Learning

LJC’s Second Year at Vilnius Book Fair a Success

LJC’s Second Year at Vilnius Book Fair a Success

Almost 68,500 people visited the Vilnius Book Fair this year on its 20th anniversary. There were more than 550 events for visitors to chose from over four days. The Lithuanian Jewish Community had a table this year for the second year in a row presenting books published with partial support from the Goodwill Foundation.

The table was extremely popular with visitors all four days. Some came to browse, others to talk about Jewish culture and share their memories. There was much interested in Yitzhak Rudashevski’s Vilnius ghetto diary recently published in Lithuanian translation. This book was recognized by the Vilnius Book Fair as one of the best-designed books of 2018. Readers also expressed interest in and bought Uri Leviatan’s From Hand to Hand and Ruth Reches’s Hebrew dictionary in Lithuanian, among others.

Those wishing to purchase these books and others are invited to come to the Goodwill Foundation at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius or to visit the foundation’s internet store at https://gvf.lt/e-parduotuve/

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony at Choral Synagogue

The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius is to hold a bar and bat mitzvah ceremony at 4:00 P.M. on March 11 for boys about to turn or already 13 and girls about to turn or already 12.

To register send an email to rabbi@jewishlita.com or call 8 685 08 550.

Conference on Interpersonal Relationships

Alfred Adler was a Jewish doctor and psychotherapist from Austria who developed the methods of individual psychology based on a holistic appreciation of the individual and the principle of equality, breaking away from his mentor Sigmund Freud. Beginning in 1912 he gave a series of lectures on the subject, published later in English in 1925. The term “individual psychology” (German Individualpsychologie) does not mean to focus on the individual. Adler said one must take into account the patient’s whole environment, including the people the patient associates with. The term “individual” is used to mean the patient is an indivisible whole.

The Lithuanian Individual Psychology Association invites everyone interested to attend their annual conference. This year’s conference is called “Relationships as a Couple: To Be or Not to Be” and is aimed at psychologists, doctors, social workers, teachers and everyone interested in interpersonal psychology. The conference is to take place at the Corner Hotel at T. Ševčenkos street no. 16 in Vilnius March 16. The conference will be multilingual with translation into Lithuania. Speakers include Rašelė Šeraitė, director of the family support section at the LJC Social Department.

To learn more and to register, see http://lipd.lt/renginiai/konferencija-2019/

Concert for Grigoriy Kanovich’s 90th Birthday

Concert for Grigoriy Kanovich’s 90th Birthday

Dear readers,

The first in a series of events to celebrate the 90th year of Litvak writer Grigoriy Kanovich will be a concert tonight, Wednesday, February 27, at 7:00 P.M. at the Vaidila Theater on Jakšto street no. 9 in Vilnius.

Lukas Geniušas will perform on piano works by Chopin and Tchaikovsky. This will also be the premiere of contemporary composer Leonid Desyatnikov’s Songs of Bukovina.

Audience members will receive a surprise gift as well.

Tickets available at bilietai.lt

Director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of Year for 2018

Director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of Year for 2018

kaunas.kasvyksta.lt

The Sugihara Foundation/Diplomats for Life awarded director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of the Year for 2018 and presented their Leonidas Donskis prize to publicist Pranas Morkus at the Catholic Theology Cathedral of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas February 24, 2019.

Varnas was selected for the prize for his search for alternative language for theater and plays, especially in his latest works, Nathan the Wise and Ghetto, performed at the Kaunas State Drama Theater.

Varnas said his first reaction was complete surprise. “When I’m working I never think about these kind of things,” he said, adding he experiences a conflict in contemporary theater which often becomes nothing more than a way to make an audience laugh. “I am glad real theater is still needed, theater which discusses uncomfortable things, which speaks the truth,” Varnas said as he accepted the prize.

Litvak Literature: Grigoriy Kanovich at 90

Litvak Literature: Grigoriy Kanovich at 90

by Sergejus Kanovičius

My father wrote “Shtetl Love Song” at the age of 84. And he promised himself he wouldn’t write more: “it’s better I not write, and I don’t want to write more poorly.” Over the last six years his books have been translated to and published in English, German and Macedonian. They are being translated now as well, and soon more will appear. No matter how my brother and I have tried to provoke Father to write more, he firmly keeps to the promise he made to himself. Not a month goes by that he doesn’t get a letter from publishers or journalists asking for interviews, to attend a book launch or to travel to deliver a lecture. Very rarely he agrees to answer questions in writing: “I have said everything already, I have written everything, let them read my books.”

It’s not the first time when his name is heard at the bustle of the book fair, when his selected writings are presented, Rūta Oginskaitė’s memoir biography “Gib a Kuk” [Take a Look] and now “Linksmos Akys” [Happy Eyes]. But the author is not at the book fair. And he won’t be at the next one, although there might be a different book. If not at the Lithuanian book fair, then maybe the German, Polish or English. As I recall Father never liked answering questions about his work. It seemed incomprehensible to him how an author could also interpret that which he has created, and he didn’t understand either how one could explain what one has experienced and given birth to. Just take me and read. Father doesn’t like questions about his work. Unless those questions are broader, about a worldview. But this is in the books, too.

Rudashevski Ghetto Diary Wins Main Prizes at Vilnius Book Fair

Rudashevski Ghetto Diary Wins Main Prizes at Vilnius Book Fair

The Vilnius ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski, translated and published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community, has won the Book of the Year distinction at the annual Vilnius Book Fair currently being held in the Lithuanian capital.

Deputy minister for culture Gintautė Žemaitytė congratulated the designers and publishers, presenting them prizes and diplomas. The book was recognized as the best book in terms of design, taste and art for 2018. The Lithuanian Cultural Ministry has presented the prize annually 26 years now. Over 130 publications competed for the title this time.

Book designer Sigutė Chlebinskaitė won the main prize for sensitive aesthetics and holistic concept. Congratulations to Sigutė for her talent and for dedicating it to the boy from the Vilnius ghetto.

The LJC won in the category of publisher. We are so glad we were able to present this monument to the children of the Holocaust to the Lithuanian reader.

Born in Leviatan’s Clinic

Born in Leviatan’s Clinic

The Lithuanian Jewish Community hosted the launch of the Lithuanian translation of an unusual book on February 21. Professor Uri Leviatan’s book “From Hand to Hand” is unlike the academic works by this much-published anthropologist and sociologist who focuses on the modern phenomenon of the Israeli kibbutz. It is his own story, and that of his parents and grand-parents, which he began writing for his son Lior in 2014, the fruit of personal research stretching back decades, in which the author seeks to answer the question of his origins and what exactly happened to him as a child during the Holocaust.

The autobiography reads like a thriller novel and the author himself describes it as a series of detective stories.

Asked to speak about his experience as a child of the Holocaust at a Holocaust survivor and Jewish partisan conference held in Israel in the ’90s, Leviatan realized he had actually been passed from one guardian to another at least seven times. Initially his parents had him smuggled out of the Kaunas ghetto, where they perished, but after that his path to Israel after the war became very foggy in his own mind. Hardly unusual for a child born in 1939 to not remember all of the horror of the Holocaust in his first few years, but Leviatan’s memory gaps seem to have always bothered him, and he managed over the decades to track down real documentation of himself as a Jewish orphan in Lithuania and later at the Sanhedria children’s home in Israel, now sporting a different first name following what he described as his “almost kidnapping” by a Jewish religious group which gathered up Jewish orphans in Europe. This group changed his name, falsified his date of birth and it was only when his aunt, already in Israel, went looking for him and happened to ask another child from Kaunas about Uri that he was rescued.

Visit LJC Stand and Events at the Vilnius Book Fair

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will have a stand at the Vilnius Book Fair which opens February 21 and concludes on February 24. The stand number is 3.19.

At 2:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 21, Uriel Leviatan’s book “Iš rankų į rankas” [“From Hand to Hand,” translated from the Hebrew to Lithuanian by Victoria Sideraitė-Alon with an introduction by Dalia Epšteinaitė, who also edited the Lithuanian version] will be presented by the LJC in hall 3.1 at the Vilnius Book Fair. At 3:00 P.M. on Saturday, February 23, a presentation of Litvak literature celebrating the 90th birthday of Grigoriy Kanovich will be held in hall 5.2.

Presentation of Uri Levitan’s Book “From Hand to Hand” at LJC

Presentation of Uri Levitan’s Book “From Hand to Hand” at LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community kindly invites you to attend a presentation of the book “Iš rankų į rankas” [“From Hand to Hand,” translated from the Hebrew to Lithuanian by Victoria Sideraitė-Alon with an introduction by Dalia Epšteinaitė, who also edited the Lithuanian version] by head of the Sociology and Anthropology Faculty and head of the Kibbutz Institute of Haifa University professor Uriel Leviatan and a meeting with the author at 6:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 21, at the LJC in Vilnius.

Professor Leviatan was born in Kaunas. His grandfather Isaac Leviatan was a renowned gynecologist in prewar Lithuania. The birthing clinic he created on Miško street in Kaunas in 1926 is still operating. Isaac Leviatan was a talented doctor and an active figure in Kaunas public life. He became chairman of the Zionist party Zionim Klaleem in 1935 and was the long-time representative of that party at Zionist congresses held in Europe.

Of the family of Isaac Leviatan renowned in Kaunas and throughout Lithuania, only Uriel survived through a kind of miracle. His parents sensed the coming liquidation of the ghetto in 1943 and made sure three-year-old Uriel was smuggled out of the ghetto…

Jewish Scouts Hike to Synagogue in Žiežmariai

Jewish Scouts Hike to Synagogue in Žiežmariai

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invited Jewish scouts for a winter hike on February 17. The delegation left by train for Žasliai where they were welcomed by the town alderman and local students. The scouts presented the community and the school with a gift, the ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski in Lithuanian.

The hike began through Strošiūnai Forest where the scouts learned how to build a fire and had a snack.

Hikers later visited the Jewish mass murder site in Strošiūnai Forest where everyone laid a stone in memory of the victims. The hike concluded at the Žiežmariai Cultural Center where the scouts, along with Kaišiadorys regional administration head Vytenis Tomkus, they raised and viewed the traditional Žiežmariai haShomer haTzair scouting flag, generously donated for the occasion by the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.

Launch of Book about Jews of Švėkšna

Launch of Book about Jews of Švėkšna

Monika Žąsytienė, a Bagel Shop project volunteer and museum specialist, has written a book called “Švėkšnos žydų bendruomenė XVII–XX a.” [The Jewish Community of Švėkšna from the 17th to the 20th Century].

The Bagel Shop Café will host the launch of the new book at 6:00 P.M. on February 19. Register here.

According to the author, the book makes no pretense of being an historical work. Instead, Monika Žąsytienė sought to bring together local lore and regional history for future work on the subject. She made use of material from Lithuanian archives, Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C. Some of the information–testimonies, memoirs, correspondence in Yiddish, Hebrew, German and English–appears for the first time in Lithuanian in her book.

Liova Taicas Memorial Tournament in Šiauliai

Liova Taicas Memorial Tournament in Šiauliai

An athletics tournament in memory of Liova Taicas (1952-2009) has been held annually in Šiauliai since 2010.

Chess, ping-pong, basketball and inside soccer matches were held this year with 123 contestants from the city and region of Šiauliai, Vilnius, Kaunas, Panevėžys, Klaipėda, Ukmergė, Žagarė and even Israel. Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon, Lithuanian MP Viktorija Čmilytė Nielsen, Rabbi Kalev Krelin, deputy mayor of Šiauliai Justinas Sartauskas, deputy head of the Šiauliai regional administration Algis Mačiulis, chairmen of the regional Jewish communities and many other members and friends participated.

Liova Taicas and Oser Gleizer were active members in Šiauliai of broader a group who sought to resurrect the Makabi athletics club in the 1988-1989 period, as Lithuania was breaking away from the Soviet Union. Both became directors of Makabi in Šiauliai and organized sporting events, mainly involving the then-large Lithuanian Jewish communities.

Following Taicas’s death, Gleizer proposed holding annual sporting events to honor Taicas and his contributions to the Jewish athletics movement. The 10th Liova Taicas memorial tournament was held on February 10 of this year.

Aaron Garon’s Book Vilnius Jewish World Presented at LJC

Aaron Garon’s Book Vilnius Jewish World Presented at LJC

Aaron Garon (Garonas, 1919-2009) was born in Vilnius and most of his life was associated with his beloved home town. He moved to Israel in 1992 but always looked forward to the summers when he would return to Vilnius.

Garon became a witness to the phenomenon of the Vilnius Jewish world at a young age and harbored a life-long and deep love of Jewish culture and his native Yiddish language.

A reserved and proud Litvak, Garon painfully witnessed, too, the decline of Yiddish: “How can we erase a thousand years of Jewish cultural history?”

Garon’s terse tales of his home, parents and school–all of which he adored–served as a kind of return to paradise lost for him: “If there is anything positive in me, I must thank my parents and school and our wonderful principal Sofia Gurevich for this,” he wrote.

The Jewish world of Vilnius thrived for centuries but was wiped out in the Holocaust, although survivors continued to speak Yiddish with their families for decades. Most of them made their way to Israel, and Yiddish was no longer heard on the streets of Vilnius. This book–a Lithuanian translation of select articles by Garon the journalist and writer–is more than just vivid memories, it is a testimony to and a painting in Yiddish of a lost world which might teach future generations just how much the city lost. The new book is in both Lithuanian and Yiddish.

Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects

Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects

Serafima Velkovich from Israel delivered a public lecture at the Chaim Frankel villa on February 14, 2019, called “The Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects.” The event was intended to mark the 75th anniversary of the liquidation of the Šiauliai ghetto. The lecture was in English with simultaneous translation to Lithuania. Velkovich works in the archives of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial institute in Israel. The event was attended by members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, Lithuanian MP Stasiys Tumėnas’s advisor Nerijus Brazauskas, representatives of the local municipal and regional administrations, employees from the Aušra, Joniškis and Pakruojis Museums, high school students from Šiauliai and local public figures and members of the public.

The event was organized by the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community. Partners included the Goodwill Foundation, the International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania, the Aušra Museum in Šiauliai, the Klaipėda Jewish Religious Community, the Kaunas Jewish Religious Community, the Conference of European Rabbis, descendants of Litvaks abroad, the Panevėžys Jewish Support Association and the Jewish Cultural Heritage Route Association.

Results of First Parenting Course

Results of First Parenting Course

The first series of parenting skills classes put on by the Social Programs Department of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has ended. The classes were held for three months and included practical tasks as well as theory with activities led by a specialist. Activities initiator and organizer Rashele Šeraitė said the parents were enthusiastic students, rarely missed a class, always had their homework done, openly shared their problems with the group and applied what they learned in real life, in their own families.

This time parents of teenagers were selected as the target group. These parents face perhaps the greatest challenges, from maintaining good relationships to teenage rebellion and the search for independence. Although it wasn’t easy for the parents, during group meetings they cheerfully shared how they had applied their new knowledge and how relationships in the family changed for the better, with new rituals, new rules and openness at home. There was more sincere discussion, confidence and respect within the family, they reported. Parents said their children had started finally to listen to them, and parents had also learned how to relate to their children as equals.

Bagel Shop Celebrates Third Birthday

Bagel Shop Celebrates Third Birthday

The Bagel Shop Café is the café the Lithuanian Jewish Community opened three years ago on the first floor. Celebrating Litvak culinary heritage and traditions, the Bagel Shop makes bagels according to a family recipe and makes Sabbath challa every Friday, as well as many other items, and special foods on holidays. It began as an idea in 2014, as part of a tolerance campaign of the same name sponsored in part by a grant from Norway and aimed at fighting discrimination and anti-Semitism. Eventually the Bagel Shop became a real bagel shop.

Three years later, we’ve decided to surprise our customers and visitors with a presentation of Israeli street food and culture. Throughout February we’ll be baking pita, making falafel and talking about food.

Everyone’s invited at 10:00 A.M. on Sunday, February 17, to an educational celebration at the LJC where you’ll have the opportunity to sample falafel and sabih made the Israeli way, with musical accompaniment. Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon will talk about Israeli street food and Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky will teach on the topic of kosher food. Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas is to take part in the event and synagogue cantor Shmuel Yatom will perform. Visitors will also have the chance to speak personally with Bagel Shop chef Riva Portnaja and others about Jewish cuisine.

Falafel, Cabbage, Gentrification and a Sense of Community

Falafel, Cabbage, Gentrification and a Sense of Community

You might have noticed recent items about the Bagel Shop Café and Israeli street food during the snowy month of February. We asked Community members and friends about the joy of life and sense of community to be discovered in eating and food.

Our chef Riva makes the best shakshuka in Vilnius although she prefers burek. We recommend you visit the site of the shakshuka cult in Tel Aviv. Our version comes from there, so what is burek? These are flaky layered pastry with all sorts of filling, including spinach, mushrooms and potatoes. We make it with scrambled egg as well. Riva buys these at bakeries on the street in Israel which overflow with baked goods Friday mornings and where it is difficult to even take it all in. Riva’s discovery this culinary season is cabbage from Jaffa. Expect a surprise!

CRIF Calls for National Response to Surge in Anti-Semitism in France

CRIF Calls for National Response to Surge in Anti-Semitism in France

CRIF
CONSEIL REPRÉSENTIF DES INSTITUTIONS JUIVES DE FRANCE

Paris, le 12 février 2019

Press release

CRIF calls for a national bounce against anti-Semitism

French interior minister Christophe Castaner announced anti-Semitic acts increased by 74% in 2018. This reflects a disturbing release of anti-Jewish hatred.

Portraits of Simone Veil desecrated with swastikas, the grove in memory of Ilan Halimi vandalized, the tag Juden on a shop window in Paris … the last days alone testify to the banalization and violence of anti-Semitism in France in 2019.

CRIF recalls these statistics do not include acts which did not lead to a complaint, nor anti-Semitic publications on internet. Thus they reflect only very partially the reality of “everyday anti-Semitism” faced by French Jews.

CRIF is concerned by the violence of the anti-Semitism on social networks which contributes to the inculcation of anti-Semitism and conspiracy in the minds of the younger generation.

For CRIF, the general plans set up to fight hatred appear ineffective, unfortunately. It is now necessary to provide targeted responses to each instance of the hate which is tearing our society apart.

President Francis Kalifat is calling for a “national bounce against anti-Semitism.” He emphasizes: “beyond being a threat to Jews, anti-Semitism is a sign of the weakening of democracy in our country. On the eve of the anniversary of the assassination of Ilan Halimi, CRIF is hoping for a welcome bounce from French society to break the wall of indifference which surrounds anti-Semitism.”

Close Ties between States of Lithuania and Israel Strengthen Cultural Cooperation

Close Ties between States of Lithuania and Israel Strengthen Cultural Cooperation

Cultural cooperation between Israel and Lithuania is gaining momentum through joint projects and upcoming events discussed by Lithuanian minister of culture Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon.

The Lithuanian cultural festival Lithuanian History to be held from March to June in Tel Aviv was cited as an example of intense cultural cooperation. This is one of the most remarkable Lithuanian cultural projects to be held abroad in 2019. Lithuanian cultural organizations working together closely with Israeli cultural organizations will present Lithuanian literature, music, modern dance, documentary cinema and visual arts. The festival will likely strengthen ties between Lithuanian and Israeli cultural organizations and promote Lithuanian culture in Israel.

The meeting between the Lithuanian minister and the Israeli ambassador discussed how more active exchanges of cultural workers between Israel and Lithuania should encourage the drafting of a 2019-2022 program of Lithuanian and Israeli cooperation in the areas of education, academia, culture, youth affairs and athletics with a significant emphasis on culture.

Full text in Lithuanian here.