News

Panic and Contempt

Panic and Contempt

by Arkadijus Vinokuras

When the heads of state lack any experience managing crises, panic envelops society. When leaders try to compensate for their lack of ability through dictatorial means, they demonstrate contempt for society. It’s pointless to blame Lithuanian health minister Aurelijus Veryga for changing his directives several times daily. He was appointed by those who have no experience themselves, and who are therefore unable to manage the crisis effectively. It seems they don’t really understand human lives are at stake. And freedom.

On panic. Seeking somehow to demonstrate the abilities he doesn’t have, health minister Veryga even donned military costume. He seems to have wandered into the tragicomic league of Don Quixote by attempting to fight the virus this way. Where you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry. If he had served in the military even at the level of lieutenant, he would know how orders are issued by a military commander. They would be based–and this is the crucial matter–on emergency management scenarios drawn up by the military leadership. But from the very first days of the spread of the virus in Lithuania it was completely clear the Lithuanian Peasants/Green Union Government is not following any emergency management plan.

The minister who has turned himself into a laughing stock with his military uniform should at least understand in a general way that an order by a military commander first indicates the prevailing situation in the theater of war. It indicates the time frame. It also enumerates enemy forces and our own forces, e.g., what we have and what we don’t have. Only then comes the definition of missions.

Israeli Ambassador Levy Calls for Solidarity and Humility

Israeli Ambassador Levy Calls for Solidarity and Humility

LRT.lt

Who would have thought a few weeks ago we’d wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in a Netflix horror film? That our cities would be placed under quarantine and would become completely empty in a single day? That’s we’d all be sitting at home, day after day, from morning to night, not changing out of our pajamas? That we would be banned from visiting our grandmothers? That we would pray through the nights for this nightmare to end?

In the spring of 2020 we suddenly realized we are all the same, Lithuanians and Israelis, Germans and Italians, Chinese, Russians and Arabs. We are all people. We know how to make rockets and smart apps, but we are really such fragile creatures who fear death and hide from a tiny little virus which is going around and could affect us. We are the new dinosaurs whose time has probably come.

We suddenly realized most of our disputes aren’t important, like those of children in the sandbox. Fighting for half a mountain or half a lake. We in Israel were not surprised at all when terror attacks from the Gaza Strip fell dramatically, by 90%! When we see frightened and weeping Iranians on the streets of Tehran, they are in our hearts. We and they are in the same boat, we are all victims of an external attack.

Genocide Center Wins Case Demanding Retraction of Jonas Noreika Finding

Genocide Center Wins Case Demanding Retraction of Jonas Noreika Finding

The Lithuanian Telegraphic Agency ELTA reports the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court dismissed a suit lodged by US-resident Litvak Grant Gochin against the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania.

ELTA reports said the panel of judges rejected Grant Gochin’s demand the Genocide Center retract an historical finding they issued earlier on the person of Jonas Noerika during a hearing on April 1.

The court’s finding isn’t subject to appeal. The court also obliged Gochin to pay additional court costs to the Genocide Center.

Gochin was appealing a finding issued by the Vilnius District Administrative Court on March 27, 2019, in favor of the Genocide Center.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Thank You for Helping LJC Seniors

Thank You for Helping LJC Seniors

Lithuanian Jewish Community administrative secretary Liuba Šerienė would like to send a big thank-you to Social Department director Michailas Segalas and staff members Ema Jakobienė, Ninel Skudovičiūtė, Rokas Dobrovolskis and Neringa Stankevičienė and colleagues, and to Michailas Tarasovas, Aušra, Snieguolė, Danutė Lena, Žana and Sonia for their great work helping our Social Department clients and senior citizens. Thank you so very much.

We Can’t Give Up Hope Now

We Can’t Give Up Hope Now

Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky. Photo: Blanka Weber

by Blanka Weber

The country’s Jewish community is watching the time of pandemic with alarm

Faina Kukliansky is currently managing her life and that of her members from her home office in Vilnius. “This is a time that demands everything from us,” the 65-year-old chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community says.

This is a time when preparations for Passover would be underway normally. The Bagel Shop next to the Community building on Pylimo street is now only open for a few hours and only accepts cards for payment. Cash is forbidden. There are strict rules here, too. Matzo will be distributed to Community members here and should be delivered in the next few days.

Chief Rabbis Call on Jews to Keep It Together

Chief Rabbis Call on Jews to Keep It Together

An open letter

An open letter from the Chief Rabbis of the world

8 Nisan 5780
2 April 2020

This Shabbat–the Shabbat before Pesach–is called Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat.

It was first celebrated at the birth of the Jewish people, moments before the dawn of our deliverance from Egyptian slavery.

Every Jewish family, alone in their homes in Egypt, sat fervently anticipating the united dream of deliverance and nationhood.

Three thousand, three hundred and thirty-two years later, this Shabbat HaGadol, we too sit, isolated in our own homes, once again united in our fervent prayer for relief from the global pandemic that has shaken our world to its core.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Prepares for Passover Despite Quarantine, Slander

Lithuanian Jewish Community Prepares for Passover Despite Quarantine, Slander

Three teams of volunteers have been busy daily delivering kosher matzo to LJC senior citizens and Social Center clients for several days now, but today the LJC received reports unnamed characters have been calling Community members telling them not to accept the matzo deliveries because the matzo bread is allegedly old. This isn’t true and it seems aimed at creating additional difficulties during an already difficult time for our seniors.

There are consequences for slander.

We would like to warn all Community members that during this health emergency there are scam artists and con men who might call your telephone spreading misinformation and seeking money from you. Please be careful and vigilant.

The LJC is not asking for any money or fees at this time from Social Center clients and seniors. The matzo boxes we are delivering bear the date of manufacture so you can check the freshness for yourself. We have made available an internet ordering scheme on this web page for those wishing to purchase matzo for home delivery with details for making prior payment exclusively by bank card.

Please note we received shipments of matzo in March and that we stored these boxes under strict quarantine. Your health and safety is our primary concern and we find it extremely regretful unnamed people are spreading disinformation about us and our activities.

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.

* Please note the ZOOM platform, created by Chinese national Eric Yuan, is notoriously unsafe, insecure and has even been called malware by responsible observers. The U.S. military recently banned the Chinese-controlled TikTok app among its ranks. For more, see: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/02/zoom-technology-security-coronavirus-video-conferencing

Bob Dylan Breaks Silence with New Song

Bob Dylan Breaks Silence with New Song

American Litvak singer, songwriter and performer from Minnesota Bob Dylan, aka Robert Zimmerman, has broken his silence since he received, rejected and then apparently accepted the Nobel prize for literature with a new long-playing song about the conspiracy to assassinate American president John Kennedy. The official version of the song Murder Most Foul posted on youtube under the user Bob Dylan runs for 16 minutes and 56 seconds and contains a stream of American pop cultural references similar to the song American Pie by Don McLean, referencing the three hobos alleged to have been involved in the assassination on Daley Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963, JFK’s alleged use of LSD and the idea the counterculture of the 1960s was infiltrated and directed by the intelligence community. Dylan is 78.

Israel Bans Public Assemblies of More Than 2 People, New Restrictions on Labor

Israel Bans Public Assemblies of More Than 2 People, New Restrictions on Labor

Israel will ban meetings of more than 2 people and will place addition restrictions on workplaces. Speaking to the country, the prime minister said security forces will carry out state-of-emergency directives to stop the spread of the corona virus. Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on Israelis not to hold family gatherings during the Passover holiday.

The Prime Minister’s Office also reported Monday Netanyahu and his advisors will remain in quarantine after a Government staff member tested positive for the new virus.

Commemorating the Victims of the Children’s Aktion in Kaunas

Commemorating the Victims of the Children’s Aktion in Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community reports the annual commemoration of the mass murder of the children of the Kaunas ghetto was canceled this year because of the virus epidemic. Usually scheduled during the last days of March, this year we are invited to remember the victims at home, by lighting a candle, writing a name on a stone and reflecting.

The following is a list of some of the children who died in the Kaunas ghetto, drawn up on the 70th anniversary of the Children’s aktion by the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. The names are presented in modern Lithuanian orthography.

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

Lithuanian Jewish Community Operations under Quarantine

Lithuanian Jewish Community Operations under Quarantine

Although public life has ground to a halt following the introduction of health quarantine measures in Lithuania, the Lithuanian Jewish Community continues to care for the elderly, to provide services and will send Social Center workers on home visits to prepare food and shop for groceries and medicine. The Community building in Vilnius is closed to visitors for now, the Choral Synagogue remains closed for at least two weeks and all scheduled events have been canceled.

All questions related to home care by the Social Center should be directed to Snieguolė Zalepūgienė by telephone at 8 672 65615.

For permission to conduct burials, call LJC secretary Liuba Šerienė by telephone at 8 685 06900. Please have document copies ready, including death certificates, birth certificates for the deceased and documents proving blood relations with the deceased. You should also have digital copies of these same documents prepared. Questions on documents and drafting formal written requests for burial should be directed to Liuba.

For the time being newspapers will not be distributed to Social Center clients. The plan is to distribute matzo next week.

Stay tuned to this page for further announcements and information.

Matzo Deliveries to LJC Seniors

Matzo Deliveries to LJC Seniors

Dear Community members,

The Social Programs Department of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has traditionally distributed matzo free of charge to our clients throughout Lithuania, usually coming to about 1,200 one-kilogram boxes of matzo. Our seniors are in the main risk group for corona virus infect, including about 300 are Holocaust survivors. The LJC has made deliveries of matzo to all the regional communities. These organizations are deciding on the method for distribution in their regions. We are doing all we can to insure this important symbol of Passover reach every seder table even in the most remote parts of Lithuania.

In Vilnius we have accepted the challenge of delivering a box of matzo to every Social Center client. That’s more than 900 boxes.

You might be able to help. If you’ve been in self-quarantine for 14 days with no symptoms, if you haven’t come in contact with large groups of people and haven’t recently travelled abroad, and want to help deliver matzo to seniors, fill out the volunteer form at https://forms.gle/ByKBXckyRZFhVzbCA

For more information contact Sofja by telephone at 8 672 57 540 or write sofja@lzb.lt

How to Get Matzo

How to Get Matzo

Dear Community members,

The Lithuanian Jewish Community wants to insure safe methods for acquiring matzo this year and suggests members order by internet for home delivery.

The cost is 6 euros for a one-kilogram box of matzo bread wafers and 4 euros for a 454-gram bag of matzo flour.

Delivery is being set up in Vilnius and orders will be accepted until April 2.

To order you need to have internet banking. Open your banking page and transfer money to the LJC bank account LT097044060000907953 for the number of boxes and bags you want. You must indicate on the money transfer form your name, surname, exact delivery address, a contact telephone number, an e-mail address and exactly which items you want in what amount.

Here’s an example of what to include:
John Smith, Obuolių g. 1-11, Vilnius, 8 123 45678, john@john.com, 3 packages of matzo, two packages of flour

A coordinator will contact you with delivery details for orders made and paid before April 2 and delivery is to take place by April 7. No cash will be accepted upon delivery. The LJC isn’t responsible if supplies run out, quarantine measures become stricter or purchasers fail to provide the information required.

For more information call 8 672 16 982 or write an e-mail to pesach2020@lzb.lt

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.