Yiddish

Happy Birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya

Happy Birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya

We wish a very happy milestone birthday next week to Vilnius ghetto survivor and Jewish partisan Fania Brantsovskaya.

You were about to begin university when the Germans invaded on June 22, 1941. When they ordered your family into the Vilnius ghetto, you crossed the street, Pylimo, to the Jewish Hospital section of the ghetto between Pylimo and Ligoninės streets. You joined the FPO, carried out sabotage missions against the Lithuanian Nazis, fought in the forests and marched into Vilnius with the Red Army when the Soviets liberated the Lithuanian capital. Although the fascists murdered your entire family, you stayed in the country and continued fight for a better future. After your husband passed away, you devoted yourself to telling the truth to the younger generations about the Holocaust and how Jews didn’t go like lambs to the slaughter, but fought tooth and nail, and prevailed against their oppressors.

We salute your bravery, your decision to fight and the life you devoted to telling the truth and serving humanity in your native land.

Mazl tov. Bis 120!

The Lithuanian Jewish Community Invites You to the 5th World Litvak Congress

The Lithuanian Jewish Community Invites You to the 5th World Litvak Congress

The Fifth World Litvak Congress will be held on May 23-26, organized by the Lithuanian Jewish Community. We invite you to join the events and enjoy Litvak culture, heritage, history and music. Share the news with your relatives, friends and colleagues.

Pre-registration is required by filling out the following form:

https://forms.gle/VJa9nMHaHjH4t5Lf6

The program may be found here:

BUKLETAS_EN_1 (1)

>>PROGRAM in Lithuanian

Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

The following is the program of events for the Fifth World Litvak Congress to be held in Vilnius from May 23 to May 26, 2022.

A PDF file of the program can be downloaded here.

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Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

May 23

Opening ceremony for the Fifth World Litvak Congress

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites Litvaks living around the world to return to Vilnius May 23 to May 26, to visit the land of our ancestors and to attend the Fifth World Litvak Congress.

A Remarkable Event: Litvaks from around the World to Gather in Vilnius

A Remarkable Event: Litvaks from around the World to Gather in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is inviting Litvaks from around the world to come to Vilnius from May 23 to May 26, to visit the land of their ancestors and to take part in the Fifth World Litvak Congress. The four-day congress has a program which includes discussions, tours of historical sites and different cultural activities dedicated to Jewish heritage in Lithuania and achievements by Litvaks on the world stage.

Events include the opening at the Lithuanian parliament and a concert by American cantor and professor Joseph Malovany at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius in an evening of concerts called “A Date with Vilne” which will include Lithuanian musicians and actors paying homage to the memory of the Jews who lived and worked in Lithuania.

Lithuanian parliamentary speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen is the official patron of the Fifth World Litvak Congress. She said: “This Litvak Congress is happening while aggression is running wild in the Ukraine, when war fever has infected the entire region, which is significant to Lithuania historically and today, and to the entire world of Yiddish culture. In the face of blind brutality and violence it is always important to emphasize humanitarianism, empathy, the highest spiritual values from which the long Litvak tradition has always taken strength. This is especially urgent today when in the east of Europe an aggressive and imperialistic anti-Semitism has again raised its head, distorting historical facts and manipulating peoples’ emotions. We must oppose this.”

Abi Men Zet Zich Club Celebrates 24th Birthday

Abi Men Zet Zich Club Celebrates 24th Birthday

The club for senior citizens was set up by Lithuanian Jewish Community chairman Simonas Alperavičius and deputy chairwoman Maša Grodnikienė on April 26, 1998, and was later named Abi Men Zet Zich, Yiddish for “just to see you again.” The name was the idea of the late Milan Cheronski. We wish club coordinator and social services director Žana Skudovičienė and all our seniors a very happy anniversary.

Historian Ruth Leiserowitz to Present New Publication on Jews from Klaipėda

Historian Ruth Leiserowitz to Present New Publication on Jews from Klaipėda

Ruth Leiserowitz, an historian from Germany, has researched the dramatic forced migration out of Klaipėda, also known as Memel, before World War II. She will present her newest book on the subject called “Žydai Klaipėdoje (Mėmelyje)” [Jews in Klaipėda (Memel)] at the Ieva Simonaitytė Public Library in Klaipėda at 5:00 P.M. on April 29.

The publication is intended to coincide with the 770th birthday of the port city.

Leiserowitz’s father came from Memel and she worked at Klaipėda University after Lithuanian independence, and helped organize the Thomas Mann festival in Nida, Lithuania. She got interested in her research topic because of her Jewish father-in-law who was born in Šilutė, then known as Heydekrug. In 1923 his family left Memelland when it was annexed by Lithuania. She decided to look into the fate of Jewish families forced to leave the region. She says her research is often something like a detective novel.

A Physicist of Whom Lithuania Can Be Proud

A Physicist of Whom Lithuania Can Be Proud

Original article: obzor.lt, 2022-03-22

Translated from Russian to Lithuanian by Irena Miškinienė, and from Lithuanian to English by Geoff Vasil

My Teacher Joshua Levinson Would Have Turned 90 Today

by professor Pinchos Fridberg,
Vilnius


Joshua Levinson

In the place of an introduction

When you have reached the 80-year mark and have become an old and tired horse who can barely lift his hooves, and they take you funem yarid (Yiddish, “from the fair,” a formulation by the Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem), the faces of your dearest and most beloved people appear before you ever more often, those who have left this world before you. My parents who gave me life. My Teachers who were sent by destiny.

* * *

Snapshots of Last Friday’s Kabbalat Shabat

Snapshots of Last Friday’s Kabbalat Shabat

Progressive Rabbi Nathan Alfred from Israel led a Kabbalat Shabat ceremony with about 50 members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community including our seniors and families with children. In the afternoon prior he attended the LJC Seniors Club Abi Men Zet Zich and sang the hymns to usher in the Sabbath. One of our oldest members, Libė Britaniskina, lit the Sabbath candles and the meeting concluded with songs in Hebrew and Yiddish. He led the prayer service and delivered the weekly Torah portion.

Happy Birthday to Aleksandras Rutenbergas

Happy Birthday to Aleksandras Rutenbergas

Aleksandras Rutenbergas celebrated his 75th birthday Monday.

We wish our always active member a very happy birthday, good health and good times. Aleksandras, your contribution to maintaining Jewish heritage is great. You helped build the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon Museum at the site of the former theater there. You were always there in the middle when there was work to be done. You introduced Europe to Litvak heritage, organizing two exhibitions of Vilnius ghetto posters in Padua and Strasbourg.

We would like to express our great respect for your good work and your tolerance.

Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Moshe Kulbak’s Mesiekh ben Efrayim Translated and Published in Lithuanian

Moshe Kulbak’s Mesiekh ben Efrayim Translated and Published in Lithuanian

Lithuania’s Odilė publishing house has translated and printed a Lithuanian translation of Yiddish writer Moshe Kulbak’s book Mesiekh ben Efrayim under the title Mesijas, Efraimo sūnus. The description by internet vendor knygynas.biz says:

Classic of Lithuanian and world Jewish literature Moishe Kulbak (1896-1937) is known to Lithuanian readers as the author of the wonderful poem Vilne. Finally for the first his prose has appeared in Lithuanian, the novel Messiah ben Efraim. This is one of the most famous and most original of Kulbak’s Yiddish works. It was written in Berlin in 1922 and is suffused with magical realism, something which hadn’t been seen before. The author’s vital and innovative imagination connects surrealistic and expressionistic images here with the oral tradition and strong mystical spirit of Lithuanian Jews. This ensemble recalls the impressive paintings of Marc Chagall.

The novel Messiah ben Efraim is based on a Jewish legend which comes from the Talmud that there are always 36 hidden just men living in the world without whose unseen actions the world would pass away [lamed-vavnik tzadikim or lamed-vavniki]. Kulbak creates a story about these holy people living in historical Lithuanian [Grand Duchy] lands–in Belarus and Žemaitija. Elderly miller Benya, Simkha the rabbi who ran away from his community, the philosopher-bum Gimpel, Christian sauna operator Kiril–these souls trapped in the world seeking the light, guided a strange unease embark on a journey without any explicable destination. During this fantastic trip filled with humor and mystical experiences the cause of this unease driving on the travellers gradually comes into focus: it’s the impending advent of the Messiah to the land of Lithuania.

YIVO Vilna Collection Online

YIVO Vilna Collection Online

Dear Faina,

Today, I am delighted to announce that The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (YIVO) completed the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collections Project (EBYVOC), a historic 7-year, $7 million international initiative to process, conserve and digitize YIVO’s divided prewar library and archival collections.

These materials, divided by World War II and located in New York and Vilnius, Lithuania, have now been digitally reunited for the first time.

Comprising approximately 4.1 million pages of archival documents and books, the EBYVOC Project is an international partnership between YIVO, the Lithuanian Central State Archives, the Martynas Mavydas National Library of Lithuania, and the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.

The completion of the EBYVOC Project is an epic milestone in the preservation of Eastern European Jewish history and culture. It was completed on schedule and within budget, providing a global audience access to these treasures through a dedicated web portal free-of-charge. We invite you to explore this remarkable collection at https://vilnacollections.yivo.org/.

Chaim Grade: Facts of a Life

Chaim Grade: Facts of a Life

Photo: Jung-Vilne literary group: Chaim Grade is stand­ing in the top row to the left, the poets Shmerke Kacz­er­gin­s­ki and Abra­ham Sutzkev­er are seat­ed in the mid­dle. YIVO archives

by Susanne Klingenstein and Yehudah DovBer Zirkind, In Geveb, December 15, 2021

INTRODUCTION

When on May 2, 2010, Inna Hecker Grade passed away at the age of eighty-five, a sigh of relief, unkind and hard-edged, coursed through some corners of the Yiddish literary world and a small circle of scholars and archivists tensed with expectation. For twenty-eight years, since the passing of her husband Chaim Grade on June 26, 1982, the literary legacy of one the most important Yiddish prose-stylists and documentary story­tellers to emerge from the ashes of Vil­na, had lain concealed in the couple’s Bronx apartment, guarded by his angry widow who deemed the world unworthy of her husband’s genius. After a brief foray into the publishing world, she had withdrawn into a tomb filled with her husband’s treasures.

The sepulchral metaphor was first used by Ralph Speken, the psychiatrist who had taken care of Inna Grade during the last months of her life. On the eve of breaking the seal, Speken pleaded: ​“They should take over that apartment as if they were taking over King Tut’s tomb.” Scholars and readers expected the discovery of manuscripts in drawers and closets that would speedily be published, perhaps in critical editions, and bring Grade back to literary life. No new work, no critical edition or biography has yet appeared.

Remembering Documentary Photographer, Author, Screenwriter Alter-Sholem Kacyzne

Remembering Documentary Photographer, Author, Screenwriter Alter-Sholem Kacyzne

Photo: Alter Kacyzne. “Green Fields” theater still. ca. 1921. Museum of the City of New York.

text by Yitskhok Niborski, translated from Yiddish by Yankl Salant

Kacyzne, Alter-Sholem (May 31, 1885-July 7, 1941)

(1885–1941), Yiddish writer and critic; photographer. Born in Vilna to a working-class family, Alter-Sholem Kacyzne (Yid., Katsizne) attended heder and also a Russian-language Jewish elementary school. At 14, after his father’s death, he stopped his formal studies. Kacyzne was an autodidact and remained an avid reader not only of literature in Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew, but also of Polish, German and French works. For about 11 years he lived in Ekaterinoslav where he learned to be a photographer and was married.

In 1909, Kacyzne first published two Russian stories in the periodical Evreiski mir (Jewish World), edited by S. An-ski. In 1910, attracted by the work and reputation of Y. L. Peretz, Kacyzne settled in Warsaw, where he opened a photography studio. He grew very close to Peretz, who became a literary mentor, but did not begin publishing in Yiddish until after Peretz’s death in 1915. Kacyzne’s first Yiddish texts appeared in collections in Vilna and Kiev. In 1919 and 1920 his first two books were published in Warsaw, the dramatic poems Der gayst der meylekh (The Spirit, the King) and Prometeus (Prometheus). He was also a consistent contributor to (and sometimes co-founder and co-editor of) a series of literary periodicals, most of them short-lived, in Warsaw and Vilna, in which he published novellas and stories that in 1922 appeared in book form as Arabeskn (Arabesques).

YIVO Director Thanks LJC on Milestone Achievement

YIVO Director Thanks LJC on Milestone Achievement

Dear Faina,

Today YIVO announces the completion of the Vilna Collection Project–4.1 million pages of documents and books online for people around the world–and you have been such a tremendous part of it. You introduced me to so many people, helped shepherd our grant through the Goodwill Foundation and advised on so many things. Thank you. This project truly opens new doorways for millions of people around the world. Without your support and enthusiasm I am not sure we would have been successful. I hope that when I am in Vilnius … we will be able to celebrate together.

Here is a link to the website: https://vilnacollections.yivo.org/
With my warmest good wishes for a healthy, happy, peaceful New Year,

Jonathan

Jonathan Brent
Executive Director/CEO
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Joint Lithuanian-YIVO Digitization Project Complete

Joint Lithuanian-YIVO Digitization Project Complete

New York-based YIVO has announced the completion of a joint project to digitize the Edward Blank collection in what is known as the Edward Blank Vilna On-Line Collections Project. The historic initiative took seven years and $7 million to complete. The goal was to sort, conserve and digitize pre-war collections from the YIVO library and archives, and to make them available to everyone online.

The project was carried in concert with the Lithuanian Central State Archive, the Martynas Mažvydas Lithuanian National Library and the Vrublevskiai Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.

Ruth Levine, the director of the board of YIVO, called the completion of the project a new phase in the modern history of the YIVO institute and part of their main mission. She said heroes and martyrs gave their lives to preserve the books and documents in the collection, and expressed gratitude to the Lithuanian partners in the project.

Lara Lempertienė Awarded Prize by Lithuanian Foreign Ministry

Lara Lempertienė Awarded Prize by Lithuanian Foreign Ministry

Jewish scholar and head of the Lithuanian National Library’s Judaica Center Lara Lempertienė, PhD, was awarded the Star of Lithuanian Diplomacy prize Friday, according to a press release from the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry. Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis personally presented her the prize at the ministry in recognition of her work fostering research into Litvak history and cultural heritage, and for her significant contribution to commemorations of the 300th birthday of the Vilna Gaon and 700 years of Litvak history.

“You have made a remarkable contribution in strengthening foreign policy and carrying out our shared mission to spread knowledge of Lithuanian Jewish history and culture,” minister Landsbergis said. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has been awarding the Star of Lithuanian Diplomacy since 2010 in recognition of contributions to spreading knowledge of Lithuania internationally and to improving and celebrating international relations.

Plans to Revive Shelved Legislation on Ethnic Minorities

Plans to Revive Shelved Legislation on Ethnic Minorities

Lithuanian MP Rita Tamašunienė, a representative of the Polish Electoral Action/Union of Christian Families party and the alderwoman of the Lithuanian Regions faction in parliament, Thursday announced plans to reintroduce legislation for a Law on Ethnic Minorities drafted back in 2013. It met with disapproval from the Lithuanian parliament’s Legal Department and Law and Order Committee earlier for possibly violating the Lithuanian constitution.

The legislation attempts to define basic principles for protecting the rights and freedoms of ethnic groups, to regulate protection of ethnic minority education, use of languages and cultural values, and to regulate NGO activities.

The draft law provides: “in administrative territorial units where a given ethnic minority lives closely together, local institutions and organization use the (local) language of that ethnic minority along with the state language.” It also says street signs in such areas may include ones in the local minority language alongside Lithuanian signs.

Vilna Gaon Museum Launches Kalmanovich Book

Vilna Gaon Museum Launches Kalmanovich Book

The Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum is launching two editions of YIVO linguist Zelig Kalmanovich’s diary written in the Vilnius ghetto, in Lithuanian and English, titled Hope Is Stronger than Life. The book will be presented at 5:30 P.M. on Wednesday, November 24, at the Samuel Bak Museum, aka the Tolerance Center, at Naugarduko street no. 10 in Vilnius.