Jewish song and dance ensemble Fajerlech

Community Hanukkah Events

Community Hanukkah Events

In addition to all the other events already announced, the Lithuanian Jewish Community is offering a walking tour of Jewish Vilna with guide Viljamas Žitkauskas and an Israeli dance marathon with Rikudim.

The tour begins at 2:00 P.M. on Saturday, December 17, meeting at the bell tower at the Arch-Cathedral in Vilnius. Program: Tour, avdala ceremony, dinner at the Bagel Shop Café, performance by the children’s section of the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble. Registration required. Send an email to zanas@sc.lzb.lt or call +37067881514 on weekdays between 10:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M.

The Rikudim Israeli dance marathon will be held in the Jascha Heifetz Hall at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius from 11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, December 18. To register send an email to Julija at Juliradv@gmail.com.

LJC Members and Friends Recognized on International Human Rights Day

LJC Members and Friends Recognized on International Human Rights Day

To mark international Human Rights Day on December 10, Lithuania’s Department of Ethnic Minorities held an awards ceremony at the M. K. Čiurlionis School of the Arts in Vilnius and recognized the work of a number of members and friends of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, including architect and designer Victoria Sideraitė-Alon, LJC executive board member and president of the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club Semionas Finkelšteinas, chairman of the Klaipėda Jewish Community Feliksas Puzemskis, Vilnius Jewish Public Library director Žilvanas Bielauskas, violinist and member of the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble Boris Kirzner, Fayerlakh chairwoman Larisa Vyšniauskienė and documentary filmmaker and television producer Lilija Kopač.

The Ethnic Minorities Department awards are distributed to members of ethnic communities, the media and NGOs for their work increasing ethnic harmony, encouraging cultural diversity and unifying multicultural Lithuania.

We sincerely congratulate all prize recipients on the recognition of their work forging a better future for the Lithuanian Jewish Community and Lithuania.

Celebrate Hanukkah with Fayerlakh

Celebrate Hanukkah with Fayerlakh

Celebrate Hanukkah with a Fayerlakh concert and a holiday meal at the Natali restaurant at 5:00 P.M. on December 18. The restaurant is located at Žalgirio street no. 92 in Vilnius. Tickets cost 35 euros for adults and 20 euros for children aged 4 to 12. To register contact Ilya by telephone at +37065127777 or write Larisa an email at larisa.vysniauskiene@gmail.com.

LJC Celebrates Tolerance Day with Darna Event

LJC Celebrates Tolerance Day with Darna Event

The first Darna event was held in 2020 during the corona virus panic. Despite many restrictions that time we were able to do more than we had expected, creating an entire virtual festival to mark the International Day of Tolerance. We tried to show during that tough time what diverse and interesting things we have right here in Lithuania, and how these differences are not only interesting, but complement one another perfectly. Today we are very happy to announce we can continue this event for its third year in a row, only this time we can meet face-to-face at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius. Everyone of all religious, ethnic and other backgrounds and of all views is invited to come have a cup of tea or coffee, listen to live music and sample Israeli street food from our Cvi Park kiosk starting at 7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, November 16, at the LJC. Note: please disregard earlier announcements which stated the event would be held at the Choral Synagogue. It will be held on the third floor of the LJC at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius.

The event program is available here. Musical performers, cooking workshops and meaningful conversations from the first Darna festival can be found here. More information about this iteration of the celebration can be found here.

#InternationalDayOfTolerance

Recent Workshops and Events

Recent Workshops and Events

We are pleased to share some snapshots from the dance class held on the last Sabbath of summer at the Cvirka Park space next to our Israeli street food kiosk. Julia Patašnik led the dance group. Also, we have snapshots from the gefilte fish workshop and the opening of seniors’ club Abi Men Zit Zich’s 25th season.

Snapshots from European Days of Jewish Culture Events in Vilnius

Snapshots from European Days of Jewish Culture Events in Vilnius

Our annual series of events to mark the European Days of Jewish Culture saw a good turnout all day Sunday, which turned out to be sunny but framed by clouds. There was cantorial song at synagogue, a tour of Jewish Vilna, a panel discussion on echoes of Jewish culture in modern Lithuania’s cultural scene, we baked challa and slowly cooked the legendary floimen tsimes and there was singing, playing and dancing for all. For some snapshots from different events, concerts, workshops and lectures, see below.

Happy Birthday to Larisa Vyšniauskienė

Happy Birthday to Larisa Vyšniauskienė

We wish a very happy birthday to Larisa Vyšniauskienė, guardian of the eternal creative flame of the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble. We wish you even greater success, health and artistic achievement! Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Fayerlakh Jewish Song and Dance Ensemble Celebrates 50th Birthday

Fayerlakh Jewish Song and Dance Ensemble Celebrates 50th Birthday

The Jewish song and dance ensemble Fayerlakh celebrated their 50th birthday on Sunday, June 19, at the Polish House of Culture in Vilnius with performances by musicians, singers and dancers.

The group formed back in the early 70s within the general milieu of Jewish, Lithuanian, Russian and Polish volunteer collectives, including the Yiddish-language People’s Theater. Many of the Jewish volunteer cultural groups–a choir, vocalists, a dance troupe, actors and personnel from the People’s Theater and a popular stage band–later immigrated to Israel and formed the Anakhnu Kan ensemble there. 1971 was also the year Jewish musician Yasha Magid founded a vocal and instrumental group. By 1972 this group had formed its core of enthusiastic musicians and the dance troupe, and held their first concert. That’s the story of how Fayerlakh, at the time the only Jewish song and dance ensemble throughout the Soviet Union, formed in Vilnius.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Opens Saul Kagan Welfare Center

Lithuanian Jewish Community Opens Saul Kagan Welfare Center

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has just opened the long-awaited Saul Kagan Welfare Center, paying tribute to the long-serving director of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany by renaming the Community’s social care and welfare center after him. Staff and clients attended the ceremony where LJC executive director Michail Segal and the Center’s first director Simas Levinas spoke. LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky unveiled the new plaque commemorating Saul Kagan. Arie Buchesiter from the Claims Conference, Saul Kagan’s daughter Julia Kagan-Baumann and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yossef Avni-Levy also attended the event. The Fayerlakh group performed a concert at the event.

Bagel Shop Café Produces Seventy-Five Loaves of Challa Bread

Bagel Shop Café Produces Seventy-Five Loaves of Challa Bread

The Bagel Shop Café baked 75 small and large loaves of challa bread Friday evening as part of the world Shabbos Project. The Sabbath on October 22 was special. The Lithuanian Jewish Community invited everyone young and old to bake challa together with the world Jewish community. Members, friends and a ton of children gathered at the Bagel Shop Café, had fun making and baking challa, and were treated to a performance by the Fayerlakh ensemble. We counted around 75 loaves. Snapshots below.

Challa Bake-Off around the World and at Bagel Shop Café

Challa Bake-Off around the World and at Bagel Shop Café

As the weather turns colder out, it’s almost natural for us to retire to our kitchens and engage in baking bread. For most of us this is a solitary vocation, perhaps a weekly one, with few around us to enjoy the pleasing aroma of baking bread. This year as in past, the Shabbos Project is inviting people around the world to bake Sabbath challa bread together, if only in spirit. The Bagel Shop Café will host a challa-bread-making event at 5:00 P.M. on Friday, October 22, as part of this world-wide project connecting millions of people in over 1,600. At 6:00 P.M. the Fayerlakh ensemble will perform for participants at that event.

More information here.

Some Snapshots from Events This Fall

Some Snapshots from Events This Fall

It’s encouraging to see parents and children returning to spend time at the Community. At one recent meeting at the Bagel Shop Café the children presented their works in clay, held the premiere of a film they made and starred in and performed music, while the mothers made challa bread.

Larisa Vyšniauskienė, the director of the Fayerlakh ensemble, chimed in during the musical part of the program and spoke about the ensemble’s musical career which has spanned a half century now.

Avital Libman, coordinator of children’s and youth programs, passed on the happy news that the Ilan and Knafaim Clubs will now be open every day to young people for fun and productive after-school activities.

Meanwhile, weekly art activities continue led by Raimondas Savickas, and the seniors’ club Abi Men Zet Zich carries on as usual.

Fayerlakh Performs in Belovezha Forest

Fayerlakh Performs in Belovezha Forest

The Lithuanian Jewish Community’s song and dance ensemble Fayerlakh recently performed at the Peretocze festival held annually in the vast Belovezha forest which was once part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and now spans large parts of eastern Poland and western Belarus.

Photographs from the event can be found here.

Common Language of the Peoples Amateur Music Festival

Common Language of the Peoples Amateur Music Festival

The second “Common Language of the Peoples” festival of ethnic minority amateur song and dance groups has taken place in the city of Švenčionėliai, Lithuania, and the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance collective directed by Larisa Vyšniauskienė participated.

The second annual festival took place June 23, supported by Lithuania’s Ethnic Minorities Department.

The Culture Center of the City of Švenčionėliai presented cakes and wreaths of wild flowers to all groups participating in the festival.

The representatives of different ethnic groups from Lithuania presented folk costumes and spoke about the characteristics of their ethnic group and their special foods.

The audience applauded every group heavily and the festival again demonstrated the need for more such ethnic community events.

This is How It Was Done in Vilne…

This is How It Was Done in Vilne…

Photo: Pinchos Fridberg, the only Jew left in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius who was born there before the Nazis invaded in 1941. By Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times.

by professor Pinchos Fridberg, an alter vilner id [an old Jew born and raised in Vilnius]

Rebe, will there ever come a time when the words Vilne and Yidish will be inseparable again?”
Saydn nor mit Meshiakh’n ineinem.” [Not unless it comes with the Messiah.]

Introduction

The article “Как это делалось ин Вилнэ…” [This Is How It Was Done in Vilne] became the main feature for issue no. 505 of the international magazine “Мы Здесь” [We Are Here] in 2015. More than 7,000 people read it, and I began receiving letters from people whom I didn’t know.

The largest Russian-language weekly newspaper in Lithuania “Обзор” [Review] reprinted this article on its website on March 8, 2021.

The article concerns the history of Jewish Vilnius.

I think it might be interesting to non-Russian-language readers as well. *

“This is How It Was Done in Vilne…”

As I was putting my archive in order, I came across a small program for a concert to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Jewish volunteer collectives. This program is more than half a calendrical century old. I think the reader might be interested to see “how it was done in Vilne.” The program contains over 30 photographs. I will present a few of them. I believe it has long been time for them to be revived on the wider internet.

Condolences

Fayerlakh ensemble musician Igoris Dolgopolovas has died. The Lithuanian Jewish Community and members of the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman on Importance of January 13 to Nation’s Jews

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman on Importance of January 13 to Nation’s Jews

Photo: Faina Kukliansky, by Vidmantas Balkūnas, courtesy 15min.lt

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky remembers January 13. Lithuanian Jews, who restored their community finally 30 years ago after decades of restrictions, took part in events in those days [in 1991] Nowadays when they talk about the struggle for freedom, members of the community emphasize the greatest gift: the opportunity to speak freely.

What do you remember personally about that fateful night at the TV tower, the Lithuanian Radio and Television building and the parliament? What does the Jewish community remember about these events?

Jews did the same thing as everyone else in Lithuania. We have collected the recollections of our community members of that fateful night. They watched the television broadcast until it was cut off and they went to the barricades, in Vilnius but also in Kaunas and other cities.

We were there where the majority of Lithuania was. I remember when I travelled from Varėna during that time and saw the road full of tanks. At that time I had an elderly guest from America who said he was seeing tanks for the first time in his life.

On that particular night my friends and I–all of us were together with our young children–followed events, held vigil, waiting for our husbands who were there in the crowd by the barricades or who were doing their job as doctors.

My children are now grown up and always remember that night and the tension. It wasn’t clear what would happen and the tanks were already in place in the city. We didn’t have any information, we had seen the final frame when E. Bučelytė had to quit the [television] studio. We learned that night from medics that there were dead and wounded people.

With One Hand the State Comforts Jews, With the Other It Points Them to the Street

With One Hand the State Comforts Jews, With the Other It Points Them to the Street

by Vytautas Bruveris, lrytas.lt

The country is marking the end of the ceremoniously declared Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History, while the Lithuanian Jewish Community is looking at its front door and thinking it might have to leave its home. Because disagreements with state institutions are driving the Community from its longtime building in the center of the Lithuanian capital, located near the remains of Jewish Vilna and the city’s working synagogue.

Bailiffs and bricklayers in broad daylight have walled off one of the corridors in the building housing the LJC. This is the grotesque turn of events these days resulting from continuing disagreements between the LJC and the Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum along with the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. And even before this there were also episodes which seem rather odd, for example, letters from the museum to the members of the executive board of the LJC with accusations against the latter’s leadership, attempting to put political pressure directly upon the ethnic community/

With the new wall built, the LJC is now deciding on its future course: whether to dive headlong into legal battles, or simply pack its bags and hit the street. So why is all this happening? Because of disputes on how to share the courtyard which both the museum and the LJC, housed in the same building, claim. Instead of trying to act as moderator and as a moderating force, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture has done the opposite. The neighbors are there next to each other, but separate.