News

Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel Responds to Noreika Case Dismissal

Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel Responds to Noreika Case Dismissal

The court’s decision on March 27 in Vilnius to leave intact the “national hero” status of Noreika, the murderer of Jews in World War II, is not just a miserable decision but also negates all Lithuanian government efforts over the last 25 years to fight anti-Semitism and to build better relations with Israel, and represents the desire to rewrite the truth of history. There is no doubt the court judges knew perfectly well Noreika shot and murdered infants, children, women and elderly Jews, those unable to protect themselves, surrounded by his supporters. The murderers, many of the same type as Noreika, can now proclaim themselves “heroes.”

Any murderer of Jews who wants to receive the title “national hero of Lithuania” need only apply at a Lithuanian court.

This is not the way to build new bridges with Israel, world Jewry and the world at large.

Wake up.

Arie Ben-Ari, chairman
Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel

Sacred Texts: The Story of the Talmud

Sacred Texts: The Story of the Talmud

Time: 6:00 P.M., April 4, 2019
Location: atrium, 5th floor, Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library, Gedimino prospect no. 51, Vilnius

The Sacred Texts of the World lecture series by the Philosophy Faculty of Vilnius University continues with a seventh lecture on the Talmud by Dr. Aušra Pažėraitė.

She will attempt to answer the questions of who the Talmudic sages were/are, what the structure of the Talmud is and what the special features of Talmudic discourse consist of.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Condolences

Panevėžys Jewish Community member Vanda Klug has passed away. Our deepest condolences to her son and grandchildren on the loss of their beloved mother and grandmother.

Amendments to Constitution Could Discriminate against Litvaks

Amendments to Constitution Could Discriminate against Litvaks

A group of Lithuanian parliamentarians initiated draft amendments to the Lithuanian constitution on September 20, 2018, under which a natural-born citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who acquires citizenship of another country which meets the criteria of European and trans-Atlantic integration to be defined in law does not lose Lithuanian citizenship.

Adoption of the amendments would take place in May during the upcoming referendum if voters approve of the measure for dual citizenship, with the constitutional amendments coming into effect in 2020, which the Lithuanian parliament has named the Year of the Vilna Gaon and the Year of Litvak History.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is concerned the privilege of acquiring dual citizenship according to geographical location reflected in the draft legislation contains indirect discrimination against citizens of countries which might not be included in the criteria for European and trans-Atlantic integrations, countries such as South Africa, Australia, Israel, Argentina and others.

World of Balloons a Great Hit at Ilan Club

World of Balloons a Great Hit at Ilan Club

Ilan Club director Sofja and several assistants welcomed over 20 children aged from about 3 to 8 to a balloon workshop Sunday, March 31. Children were shown how to blow up long skinny balloons using a hand-pump, after which the adults leading the activity tied them off and showed the children how to shape them into various forms, including dogs, swords and crowns. Stickers were made available to decorate the balloons. Following the activity the children were treated to juice and snacks.

In Memoriam Composer Anatolijus Šenderovas

In Memoriam Composer Anatolijus Šenderovas

How does one became a creator of music? And will there ever be a good answer to this question? Everyone studies under the same teachers, learns the same things, hears the same music playing around them, and so canons are born which lodge deeply in our minds and from which everyone draws. But all of our destinies are different: one person who is accustomed to being guided by mentors becomes unable to disentangle himself from these canons and continues on exclusively in that which he has learned and knows, while another, eager to show his courage, tramples upon everything which was sacred to the generation of his teachers, that which he was taught. And only a very few take to speaking in their own voice, unconcerned whether this conforms to fashion or if there is a demand for it, unconcerned if this clashes with the truths and rules invented by someone else.

Anatolijus Šenderovas was one of those few who travel off on their own path. He was free to accomplish the goals he set for himself without trying to prove himself to anyone, he created that which he felt he must create. He immortalized in his work his experience and that which he held dear. Perhaps that’s why his music is so recognizable and why it cannot be confused with anyone else’s.

Saying Goodbye to Anatolijus Šenderovas

Saying Goodbye to Anatolijus Šenderovas

Lithuanian composer and conductor Anatolijus Šenderovas passed away in the US on March 25. His funeral will be held in Vilnius on Friday, March 29.

The funeral begins at 10:00 A.M. in the Jewish section of the Sudervės road cemetery in Vilnius, with speeches and burials starting at 11:30 A.M. (procession with seven stops according to Jewish tradition). A bus will be made available to ferry mourners to the cemetery leaving from Pylimo street no. 4 at 9:30 A.M.

Who Sanctioned Institutional Anti-Semitism in Lithuania? (updated)

Who Sanctioned Institutional Anti-Semitism in Lithuania? (updated)

The Lithuanian Jewish Community was shocked by an unsigned “explanation” published by the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania (hereinafter Center) on March 27, the day before the anniversary of the horrific Children’s Aktion (mass murder operation) in the Kaunas ghetto, a text which, apparently seeking to avoid responsibility, not only seeks to justify actions by Jonas Noreika during World War II but also contains features which are crimes under the Lithuanian criminal code, namely, denial or gross belittlement of the Holocaust. Note that article 170(2) of the Lithuanian criminal code (public approval of crimes against humanity and crimes by committed by the USSR and Nazi Germany against Lithuania or her residents, their denial or grossly diminishing their scope) also applies to corporate entities.

It is unacceptable to the LJC that there might be a collective condemnation of ethnic Lithuanians or any other ethnic group for perpetrating the Holocaust, and therefore it is equally incomprehensible to us on what basis the Center tried to convince Lithuanians, writing in the name of all Lithuanians, of Holocaust revisionist ideas.

This “explanation” is full of factual and logical errors, for example, one sentence claims “the Lithuanians worked operated against the will of the Germans” while another says “Germany was seen as an ally.” Also, based on a single source, the claim is made that the number of Lithuanians who shot Jews was “lower than in other nations.” The text fails to explain why the greatest percentage of Jews were murdered in Lithuania when compared to the other states of Europe, including Germany, and thus clearly seeks to diminish the fact of Lithuanians’ contribution to the murder of the Jews. The Center text claims “the residents of occupied Lithuania in 1941 didn’t understand ghettos as part of the Holocaust,” not just heaping scorn on the pain of ghetto inmates but also belittling those Lithuanian heroes who rescued Jews at the risk of their own lives and those of their families. The Center’s Noreika apologetica is based on the testimony of his fellow Lithuanian Activists Front members. Note the LAF call to free Lithuania by ridding the country of “the yoke of Jewry” in 1941.

It is the LJC’s opinion that the Center as a state institution founded in law by distorting historical facts, grossly diminishing the scope of the Holocaust and creating a fictional narrative of history is incompetent to fulfill its main task as defined in Lithuanian law, namely, the restoration of historical truth and justice.

Therefore, the LJC asks:

-representatives of the Lithuanian executive and legislative branches to respond appropriately and in a timely manner by condemning this incident of institutional anti-Semitism;

-that the Center take responsibility and retract publicly the above-discussed text, apologize to the LJC for the gross belittlement of the scope of the Holocaust and apologize to the Lithuanian public for misinforming the public.

If within a reasonable time an amicable solution is not found, the LJC, in defense of its interest protected by law but now violated, reserves the right to make sue of the defensive measures and remedies provided in Lithuanian law.

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

Thank You!

Thank You!

We send a great big THANK YOU to Mr. Tadas who responded to our call for help and not only gave but brought to our door a washing machine needed so much by one of our families.

The washing machine is already operational and successful in its new home. Mrs. Yelena and her children who received the gift send their warmest wishes and greatest gratitude. Thank you, Tadas, from the entire community and from the Social Programs Department, and on behalf of the family. Your good deed will remain in our minds for long to come.

Isaac Bashevis Singer Presented at Limmud

Isaac Bashevis Singer Presented at Limmud

Rabbi Borukh Gorin from Russia gave a presentation of the life and work of Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer at the 2019 Lithuanian Jewish Community Limmud held in Druskininkai this month.

Gorin is editor-in-chief of the Lekhaim magazine and the Knizhniki publishing house. The magazine is published on paper (about 7,000 copies per issue) and the internet, and is read by about 80,000 internet subscribers. The hard-copy magazine is sent out to readers in Israel, Europe and America, as well as 75 other countries. Gorin says Lekhaim is a window on the contemporary Jewish world and contains articles on history, religion and modern Jewish life. It is published in Russian. It often contains information about Lithuanian Jews. Some time ago the magazine featured Chaim Grade, one of the most important writers in Yiddish who was born in Vilnius on April 4, 1910. He passed away in New York on April 26, 1982. Following the death of his widow, unpublished manuscripts by Chaim Grade were discovered and should be published within a few years. Grade wrote about Vilnius.

In Druskininkai Gorin spoke about Bashevis Singer, calling him one of two well-known Yiddish writers, along with Sholem Aleichem. Singer wrote about Polish Jewish life before the Holocaust. Gorin pointed out Singer came from a family of talented writers, with his brother Israel and sister Ester respected writers in their own right. His father was a rabbi and a good storyteller and his mother was a rationalist and aristocrat. Bashevis Singer moved to the USA before World War II and wrote for the Forward, where he published a cycle about a Polish Jewish family. Singer describes Polish Jewish life and he wrote after the war as if the Holocaust had never happened.

Anatolijus Šenderovas Has Died

Anatolijus Šenderovas Has Died

With deep sadness we report the death of Lithuanian composer Anatolijus Šenderovas at the age of 73. Born in Russia in 1945, Šenderovas was graduated from the Lithuanian Conservatory in 1967. Works by this Jewish composer have been performed at numerous international music festivals and in the great concert halls of the world. He received the Lithuanian National Prize in 1997. Our deepest condolences to his family, many friends and many fans.

Purim at the Panevėžys Jewish Community

Purim at the Panevėžys Jewish Community

The Panevėžys Jewish Community celebrated Purim with a play, carnival costumes and masks this year. “The Purim holiday is full of fun, community and the faith the Jewish people are strong and able to overcome all afflictions,” Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman told celebrants. Holiday greetings from Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and others were also delivered.

The Purim play was performed by A. Narevič as Ahasuerus, V. Savinčė as Esther, G. Kofman as Mordechai and G. Šteimanas as Haman.

O. Juošpaitienė served as MC at the celebration and told the story of the Purim holiday contained in the Book of Esther.

Chiune Sugihara Remembered at Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium

Chiune Sugihara Remembered at Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Japanese ambassador to Lithuania Shiro Yamasaki attended the unveiling of a plaque to honor Jewish rescuer Chiune Sugihara at the Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium in Vilnius. The Jewish school in Vilnius has maintained a sister-school relationship for several years with the Japanese school Sugihara attended. Visiting teachers from the Japanese school were presented a small gift by the LJC, copies of the recently-published Rudashevski ghetto diary in Lithuanian and Yiddish.

Opening of Exhibit Nostalgia for Eternity

Opening of Exhibit Nostalgia for Eternity

You’re kindly invited to the opening of Leonid Plotkin’s photography exhibit “Nostalgia for Eternity: The Indian Subcontinent: Religion, History and Myth”. The opening reception is to take place at the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, Naugarduko street no. 10/2, Vilnius, at 5.30 P.M. on March 28, 2019.

New Mobile Museum Exhibit Features Lithuania’s Righteous Gentiles

New Mobile Museum Exhibit Features Lithuania’s Righteous Gentiles

A new mobile exhibit from the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum has begun its rounds with an opening in Kaunas on March 5. “When You Save a Life, You Save a World” debuted at Vytautas Magnus University to a large audience, including Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas and members of the Community, relatives of rescuers and those rescued, city residents and guests from other locations.

Vytautas Magnus professor Juozas Augutis gave a word of welcome and said he was proud of the exhibit opening and the light shed by the Righteous Gentiles. He said the children lost to the Holocaust were a great loss to everyone: “Kaunas’s pain is the pain of all of Lithuania.”

Dr. Kamilė Rupeikaitė–then deputy director of the museum but last week becoming its new director, replacing longtime director Markas Zingeris–emphasized the museum’s long-term commitment to and work on researching the stories of rescuers of Jews. Danutė Selčinskaja, the curator of the exhibit and of the accompanying catalog and the director of the museum’s department for commemorating rescuers of Jews, presented the overall concept of the exhibition with an emphasis on stories from Kaunas. Fruma Vitkinaitė-Kučinskienė, a Holocaust survivor rescued by gentiles, said the Righteous Gentiles were the gift of fate to whom she is still grateful, and she said she was so happy today to be able to talk to members of the families who rescued her. “I think there are many who will agree that those days when Jewish children were rescued were the most beautiful days in the Lithuania of that time,” Juozas Vocelka said. He is the son of Righteous Gentile Pranas Vocelka who dedicated his life to saving Jews.