Yiddish

Shalom Culture and Music Festival Presents Wagon of Shoes

Shalom Culture and Music Festival Presents Wagon of Shoes

At 7:00 P.M. on June 4 the Shalom Culture and Music Festival presents a concert at the Church of St. Kotryna (aka St. Catherine) in Vilnius, with performances by opera soloist Rafailas Karpis, violinist Boris Kirzner and the Vilnius State Choir conducted by Artūras Dambrauskas. This will be the first performance in Lithuania of “Wagon of Shoes” by Lee Kesselman. The concert program is to include works by Jewish composers for solo and choir.

“Wagon of Shoes” is a work for choir, soloist, piano and violin by Lee Kesselman based on the poem by Abraham Sutzkever, Yiddish poet, Jewish partisan and survivor of the Vilnius ghetto. The Jewish composer lives in the USA and wrote the piece for the 700th anniversary of Vilnius under commission by the Lithuanian Consulate in Chicago and the Dainava Choir of the Lithuanian Community in Chicago. The premiere took place in June of 2022 in Chicago.

The Shalom Culture and Music Festival is being held in eleven Lithuanian cities and towns from May to October of 2024. The half-year tour will feature classical and contemporary music, klezmer, improvisational jazz, exhibitions and artistic activities. Musicians and singers from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Germany and Israel will participate in the festival. This year’s festival program includes over 20 concerts in concert halls in Vilnius, Kaunas, Šiauliai and Palanga, the Old Zapyškis Church, synagogues in Alytus, Joniškis, Kėdainiai, Pakruojis and Žiežmariai and at the former Telšiai yeshiva.

Intensive Yiddish Course 2024

Intensive Yiddish Course 2024

Embark on a journey to learn a 1000-year-old language with a rich cultural heritage in Vilnius, the fabled “Jerusalem of North!”

You will meet and learn from world-names in Yiddish education: professors Avrom Lichtenboim (Argentina), Dov-Ber Kerler (US) and Anna Verschik (Estonia). Apart from directly learning Yiddish, You will get tons of additional and fun educational events–museum and cultural site tours, film-screenings and Yiddish song–every afternoon!

Shalom Culture and Music Festival Opening Concert in Vilnius

Shalom Culture and Music Festival Opening Concert in Vilnius

On May 14 the St. Kotryna Church in Vilnius will host the opening concert of a Jewish music and culture festival called Shalom Culture and Music, including performances by vocalist Israel Roytman from Jerusalem, local opera soloists Giedrė Kisieliūtė and Joris Rubinovas, and vocalist Karolina Mint.

The program includes Jewish folk songs and favorites from Lithuania, Israel and the USA.

The Shalom Culture and Music Festival will take place from mid-May till October and will visit 11 Lithuanian cities and towns, with concerts including Jewish, klezmer, classical music and works by contemporary composers. Performers come from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Israel and the Ukraine.

Tickets for the opening concert are available here: https://bit.ly/3TZ7dS1

Tickets for the 19 other concerts planned are available here: https://bit.ly/3W2MgIl

Evening Dedicated to the Legendary Fania Lewando

Evening Dedicated to the Legendary Fania Lewando

Fania Lewando was a legend of interwar Vilnius, an exceptional personality, an innovator, an excellent cook and an entrepreneur, inspiring thousands of fans even after her death.. An event organized by the Polish Institute and the Lithuanian Jewish Community and held last week was dedicated to her.

A detailed account based on years of research by Magdalena Maślak, a cultural historian and the curator of the Pauline Museum of Jewish History in Poland, painted a vivid portrait of the unusually strong personality of Fania Lewando, and Alessia di Donato, a chef from Rome, an expert in Ashkenazi and Sephardic cuisine, prepared risotto with white wine according to one of Lewando’s recipes and revealed all the intricacies of her vegetarian cuisine.

“I am often asked why I became interested in Fania Lewando’s recipes. In fact, I admire not only her dishes, but also her personality. She was an extraordinary woman, brave, active, full of ideas ahead of her time,” says the Italian, who has been living and working in Poland for ten years.

Culinary Evening

Culinary Evening

You’re invited to attend an evening of discussion, demonstration and sampling of the recipes of interwar vegetarian restaurant owner and cook Fania Lewando. Lewando operated a restaurant in Vilnius with a cult following in the period between the two world wars. Artists and the city elite frequented her establishment. Chef Alessia di Donato originally from Rome will provide samples of dishes made according to the recipes Lewando left us in her cook book. Cultural anthropologist Magdalena Maślak from Poland will also tell stories about Lewando.

Registration is required by sending an email to info@lzb.lt. Everyone is invited to attend.

Time: 5:00 P.M., Thursday, April 11
Place: Bagel Shop Café, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius

Tenth Yortsayt for Simon Alperovitch

Tenth Yortsayt for Simon Alperovitch

This week will mark the tenth anniversary of the death of long-serving chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Simon Alperovitch. Come pay your respects, share your memories and take a look at the documentary film “Aš kažkaip laimingas žmogus” [Somehow I’m a Happy Man] made by Junona Berznicki and Gintarė Zakarauskaitė.

Time: 1:00 P.M., Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Place: Third floor, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Vilnius

For more information, contact Žana at (+370) 678 81514 or zanas@sc.lzb.lt.

Condolences

We are deeply saddened to report the death of Rimas Timunas. He was born in 1952. A renowned theater director, he staged Grigoriy Kanovitch’s “Nusišypsok mums, Viešpatie” and popularized Litvak culture on the Lithuanian and world stage. He passed away in Italy from lung cancer.

Judaica Research Institute: Yiddish from Georgia

Judaica Research Institute: Yiddish from Georgia

The Judaica Research Institute at the Martynas Mažvydas Lithuanian National Library invites the public to a concert called “Yiddish from Georgia” to be held on the third-floor atrium starting at 6:00 P.M. on Monday, March 18.

The Yiddish quartet was form by Georgian actress Ana Sanaia in 2022. Receiving great acclaim, Sanaia made the quartet part of her mono-drama Martokina in 2023. That same year, with several other talented musicians including Tamar Rtveliashvili, Ioana Navadze and Aleksandra Lortkipanidze, the quartet became part of the Yiddish Theater in Tblisi, also resurrected by Sanaia after more than a century of absence.

The quartet is vocalist Salome Bakuradze, musician Maria Elene Bezhashvili, actress Sofia Akhuashvili and actress and director Ekaterine Kato Sharikadze, and are well known to radio and television audiences in Georgia. While none of them are Jewish, they all feel a deep and abiding respect for the Georgian Jewish heritage and share an understanding of the contribution the Ashkenazi who spoke Yiddish made in bringing Georgia into Europe.

The program includes songs in Yiddish and Georgian. Lasha Shakulashvili, a lecturer in Yiddish language and culture at Tblisi State University, will also speak on Yiddish culture in Georgia and its connections to Litvak culture.

Stahlhammer Klezmer Trio Woos Kaunas

Stahlhammer Klezmer Trio Woos Kaunas

The Stahlhammer Klezmer Classic Trio enchanted an audience in Kaunas Thursday at Vytautas Magnus University. The trio from Sweden provided food for thought, smiles and maybe even catharsis to some in the audience, according to reports from Kaunas.

The Kaunas Jewish Community sponsored the concert and dedicated it to the late Litvak bard, thinker and novelist Grigoriy Kanovitch, who would’ve celebrated his 95th birthday this year.

Yiddish Lessons

Yiddish Lessons

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is offering Yiddish lessons again. The first class will be Sunday, February 25, at 1:00 P.M. at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius. For more information, write zanas@sc.lzb.lt. See you there.

Interview with LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky

Interview with LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky

“As the chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, I see my greatest assignment as not letting others forget we are Jews, and not letting Jews forget they are Jews,” LJC chairwoman and attorney Faina Kukliansky said in an interview Arkadijus Vinokuras conducted in Lithuanian for the Jewish discussion club #ŽydiškiPašnekesiai he founded and leads.

In the interview they discussed Community activities, money, protection of wooden and other synagogues, relations with ethnic Lithuanians, Holocaust and Righteous Gentile commemoration policies and the lack thereof, care for senior citizens including Holocaust survivors, cemetery maintenance, relations between the regional Jewish communities in Lithuania, a new kosher food outlet in Vilnius, anti-Semitism in the EU and Lithuania as well as the Lithuanian bureaucracy, the Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum’s new Litvak identity museum and the future. The full interview in Lithuanian can be found below. Duration: 54:20.

LJC Requests Protection from State after Latest Act of Vandalism

LJC Requests Protection from State after Latest Act of Vandalism

Monday evening security cameras at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius recorded a person who threw a rock at the building and broke the glass above the main entrance. Police were contacted immediately.

This is yet another unprovoked anti-Semitic attack against Lithuanian citizens of Jewish descent reflecting inimical attitudes in society which perhaps have been escalated by anti-Jewish rhetoric in parliament and by propaganda from supporters of the Hamas terrorist group.

The LJC is not a political organization. We are an organization which is concerned with the social and cultural life of the Jews of Lithuania. Among our activities are infant, child and youth clubs and the Saul Kagan Social Welfare Center which takes care of our senior citizens with home-care and activities at the Community. Fortunately enough, when the act of vandalism was committed, there were no passers-by on the sidewalk outside nor people inside where the broken glass landed, and no one was physically hurt. Nonetheless, these sorts of incidents could end very badly. This is by no means the first anti-Semitic attack against Jewish communities in Lithuania. Very recently someone threw stones through the windows of the Šiauliai Jewish Community.

We have also received information concerning Nazi and White Power symbols graffitied on a pedestrian bridge in Vilnius. We contacted the police concerning this as well, since Lithuanian laws forbid the propagation of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, their ideologies and their symbols.

Just recently in January at a meeting held at the European Commission all member-states in a special working group presented progress reports on the implementation of the European Union strategy for combating anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life. We are sad to report this strategy is being implemented very poorly in Lithuania with an ever-growing frequency of anti-Semitic attacks. And, judging from what’s going on in other countries, this is only the beginning of a rising tide of anti-Semitism. Sadly, our state is failing to insure adequate security at important Community sites, including the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius, the LJC, the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium in Vilnius and the Salvija kindergarten where many Jewish families send their toddlers.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community asks the appropriate and engaged public organizations for help in this, and for security from the corresponding state institutions. The situation in other countries clearly shows we are a footstep away from real human tragedy and misfortune.

Stahlhammer Klezmer Concert

Stahlhammer Klezmer Concert

The Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Vilnius and the Lithuanian Jewish Community invite you to a concert of klezmer music by the Stahlhammer Klezmer ensemble February 21.

The trio will perform enchanting klezmer and tango music. It was founded by violinist Semmy Stahlhammer from the Stockholm Royal Opera and a teacher at the Stockholm Royal Music College who usually performs solo violin concerts. Accordion player Miriam Oldenburg specializes in klezmer and cabaret music and toured Europe with Cirque du Soleil in 2012. Cellist Atida Munthe Stahlhammer teaches cello and also performs with the Yidishe Kapelye group and founder of the Stahlheimer quartet and the Brunneby Music Festival held in the summer in Herrgård.

Time: 6:00 P.M., Wednesday, February 21
Place: Lithuanian Jewish Community, Vilnius

Please register here: https://forms.gle/ffRY9GSgzgt3ZmNU7

Abisl Yidishe Vilne

Abisl Yidishe Vilne

The Adomas Mickevičius Public Library in Vilnius is opening an exhibit of photography called Abisl Yidishe Vilne or A Bit of Jewish Vilnius with an opening ceremony at 5:30 P.M. on Tuesday, April 2. The exhibit is to feature the works of Aleksandra Jacovskytė, Daumantas Levas Todesas, Eugenijus Bunka and others. The exhibit will run till April 20, 2024. The library is located at Trakų street no. 10  in Vilnius.

Full House for Elyashev Evening of Remembrance in Kaunas

Full House for Elyashev Evening of Remembrance in Kaunas

An evening to remember the Jewish writer and first Yiddish literary critic Israel Isidor Elyashev packed the house at the Art and Museum Department of the Vincas Kudirka Public Library in Kaunas last Monday, January 15.

The Kaunas Jewish Community organized the event and Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas spoke about the man and his legacy, along with others.

Litvak Identity Museum Opening

Litvak Identity Museum Opening

Yesterday evening the Litvak Culture and Identity Museum opened next door to the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky spoke at the opening ceremony, saying the long-awaited exhibits would finally be made public and should be very interesting. She said the history of the Litvaks didn’t begin and end with the Holocaust, that we have a rich history which hasn’t gone away and that the new museum will offer the public a view of that history.

“We are neighbors, the Lithuanian Jewish Community is based right here, on the other side of the wall, in the same building, the former Tarbut gymnasium. We are alive and are celebrating our Jewish identity, and everyone who learns something here at the museum, we invite them to stop by the Community as well, to try our bagels, listen to music and participate in our events. Food, culture and other Community activities of which we are proud–these are all part of the Litvak identity,” Kukliansky said.

Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Hadas Wittenberg-Silverstein also spoke at the opening.

Vilna Gaon Museum Opens New Litvak Culture and Identity Museum

Vilna Gaon Museum Opens New Litvak Culture and Identity Museum

Photo by I. Gelūnas

The Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum reopens its branch in the former Tarbut Gymnasium at Pylimo street no. 4a Thursday, January 18, following reconstruction and the installation of a new Litvak Culture and Identity exhibit.

The space used to house the museum’s History Department and Gallery of Righteous Gentiles, and has been undergoing renovation for several years. The third floor will now house a permanent exhibit on the life and work of Rafael Chwoles, the Litvak artist. Other exhibits feature Litvaks who found fame and achievement around the world in various fields of endeavor. The space includes four storeys accessible by stairs.

The Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum includes consists of several sub-museums and spaces including the Tolerance Center, the Holocaust Museum, an information space at the Ponar Memorial Complex outside Vilnius and soon an exhibit inside the former Jewish ghetto library in the Vilnius Old Town.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Evening to Commemorate Israel Elyashev in Kaunas

Evening to Commemorate Israel Elyashev in Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community invites you to an evening commemorating literary critic and writer Israel (Isidore) Elyashev.

Bal-Makhshoves as he was also known, “man of thoughts,” used that nom-de-plume in his Jewish writing at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The commemoration will be held in the former Jewish cafeteria near Elyashev’s home where he died 100 years ago on January 13, 1924. Speakers will touch upon his friendship with the painter Marc Chagall, Jewish life in Kaunas, Elyashev’s home street now known as Daukšos gatvė but formerly called Yatkever or Butcher’s street with five synagogues located along it, about the return of “evacuated” Jewish exiles in 1921 and about the shared and separate Lithuanian and Jewish cultural legacy in Lithuania’s interwar provisional capital Kaunas.

Speakers will also detail his family, including his sister Ester Veisbart who was an art critic, teacher and Lithuania’s first female doctor of philosophy who died in the Kaunas ghetto; the rest of his family who were killed in the Kaunas and Vilnius ghettos and Soviet labor camps and the members of his family to made it to Palestine and lived.