the public but registration is required.

More information here.

Register here.

LJC Chairwoman Visits Toronto

LJC Chairwoman Visits Toronto

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky attended an event by the Lithuanian embassy to Canada and the Canadian-Lithuanian community held Saturday at the Anapilis Hall set up by Canadian-Lithuanians generations ago in Toronto.

Kukliansky welcomed attendees at the event which was intended to issue Lithuanian state awards and letters of thanks from the ambassador to members of the Toronto Lithuanian community for support rendered to the Lithuanian state. It included a presentation of virtual Canadian Lithuanian Museum and archive exhibits and a musical performance by Litvak opera soloist Rafailas Karpis accompanied by. D. Mažintas. After the event participants visited the St. John’s Church cemetery adjacent to the venue and laid a wreath for those who fought for Lithuanian independence. Attendees also visit the Canadian Lithuanian Museum there.

Faina Kukliansky visited the Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto Sunday, which included “A Letter from the Past: Yiddish Songs” performed by Karpis and Mažintas. Lithuanian ambassador to Canada Skusevičius and Kukliansky presented the 300th anniversary coin commemorating the Vilna Gaon issued by the bank of Lithuania to synagogue leaders and the Lithuania Order of the Life-Saver’s Cross to the family members of Righteous Gentile V. Baltušis