News

Moshe Arens, Former Defense Minister and Envoy to Washington, Dead at 93

Moshe Arens, Former Defense Minister and Envoy to Washington, Dead at 93

by Haviv Rettig Gur

“I loved you as a son loves a father,” says Netanyahu of his mentor, a founding member of Likud credited with shepherding advances in Israel’s military capabilities

Moshe Arens, an English-speaking US-educated aeronautical engineer who rose to become Israel’s three-time defense minister and mentored a young Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of his career, died on Monday at age 93.

Born in Kaunas, Lithuania, in 1925, Arens moved with his family to Riga, Latvia, in 1927, then to the US just before World War II in 1939.

Full story here.

Musica Camerata Baltica Jerusalem of Lithuania Concert

Musica Camerata Baltica Jerusalem of Lithuania Concert

The Musica Camerata Baltica/Jerusalem of Lithuania trio of Leonidas Melnikas on piano, Boris Traub on violin and Valentinas Kaplūnas on cello, accompanied by mezzo-soprano Judita Leitaitė and conducted by musicologist Laimutė Ligeikaitė will perform a program including works by Pachelbel, Haydn, Ravel, Čiurlionis, Handel, Franck and others at 6:00 P.M. on Monday, January 7, at the Church of Sts. Johns at Vilnius University. Tickets are 5 euros, 3 for students and seniors and entrance is free to students and teachers from music schools.

Condolences

This year the Union of Former Ghetto and Concentration Camp Inmates lost ten of our members. The tenth was Anastazija Baltusevičienė of Kaunas, mother of Robertas Baltusevčius. She was born June 17, 1942, and passed away on December 25, 2018. Our deepest condolences to her son Robertas and sisters Filomena, Liucija, Elžbieta and Elena.

January 1 Is Lithuanian Flag Day

January 1 Is Lithuanian Flag Day

On January 1 every year a ceremony is held to replace the Lithuanian flag on the tower on the hill of Gediminas in central Vilnius, to mark Lithuanian Flag Day. Traditionally, the older flag is given over to the protection of one of the Lithuanian schools which has been noted for teaching civics and preserving historical memory.

The modern Lithuanian tricolor, the symbol of the independent Republic of Lithuania, was first raised on the tower on January 1, 1919. It was flown by a group of Lithuanian volunteers led by Vilnius city commandant Kazys Škirpa. The raised flag was saluted with gunfire and the volunteers sang the national anthem.

Today a small road next to the hill of Gediminas is named after Kazys Škirpa. For several years now the Lithuanian Jewish Community has been petitioning the municipality of Vilnius to change the name of the street named after a Holocaust perpetrator. The LJC’s position is quite clear: Kazys Škirpa Alley needs to be renamed if only to show respect for all the citizens of Lithuania.

Osip Mandelshtam Commemorated in Kaunas

Osip Mandelshtam Commemorated in Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community and the Russian meeting club Nadezhda held a commemoration of Litvak poet Osip Mandelshtam (aka Osip Mandelstam, 1891-1938) at Palangos street no. 1 in Kaunas, where the poet lived as a child, on December 27, 2018.

For many years it wasn’t known Mandelshtam died en route to his second deportation, the gulag in Kolyma, just as it wasn’t known he was a Lithuanian Jew and both parents were Litvaks: his father Emil Mandelshtam was from the town of Žagarė and his mother Flora Verblovskaya was from Vilnius. Many of the relevant documents in the life of Osip Mandelshtam are still unknown to literary experts.

The public release of these documents began relatively recently. Even so, even in the newest articles about Mandelshtam, for example, in Pavel Nerler’s “Osip Mandelshtam: Life and Family” (Znamya no. 12, 2016), the claim is made that Mandelshtam’s vital records have never been located. This is no longer true: Geršonas Taicas from Vilnius has found the record of Mandelshtam’s birth in Warsaw.

Taicas did further research and discovered the reason why Osip Mandelshtam (and his father, mother and their other son Aleksander) lived in Kaunas in 1896. Taicas also believes the surname, Mandelshtam, might not mean exactly what the accepted interpretation says it does, namely, “almond tree.”

Rudashevski Diary Book Design Wins Place in Tokyo Competition

Rudashevski Diary Book Design Wins Place in Tokyo Competition

Yitzhak Rudashevski’s ghetto diary published in Lithuanian by the Lithuanian Jewish Community was compiled and translated by Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas. The unusual design of the book itself was the creation of Sigutė Chlebinskaitė. The Tokyo Type Directors Club has recognized the book design as worthy to be nominated along with another 2,860 books for their annual award in 2019, in the design category.

From the organizers of the Tokyo TDC Annual Awards 2019:

Dear Sigute Chlebinskaite,

Thank you very much for your entry to the Tokyo TDC Annual Awards 2019. We received 2,860 works from around the world. Among the entries, we are pleased to inform you that your entry below has been selected for our annual book. We hope the year 2019 will be a fruitful year for you.

Tokyo Type Directors Club

Golden Age Camp for Seniors

Golden Age Camp for Seniors

Senior clients of the Social Programs Department of the Lithuanian Jewish Community spent December 13 to 17 at the Gold Age Camp by the sea in Pärnu, Estonia. The seniors spent several wonderful days at the Tervis Medical Spa where they underwent health procedures, did morning exercises, walked in the fresh air, were consulted by experienced doctors, took part in educational activities, attended lecture/discussions with interesting lecturers, did art therapy and discussed their experiences with members of the delegation. They also played a game aimed at improving memory. Evening programs included Israeli dance, watching films, a talent show, and a play performed by actors from the Youth Theater in Tallinn. They also celebrated Sabbath.

The Golden Age Camp is held annually with seniors from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia attending.

Condolences

Amos Oz (aka Amos Klausner) passed away December 28, 2018, following a battle with cancer. He was born in Jerusalem on May 4, 1939. His father was a Litvak from the Vilnius area who studied comparative literature. Our condolences to his friends, family and many fans.

Amos Oz, Saintly Intellectual Who Turned Israel’s Reality into Art, Dead at 79

Amos Oz, Saintly Intellectual Who Turned Israel’s Reality into Art, Dead at 79

(JTA)–Amos Oz would often speak in the kind of tossed-off epigrams that come only with a lot of practice. But just when you wanted to smack him for his breezy erudition, he would redeem himself with a flash of spot-on–and hilarious–self-awareness.

In 2011, speaking at the 92nd Street Y about the novel he’d just published in English, “Scenes from Village Life,” Oz said that 99 percent of the typical media coverage of Israel involves extremist settlers, ultra-Orthodox fanatics and brutal soldiers “and one percent saintly intellectuals like myself.”

Oz died Friday at age 79, having won nearly every literary prize short of the Nobel and having become perhaps Israel’s most widely translated author. If Jews were in the canonization business, Oz would have earned his wings (halo? robe? my theology is shaky) on the basis of “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” his 2002 novel cum memoir. Like so much of what he wrote, the book is not just autobiographical, but a biography of Israel itself. Although his story ends before he is out of his teens, the young Amos bears witness to the destruction of European Jewry, the height of the British mandate, a Hebrew renaissance in Jerusalem, the great Zionist debates (and debaters) of the day, the rise of the kibbutz movement and the birth of the state.

Full text here.

Condolences

Anastazija Jadvyga Baltusevičienė passed away December 25. She was born in 1942. Our deepest condolences to her children and sisters.

Condolences

Marija Rusak, born in 1935, passed away December 27. Our deepest condolences to her husband Leonid and daughter Alla.

Best Jewish Woman Contest Israelit de Lita 2018/5779

Best Jewish Woman Contest Israelit de Lita 2018/5779

Fourteen participants from ages 18 to over 55 competed Sunday in the best Jewish woman contest Israelit de Lita in Vilnius. Categories included cooking, talents and knowledge.

Contest organizer Larisa Vyšniauskienė explained feminine beauty fades over time, but spiritual beauty remains, and that was the basis for this competition.

The participants earlier attended lessons for several months on Jewish history, cuisine, cosmetics, fashion and the woman’s role in the Jewish family.

The Fayerlakh group provided music and dance for the event. Arkadijus Vinokuras and Božena Sokolinska were the MCs.

And the winners were:

Kaunas Marks Anniversary of Death of Osip Mandelshtam on December 27

Kaunas Marks Anniversary of Death of Osip Mandelshtam on December 27

The Kaunas Jewish Community and the Lithuanian-Russian Meeting Club Naderzhda invite the public to a commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the death of famous Litvak poet Osip Mandelshtam at 12 noon on December 27 outside the house where he spent his youth, located at Palangos street no. 1. Similar commemorations are to take place simultaneously in Riga, Kiev, Warsaw and Paris.

World Must Wake Up, Recognize Hezbollah as Terrorist Organization It Is

By Robert R. Singer

This article originally published in Jerusalem Post December 20, 2018

As ISIS and Al-Qaida dominated headlines surrounding the omnipotent threat of global jihad in recent years, the international community’s memory appears to have dulled to the dangers of one of the most lethal terrorist organizations in history: Hezbollah, responsible for the large-scale murders of civilians, soldiers, and diplomats across the globe over the course of a 36-year reign of terror.

Holiday Greetings from the Kaunas Jewish Community

Holiday Greetings from the Kaunas Jewish Community

Dear friends,

We sincerely thank you for your warm communication and cooperation and greet you on the occasion of the beautiful winter holidays, hoping their special mood will awake the child within you, the child’s ability to take joy and find wonder in simple things, to have fun, to believe in miracles and to put every cell of the body into the task at hand. We wish you wonder, color and many pleasant surprises in the daily routine! We wish you a white Christmas and a successful new year!

Kaunas Jewish Community

Works by Litvak Sculptors Presented in Panevėžys

Works by Litvak Sculptors Presented in Panevėžys

The Panevėžys Jewish Community opened an exhibit of works by famous 19th century Litvak sculptor Mark (Mordechai) Antokolski to mark the 175th anniversary of his death at the Panevėžys Jewish Community headquarters in cooperation with the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.

Antokolski was born in the Antakalnis neighborhood in Vilnius in 1843 to a religious Jewish family. From childhood he liked to draw and he learned to carve wood. He matriculated at the St. Petersburg Art Academy in Russia in 1862, was graduated in 1871 and thereafter embarked on a series of works on Jewish and other themes. His bas-relief “Jewish Tailor” won a silver medal. His works were much heralded in artistic and cultural circles in St. Petersburg.

His works reflect a variety of subjects, including scenes from antiquity and Christian, historical and ethnic themes. The sculptor passed away in 1902 and is buried in St. Petersburg. A small street in the Vilnius Old Town was named in his honor following his death.

Information Board Teaches Visitors about Panevėžys Jewish Cemetery

Information Board Teaches Visitors about Panevėžys Jewish Cemetery

The Panevėžys Jewish cemetery marked its 300th anniversary this December 18. It opened on the outskirts of the city back in the 18th century, on a plot of land bought by Jews who were moving to Lithuania. People of all different walks of life were buried there, including rabbis, scholars, businesspeople and farmers. During World War I Jewish volunteer soldiers who fought for Lithuanian independence against the Kaiser’s Germany were laid to rest there.

The cemetery expanded in the 19th and early 20th century. It is now listed on the Lithuanian cultural heritage registry as an historic monument and enjoys the protection of the state. Jewish burials ceased after World War II because there were so few Jews left in the city. The cemetery was closed in 1955. In 1966 city officials liquidated the cemetery and created a city park on the site. A fountain was placed in the middle of the cemetery. Headstones were taken and used for construction in Panevėžys, for building fences in the city center and also incorporated into a decorative wall at the J. Miltinis Drama Theater. Way back in 1980 there were attempts to correct the damage done; the fountain was moved to Senvagė leaving an open pit in the cemetery. The newly recreated Panevėžys Jewish Community and friends from Israel, the USA, South Africa and other countries called for fixing the damage in 1991, and in 2003 they all supported Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman’s idea to commemorate the dead with a statue. The architect Vytautas Klimavičius designed the ensemble and Panevėžys sculptor Vytautas Tallat-Kelpša made the statue which stands there today, “Sad Jewish Mother,” unveiled in 2009.

Condolences

With great sadness we report the death of Šlioma Šperling on December 19. He was born in 1940. Our deepest condolences to the Community’s long-time volunteer doctor Liusia Šperling on the death of her husband, and to their daughter.