News

ORT Celebrates Birthday

ORT Celebrates Birthday

by Ruth Reches, acting principal, Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium

On March 18 the ORT, an extremely important global Jewish cultural organization, celebrated its birthday. Happy birthday!

ORT is the acronym for Общество ремесленного и земледельческого трудаm, the association of crafts, trades and agriculture founded 140 years ago in 1880. ORT’s goal was to provide Jews work skills and information. In its first decades schools started by the ORT organization graduated tens of thousands of Jews who went on to work as tailors, farmers, mechanics, glass-blowers, furniture makers and similar.

Happy Birthday to LJC Members

Happy Birthday to LJC Members

Multiple happy-birthdays to Lithuanian Jewish Community members Svetlana Aronova, Eti Tsens and Riva Spits!

On March 20 long-time LJC volunteer Svetlana celebrates a milestone birthday, Eti Tsens celebrates her birthday the same day and Riva hers. We wish all of them good health, much happiness and love! Mazl tov! May you live to 120!

Happy Birthday to Švenčionys Jewish Community Chairman Moisejus Šapiro

Happy Birthday to Švenčionys Jewish Community Chairman Moisejus Šapiro

Dear Moshe, we are so very pleased to celebrate your birthday together again. We wish you much happiness, good health and energy as you undertake the serious work of leading the Švenčionys Jewish Community. Mazl tov! May you live to 120!

Chairman Šapiro has done much work engaging local residents in remembering and commemorating the names of Jews murdered in the Holocaust there, recording the names for future generations.

LJC Social Center Caring for Elderly

LJC Social Center Caring for Elderly

All LJC Social Center clients are at risk for the viral epidemic not just because of age but also because of illness. The media have reported the mortality rate for the ill and elderly continues to grow.

Doctor Ela Gurina is a member of the LJC Social Center Commission and the chairwoman of the committee for advising Holocaust survivors. She wants to remind walk-in care staff of the Social Center how to act during the epidemic.

What work are LJC Social Center employees engaged in currently?

Employees have to take care of their clients as well as possible. To isolate them from the environment so they don’t enter public spaces. They can only walk around in places where there aren’t other people and not to engage in conversation with people they encounter. When they get home they must wash their hands for at least two minutes with soap and water, and use a special disinfectant which destroys viruses. The Community is supplying the necessary disinfectant.

Matzo from Jerusalem Reaches LJC

Matzo from Jerusalem Reaches LJC

A shipment of matzo has reached the Lithuanian Jewish Community. This year as the country labors under health quarantine we will be delivering matzo to members in a safe manner, which we will announce soon. Stay tuned for more information.


Waiting for Passover to begin…

Happy Birthday to Gercas Borveinas

Happy Birthday to Gercas Borveinas

Happy 85th birthday to doctor Gercas Borveinas. The Lithuanian Jewish Community knows him as the long-time heart surgeon at the Antaklanis University Hospital in Vilnius who is always attentive and respectful towards patients. Borveinas was the first to use cardiac echoscopy in Lithuania and has been awarded the January 13 medal.

We wish the doctor much energy, health and happiness! Mazl tov! May you live to 120.

Condolences

Our deepest condolences to EJC executive director Raya Kalenkovoa on the death of her beloved mother Sophie Berchader, who died at home surrounded by her loving family.

Shin Bet Joins Fight against Corona

Shin Bet Joins Fight against Corona

The internal Israeli security service Shin Bet announced Tuesday they were given authority to collect information on citizens as part of the general fight against the spread of the novel corona virus and said they would take up this assignment “immediately.”

A press release said Shin Bet was authorized to use the latest technology to aid the state in stopping the spread of the virus. Now police will be able to collect information about carriers of the virus and the location of people under quarantine using mobile telephone technology without a court order. Shin Bet will also be able to trace the location of those infected for 14 days prior to positive diagnoses “to determine their routes and the people with whom they had contact,” a leaked copy of the authorization document allegedly said.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Condolences

Levas Markmanas has passed away. He was born in 1948. Our deepest condolences to Eduardas Pogosovas on the loss of his beloved father.

The Naked Truth: The Text “Hallelujah to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union” Judged Worthy of Doctorate in Independent Lithuania

The Naked Truth: The Text “Hallelujah to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union” Judged Worthy of Doctorate in Independent Lithuania

by professor Pinchos Fridberg, PhD habil.

Standard Foreword

The text of this article exists in three languages, Lithuanian, English and Russian. None of them has managed to get published in the better-known pages of the democratic Lithuanian press.

If an interested reader asks, “Why not?” I would tell him:

I guess it’s forbidden to publish “the Naked Truth!”

Of course he probably needs an “airbag,” i.e., the word “allegedly” should be added!

Probably if I wrote “the ALLEGED Naked Truth” there would be problem in publishing it.

On February 20 I sent the Lithuanian version of my article to the Lithuanian president, and I called and asked he be made aware of it. They promised me my request would be passed on to the Chancellery and an advisor to the president.

The story described is not the first, a similar thing happened with my article “The Jew Whom Ramanauskas-Vanagas Rescued, WHo Probably Wasn’t a Jew” (in Russian here).

Condolences

Leonid Štarkman passed away on March 15. He was born in 1937. Our deepest condolences go to his daughter Svetlana.

Roman Abramovich to Plant 25,000 Trees in Israel in Memory of Litvaks

Roman Abramovich to Plant 25,000 Trees in Israel in Memory of Litvaks

The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) held a ceremony to set aside a memorial site and begin planting a forest in memory of the Lithuanian Jewish community, the Russian-language website www.vesty.co.il reported on March 11. The plan is to plant 25,000 trees as part of a KKL environmental protection project for afforestation in southern Israel. Famous Russian-Israeli businessman and philanthropist Roman Abramovich is providing major financing for the project.

Abramovich’s great-grandparents were Litvaks from the Kovna guberniya in the Russian Empire. In spring of 1941–a year after Lithuania was made part of the Soviet Union–the affluent Abramovich family was exiled to Siberia.

Roman’s grandfather was born in Eržvilkas and his grandmother Toiba Berkover was born in Jurbarkas. His grandfather Nakhman died in a camp in Krasnoyarsk in 1942 and his grandmother raised their three sons on her own, Aaron Arkady being Roman’s father.

Lithuanian Government Closes Border

Lithuanian Government Closes Border

The Lithuanian Government has adopted a resolution closing the national border at midnight, March 16 (going into effect as March 16 turns to March 17). Foreign citizens will not be admitted and Lithuanian citizens will not be allowed to leave. Citizens and legal residents who are admitted back into the country will be required to undergo a 15-day quarantine. Restrictions have also been placed on public gatherings and the number of passengers admitted onto public conveyances will be limited as well. Stores other than grocery stores, bars, clubs, restaurants and beauty salons are to be closed down, according to the Government resolution. A copy of the official translation of the Government resolution containing a number of other restrictions as well can be found below.

Choral Synagogue Closed for Two Weeks

Choral Synagogue Closed for Two Weeks

The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius will be closed for at least two weeks as of now. Follow this page for more information in the coming days. Vilnius Religious Jewish Community chairman Shmuel (Simas) Levinas reported a majority of minyan members, many of whom are elderly and thus fall into the main risk category for catching the corona virus, agreed it was best to halt temporarily religious activities at the synagogue, in line with recommendations issued by the Lithuanian Government. The synagogue will remain closed for the rest of March, the chairman reported.

LJC Temporarily Closed as of Friday, March 13

LJC Temporarily Closed as of Friday, March 13

Thursday evening Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis issued an appeal to the people of Lithuania:

“I appeal to you as the whole world confronts the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. The time has come for us to take urgent measures. We cannot allow ourselves to be careless and irresponsible.

“We must unite and do what must be done. Each of us. That’s the only way we will put a stop to the potential spread of the virus in our country. There simply is no other way. I ask everyone to be responsible citizens and members of the community.

“We must take care of our health, that of our children, parents and loved ones, of all people of Lithuania. I ask you to do what the health care professionals and experts ask. Let’s not take risks. I assure you the Government and all responsible institutions are directing all requisite efforts so the spread of coronavirus will be decreased to the maximum extent possible. The late response in other countries show the need to take action as soon as possible.”

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is temporarily closed due to the novel corona virus. Access to Community buildings is restricted. Further information will be issued as it becomes available.

Changes in LJC Operations after State of Emergency

Changes in LJC Operations after State of Emergency

Dear Community members,

Following the announcement of a state of emergency in Lithuania, the daily operations of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has changed as well. We must postpone all planned events and restrict admission of visitors, and some employees are now working from home.

We thank you for your understanding and patience. We are always ready to help you and to answer any questions, and we hope you will take into consideration this unusual situation and that we will overcome these difficult challenges together.

Please note:

• ALL Community events have been canceled, both at the Community building and elsewhere;
• we strongly request that visits to the Community building at Pylimo street no. 4 only be made if there is a serious need to do so;
• if you want to meet a specific LJC employee, please agree on the meeting with that person by telephone beforehand;
• for permission for burials, please call secretary Liuba Šerienė at +37068506900.

IMPORTANT: prepare copies beforehand of death certificates and documents showing family ties, and digital documents are preferred.

Continue to follow the LJC web page where we will announce all changes in the operations of the LJC administration and LJC Social Center.

Condolences

The Lithuanian Jewish Community expresses its deepest condolences to Vytautas Landsbergis and his family on the death of his beloved wife Gražina who passed away March 11.

Strengthening the Human Rights Coalition in Lithuania in 2020

Strengthening the Human Rights Coalition in Lithuania in 2020

The Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Roma Community Center and the Lithuanian Human Rights Center are implementing a project called “Strengthening the Human Rights Coalition in Lithuania in 2020.”

The project is aimed at increasing the visibility and participation of the Human Rights Coalition which is constituted of these three organizations in civic initiatives at six regional Lithuanian centers where Jewish communities operate.

This coalition will represent ethnic communities in Lithuania and help fight expressions of hate, Romophobia and anti-Semitism in public life.