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 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.
You might make it a point to have bagels for breakfast, to bake challa on Fridays and to drive out all colds with chicken broth on those cold winter nights, but do you really know how to make these foods? We’re inviting children aged 7 to 12 to come learn old Jewish recipes from balabosta Rivka and to spend Sunday afternoons in the kitchen of the Bagel Shop Café at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius. All events are free.
For more information, write firstname.lastname@example.org
Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky has travelled to Sweden to attend an international forum in Malmö dedicated to Holocaust commemoration and fighting anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism is an attack on European values, and any racist actions or those fueled by hate are irreconcilable with human rights and the principles of democracy. Let’s try to overcome division in society by actively presenting Jewish culture and traditions to the broader public. The indirect or hidden anti-Semitism and the distortion and denial of Holocaust history we are still seeing continue to be a painful insult to people of Jewish ethnicity,” Kukliansky said.
During the discussions in Malmö Kukliansky will meet with heads of delegations and special envoys and officials responsible for preserving Holocaust memory and fighting anti-Semitism, including the EU’s Katharina von Schnuberin and others.
In Sweden she will also meet with Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international affairs for the American Jewish Committee.
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!
The Lithuanian Jewish Community is hosting a round-table discussion on human rights and specifically the rights of Jews in Lithuania at 6:00 P.M. on October 20 at the Bagel Shop Café at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius. The discussion will be broadcast via internet as well.
As a member of the Lithuanian Coalition of Human Rights Organizations, the LJC has contributed this year to a “shadow report” to the United Nations initiated and presented by the Law and Justice and the Educational and Scientific and Human Rights Committees of the Lithuanian parliament, intended to improve the human rights situation for ethnic minorities in Lithuania, including Jews.
Those recommendations are available in Lithuanian here.
Participants will include LJC chairwoman and attorney Faina Kukliansky, Sholem Aleichem principal Ruth Reches, human rights expert Jūratė Juškaitė, diplomat Marius Janukonis, equal opportunities ombudsman Birutė Sabatauskaitė, MP and chairwoman of the parliament’s Commission on Battles for Freedom and State Historical Memory Paulė Kuzmickienė, MP and Lithuanian Supreme Court judge Stasys Šedbaras, General Prosecutor’s Office prosecutor Justas Laucius, former Constitutional Court judge and dean of the International and EU Law Faculty at Mykolas Romeris Justinas Žilinskas and others.
More information about registering and attending virtually available on facebook here.
The Lithuanian Makabiada was held October 3 with athletes in five fields of athletics competing at the Taurus sports complex in Vilnius. As usual the majority of athletes came from the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium in Vilnius. It was very encouraging to see such active participation by the younger generation in the athletics movement. A great new crop is coming up in the Makabi movement.
The Sholem Aleichem team and the united Kaunas and Vilnius teams faced off in three sports: three-on-three basketball, mini soccer and volleyball. There was fierce competition in basketball and volleyball, but the united Vilnius-Kaunas team pulled off a victory in the end.
The united team clearly had the advantage in soccer.
Danielius Tarachovskis became the badminton champion with Vitalija Movšovič taking second place and Igor Movšovič third.
In ping-pong Viktoras Maginas took first, Aronas Galpernas second and Ričardas Matonis third place.
All the athletes displayed great sportsmanship and enthusiasm. Preparations continue for the World Maccabiada in Israel next year.
Semionas Finkelšteinas, president
Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club
A chess tournament was held at the Lithuanian Jewish Community on Sunday to commemorate Boris Rositsan, FIDE master and long-time president of the Rositsan and Maccabi chess club. His widow and friends shared their memories and remembered his extraordinary sense of humor, love of food, love for his family, for chess and for life.
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.
Vilnius University and the Lost Shtetl Museum are launching jointly a series of lectures and discussions called “Open Conversations on History” which will raise topical questions of historical truth, memory wars and society’s ability to resist the pressure to serve one or another ideology.
We invited Christoph Dieckmann, a prominent historian and author of books on German occupation policy and the Holocaust in Lithuania, to the first discussion at 6:00 P.M. on October 1. He will give a lecture called “Looking back on our past. Lithuanians, Germans, and Jews.”
Dieckmann will share his insights on the relationship between history and memory, talk about personal searches trying to find the best way to study the Holocaust in Lithuania and the method used to help incorporate the different perspectives of Holocaust participants.
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.