The International Forum of Jewish Scouts based on Paris is inviting Jewish scouts around the world to take part in an internet “Jewboree” on April 5 using the ZOOM platform.
American Litvak singer, songwriter and performer from Minnesota Bob Dylan, aka Robert Zimmerman, has broken his silence since he received, rejected and then apparently accepted the Nobel prize for literature with a new long-playing song about the conspiracy to assassinate American president John Kennedy. The official version of the song Murder Most Foul posted on youtube under the user Bob Dylan runs for 16 minutes and 56 seconds and contains a stream of American pop cultural references similar to the song American Pie by Don McLean, referencing the three hobos alleged to have been involved in the assassination on Daley Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963, JFK’s alleged use of LSD and the idea the counterculture of the 1960s was infiltrated and directed by the intelligence community. Dylan is 78.
Yusuf Hamied, the Litvak founder of India’s generic pharmaceuticals giant Cipla, reports on his company’s efforts to develop drug treatments for the novel Wuhan virus.
The Kaunas Jewish Community reports the annual commemoration of the mass murder of the children of the Kaunas ghetto was canceled this year because of the virus epidemic. Usually scheduled during the last days of March, this year we are invited to remember the victims at home, by lighting a candle, writing a name on a stone and reflecting.
The following is a list of some of the children who died in the Kaunas ghetto, drawn up on the 70th anniversary of the Children’s aktion by the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. The names are presented in modern Lithuanian orthography.
by Arkadijus Vinokuras
I’m having a dark laugh, Homeland Union/Lithuanian Christian Democrats member of parliament Laurynas Kasčiūnas did not, thank God, accuse Jews for the corona virus. But he did accuse the Lithuanian Jewish Community of financially supporting “that liar” Rūta Vanagaitė’s book “How Did It Happen.”
You might ask what my fake headline has in common with MP Kasčiūnas’s accusation against the LJC. Well both ideas are false and allow for manipulating the truth.
See, the main figure in the book isn’t Rūta Vanagaitė, but Dr. Christoph Dieckmann, one of the best known European historians and an expert on the Holocaust in Lithuania. Or is it this fact which frightens Kasčiūnas? It’s one thing to criticize a “dilettante of history” (as Rūta Vanagaitė’s critics claim) and quite another to criticize a member of the International Commission for Assessing the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, convened and supported by the president of Lithuania.
by Ruth Reches, acting principal, Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium
On March 18 the ORT, an extremely important global Jewish cultural organization, celebrated its birthday. Happy birthday!
ORT is the acronym for Общество ремесленного и земледельческого трудаm, the association of crafts, trades and agriculture founded 140 years ago in 1880. ORT’s goal was to provide Jews work skills and information. In its first decades schools started by the ORT organization graduated tens of thousands of Jews who went on to work as tailors, farmers, mechanics, glass-blowers, furniture makers and similar.
by professor Pinchos Fridberg, PhD habil.
The text of this article exists in three languages, Lithuanian, English and Russian. None of them has managed to get published in the better-known pages of the democratic Lithuanian press.
If an interested reader asks, “Why not?” I would tell him:
I guess it’s forbidden to publish “the Naked Truth!”
Of course he probably needs an “airbag,” i.e., the word “allegedly” should be added!
Probably if I wrote “the ALLEGED Naked Truth” there would be problem in publishing it.
On February 20 I sent the Lithuanian version of my article to the Lithuanian president, and I called and asked he be made aware of it. They promised me my request would be passed on to the Chancellery and an advisor to the president.
The story described is not the first, a similar thing happened with my article “The Jew Whom Ramanauskas-Vanagas Rescued, WHo Probably Wasn’t a Jew” (in Russian here).
The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) held a ceremony to set aside a memorial site and begin planting a forest in memory of the Lithuanian Jewish community, the Russian-language website www.vesty.co.il reported on March 11. The plan is to plant 25,000 trees as part of a KKL environmental protection project for afforestation in southern Israel. Famous Russian-Israeli businessman and philanthropist Roman Abramovich is providing major financing for the project.
Abramovich’s great-grandparents were Litvaks from the Kovna guberniya in the Russian Empire. In spring of 1941–a year after Lithuania was made part of the Soviet Union–the affluent Abramovich family was exiled to Siberia.
Roman’s grandfather was born in Eržvilkas and his grandmother Toiba Berkover was born in Jurbarkas. His grandfather Nakhman died in a camp in Krasnoyarsk in 1942 and his grandmother raised their three sons on her own, Aaron Arkady being Roman’s father.
The web page of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania now features in Lithuanian and English texts about the Vilna Gaon, famous Litvaks and visual materials for celebrating 2020 as the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History.
Most Prominent Jewish Personalities in Lithuania
Lithuania has been home to many Jews, who were born in this country, lived and created here leaving an indelible mark in the scholarly and cultural heritage of Lithuania as well as of the world.
Icchokas Meras (1934-2014). The author of books on the Holocaust (Geltonas lopas (The Yellow Patch), Ant ko laikosi pasaulis (What the World Rests on), Lygiosios trunka akimirką (A Stalemate), and a film script writer for well-known Lithuanian films Kai aš mažas buvau (When I Was a Child), Birželis, vasaros pradžia (June, the Beginning of Summer) and Maža išpažintis (Small Confession).
Chaim Grade (1910-1982). Vilna-born writer, a member of Yung Vilne (Young Vilnius), a group of avant-garde writers and artists. Chaim Grade is considered to be one of the leading Yiddish writers in post-Holocaust period. Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
The Lithuanian Language Commission has awarded Miša Jakobas, the director of the Lithuanian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and founder and long-time former principal of the SHolem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium, their Snail award in recognition of his work supporting the Lithuanian language.
The Jewish school Jakobas founded was the first ethnic minority school to use Lithuanian as the language of instruction. “What’s unique about us is that we don’t have the official state language of Lithuanian, we have the native Lithuanian language. The students use and learn Lithuanian as their native language, and the exceptions other ethnic minority schools make do not apply to us,” Jakobas commented earlier.
This is the sixth time the Lithuanian Language Commission has issued awards. The awards are given in recognition of significant contributions to creating Lithuanian terminology, maintaining high standards of academic speech and language education. Ten other recipients were also awarded this year.
by Sergejus Kanovičius
Once, long ago, I attended a Lithuanian school. Back then there were two Jews, or more accurately, a Jewish boy and a Jewish girl. The boy was in the grade next to her. Dark-skinned speaking without an accent, the Jewish boy always got into fights when others reminded him he was different. Different and therefore not as good. No one tried to break it up. There were always observers. Later they called themselves pals because they didn’t get into fights with him. They didn’t defend him, but they didn’t beat him, either. It’s much safer to stand to the side and keep quiet. That’s been proven historically. The Jewish girl didn’t get into fist fights. She was shy and had curly hair. Whenever someone called her žydelka [Jew-girl], which is now for some reason considered an endearing diminutive term, she used to walk away, sometimes wiping a tear. When I used to hear these “terms of endearment,” unlike the majority of the žydelkos, I had to get into a fight again.
There have always been more apologists for epithets such as žydelka, žydo išpera [Jew-spawn] and others and they have always been stronger. But my family taught me one thing: never to retreat from abuse, to oppose it. I would be lying if I said I had ever been the victor in some fist fight. The combatants were always greater in number and I lost. No matter what, though, they got theirs. Of the many wonderful teachers there were only a few who didn’t give out beatings, they found a pseudo-intellectual way of telling the whole class that this one is different and therefore is worthy of less respect. This kind of intellectual pedagogical encouragement to hate. Like the mark for dictation, when because of one comma the dark kid used to get four [out of ten] with a minus. Just because. So I wouldn’t forget I was different.
Many years later as Lithuania counts her fourth decade of independence, no one dare beat me. Fists have become unpopular. They beat through words. Sometimes rather beautiful ones. The world is free. But it is painful the Lithuanian National Defense Ministry’s magazine Karys [Soldier] has published the lie of a pseudo-historian about the local leader of anti-Semitic ideology (who knows whether another NATO member who sometimes guards our airspace, if the French Defense Ministry would try to tell their soldiers what a great diplomat and patriot Pétain was). Or insistently try to prove “Jew-girl” is a term of endearment (happy International Women’s Day, žydelkos!). Frida Vismant of Šeduva recalls that’s what they called her on the streets in 1940. “You just wait, žydelka padalka, Hitler will come and we’ll show you!” (Out of endearment, I guess, they told her she was a žydelka in the Šiauliai ghetto after they took her firstborn Rachmielis and beat him to death along with 600 child žydelkos).
by Ugnius Antanavičius for 15min.lt
Exactly 25 years ago then-president of Lithuania Algirdas Brazauskas issued the biggest “I’m sorry” of his life. On a trip to Israel he apologized to the Jewish people for Lithuanians who robbed and murdered their Jewish fellow citizens during the Holocaust. Largely forgotten now, Brazauskas’s trip and apology caused many reactions in Israel and Lithuania then.
The apology came on March 1, 1995, when he addressed the Knesset, broadcast live on Israeli radio and television. The late Algirdas Brazauskas apologized in the name of the Lithuanian nation for the Lithuanians who robbed and murdered Jews during the Holocaust. His trip to Israel was surrounded by friction and controversy. Protesters greeted him in Israel, where Lithuania’s reputation was very bad at the time, protesting the rehabilitation of thousands of Holocaust perpetrators by the new independent Lithuanian state. Every word Brazauskas uttered and even his body language was closely scrutinized during that foreign visit.
At the time the prevailing unofficial opinion in Israel held that while the Germans were the most responsible for crimes against the Jewish people, the Lithuanians placed second, followed by Latvians, Romanians and Ukrainians.
Full story in Lithuanian here.
by Grant Gochin
Amazon Prime recently released a fictionalized series called “Hunters.” It is an account of Nazi hunters searching for Holocaust perpetrators living in the USA. Unfortunately, it is not as fictional as we would like. Thousands of Holocaust perpetrators escaped to the USA, and more went to South America. Holocaust denial, cover-ups and lies helped almost all of the escapees live to ripe old ages in peace and comfort, living in wealth on stolen Jewish plunder, and pontificating their Jew hate to the next generations.
Concurrently released on Amazon is a book containing 121 testimonies of Holocaust survivors from the Lithuanian villages titled: The Lithuanian Slaughter of its Jews. These testimonies are harrowing in their stark recounting of rape, torture, enslavement and wholesale murder of Lithuanian Jews by their hunter neighbors (žydšaudžiai), often without any presence of German Nazis (Lithuanian Nazis were plentiful). These testimonies leave no room for Holocaust revisionism which is so predominant in Lithuania today.
President Nausėda of Lithuania states he stands firmly against Holocaust denial. It would be impossible to deny the Holocaust in Lithuania. Hunting and murdering Jews was such a common pastime in Lithuania that they even have a word for it: žydšaudžiai (Jew-shooters). The Holocaust in Lithuania was publicly conducted with massive collaboration of the local population. Death pits cover the country. As such, denying the Holocaust would be preposterous, and Lithuanians are not stupid people.
Nausėda and his government do not stand against Holocaust revisionism, rather, it is their national policy. Lithuania openly acknowledges somehow Jews were murdered; that is, the Jews murdered by Nazis, and the ones they claim were also murdered by their nemesis, Russia. Lithuania lies blatantly about Jews murdered by žydšaudžiai Lithuanians–possibly even up to 80% of the victims.
Full article here.
Around noon on Wednesday I went to take a look at the progress of the electrical wiring being installed in the prayer hall of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius. I noticed a man who was looking over the synagogue carefully. I greeted him in Hebrew and he immediately began asking me questions about synagogue operations, Lithuanian Jewish life and in general “how are you living in Lithuania?” A usual Jewish question.
As a Jew I of course responded to his questions with questions: where are you from, why are you interested in the synagogue, are you perhaps in need of tefillin? … Then the visitor humbly introduced himself, explaining he was attending an academic conference at Vilnius University and had given himself an extra day especially for going to the synagogue, hoping to meet a Jew and get a chance to talk, maybe even in Yiddish, and then walk around the Vilnius Old Town a bit.
His family came from Poland and Vilnius looks a lot like where they came from. Then he said almost in passing, “I was invited to Vilnius University because I’m a Nobel prize winner…” I thought it was quite a good joke! In Yiddish I asked him to tell me the story of his life and how he had come to be the recipient of this most prestigious prize in the world.
The new English edition of Litvak writer Grigoriy Kanovich’s novel Очарованье сатаны (Jerusalem, 2002) titled Devilspel is in the running for a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s literature prize created especially for translated literature and worth 20,000 euros, according to publisher Noir Press.
The prize was instituted two years ago to underline the importance of translations of literature. There are 10 contenders this year, including works by Boris Akunin.
According to the publisher’s website: “Devilspel evokes the lost world of Lithuanian Jews during the Second World War. From the lives of Grigory Kanovich’s vividly drawn characters emerges a panorama of world events that shook eastern Europe and the world. The subtle art of Kanovich is his ability to create characters in the town of Mishkine, like the feisty Danuta Hadassah, the idealistic Elisheva and the complex and empathetic Catholic Cheslavas, who live within us long after the chronicle of their lives has ended. The book is more than a novel. Its story touches the heart and questions human and divine justice in a world gone mad.”
Six finalists–three writers and three translators–will be announced at the awards ceremony to be held in London April 22. The €20,000 prize is to be divided equally between writer and translator. Two runners-up and their translators will also receive a prize of €1,000 each.
Happy birthday to our top Bagel Shop chef Riva Portnaja! Thank you for the delicious treats you make and for preserving the Litvak culinary heritage.
We will always think of you as you are, beloved, friendly, with your sweet and comforting smile, exuding youth from the depths of your soul.
by Vytautas Bruveris, www.lrytas.lt
“You little Jewess, there is no place for you here.” This sort of statement, even made publicly to a woman of Jewish ethnicity, is nothing more than the impolite, unethical implementation of the constitutional right to self expression and freedom of belief.
This phrase in no way means the person who uttered it is predisposed against people of Jewish ethnicity, wants to sow discord against them or wants to discriminate against them. This is the firm belief of no less than the Lithuanian police. It turns out the police in such cases see no basis not only for punishing the author of such statements, but not even for launching an investigation.
Insult Made at Parliamentary Ceremony
Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said she was called “žydelka” [little Jew-girl] and told “there is no place” for Jews in Lithuania at the Lithuanian parliament on January 13 this year when she attended events there to mark the day when protestors were murdered at the Vilnius Television Town back in 1990, a national day of mourning. Kukliansky said an older man came up to her dressed in a uniform and made the statements. She didn’t recognize what sort of uniform it was, but thought it was most likely from the Lithuanian Union of Riflemen.
To the honorable Lithuanian Ambassador to Israel Mrs. Lina Antanavičienė
12 Aba Hillel Silver Street, 17th Floor
Ramat Gan 5250606
Re: Republic of Lithuania Independence celebration
Dear Ambassador Antanvicienė,
Thank you for the ”save the date” to the Lithuania Independence Day celebration to be held on March 16, 2020. Unfortunately, we shall not attend. The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel made a decision within its board of directors meeting of February 20, 2020, not to participate in the festivities until we have a sound solution to the proposed resolution to the Seimas by Mr. Gumuliauskas to absolve Lithuania and Lithuanians of their active participation in the Holocaust and in the murder of Jews during the period of World War II.
We have cooperated fully with the restored Independent Republic of Lithuania regimes in combating anti-Semitism and promoting historical recognition of that dark period of World War II between the years 1941-1945.
As the Vilnius Book Fair ramps up this year, Grigoriy Kanovitch’s “Miestelio romansas” (the Lithuanian translation of his “Shtetl Love Song”] is reappearing on bookshop shelves. The novel tells the stories of people in small-town Lithuania, including Jews, Lithuanians, Poles and Russians, in the period between 1920 and 1941. Kanovitch’s son Sergejus, also an accomplished author, interviewed him in a press release for the book fair.
How does Shtetl Love Song fit in the context of your entire corupus? How important is it that the Lithuanian edition has gone into its second printing?
Shtetl Love Song is my most personal book. It’s the most biographical. I wouldn’t say I’m spoiled by second editions. Of course there have been some. But I should consider the additional publication of Shtetl Love Song the most important. News of this made me extraordinarily happy.
An autobiography in Lithuanian by noted Lithuanian attorney Samuelis Kukliansky who miraculously survived the Holocaust is available at the Vilnius Book Fair. His story is about maintaining human dignity and keeping alive that core of humanity in every person. The book “Samuelis Kuklianskis- teisininkas” [Samuelis Kuklianskis, Attorney] is for sale at the Vilnius Book Fair at the Adrena booth, booth no. 5D01, in hall 5.