News

Lag baOmer 2018

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Vilnius Jewish Religious Community held a picnic/barbecue celebration of Lag baOmer at Didžiulis Lake May 3. LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, Rabbi Shalom Ber Krinsky and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon attended.

Lag baOmer is the holiday of the unity of the Jewish people and usually includes fun and games, singing and dancing and prayers to the Creator. Bonfires are lit at night. The most important celebration takes place with the lighting of a bonfire above the tomb of Simeon bar Yochai in Meron in Upper Galilee in Israel. The light from the fire is meant to recall the Sefer haZohar, or Book of Splendor, the earliest written work in the Kabbalah tradition whose authorship is ascribed to the tannaitic sage.

The book sheds great light on the wisdom of the Torah, about which King Solomon said: “For a commandment is a lamp and the Torah is a light.” And according to the prophet Jeremiah, the Creator says: “Is not my word like as a fire?”

To mark Victory Day we invite you to come honor those who fought fascism and the victims of World War II at 12 noon on May 8 at the Sudervės road Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. A bus will carry passengers there from Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius and departs at 11:10 A.M. For more information and to register call (8 5) 2613 003 or email info@lzb.lt

Vilnius U Rector Presents Holocaust Survivor “Return of Memory” Diploma in Israel

Vilnius University rector professor Artūras Žukauskas presented Estera Klabinaitė Grobman (98) a “return of memory” diploma May 1 in Arad, Israel. Grobman is a Holocaust survivor who was imprisoned in the Kaunas ghetto and the Stutthof concentration camp. She is the only surviving member of a group of students who experienced the Holocaust. In her youth she dreamt of being a chemist, matriculated at university, but only studied one year. In 1941, when WWII and the Holocaust began in Lithuania, she was removed from the student rolls because of her Jewish ethnicity.

Lag baOmer Celebration

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Vilnius Jewish Religious Community invite you to come celebrate Lag baOmer, the day of the unity of the Jewish people, at the fort next to the A1 Vilnius-Kaunas freeway 1 kilometer from Grigiškės at 6:00 P.M. on May 3. There will be music, a barbecue and activities for children including trampolines, face painting and shooting bows and arrows.

Public Notice of Convocation of Lithuanian Jewish Community Regular Reporting Conference

At 12 noon on May 28, 2018, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community building located at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius, a regular reporting conference (hereinafter conference) of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC, corporate code 190722117) will take place.

The conference agenda includes:

1. Election of conference chairperson and secretary;
2. Result of independent audit of LJC, report on financial and other activities in 2017;
3) Election of members of LJC board of executives.

Representatives of all LJC association members (delegates) are invited to participate at the conference. More detailed information concerning the conference are accessible at the LJC, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius. For more information you may contact info@lzb.lt or call 261 3003.

Kaunas Jewish Community Invites You to Unveiling of Mapu Statue

A presentation and ceremony to unveil a statue to commemorate Abraham Mapu will be held at 5:00 P.M. on May 3 in Kaunas. The ceremony will take place in the courtyard of the Ars et Mundus art gallery located at A. Mapu street no. 20 in Kaunas. The sculptor was Martynas Gaubas. The event will include Jewish music. Ars et Mundus is the author of the project and Artkomas and the Kaunas Jewish Community are partners.

Israeli Ambassador Celebrates Sabbath with Kaunas Jewish Community

Last Friday Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon celebrated Sabbath with the Kaunas Jewish Community. Everyone was impressed by the ambassador’s warmth, informal communication, good mood, improving skills in the Lithuanian language and his vocal abilities.

Ambassador Maimon said he found a happy, family atmosphere in Kaunas which he often misses on Friday evenings in Lithuania and shared his nostalgia for Sabbath in Israel, where you don’t have to consult the calendar to know the day has come.

LJC Holds BBQ to Celebrate 70th Birthday of State of Israel

The Lithuanian Jewish Community held a picnic/barbecue to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel in Vilnius April 29. Participants sang the Israeli national anthem in the warm spring air. Vocalists from the Fayerlakh ensemble sang Jewish songs and celebrants began to dance spontaneously throughout the event. It was an all-ages, family affair with grandparents, parents and children attending. While some barbecued, others set the tables and served, and the younger children swung on swings, played and ran around.

Vilnius Ghetto Diary makes Top 7 List of Lithuanian Books for April

The Vilnius Ghetto Diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski was named as one of the top 7 books for April on the 15min.lt website’s monthly list. The diary was recently published in Lithuanian translation with the original Yiddish provided as the second half of the book. Other works recommended on the list included Lithuanian translations of Abraham B. Yehoshua’s Mar Mani [Mr. Mani], Isabel Allende’s Más allá del invierno [In the midst of Winter] and others, and original Lithuanian works such as Marius Burokas’s latest book of poetry Švarus buvimas [Clean Existence].

Vilnius Regional Jewish Community Established

Vilnius, April 26, BNS–A new Vilnius Regional Jewish Community is being established and will be headed by long-standing president of the Makabi Lithuanian Athletics Club Semionas Finkelšteinas.

Representatives of the association reported its establishment Thursday.

This has made more acute a conflict between Jewish organizations. Vilnius Jewish Community leader Simonas Gurevičius is angry not all who wanted were able to participate in the new organization’s establishment and said the new community is being established solely to support Lithuanian Jewish Community leader Faina Kukliansky.

A press release from the new organization Thursday said the Vilnius Regional Jewish Community “will actively bring together Jews of the Vilnius region who are in favor of working constructively” with the Lithuanian Jewish Community, regional Jewish communities and social organizations, and will also represent the social, cultural and political interests of Jews living in Vilnius and surrounding areas. The statement said the new organization will bring community old-timers and the powers of youth together for joint activity.

Condolences

In deep sadness we report Viktor Levin passed away April 24. He was born February 3, 1921. The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends our deepest condolences to his children and loved ones.

Monument to Jan Zwartendijk in Kaunas

Kaunas deputy mayor Simonas Kairys Thursday announced the plan to commemorate Dutch consul Jan Zwartendijk who rescued Jews during World War II.

Following four years of work between partners in Lithuania and the Netherlands, the deputy mayor said: “This day is truly extraordinary. Kaunas is like an outdoor museum city with many strata and signs testifying to different time periods. I think Kaunas has demonstrated many times over the city is strong when its content is strong and when the city is able to show that content to others.

Honorable Dutch consul Jan Zwartendijk issued so-called Curaçao end-visas to complement Japanese transit visas Chiune Sugihara issued Jews in Kaunas during the early days of World War II.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Press Release

LITHUANIAN CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 25, 2018, Lithuania

Personal Stories from the Holocaust Told in New Website

“’We drank tea using the observational method: we would hang a sugar cube by a string and sip tea while looking at it. This didn’t make the tea taste any sweeter, but it cheered us up,’ wrote Tamara Lazersonaite in her memoirs. She was the daughter of professor Vladimir Lazersonas, the pioneer of clinical psychology in Lithuania. Professor Lazersonas and his family drank their ostensibly sweetened tea in the Kovno Ghetto.” This is how the Lazersonas family, who were part of Kaunas intelligentsia before the start of World War II, are introduced in the new website stumblingstones.lt.

The pioneer of clinical psychology in Lithuania and his wife, doctor Regina Lazersoniene-Safochinskaite were incarcerated in the Kovno Ghetto. They both later died in concentration camps. Only two of the three Lazersonas children survived the Holocaust.

Lithuanian National Library Hosts Lecture “The Problem of Holocaust Memory in Current Lithuanian Historiography”

The Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas invites the public to a lecture in Lithuanian called “The Problem of Holocaust Memory in Current Lithuanian Historiography” by Klaipėda University professor Hektoras Vitkus at 5:30 P.M. on April 26.

Holocaust studies are expanding constantly at academic institutions in different countries. This topic has also received attention from scholars working in different disciplines in Lithuania and sometimes becomes the topic of public discussion. Even so, the question remains of how much scholarly attention is being devoted to the problem of Holocaust memory in Lithuania. This lecture will discuss the specific and topical issue of the place Holocaust memory occupies in current-day Lithuanian historiography.

Dr. Vitkus will examine the following questions: what concepts of Holocaust memory exist in contemporary Lithuanian historiography and what are their connection to global theoretical approaches to Holocaust memory? Has Holocaust memory research become an integral part of Holocaust historiography in Lithuania? Is there firm foundation for claiming Holocaust research and methodologies for such research are not yet being taken seriously by Lithuanian historians and at the current time independent studies remain exclusively in the scholarly fields of sociology and psychology?

Everyone is invited to the lecture which will be held in Lithuanian.

Old Užupis Jewish Cemetery Renovation Proposals

The Vilnius municipality is preparing proposals for renovating the old Užupis Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. The municipality’s planning agency Vilnius Plan has hired architect Victoria Sideraitė-Alon for this purpose and she has performed an examination of the territory and has provided proposals on how best to showcase fragments of headstones desecrated by the Soviets.

Sideraitė-Alon’s creative group (Samuel Bak is the author of the main symbol, A. Šimanauskas is the creator/designer, A. Perelmuter is the Israeli architect and consultant) has proposed a project called Arch, which was unanimously approved by an international advisory group on heritage issues established at the Lithuanian Jewish Community and by artists and intellectuals including P. Morkus, M. Ivaškevičius, S. Beržinis, S. Valius and by the Jewish Religious Community and the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.

The Arch project proposal has not received the approval of the Vilnius Plan agency, which instead proposed a different project to commemorate the road blazed through the cemetery during the Soviet era, actually more of a ditch, called Kirkuto alley, but without any monument carrying a deeper semantic or emotional content. Instead, the alternate proposal is for arranging the headstones and fragments, more or less appearing now as stairs, in an artificial layer of soil above the parking lot where they are now housed to create the effect of a small “Jewish” graveyard there.

Public Notice

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has learned from media reports Kalev (Calev) Krelin, who was born and lived in Moscow, is carrying on activities in Lithuania presenting himself as Chief Rabbi of Lithuania, or at least he is being presented as such.

We would like to inform the public the office of chief rabbi was abolished several years ago as the hiring of new rabbis was taking place, and Kalev Krelin was never appointed to that office. At the current time there are no contractual ties between this person and the LJC or the Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community, and we give notice Kalev Krelin has no legal basis to act in the name of the LJC. Likewise, the LJC is not responsible in any way for agreements made by this person nor for the legal consequences arising from such agreements.

Litvak Studios Exhibit

The Savickas Art School is opening another exhibit of works at 6:00 P.M. on April 27 at the Savickas Picture Gallery located at Basanavičiaus street no. 11/1. The latest exhibit is one in a series of exhibits called Stories, whose patron is MEP Petras Auštrevičius. This particular exhibit is called Litvak Studios and features some of the best work by students studying under Savickas at the LJC. This exhibit will run till May 22. The Savickas Art School has operated at the Lithuanian Jewish Community since 2015.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Statement on Proposed Amendment to Consumer Rights Law

The Lithuanian Jewish Community would like to bring the reader’s attention to amendments to the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights currently being considered by the Lithuanian parliament which would ban retail sales of goods which “distort the historical facts of Lithuania or belittle Lithuania’s history, independence, territorial integrity or constitutional order.”

The LJC finds this expanded language for amending the consumer rights protection law raises real concerns about the possible suppression of the ability of members of society to make use of their basic right to self expression, and also raises questions about the likelihood of suppression of future attempts to restore historical justice. These amendments could exert a disproportionately large and negative influence on possible discussions regarding the role of Lithuanians in carrying out the Holocaust and would further lead towards a single “acceptable” judgment of the events of Lithuanian history, formulated at the state level, which would not serve the purpose of really learning and teaching history, but would instead become a censored interpretation.

The LJC believes the adoption of these amendments would give rise to conflict in society. The LJC calls for a consideration of the real need for these amendments and their objectivity, and calls upon legislators to realize anti-Semitism is not on the decline in Europe at the current time. On the contrary, the example of neighboring state which have adopted laws on “the appropriate” interpretation of history recall the era of institutionalized anti-Semitism. Many expressions of hate are encountered in Lithuania as well, and the LJC believes the adoption of these amendments poses the danger of increasing anti-Semitism in Lithuania.

The LJC points to a 2013 decision adopted by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania in the case “On the Adherence of the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Education to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania,” which stated that no specific position or ideology can be declared mandatory and forced on the individual, and that the state must remain neutral regarding beliefs and does not have the right to set some sort of mandatory belief system.

Openness and freedom of speech and expression must remain strong and unifying values in Lithuania. In our country insuring human rights and the battle against hate crimes must be our active concern, just as actively as the calls for fighting for the protection of consumer rights by adopting these amendments.