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 firstname.lastname@example.org
A very happy birthday to Borisas Traubas, the famous violinist born in Vilnius and the founder of the Jerusalem of Lithuania ensemble, among others. Mazl tov. Bis 120!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
A very happy 90th birthday to theater critic, thinker and author Markas Petuchauskas from the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community and the entire LJC. Mazl tov. Bis 120!
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.
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.
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
Photographs by Polina Butkienė
The courtyard of the President’s Office in Vilnius hosted a concert called “Symphony from Jerusalem of the North” to mark the Day of Lithuanian Jewish Victims of Genocide on September 23. The work composed by Jievaras Jasinskis was performed by the Vilnius St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra with special guest on Middle Eastern instruments Yaron Cherniak from Israel. Lithuanian National Ballet and Opera Theater senior conductor Ričardas Šumila conducted the ensemble.
Tadas Daujotas who performed on shofar horn said they thought deeply about the Litvak contribution over the centuries to Lithuanian culture and development as they created this work to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania. “We sought to pay respect to the memory of the Jews who lived in Lithuania and to express solidarity with the Jewish community through this music project,” he said.
Composer Jievaras Jasinskis said he wanted to show how intertwined Lithuanian and Jewish history is.
by Margarita Rimkutė, taurageszinios.lt
Perhaps not every resident of Tauragė knows that the building which houses the Tauragė district prosecutor’s office was once a Jewish primary school. On Wednesday a ceremony was held to unveil a plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tarbut school there. The event was part of a series of events in town called “The Shtetl in Tauragė.”
Senior events director of the Cultural Center Algima Juščiuvienė led the event and said the school established in 1921 held classes until 1941.
“The horrific tragedy of the Holocaust silenced the cries of children playing and killed the Jewish spirit of this city. In 1947 a Russian pre-gymnasium was set up in the building. In 1954 it housed the Tauragė music school, in 1988 an evening school, and since 1996 the building has belonged to the prosecutor general. It is the oldest school building in the city. The Jewish school which had four grades then had 250 pupils. All the school’s teachers were licensed and drew their salaries from the Ministry of Education. The school belonged to the Tarbut school network, meaning it was the strongest modern educational organization in Eastern Europe,” Algima Juščiuvienė said.
by professor Pinchos Fridberg
I would like to comment briefly on a press release which appeared on the webpage of the Lithuanian parliament on September 23.
My opinion about this resolution good in its entirety was shaken by the words “64 members of parliament voted unanimously.” De facto the word unanimously means the majority of representatives (77!!!) did not participate in the session dedicated to marking the Day of Genocide of Lithuanian Jews and the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania.
Why they didn’t come to pay their respects on this tragic day of Lithuania’s history, I can only speculate.
The probability that all 77 had a justified reason not to attend is very small.
Did some of the representatives actually boycott this topic intentionally?
Translated from Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil.
I stand before you in order to deliver a speech, but this place and this sad occasion calls for concentrating and remaining silent. The reflection, respect and humble silence which meets every thinking and feeling person in this place cannot be confused with the silence of apathy, ignorance and fear. All of us have kept silent too long. Too long. We have kept quiet about what happened, where it happened and why. It was kept quiet for most of those eight decades we count since the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania. Out of fear? Ignorance? Apathy?
The Panevėžys Jewish Community commemorated the 80th anniversary of the onset of the Holocaust in Lithuania on September 22 with a “Road of Memory” procession meeting at the Sad Jewish Mother statue and regrouping later at the former ghetto gates and the mass murder site in the Kurganava Forest were about 8,000 Jews were shot in 1941.
“Eighty years ago a black mark was made in the history of Lithuania, resulting in the taking of almost 200,000 lives and the lives of about six million Jews in Europe,” Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman said.
The largest mass murder sites near Panevėžys are in the Žalioji and Kurganava Forests, but the district has more than 30 mass murder sites in total.
The Vilnius Photography Gallery located at Stiklių street no. 4 will open an exhibit by Kęstutis Grigaliūnas at 6:00 P.M. on September 22 called “Lithuanian Jews Who Came Back from the Nazi Concentration Camps.” The exhibit features 335 people who came back, with photographs and short biographies. It will also showcase the book “Lietuvos žydai grįžę iš nacių konclagerių” [Lithuanian Jews Who Came Back from the Nazi Concentration Camps] which contains 2,700 short bios and 335 portraits.
“The visualization of cases in this project becomes a space in which the violence of the Soviet state is examined and whose exhibiting under new spatial, media and institutional conditions allows for the execution of historical justice, and allows the eye and mind of the spectator to enter into intensive interaction with the past seen this way for the first time,” exhibit curator Natalija Arlauskaitė explained.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Kaišiadorys city municipality invite the public to visit the restored synagogue in Žiežmariai, Lithuania, September 17.
As part of the European Days of Jewish Culture, the LJC is sponsoring the event in Žiežmariai to discuss the public utilization of Litvak heritage sites and the relationship between the local community and this synagogue specifically.
The event will be moderated by Martynas Užpelkis, the LJC’s heritage specialist.
Participants will include LJC chairwoman Faina, Kukliansky, Kaišiadorys mayor Vytenis Tomkus, Lithuanian heritage expert and historian Diana Varnaitė, Kaišiadorys Museum director Olijardas Lukoševičius and others.
The event begins at the synagogue at 2:00 P.M. on September 17.