Litvaks

Markas Petuchauskas’s Book Price of Concord Presented in Berlin

Markas Petuchauskas’s Book Price of Concord Presented in Berlin

The Lithuanian embassy in Germany on May 15 hosted a presentation of Markas Petuchauskas’s memoires The Price of Concord now translated into German as Der Preis der Eintracht, published by the LIT Verlag publishing house in Germany. Mark Roduner translated the book which was originally published in English. The director Grigory von Leit, with Litvak roots, read excerpts from the book. A discussion with the author followed. The vent was organized by the embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to Germany in cooperation with the Lietis Academy and Archive and the Lithuanian Culture Institute.

This isn’t the first time the German translation of Litvak drama critic Markas Petuchauskas was presented in Germany. Back in March there were two presentations of the book at the Leipzig International Book Fair.

The Price of Concord is a compendium of more than five decades of conversation with a number of theater figures, artists and musicians in which keen observations and sudden realizations and correspondence with different well-known personalities turn into a seamless book, one of whose sections contains complex moments of a fairly diverse life. Petuchauskas goes beyond discussion of episodes remembered from childhood and loss of family members leading to the pain experienced during occupation, and recalls the goodness, understanding and help of so many people encountered in the course of life.

Irish Litvaks Celebrate Sabbath at Choral Synagogue

A delegation of 26 Jews from the Republic of Ireland visited Lithuania last week and attended a special Sabbath celebration held Friday for them at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius.

The tour was organized by the Irish Jewish Community with help from Irish ambassador to Lithuania David Noonan and his Lithuanian counterpart in Dublin, ambassador Egidijus Meilūnas. Most Irish Jews are descended from Litvaks with the major wave of immigration before World War I. Since then there has been little contact between Litvaks and Ireland and Litvaks in Lithuania. The Irish delegation is re-establishing contact while exploring their own roots, visiting their ancestral shtetls. Not all members of the delegation belong to the Irish Jewish Community, but all do share a connection with it.

Ambassador Noonan said: “I am very happy to see the visit taking place–the connection between the Jewish communities is one of the earliest connections between Ireland and Lithuania and deserves greater exploration. I was honoured to join the group on Friday for dinner and the Sabbath service; it was not my first time in the Synagogue but it was the first time I attended a service there. To attend with my fellow Irishmen and women made it a very special occasion indeed.”

Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas said the Irish party had Sabbath dinner on the second floor of the synagogue and everyone was very satisfied with the event. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said the Irish Jewish delegation were very religiously devout and did all the proper things to mark Sabbath. Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon also attended the Sabbath celebration.

German Translation of Markas Petuchauskas’s Book at Lithuanian Embassy Berlin

German Translation of Markas Petuchauskas’s Book at Lithuanian Embassy Berlin

The German translation of Markas Petuchauskas’s book “The Price of Concord” (Der Preis der Eintracht) will be presented at the Lithuanian embassy in Berlin May 15. The event will be moderated by theater director Gregorij H. von Leitis who is known for his work presenting and promoting Jewish culture. Von Leitis has Litvak roots.

This is not the first presentation of Petuchauskas’s book in Germany. Back in March it made a splash at the Leipzig International Book Fair with well-known personalities leading a panel discussion about the Litvak drama critic’s main work published originally in English.

Rescuers Celebrated in Kaunas

Rescuers Celebrated in Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community continued this year its spring tradition of commemorating those who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

Rescuers and the rescued came together again in a warm celebration of friendship and humanity. Professor Saulius Kaušinis who spoke at this year’s event said it and the stories behind could serve as an example of peace and peaceful coexistence in today’s world troubled by conflict, hate and terrorism.

This year the commemoration coincided with Holocaust Day and six candles were lit in memory of the six million Jews murdered in Europe.

Tenth-grade Art Gymnasium student Patricija Pugžlytė performed a piece from Schindler’s List on cello. Actress Kristina Kazakevičiūtė, herself the daughter of a rescuer, helped create an atmosphere of reflection and at the same time joy, and after all the point of the ceremony was to celebrate life. The saxophonist Michail Javič also performed.

It was sad to note the dwindling ranks of both the rescuers and the rescued, but at the same time it was a great joy to see their children and grandchildren there who were eager to share their family stories.

Panevėžys Jewish Community Marks Victory Day

Panevėžys Jewish Community Marks Victory Day

The Panevėžys Jewish Community kicked off commemoration of Victory Day, the day Nazi Germany capitulated to the Allies, at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier at the Ramygala cemetery, then moved on to the monument on Krekanavos street in Panevėžys where veterans and the public gathered. Among the fallen soldiers there are thousands of Jewish surnames of infantry, sergeants and officers who sacrificed their lives during World War II in Lithuania.

Panevėžys Jewish Community members attended all of the events and laid wreaths. They held an additional ceremony at the monument marking the former gate of the ghetto in the city where they remembered Holocaust victims.

A group of religious Jews from South Africa (mainly Cape Town and Johannesburg) led by Rabbi Moshe Saltzman attended the latter. Many had relatives who died in the Holocaust in Lithuania. In the first year of WWII about 13,000 Jews were killed in Panevėžys. The South Africans are visiting cities and towns around Lithuania to commemorate victims of the Holocaust. Kaddish was performed and extracts from the local yizkor were read during the ceremony.

Why Does the Founder of an International Corporation Talk about a Small Lithuanian Town?

Why Does the Founder of an International Corporation Talk about a Small Lithuanian Town?

by Romas Sadauskas-Kvietkevičius, DELFI.lt

According to Felix Zandman, the founder of the famous semiconductors producer Vishay International, whenever a new company client asked what the name of the corporation means, he told them about his grandmother and the mass murder of the Jews of Veisiejai.

Vishay is the Jewish name of Veisiejai used from the 18th century to the Holocaust. Survivors scattered around the world carried with them memories of their town and local placenames. The large Jewish population of the small town migrated before the war as well, and by the end of the 19th century of the 1,540 local inhabitants, 974 were Jewish. The Jewish population was rounded up and shot with other Jews from the Lazdijai district at Katkiškė village. The town of Veisiejai was probably best known for Ludovik Zamenhof, or Dr. Esperanto, who lived there in 1886 and 1887.

Felix Zandman passed away in 2011. His company had turnover in earlier years of $2.6 billion and employed over 20,000 people, or about 10 times the population of Veisiejai today.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Irena Vesaitė Awarded Polish Prize

Irena Vesaitė Awarded Polish Prize

Kauno diena

The Borders ethnic, cultural and art foundation in Sejny, Poland, awarded its “Person on the Edge” prize to Lithuanian professor Irena Vesaitė Thursday.

“Her intellectual courage and active community work has made Vesaitė a true moral authority in Lithuania and Europe. The path upon which she found meaning and her goal is the path of the teacher who understands life itself as art,” foundation director Krzysztof Czyżewski said in a press release from the Ministry of Culture.

The press release said the professor was awarded the prize for her practice of the ethos of the marginalized, her art and her philosophy of life which were an inspiration to all recipients of the prize and a pillar of support in moments of doubt.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Heritas: Special Focus on Litvak Heritage

Heritas: Special Focus on Litvak Heritage

The second Heritas International Exhibit on Heritage Recognition, Maintenance and Technologies held May 3 and 4 focused on Lithuanian Jewish or Litvak heritage.

In cooperation with the Lithuanian Jewish Community attendees had the unique opportunity to visit the Zavl synagogue currently undergoing restoration at Gėlių street no. 6 in Vilnius.

The seminar portion of the exhibit discussed a topic proposed by LJC heritage protection specialist Martynas Užpelkis, “Litvak Heritage: A Matter for the Jewish Community and/or Local Communities?”

Ceremony to Commemorate Ghetto Fighters and Murdered Ghetto Children

Ceremony to Commemorate Ghetto Fighters and Murdered Ghetto Children

Lithuanian Jewish Community members gathered at the Jewish cemetery on Sudervės road in Vilnius May 8 to commemorate those who fell fighting the Nazis and the victims of fascism.

They assembled at a monument to Vilnius ghetto FPO (Fareinikte partizaner organizatsye) leader Yitzhak Vitenberg and partisan Sheyna Madeisker.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky recalled the number of Jews living in Lithuania before the Nazi occupation and the horror and tragedy of the majority who were murdered. Jewish partisan Fania Brancovskaja spoke in Yiddish about the painful experience of the war and the loss of family. “Do not forget those who were murdered, they fought for your freedom,” she said.

Artist Adasa Skliutauskaitė Records the Sincerity of Being

Artist Adasa Skliutauskaitė Records the Sincerity of Being

Photo: Lilija Valatkienė: Skliutauskaitė’s canvasses enchant with their freedom of improvisation and virtuosity

Today we visit painter, graphic designer and puppeteer Adasa Skliutauskaitė. Life hasn’t spared her pain, loss and disappointment. As if in response to that, as if to ransom that guilt, destiny has given her talent, optimism, a great sense of humor and longevity. On May 5 Adasa turned 88.

“To a genial artist, a good friend and an incomparable utterer of profanity, with the the most profound appreciation and gratitude,” the dedication of Grigoriy Kanovich’s book Candles in the Wind reads in praise of that book’s illustrator, Adasa Skliutauskaitė.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

A Stranger in Her Own Land: Kaunas Resident Karolina on Her Lost Lithuanian Citizenship

A Stranger in Her Own Land: Kaunas Resident Karolina on Her Lost Lithuanian Citizenship

In a referendum in just a few days Lithuanian voters will decide whether people who have taken citizenship of another country meeting certain criteria may remain Lithuanian citizens. If the measure is adopted then the institution of dual-citizenship would include more people and provide migrants the opportunity to preserve their legal and political ties with their country of origin, Lithuania. The situation remains unclear for those who have lost Lithuanian citizenship already. Kaunas resident Karolina shared her thoughts with us regarding the issue.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your family history and when you left Lithuania. What were the circumstances surrounding your leaving?

My name is Karolina. I’m 27. I was born and raised in Kaunas until I was four-and-a-half-years old. My parents decided to leave Lithuania for Israel in 1997, to make use of the right of return to Israel by people of Jewish origin (aliyah). My grandfather and uncle were already living in Israel then.

How did it go, moving to Israel? What were your first impressions?

Harbinger of the Holocaust: The Jewish Pogrom in Vilnius 100 Years Ago

Harbinger of the Holocaust: The Jewish Pogrom in Vilnius 100 Years Ago

When we speak of the suffering of Jews from Vilnius, we usually remember the Holocaust, the mass murders in Ponar, the Vilnius ghetto and so on. But the first pogrom in Vilnius happened much earlier. It began April 19, 1919, exactly 100 years ago. According to different sources about 60 Jews were murdered, and the perpetrators were never punished.

15min.lt

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Condolences

Condolences

Nobel prize-winning Litvak and American neurologist Paul Greengard passed away April 13. Although he was born in New York City, he was descended from Jews from Virbalis, Lithuania. He won the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine in 2000. He was born December 11, 1925 and died at the age of 93.

His mother died in child-birth and his father Benjamin remarried an Episcopalian. While studying at MIT Paul helped develop warning systems for attacks by Japanese kamikaze pilots. After World War II he attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he was graduated in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics. He decided to forgo graduate school in physics because post-war physics research was predominantly about nuclear weapons, and became interested in biophysics. Greengard began work on the molecular and cellular function of neurons. In 1953 he received his PhD and began postdoctoral work at the University of London, Cambridge University and the University of Amsterdam. In 2000 Greengard, Arvid Carlsson and Eric Kandel were awarded the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine for their discoveries made in chemical and electric signal transduction in the nervous system. Paul Greengard used his Nobel Prize honorarium to help fund the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, an award for women scientists named after his mother and established in 2004 to shine a spotlight on exceptional women in science. He is survived by two sons. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and many colleagues.

Was There a Different Kind of Holocaust in Lithuania?

Was There a Different Kind of Holocaust in Lithuania?

Photo: Šiauliai Jews lined up before being taken to Kužiai to be shot, July, 1941. About 8,000 Jews from the Šiauliai ghetto were murdered in the Luponiai Forest near the village of Kužiai.

[Note: Lithuanian Jewish Community member Geršonas Taicas responds here to an “explanation” by the Lithuanian Genocide Center issued several weeks ago which claimed the Holocaust was different, the ghettos were different and the Nazi regime was different in Lithuania than they were in other European countries. That controversial “explanation” has been criticized by the LJC, the World Jewish Congress and the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, among others. Presumably Genocide Center director Teresė Birutė Burauskaitė makes the claim–we don’t know, the “explanation” is unsigned–in the official apologetica for Lithuania’s native Nazis that Lithuania was the only country which pinned its hopes on independence on a Nazi invasion, among other falsifications of history (see Slovakia, Croatia, Estonia et al.). –translator]

by Geršonas Taicas, member, Lithuanian Jewish Community

Maceva Documenting and Cataloging Old Jewish Cemetery in Seirijai, Lithuania

Maceva Documenting and Cataloging Old Jewish Cemetery in Seirijai, Lithuania

The Litvak cemetery catalog organization Maceva (www.litvak-cemetery.info) began documenting the old Jewish cemetery in Seirijai, Lithuania, last year and the work is almost complete.

During an international summer camp held August 6 to 19 in 2018, all surviving headstones were cleaned, cataloged and digitized. A total of 692 were found. Maceva has issued a map of the cemetery following the intense clean-up and cataloging there. The Lithuanian Jewish Community has partially funded some of the cemetery renovation and digitization project.

Rudashevski Diary Now Accessible for the Visually Impaired

Rudashevski Diary Now Accessible for the Visually Impaired

The Vilnius ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski is now available as an audiobook in Lithuanian, read by Justinas Gapšys. According to the card catalog of the Lithuanian Library for the Blind in Vilnius, the insert in the CD includes a text in braille. The very limited-edition CD is available at 5 branches of the Lithuanian Library for the Blind around the country. The book itself is bilingual with excerpts from the diary in Yiddish starting from the back cover and moving inward. The audiobook does not contain a reading of the Yiddish section.

More information available in Lithuanian here.

Response to Statement by Genocide Center “On Accusations against Jonas Noreika”

Response to Statement by Genocide Center “On Accusations against Jonas Noreika”

A response to the statement of the Genocide and Resistance Research Centrer of Lithuania of March 27, 2019, “On Accusations against Jonas Noreika (General Vėtra)”

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE EVALUATION OF THE CRIMES OF THE NAZI AND SOVIET OCCUPATION REGIMES IN LITHUANIA

The Sub-commission for Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi Occupation Regime and the Holocaust

April 10, 2019

A RESPONSE TO THE STATEMENT OF THE GENOCIDE AND RESISTANCE RESEARCH CENTER OF LITHUANIA OF MARCH 27, 2019, “ON THE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST JONAS NOREIKA (GENERAL VĖTRA)

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman Visits South African Litvak Community

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman Visits South African Litvak Community

Photo: Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky visits the South African Jewish Museum in Cape Town

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky is currently visiting the largest Litvak community in exile, the South African Jewish community, from April 8 to 13.

Although the Community and chairwoman Kukliansky have long maintained close ties with Litvaks in the Republic of South Africa, this is the first official visit by the LJC.

In meetings with South African Litvaks scheduled for the morning of April 10 at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, Kukliansky planned to discuss issues surrounding historical justice, restoration of Lithuanian citizenship and possible joint projects to celebrate 2020 as the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Jewish History in Lithuania.

On Historical Begging

On Historical Begging

by Segejus Kanovičius

Beggars ask for all sorts of things–money, drugs, clothes. The average passer-by looks at the beggar trying to determine if he really is in need, and often passers-by pretend they haven’t seen him.

There is a category of beggar in Lithuania which everyone seems to see, and everyone seems to agree they are truly unfortunate, but these beggars only receive donations a few times during the year. From the microphone. And they get wreaths. These are the murdered Jews of Lithuania.

They have been asking for donations for a long time but they don’t ask for much, just historical justice. And it’s not they who should be ashamed, but those who are reluctant to offer historical justice. And stingily keep it from Jews and the public. When the living [Holocaust survivors] remind them the historical truth must be restored, they, those who keep the historical truth away from our eyes, immediately turn wild, and call the beggars, the living and the dead together, agents of the Kremlin. Even though no one serves the Kremlin better than in this way, by attempting to portray a lie as the truth, through avoidance and by presenting public arguments which don’t stand up to any criticism.