Jewish Cuisine

Conference for Historians Researching Jewish Heritage in NE Lithuania

Conference for Historians Researching Jewish Heritage in NE Lithuania

The Rokiškis Regional Museum hosted a conference called “The Jewish Community’s Contribution to the Cultural, Political and Economic Development of the North-Eastern Region of Lithuania during the Period of the First Republic of Lithuania” to mark the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History on Friday, September 4, 2020.

Kupiškis Ethnographic Museum specialist and historian Aušra Jonušytė in her presentation “The Jewish Community of Kupiškis” spoke about the former Jewish community in Kupiškis and their contribution to economic, social and political life in the Lithuanian town. She presented examples of friendship and fellowship between Jewish and Lithuanian families is safeguarding the town from fires.

Two books were presented at the conference: “Kupiškio žydų bendruomenė. Praeities ir dabarties sąsajos” [The Kupiškis Jewish Community: Connections between Past and Present] (2016) and “Kupiškio krašto žydų bendruomenės pastatai ir paminklai” [Buildings and Monuments of the Jewish Community of the Kupiškis Region] (2017). The audience appeared very interested in these books. Former Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon wrote the forewords to both books. Museum specialist and historian Aušra Jonušytė compiled these publications. She also talked about a new publication planned provisionally called “Žydų virtuvės valgiai, gaminti Kupiškyje” [Jewish Cuisine Made in Kupiškis] which will include input from LJC projects coordinator and Litvak cook Dovilė Rūkaitė, Natalja Cheifec and members of the Kaunas Jewish Community. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman has also offered his help with the new book project, as has philanthropist Philip Shapiro.

Who Is That Gaon?

Who Is That Gaon?

by Sergejus Kanovičius. Photo by Evgenia Levin/Bernardinai.lt

Soon the Year of the Vilna Gaon will end: the news websites will stop carrying out the internet education plans dedicated to Jewish history and the school curricula will remain as they always were: impoverished, and with the suppression of history. Everything will depend on the teacher’s initiative, again. The statues to the Gaon and Tsemakh Shabad will stare out, with acid poured over them. Plaques will hang commemorating the “desk murderer” in Vilnius and the statue to a murderer of Jews will continue to stand in the center of Ukmergė, and schools will continue to be named in their honor. The center tasked with researching genocide will offer jobs to people who think the “Lithuanian Activist Front would have found it easy to agree with Zionists.” Only suppressing the fact the LAF helped those Zionists travel into the bosom of Abraham.

Virtual internet reality will never coincide with true reality, and the proposition of living in two worlds will continue to be proposed. The official one will soon mourn at Paneriai and on Rūdninkai square because that’s what’s required. Actually, the pandemic in the true sense of the word helped save a pile of money which would have been used for those pompous but failed events. I would ask, couldn’t the money saved be used to change the school curricula so that a student who reads a headline or title “The Vilna Gaon…” doesn’t have to search the internet to find out who he was and why he’s important?

The best surrogate education–sampling Jewish foods–takes place via the stomach, and via internet. In both cases the effect of learning is equal to the time spent by the learner chewing a bagel or reading about some shtetl lost to oblivion, sipping coffee while reading the screen. There’s no need to even raise the question of enduring value or the long-term effect…

Fun Celebration of European Day of Jewish Culture for 2020

Fun Celebration of European Day of Jewish Culture for 2020

On Sunday, September 6, 2020, the Lithuanian Jewish Community held a fun celebration of the European Day of Jewish Culture. Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Community members, the Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yosi Levy, Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department director Vidmantas Bezaras and guests had a good time and attended the Hebrew language lesson provided by Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymansium principal Ruth Reches. The public, invited by the LJC, came to celebrate the first Sunday in September by sampling Jewish treats made at the Bagel Shop Café, located on the first floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community building in Vilnius, a center of Litvak bagel culture.

The Bagel Shop Café presented paintings from Mark Kaplan’s collection during the event.

Participants also attended the lecture “Deification and Demonization of Jews: Anti-Semitic Superstitions in Society.”

You Are Invited to the European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

You Are Invited to the European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is continuing the tradition of marking the annual event European Days of Jewish Culture, this time for the fifth year, with a program of events in Vilnius scheduled for Sunday, September 6, 2020.

All parts of the event program are free and open to the public. The number of participants has been limited this year due to health concerns so please register as soon as possible.

For cooking lessons, register by sending an email to kavine@lzb.lt
For the Jerulita tour, register by sending an email to travel@jerulita.lt

To register by internet, click here.

Amehaye 2020

The Amehaye summer camp has been holding camps for children for two weeks in the summer for several years now. The program was just as rich and interesting this year and the children failed to grow bored over two weeks of learning and friendship. Special attention is giver to Jewish traditions at the camp. In summer the main and most fun events take place in nature and everyone seemed to enjoy the games and sports. Educational discussions were also held in nature.

The program included a lesson on Israel and how to make humus. Some of the boys celebrated their mar mitzvahs at camp. The young campers also learned how to prepare other Jewish dishes from matzoh and how to make challa for Sabbath. They also celebrated Sabbath with the traditional rituals, prayer and lighting of candles.

A children’s psychologist visited the camp and delivered an interesting lesson. Campers also entered the chemistry laboratory and took part in incredible experiments. Two excursions also took place: one to the Safari Park in Anykščiai, Lithuania, and the other to Druskininkai, Lithuania, where the young people learned to make the Lithuanian pastry šakotis.

A bubble party was held the last day of camp and the official closing ceremony included releasing balloons into the sky after making a wish, followed by the Sabbath celebration.

Šolom, Akmenė! Project a Big Success

Šolom, Akmenė! Project a Big Success

Four-and-a-half-days and the results was, according to the local Akmenė newspaper Vienybė, “a great success.”

Participants and guests from Šiauliai and Vilnius said the same thing about the “Šolom, Akmenė” activities and events last week. There was the same positive reaction towards the Friday evening conference dedicated the remembering the shtetl, lessons on Sabbath traditions with treats and the concert.

There was a creative workshop for youth held before, with visiting and cleaning-up Jewish cemeteries in Vegeriai, Klykoliai, Viekšniai and Tryškiai, in a grand plan to digitize the grave epitaphs there.

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Invites You to “Sholom, Akmenė” Events July 24

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Invites You to “Sholom, Akmenė” Events July 24

The Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community invites everyone to participate in “Sholom, Akmenė” events at the Akmenė Cultural Center (Sodo street no. 1, Akmenė, Lithuania) on July 24.

12:00 Conference “Memories of the Shtetl in Our Hearts”

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community members Frida Šteinienė and Josifas Buršteinas will share their childhood memories, young participants at a creative workshop will speak about digitization efforts to record and preserve the Jewish cemeteries in the Akmenė region and Daumantas Todesas will share the secrets of making Sabbath treats. Also, Rita Ringienė will read excerpts from Indrė Daščioraitė’s work in 2001 recording the memories of Augustina Rušinaitė (1922-2007).

2:00 Jewish market (outside the Cultural Center)

The conference will be followed by a Jewish market set up by the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community showcasing traditional Litvak treats on offer, with haggling required. The organizers are promising a lot of fun at the market.

6:00 Sabbath concert

The Jewish music concert, already a tradition at the Akmenė Days celebrations, will be performed by students from the music schools in the Akmenė region and from the Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium in Vilnius. The concert will teach traditions of the Sabbath evening in artistic form.

All events are free and open to the public. Organizers are asking participants to adhere to the authorities’ current recommendations for preventing corona virus infection. The events will be filmed and photographed.

Large Jewish Community Lived in Švenčionys Region Before Holocaust

Large Jewish Community Lived in Švenčionys Region Before Holocaust

The Švenčionys region of Lithuania is a multicultural place where Lithuanians live alongside Poles, Russians, Belarussians, Jews and people of other ethnicities.

The Švenčionys Jewish Community was reconstituted in 2013. It is now headed by the energetic Švenčionys native Moshe Shapiro (aka Moisiejus Šapiro).

There was a large Jewish community living in the Švenčionys region in the period between the two world wars. In fact there were five synagogues operating there.

Jews there set up an herbal pharmaceuticals factory and different workshops in the center of the town of Švenčionys. Jewish effort, initiative and expertise were involved in all fields of production and business.

This Country Would Never Have Become the Jerusalem of Lithuania Had It Not Been a Safe and Tolerant Place

This Country Would Never Have Become the Jerusalem of Lithuania Had It Not Been a Safe and Tolerant Place

Just before quarantine was announced the Bagel Shop received an important visitor. The interview done several months ago remains just as important and perhaps even more so now. We spoke about the importance of ethnic food to Jews living in Lithuania and about a people’s right to have ethnic foods. We await the re-opening of the Bagel Shop Café with bated breath and hope to continue this conversation in front of an audience.

Bagel Shop Interview with Meghan Luckett, Cultural Attaché at the US embassy in Vilnius

Interview by Dovile Rūkaitė, LJC project manager.

Do you like bagels? What’s your favorite kind?

Yes, of course we love bagels. My favorite are everything bagels, we buy them at your bagel shop and in the market and eat them almost every week. We make bagel sandwiches with baked egg, spices and all kinds of stuff. One of our colleagues is a great cook, she makes us homemade bagels. Once we brought her some from Trader Joe’s and she made us excellent everything bagels. My wife is a great cook, she bakes sometimes, but we usually buy them because they are very good.

Lithuanian Web Site: Let’s Learn about Lite, the Great Synagogue and the Vilna Gaon

Lithuanian Web Site: Let’s Learn about Lite, the Great Synagogue and the Vilna Gaon

by Karolina Aleknavičė, 15min.lt

This year, 2020, has been declared the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Lithuanian Jewish History, and it’s a good opportunity to learn about the authentic culture which thrived for whole centuries in our neighborhood.

We spoke with Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum Jewish culture and identity exhibit coordinator Saulė Valiūnaitė, Vilnius University historian Dr. Akvilė Naudžiūnienė and Kėdainiai Multicultural Center director Audronė Pečiulytė about Lite, the Litvaks who lived here, Vilnius as the Jerusalem of the North and the Gaon, Eliyahu, who lived there.

Lithuanian Jewish History an Integral Part of Lithuanian History

Valiūnaitė told 15min.lt Lithuanians’ attitude towards Jewish history has changed over the last 15 years. “It’s inspiring that in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities there are ever more initiatives appearing, and most importantly, a desire to commemorate the history and heritage of the Jews who lived there. Some do this by setting up commemorative markers, others by organizing events or writing books about the Jewish history of their cities and towns,” she said.

In the Spotlight: William Stern

Mr. William Stern was born in Budapest in 1935; after the Nazi occupation of Hungary in March 1944, he and his family were taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They survived the War and emigrated to New York in 1952 where Mr Stern pursued studies first at Yeshiva University and subsequently at Harvard Law School.

It was during his stint at Harvard Law School that Mr Stern discovered the many risks and temptations which face a student when he leaves his home environment and suddenly becomes enmeshed in a totally new and different culture. He was shocked at seeing some of his friends shed their tradition and previous way of life in just a matter of months. Having married a young lady resident in London, Mr Stern moved to England in 1960. Early in his career, he established in London in 1971 a kosher canteen which welcomed students of Imperial College, located opposite his offices at Albert Court. This canteen has been going strong for the past 45 years and is presently catering to 30-35 Imperial College students every day of the academic year.

When he expanded his business to Lithuania, Mr Stern discovered the presence in Kaunas of approximately 100 Israeli medical students. He felt that during the 6-year period which medical studies require, many of these students might lose not only their Israeli but also their Jewish identity. In 2010, he established the Jewish Club which grew and developed over the years into the Jewish Centre Kaunas. Its aim is to provide the Jewish students in Kaunas a home away from home and prevent the loss of Jewish identity which otherwise might occur.

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community: Life under Quarantine

It’s no secret the quarantine has altered the rhythms and habits of our lives. It had been customary in the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community to celebrate all sorts of holidays and birthdays and to attend different events, educational activities and tours we organized, and simply to gather and talk at the Community building… Today that building stands quiet and empty…

Jews around the world were celebrating Passover when the quarantine began here in Lithuania. The Jews of Šiauliai were not able as we were in past years to come together and celebrate happily to the sound of Jewish melodies this beautiful spring holiday. This year each of celebrated separately at home. The Lithuanian Jewish Community provided home deliveries of matzo to all the regional Communities, so as the quarantine got under way the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community had to insure every member had the requisite matzo for the Passover seder table. Every member of the Community did receive safe delivery of boxes of matzo before the holiday began.

Despite disruption to the rhythm and conventions of daily life, we continue to provide crucial care to our seniors who were victims of the Nazis. Home-care workers continue to visit them and help them with their daily needs, insuring the safety of our elderly during these days so difficult for all of us.

Kaunas Jewish Community Distributing Sabbath Care Baskets

Kaunas Jewish Community Distributing Sabbath Care Baskets

The Kaunas Jewish Community has redirected efforts under quarantine and is using the telephone and internet to make sure members, especially the elderly, don’t feel cut off from the world.

Many Community members celebrate Sabbath together and miss face-to-face interaction at the Sabbath table. While conditions aren’t allowing that to resume yet, the Kaunas Jewish Community, in the spirit of fellowship and keeping with tradition, is offering a free Sabbath care basket to members so that everyone can celebrate the Sabbath at home. Now members can break challa bread alone but at the same time together. The care baskets contain more than just challa, though, and include other traditional Sabbath dinner dishes.

KJC chairman Gercas Žakas is pleased this initiative has received the approval of the Goodwill Foundation and the interest and support of so many KJC members. One member said: “It really does feel as if you aren’t alone, but are celebrating Sabbath together with the entire community.” Look for the Jewish communities in other cities and towns to do the same thing, Žakas predicted.

Jewish Holiday of Freedom Celebrated without Foods Recalling Slavery

Jewish Holiday of Freedom Celebrated without Foods Recalling Slavery

Judita Gliauberzonaitė, 42, chairwoman of the Vilnius Lithuanian Jerusalem Jewish community, recalls how her grandmother Cilė Žiburkienė every spring before Passover would cleanse the entire house so that, God forbid, not even a grain of flour would remain, which would mean leavened bread remained in the house, a sign recalling the enslavement of the Jews in the land of Egypt.

Jews around the world who count their history in millennia begin celebrating their Passover holiday on the 15th day in the month of Nisan (March or April), lasting for seven days in Israel and eight elsewhere in the world. Secular Jews who keep to tradition usually celebrate the first and last days of Passover, gathering as families for dinner.

Judita Gliauberzonaitė says more religious Jews attend synagogue every day of Passover.

Passover often coincides with Catholic Easter. This year it began on April 8 and continues till April 15.

We Did It, We Got Matzo to Our Seniors

We Did It, We Got Matzo to Our Seniors

Two weeks ago the Community accepted the challenge to distribute and home-deliver more matzo to more than 900 seniors living in Vilnius. Today we can truly say, mission accomplished.

It would have been mission impossible without the help of our volunteers who heeded the Community’s call for help. We had from 3 to 4 teams of Community staff and volunteers on the street daily.

The distribution of matzo took place so very smoothly because we were able to harness so many who offered to help.

A mitzvah should be done quietly and without fanfare, but the Community has a right to know who its heroes are.

Panevėžys Jewish Community Sends Passover Greetings

Panevėžys Jewish Community Sends Passover Greetings

Despite the complicated time in the world, the dates assigned by the Torah to the holidays don’t change and they are part of the history and story of the Jewish people. Passover is one of the main Jewish holy days. Over the days of Passover Jews remember their historic liberation from slavery.

During these difficult days I wish you patience, the love of those around you and endurance. Maintain hygienic requirements and adhere to the safety measures as we fight the corona virus.

Gennady Kofman, chairman
Panevėžys Jewish Community

Thank You for Helping LJC Seniors

Thank You for Helping LJC Seniors

Lithuanian Jewish Community administrative secretary Liuba Šerienė would like to send a big thank-you to Social Department director Michailas Segalas and staff members Ema Jakobienė, Ninel Skudovičiūtė, Rokas Dobrovolskis and Neringa Stankevičienė and colleagues, and to Michailas Tarasovas, Aušra, Snieguolė, Danutė Lena, Žana and Sonia for their great work helping our Social Department clients and senior citizens. Thank you so very much.

We Can’t Give Up Hope Now

We Can’t Give Up Hope Now

Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky. Photo: Blanka Weber

by Blanka Weber

The country’s Jewish community is watching the time of pandemic with alarm

Faina Kukliansky is currently managing her life and that of her members from her home office in Vilnius. “This is a time that demands everything from us,” the 65-year-old chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community says.

This is a time when preparations for Passover would be underway normally. The Bagel Shop next to the Community building on Pylimo street is now only open for a few hours and only accepts cards for payment. Cash is forbidden. There are strict rules here, too. Matzo will be distributed to Community members here and should be delivered in the next few days.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Prepares for Passover Despite Quarantine, Slander

Lithuanian Jewish Community Prepares for Passover Despite Quarantine, Slander

Three teams of volunteers have been busy daily delivering kosher matzo to LJC senior citizens and Social Center clients for several days now, but today the LJC received reports unnamed characters have been calling Community members telling them not to accept the matzo deliveries because the matzo bread is allegedly old. This isn’t true and it seems aimed at creating additional difficulties during an already difficult time for our seniors.

There are consequences for slander.

We would like to warn all Community members that during this health emergency there are scam artists and con men who might call your telephone spreading misinformation and seeking money from you. Please be careful and vigilant.

The LJC is not asking for any money or fees at this time from Social Center clients and seniors. The matzo boxes we are delivering bear the date of manufacture so you can check the freshness for yourself. We have made available an internet ordering scheme on this web page for those wishing to purchase matzo for home delivery with details for making prior payment exclusively by bank card.

Please note we received shipments of matzo in March and that we stored these boxes under strict quarantine. Your health and safety is our primary concern and we find it extremely regretful unnamed people are spreading disinformation about us and our activities.

Passover 5780

Passover 5780

This year we are recommending you spend Passover at home with family. We have prepared kits with everything needed for the traditional kosher seder which can be ordered by internet. Orders must be received before April 5.

The order form in Russian and Lithuanian is available here:
https://www.torah4lithuania.com/seder-to-go