Jewish song and dance ensemble Fajerlech

Hanukkah for Children

Hanukkah for Children

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Salvija kindergarten are holding a Hanukkah celebration for the youngest members of the community at 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, December 19 at the Lithuanian Jewish Community. The Fayerlakh ensemble and children from Salvija will perform and there will be Hanukkah games, doughnuts and gifts. To find out more or to register, call 8 678 81 514.

Photos from the Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot Celebration at the LJC

Photos from the Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot Celebration at the LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invited members and members of the Gesher, Kavaret and Rikudey Am Clubs as well as students from the Raimondas Savickas Art Studio and from the Community’s Hebrew classes to come celebrate two holidays–Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot–at once on October 10. Žana Skudovičienė organized and conducted the festivities, delivering a thank-you speech at the beginning to the heads of the clubs, studio and classes. Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky gave holiday greetings to all participants and spoke about the preceding year, 5779, saying the Community had a lot to be proud of but that there is always room for improvement. The performance by the Fayerlakh group enhanced the evening and made it complete.

Dance and Day Camp for Children

On Sunday, October 20, the Dubi, Ilan and Mishpoca Clubs invite children to an evening of dance with Jelizaveta Volynskaja together with tiny dancers from the Fayerlakh song and dance ensemble. From October 28 to October 31 children aged 7 to 12 are invited to the Amehaye Fall Camp at the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Registration is required. Please call Sofja at 8 601 46656 or write her at to register or for more information. An on-line registration form for the camp is posted here:

From Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot Celebration

Celebrate “From Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot” at 6:00 P.M. on October 10 at the Lithuanian Jewish Community and come meet members of the LJC’s various programs, including the seniors’ Gesher Club, the Kaveret young families’ club, Israeli dance club Rikudei Am, the Students’ Club and students in the Hebrew courses.

Program: song, dance, traditional Jewish fall treats, an exhibit and sale of Jewish-themed work by Olga Kapustina and musicians and dancers of the Fayerlakh collective.

Registration required. Call 8 678 81514 or write

Fayerlakh Performs at Peoples Fair

Fayerlakh Performs at Peoples Fair

The Peoples Fair took place for the eleventh time in central Vilnius. The goal of this colorful event is to present the crafts, cuisine, traditions, culture and life of Lithuania’s ethnic minority communities.

The fair usually includes music, cooking and crafts workshops. This year the Jewish song and dance ensemble Fayerlakh performed as well.

LJC Celebrates 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in Vilnius Old Town

LJC Celebrates 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in Vilnius Old Town

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated the 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in the traditional Jewish Quarter of Vilnius September 1 with song, dance and food. The weather was beautiful. Restaurants in the Vilnius Old Town feature Jewish foods with traditional breakfast served at the Bagel Shop Café, restaurants and cafés on Žydų and Stiklių streets and other locations. DJs RafRaf, Akvilina and Marius Šmitas provided dance music with a 10-hour musical program at the Amadeus Bar.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky greeted celebrants and Vidmantas Bezaras, director of the Cultural Heritage Deparment, and Vida Montvydaitė, director of the Department of Ethnic Minorities, also spoke, noting there is no town or village in Lithuania without some sign of a Jewish presence. Vida Montvydaitė said this isn’t just Jewish heritage, it’s Lithuania’s legacy, and protecting it is becoming ever more important.

The writer Kristina Sabaliauskaitė spoke about her childhood memories of the Jews who still lived in central Vilnius then and with whom she made lasting friendships. She says interpersonal relationships are still one of the most important things in life to her.

Sabbath in the Jewish Quarter September 1

Sabbath in the Jewish Quarter September 1

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites you to come celebrate the 20th annual European Day of Jewish Culture, “Sabbath in the Jewish Quarter,” in the Vilnius Old Town on September 1.

World-renowned writer Chaim Grade called the Vilnius Old Town the Jewish Quarter ca. 1930, and wrote: “Long Fridays of Summer. The housewives go to the bakery to shop for Saturday: they buy dry bagels, dark cookies and pastries with poppy seeds, small little cakes with powdered sugar…” (from his Der shtumer minyen, or Silent Minyan).

On Sunday, September 1, restaurants and cafés located in the Vilnius Jewish Quarter will present a menu of Jewish dishes, Jewish music will play and there will be lectures and tours. LJC chairman Faina Kukliansky will open ceremonies with a welcome speech at 12 noon. Saulius Pilinkus will MC and new Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yossi Avni Levy, Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department head Vidmantas Bezaras and Lithuanian Ethnic Minorities Department director Vida Montvydaitė will also welcome participants.

The Doors Open: An Installation to Remember Jewish Merkinė

The Doors Open: An Installation to Remember Jewish Merkinė

The town of Merkinė, Lithuania, held a big celebration August 17 and 18, marking the 660th anniversary of the first mention of the town in the historical sources and the 450th anniversary of the town receiving autonomous Magdeburg charter rights. The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Fayerlakh group were invited to the celebration.

The project “Doors Are Opening” was dedicated to commemorating life in Merkinė during the period between the two world wars, when the majority of the population was Jewish. Before the Holocaust Jews accounted for about 80% of inhabitants. The old Jewish doors were donated for the celebration.

“It’s normal not to want to talk about the painful past, but it’s abnormal if we try to live our lives as if none of those experiences ever even existed,” Mindaugas Černiauskas, the director of the Merkinė Regional History Museum, said.

Victory Day at the LJC

Victory Day at the LJC

The world marks Victory Day, the end of World War II, on May 8 and 9, and every year the Lithuanian Jewish Community has honored the veterans and the fallen. This year Victory Day coincided with Israel’s national holidays to honor fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorism as well as the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This year Israeli veterans also attended the LJC ceremony.

As in prior years, veterans were singled out and congratulated and thanked, including this year Fania Brancovskaja, Riva Špiz, Tatjana Archipova Efros, Borisas Berinas and Aleksandras Asovsky.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky greeted veterans as did executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas and Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon, himself a military veteran. Žana Skudovičienė moderated the ceremony.

Best Jewish Woman Contest Israelit de Lita 2018/5779

Best Jewish Woman Contest Israelit de Lita 2018/5779

Fourteen participants from ages 18 to over 55 competed Sunday in the best Jewish woman contest Israelit de Lita in Vilnius. Categories included cooking, talents and knowledge.

Contest organizer Larisa Vyšniauskienė explained feminine beauty fades over time, but spiritual beauty remains, and that was the basis for this competition.

The participants earlier attended lessons for several months on Jewish history, cuisine, cosmetics, fashion and the woman’s role in the Jewish family.

The Fayerlakh group provided music and dance for the event. Arkadijus Vinokuras and Božena Sokolinska were the MCs.

And the winners were:

Heart to Heart Concert

Heart to Heart Concert

The Lithuanian Jewish Community ushered out 2018 with a concert Monday called Heart to Heart with Markas Volynskis and Marija Drukshna on vocals, Jurijus Sukhanovas on piano and Boris Kirzner on violin.

Shmuel Yatom, the cantor at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius, opened the concert by reminding the audience the synagogue is celebrating its 115th anniversary currently. His words and songs, some solo, some with Markas Volynskis, created a warm and comfortable atmosphere in the hall. Well-known Lithuanian mezzo-soprano Judita Leitaitė MCed the concert and sang to a great response from the audience. Her warm and funny introductions of the other performers also contributed to the entertainment. Musical works by Kern, Pakhmutov, Dunayevsky and Olshanetsky, classical Russian favorites and old-time Jewish favorites elicited much applause.

Heart to Heart Concert

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will host the concert Heart to Hear at 6:00 P.M. on December 17. The concert is free and will include singers Marija Dushkina and Mark Volynski, pianist Jurijus Suchanovas, Boris Kirzner on violin and an appearance by the soloist Judita Leitaitė. Shmuel Yatom, the cantor at the Choral Synagogue, will be the guest of honor. The program includes works by Kern, Pakhmutov and Dunayevsky as well as popular classic Jewish and Russian tunes.

Israelit de Lita Best Jewish Woman Contest 2018

Israelit de Lita Best Jewish Woman Contest 2018

The Fayerlakh song and dance ensemble announces the finale of the Israelit de Lita Best Jewish Woman contest 2018/5778 and music show to be held at 4:00 P.M. on December 23 at the Vilnius House of Polish Culture, Naugarduko street no. 76, Vilnius. For ticket information, contact the Lithuanian Jewish Community at +370 5 261 3003 or Valerija Jurevičiūtė at +370 646 84 823.

Thirtieth Birthday Hanukkah Celebration

Thirtieth Birthday Hanukkah Celebration

Our 30th birthday Hanukkah celebration was just as fun as it was 30 years ago, and almost the same number of people attended, around 400. Although times have changed, there’s a new generation and we have lost many of those who attended in 1988, we remember them, say a good word about them and take joy in the present, in the fact that Community members of all ages came to celebrate, including children and young families from the regional communities.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky welcomed celebrants. Social programs department director Žana Skudovičienė spoke about the first post-war communal Hanukkah celebration on December 4, 1988, held at the Dainava restaurant in central Vilnius. Then as now, Yiddish was spoken and sung, and the Fayerlakh ensemble performed, while 30 years ago the event was organized by the Lithuanian Jewish Cultural Association.

This year we celebrated at the Radisson Blu Lietuva hotel in Vilnius. The Israeli klezmer band Gefilte Drive and saxophonist Juozas Kuraitis performed and delighted the audience with their concerts.

Looking Back at 30 Years of Hanukkah Celebrations

Looking Back at 30 Years of Hanukkah Celebrations

Maša Grodnikienė recalled for us the first Hanukkah celebration by the constituent Lithuanian Jewish Community back in 1988.

Lithuanian Jews who survived World War II celebrated Hanukkah quietly at home. In 1987 the Lithuanian Jewish Cultural Association formed and Emanuelis Zingeris became chairman.

On December 4, 1988, Lithuanian Jews came together and collected funds for a shared Hanukkah celebration. This was a memorable holiday in Vilnius, a big event with a beautiful group of people at the Dainava restaurant. Yiddish was spoken and sung. The cultural events group of the Lithuanian Jewish Cultural Association drafted the program and organized the event. The Fayerlakh Jewish ensemble with directors Griša Kravecas and Ana Kravec performed, as did the ethnographic ensemble conducted by Amos Traub and the Kaunas Jewish stage ensemble. Chaimas Gurvičius directed the concert. About 370 people attended. Chairman of the board of the Lithuanian Cultural Fund Česlovas Kudaba greeted the audience, and deputy chairman Tarvydas also took part. This was a grand Hanukkah evening celebration with a concert and speeches.

Remember what that time was like in Lithuania–the independence movement Sąjūdis had formed and Lithuanian Jews from different cities and towns came together and were part of Sąjūdis. Everyone was exhilarated, excited, happy that finally with the national rebirth of Lithuania the Jews of Lithuania could celebrate together that great holiday of the triumph of the spirit, Hanukkah. The majority sought to attend, there weren’t enough places and it was impossible to get in. At that time there were 17,000 Jews living in Lithuania.

Busy Week of Events at the LJC

The second week in May was especially busy and event-filled this year at the Lithuanian Jewish Community. May 8 and 9 saw different Victory/VE Day celebrations, with veterans and members laying wreaths at the Sudervės road Jewish cemetery and at the military cemetery in Vilnius. Veterans and LJC members were invited to a special concert May 10 with a performance by the Fayerlakh ensemble in Yiddish. LJC executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas gave a moving speech and so did Lijana Jagniatinskytė, granddaughter of the veteran Levas Jagniatinskis, who was unable to attend. Other children and grandchildren of deceased veterans also attended.

The Sunday lecture series on May 13 was a lesson in Gaucher’s diseases, an inherited condition which affects Ashkenazi Jews disproportionately. A free screening for the disease was offered following the lecture.

The LJC youth clubs that same weekend took children to the theater and shot bows and arrows under expert supervision at Vingis Park in Vilnius.

LJC Holds BBQ to Celebrate 70th Birthday of State of Israel

The Lithuanian Jewish Community held a picnic/barbecue to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel in Vilnius April 29. Participants sang the Israeli national anthem in the warm spring air. Vocalists from the Fayerlakh ensemble sang Jewish songs and celebrants began to dance spontaneously throughout the event. It was an all-ages, family affair with grandparents, parents and children attending. While some barbecued, others set the tables and served, and the younger children swung on swings, played and ran around.

Kaunas Jewish Community Celebrates Passover

Armed with a festive mood members of the Kaunas Jewish Community met for one of the happiest times of the year to commemorate the liberation of the Jewish people from the Land of Egypt and to celebrate the coming of spring during Passover. There was a musical program and a quiz to test knowledge of holiday traditions. The winners–Filomena Jančiuvienė, Raja Verblinskienė and Robertas Baltusevičius–received health-care products as prizes. It was endlessly good to see how warmly members got along and how much fun we all had together, without regard to age.

Beloved and much-missed Fayerlakh musicians Michailas and Leonardas helped put the icing on the cake and seemed willing to play till dawn.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community Social Programs Department and the Goodwill Foundation financed the event.

LJC Calendar for 5777 Wins Prize at Unusual Ceremony

A Jewish calendar published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community last year took first place in an annual Lithuanian calendar contest October 20.

The 28th annual Laurynas Ivinskis Prize ceremony was held in Kuršėnai, Lithuania with live Lithuanian folk music and a performance by the Fayerlakh ensemble.

The theme of the LJC calendar for 5777 was Lithuanian rescuers of Jews. It featured interwar president Kazys Grinius and wife Kristina on the cover, both Righteous Gentiles. Each month featured more than one story of rescue.

Laurynas Ivinskis (1810-1881) was a 19th century calendar maker whose agricultural calendars were also more text than calendar, and were for a period of time forbidden by Russian authorities because they were written in Lithuanian using the Latin rather than Cyrillic alphabet. His almanachs included stories and parables in pre-standard Lithuanian.

Thank You

A week has passed during which Lithuanian remembered her shtetlakh. The fourteenth celebration of the annual European Day of Jewish Culture has taken place in Lithuania, this year with the theme “Diaspora and Heritage: The Shtetlakh.” Lithuanian towns which used to be called shtetlakh hosted events, tours of surviving old towns and Jewish residential sections, interesting talks on the former life of Litvaks there. The word shtetl was heard much in Lithuania after the Holocaust, with the loss of the former Litvak world and the Yiddish language.

This year the European Day of Jewish Culture was observed in more than 20 towns and cities, including Alytus, Jurbarkas, from Kaunas to Žasliai and Žiežmariai, Kelmė, Klaipėda, Kretinga, Molėtai, Palanga, Pakruojis, Pandėlys, Pasvalys, Pikeliai, Šiauliai, Šilalė, Jonava, Joniškis, Kupiškis, Darbėnai, Šeduva, Švėkšna, Ukmergė, Zarasai and Želva.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community thanks all the participating cities and towns for remembering the shtetlakh and the Jews who lived, traded, created and built there. They deserve to be remembered. Many cities and towns held lectures, conferences, exhibits, concerts and film screenings this year.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky also thanks the organizers of the events at the Jewish Community for their interesting program, and thanks the participants and speakers who spoke about the remaining traces of the shtetlakh in Lithuania. We thank Fania Brancovskaja, Vytautas Toleikis, Sandra Petrukonytė, Ilona Šedienė, Rimantas Vanagas and Antanas Žilinskas not just for their interesting presentations, but also for their own work, books and research on Jewish history, contributing to making the shtetlakh part of the heart of our country, without which Lithuania is impossible to imagine.

Thank you also to the Bagel Shop Café for the tasty Jewish dishes, the Sabbath ceramics exhibit and the holiday atmosphere, and to the Fayerlakh ensemble for the wonderful concert!

Our sincere thanks to everyone.