Learning

Passover 5780

Passover 5780

This year we are recommending you spend Passover at home with family. We have prepared kits with everything needed for the traditional kosher seder which can be ordered by internet. Orders must be received before April 5.

The order form in Russian and Lithuanian is available here:
https://www.torah4lithuania.com/seder-to-go

Let’s Talk: LJC Chairwoman Delivers Video Address to Members

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky has posted a video address to members. She said the following:

“Good day. I am addressing members of our Jewish community. Unfortunately, I can’t speak with you in person. Under these conditions I must speak with the aid of technology, but I would say the exact same thing if we were speaking in person.

“A certain time has come which is not pleasant and not favorable to anyone. Somehow we must live through this period with the hope that this period overall will end sometime. I believe that very much, and I hope it will end very soon.

EJC Video Conference with Communities around Europe

EJC Video Conference with Communities around Europe

The Security and Crisis Center of the European Jewish Community and heads of security and representatives of Jewish communities in Ireland, Span, Italy and Belgium held a video conference March 30 on the ZOOM platform to discuss best practices during the current virus epidemic. Milo Hasbani, president of the Milan Jewish community, reported 8 members had died. Topics included welfare checks on members, delivering Passover foods and maintaining Jewish life via internet under quarantine conditions. Participants also discussed a possible rise in anti-Semitic activities during Passover and during the viral epidemic. EJC representatives called for more such video conferences in the coming weeks.

WJC Letter to Member Organizations

WJC Letter to Member Organizations

To: WJC Affiliated Communities & Organizations
WJC Executive Committee

From: Maram Stern, WJC Executive Vice President

Dear Friends,

In response to the current global COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder has published the opinion piece below rejecting any kind of scapegoating and focusing on the need for all people to work together in these troubled times, which I invite you to read:

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/fight-against-coronavirus-together-ronald-lauder

Read article in pdf format.

Stay Safe, Be Well – Zeit Gezund!

Maram

No, Mr. Kasčiūnas, Jews Did Not Create the Corona Virus

No, Mr. Kasčiūnas, Jews Did Not Create the Corona Virus

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.

Plan for Commemorating Vilnius Great Synagogue Becomes Clearer

Plan for Commemorating Vilnius Great Synagogue Becomes Clearer


by Roberta Tracevičiūtė for 15min.lt

The Vilnius city municipality reports agreement has been reached wit the Lithuanian Jewish Community on how best to commemorate the site of the former Great Synagogue in Vilnius’s historical Jewish quarter.

The plan according to the city is to set up a memorial square or park with an open-air exhibition and no permanent construction of any kind. According to the city, the undeveloped other side of Jewish Street will host a playground and athletics field [which it does now--LZB].

Discussion on how to commemorate the site has gone on for years. Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius said earlier the synagogue site will be commemorated in 2023 when Vilnius celebrates its 700th birthday.

ORT Celebrates Birthday

ORT Celebrates Birthday

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.

Happy Birthday to Gercas Borveinas

Happy Birthday to Gercas Borveinas

Happy 85th birthday to doctor Gercas Borveinas. The Lithuanian Jewish Community knows him as the long-time heart surgeon at the Antaklanis University Hospital in Vilnius who is always attentive and respectful towards patients. Borveinas was the first to use cardiac echoscopy in Lithuania and has been awarded the January 13 medal.

We wish the doctor much energy, health and happiness! Mazl tov! May you live to 120.

The Naked Truth: The Text “Hallelujah to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union” Judged Worthy of Doctorate in Independent Lithuania

The Naked Truth: The Text “Hallelujah to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union” Judged Worthy of Doctorate in Independent Lithuania

by professor Pinchos Fridberg, PhD habil.

Standard Foreword

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).

Strengthening the Human Rights Coalition in Lithuania in 2020

Strengthening the Human Rights Coalition in Lithuania in 2020

The Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Roma Community Center and the Lithuanian Human Rights Center are implementing a project called “Strengthening the Human Rights Coalition in Lithuania in 2020.”

The project is aimed at increasing the visibility and participation of the Human Rights Coalition which is constituted of these three organizations in civic initiatives at six regional Lithuanian centers where Jewish communities operate.

This coalition will represent ethnic communities in Lithuania and help fight expressions of hate, Romophobia and anti-Semitism in public life.

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky’s Purim Greeting

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky’s Purim Greeting

Purim is the happiest Jewish holiday. It’s unfortunate the fun is so brief and gives way to everyday reality which isn’t always as happy. Nonetheless I wish everyone as many good, happy days as possible.

Let’s live like Queen Esther, the symbol of the beauty, intelligence and cleverness of Jewish women who gave us victory against our hapless enemies who wanted to destroy the Jewish community and who so shamefully failed in that.

It’s not in vain we read the Book of Esther believing women are in no way weaker than men!

Lithuanian Government Lists Famous Litvaks

Lithuanian Government Lists Famous Litvaks

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.

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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.

Writers

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.

Miša Jakobas Wins Lithuanian Language Commission Prize

Miša Jakobas Wins Lithuanian Language Commission 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.

Happy Holidays, Žydelkos

Happy Holidays, Žydelkos

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).

Art Workshops

Art Workshops

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Savickas Art School invite those who want to experience the joy of creativity to attend a series of art activities. The program includes painting, drawing, the basics of art history, classical color schemes, composition and sketching using pastels, acrylics and oil paints. Classes will also cover still-life, landscape and portrait styles. Raimondas Savickas will teach and classes begin March 8, 2020, staggered in two groups. Meetings will take place on Sundays at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius. The cost is 10 euros per workshop or 20 euros advance payment for all four classes. For more information call 867881514 on workdays from 10:00 A.M. till 5:00 P.M. To register, send an e-mail to zanas@sc.lzb.lt

American Purim Party

American Purim Party

An American-style Purim party (American food) with the reading of the Book of Esther and a program for children including mini-golf will be held at the Vilnius Grand Resort Hotel formerly known as the Villon Hotel at 6:00 P.M. on Monday, March 9. There will be a bar for adults. Gifts will be given to everyone and of course there will be an impressive show for all. The cost is 10 euros in advance or 15 at the door. Students, adolescents and seniors get in for 5 euros. Children under 12 attend free. Tickets are available at the Choral Synagogue, Chabad House or by sending payment by bank transfer to “Jewish religious community Chabad” via the account no. LT3570440600013701339 (SEB Bankas). A bus will depart from the synagogue at 5:00 P.M. To register or to find out more, write rabbi@jewishlita.com or call 868508550.

Children Invited to Purim Carnival

The Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Sababa Jewish youth club and the song and dance group Fayerlakh invite children to the “Party of Ahasuerus” Purim carnival. The program includes Purim plays, a costume parade, traditional foods and shalahmones, or Purim baskets. Queen Esther requests children come dressed in costume or at least wearing a mask. Registration is required before March 6 by calling Sofja at 8 601 46656 or sending an email to sofja@lzb.lt The event will begin at 3:00 P.M. on March 8 on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius.

Lithuanian President’s Historic Apology 25 Years Ago

Lithuanian President’s Historic Apology 25 Years Ago

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.