News

Ąžuoliukas Anniversary Concert at LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Ąžuoliukas Music School will hold a chamber ensemble concert to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the school and the 60th anniversary of the Ąžuoliukas Boys and Young Men’s Choir.

The concert begins at 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 28, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius.

Panevėžys Jewish Community Accepting Donations as a Non-Profit

Panevėžys Jewish Community Accepting Donations as a Non-Profit

When people pay their income tax in Lithuania, they have the option of donating 2 percent to various non-profits. The Panevėžys Jewish Community is a non-profit organization, and members make use of this option annually to donate money. All Lithuanian tax-payers can do the same if they so desire, and the Panevėžys Jewish Community uses these funds for support and maintaining the Community museum it is establishing.

Local resident Egidijus Sanda is interested in Jewish history and traditions and taught himself Yiddish. He and his wife Lilijana visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community and they personally presented their 2 percent to the Community.

Community chairman Gennady Kofman invited the guests to tea and thanked them for their contributions. They discussed local Jewish history and traditions, and the Sandas left a record of their visit in the guest book. Chairman Kofman said he was so happy to receive the understanding and support of Panevėžys residents who have a desire to learn more about Jewish culture, which is a part of Lithuanian culture.

LJC’s Second Year at Vilnius Book Fair a Success

LJC’s Second Year at Vilnius Book Fair a Success

Almost 68,500 people visited the Vilnius Book Fair this year on its 20th anniversary. There were more than 550 events for visitors to chose from over four days. The Lithuanian Jewish Community had a table this year for the second year in a row presenting books published with partial support from the Goodwill Foundation.

The table was extremely popular with visitors all four days. Some came to browse, others to talk about Jewish culture and share their memories. There was much interested in Yitzhak Rudashevski’s Vilnius ghetto diary recently published in Lithuanian translation. This book was recognized by the Vilnius Book Fair as one of the best-designed books of 2018. Readers also expressed interest in and bought Uri Leviatan’s From Hand to Hand and Ruth Reches’s Hebrew dictionary in Lithuanian, among others.

Those wishing to purchase these books and others are invited to come to the Goodwill Foundation at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius or to visit the foundation’s internet store at https://gvf.lt/e-parduotuve/

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony at Choral Synagogue

The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius is to hold a bar and bat mitzvah ceremony at 4:00 P.M. on March 11 for boys about to turn or already 13 and girls about to turn or already 12.

To register send an email to rabbi@jewishlita.com or call 8 685 08 550.

Conference on Interpersonal Relationships

Alfred Adler was a Jewish doctor and psychotherapist from Austria who developed the methods of individual psychology based on a holistic appreciation of the individual and the principle of equality, breaking away from his mentor Sigmund Freud. Beginning in 1912 he gave a series of lectures on the subject, published later in English in 1925. The term “individual psychology” (German Individualpsychologie) does not mean to focus on the individual. Adler said one must take into account the patient’s whole environment, including the people the patient associates with. The term “individual” is used to mean the patient is an indivisible whole.

The Lithuanian Individual Psychology Association invites everyone interested to attend their annual conference. This year’s conference is called “Relationships as a Couple: To Be or Not to Be” and is aimed at psychologists, doctors, social workers, teachers and everyone interested in interpersonal psychology. The conference is to take place at the Corner Hotel at T. Ševčenkos street no. 16 in Vilnius March 16. The conference will be multilingual with translation into Lithuania. Speakers include Rašelė Šeraitė, director of the family support section at the LJC Social Department.

To learn more and to register, see http://lipd.lt/renginiai/konferencija-2019/

Concert for Grigoriy Kanovich’s 90th Birthday

Concert for Grigoriy Kanovich’s 90th Birthday

Dear readers,

The first in a series of events to celebrate the 90th year of Litvak writer Grigoriy Kanovich will be a concert tonight, Wednesday, February 27, at 7:00 P.M. at the Vaidila Theater on Jakšto street no. 9 in Vilnius.

Lukas Geniušas will perform on piano works by Chopin and Tchaikovsky. This will also be the premiere of contemporary composer Leonid Desyatnikov’s Songs of Bukovina.

Audience members will receive a surprise gift as well.

Tickets available at bilietai.lt

Director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of Year for 2018

Director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of Year for 2018

kaunas.kasvyksta.lt

The Sugihara Foundation/Diplomats for Life awarded director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of the Year for 2018 and presented their Leonidas Donskis prize to publicist Pranas Morkus at the Catholic Theology Cathedral of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas February 24, 2019.

Varnas was selected for the prize for his search for alternative language for theater and plays, especially in his latest works, Nathan the Wise and Ghetto, performed at the Kaunas State Drama Theater.

Varnas said his first reaction was complete surprise. “When I’m working I never think about these kind of things,” he said, adding he experiences a conflict in contemporary theater which often becomes nothing more than a way to make an audience laugh. “I am glad real theater is still needed, theater which discusses uncomfortable things, which speaks the truth,” Varnas said as he accepted the prize.

Litvak Literature: Grigoriy Kanovich at 90

Litvak Literature: Grigoriy Kanovich at 90

by Sergejus Kanovičius

My father wrote “Shtetl Love Song” at the age of 84. And he promised himself he wouldn’t write more: “it’s better I not write, and I don’t want to write more poorly.” Over the last six years his books have been translated to and published in English, German and Macedonian. They are being translated now as well, and soon more will appear. No matter how my brother and I have tried to provoke Father to write more, he firmly keeps to the promise he made to himself. Not a month goes by that he doesn’t get a letter from publishers or journalists asking for interviews, to attend a book launch or to travel to deliver a lecture. Very rarely he agrees to answer questions in writing: “I have said everything already, I have written everything, let them read my books.”

It’s not the first time when his name is heard at the bustle of the book fair, when his selected writings are presented, Rūta Oginskaitė’s memoir biography “Gib a Kuk” [Take a Look] and now “Linksmos Akys” [Happy Eyes]. But the author is not at the book fair. And he won’t be at the next one, although there might be a different book. If not at the Lithuanian book fair, then maybe the German, Polish or English. As I recall Father never liked answering questions about his work. It seemed incomprehensible to him how an author could also interpret that which he has created, and he didn’t understand either how one could explain what one has experienced and given birth to. Just take me and read. Father doesn’t like questions about his work. Unless those questions are broader, about a worldview. But this is in the books, too.

Vilma Gradinskaitė’s Exhibit Lithuania in Litvak Art

Vilma Gradinskaitė’s Exhibit Lithuania in Litvak Art

A second exhibit about Litvaks has opened at the Town Hall section of the Kaunas City Museum. Dr. Vilma Gradinskaitė of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum has added “Lithuania in Litvak Art” to the already-running exhibit on Litvak photographers in the interwar period.

The new exhibit shows how Lithuania was portrayed in painting, graphics arts, poetry, novels, songs, plays and films by Litvaks.

Organizers say the exhibit has a special audio guide which makes it accessible to those with sight disabilities. There is a hands-on item for children as well. The exhibit will run till March 31. The photography exhibit closes April 1.

Rudashevski Ghetto Diary Wins Main Prizes at Vilnius Book Fair

Rudashevski Ghetto Diary Wins Main Prizes at Vilnius Book Fair

The Vilnius ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski, translated and published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community, has won the Book of the Year distinction at the annual Vilnius Book Fair currently being held in the Lithuanian capital.

Deputy minister for culture Gintautė Žemaitytė congratulated the designers and publishers, presenting them prizes and diplomas. The book was recognized as the best book in terms of design, taste and art for 2018. The Lithuanian Cultural Ministry has presented the prize annually 26 years now. Over 130 publications competed for the title this time.

Book designer Sigutė Chlebinskaitė won the main prize for sensitive aesthetics and holistic concept. Congratulations to Sigutė for her talent and for dedicating it to the boy from the Vilnius ghetto.

The LJC won in the category of publisher. We are so glad we were able to present this monument to the children of the Holocaust to the Lithuanian reader.

Born in Leviatan’s Clinic

Born in Leviatan’s Clinic

The Lithuanian Jewish Community hosted the launch of the Lithuanian translation of an unusual book on February 21. Professor Uri Leviatan’s book “From Hand to Hand” is unlike the academic works by this much-published anthropologist and sociologist who focuses on the modern phenomenon of the Israeli kibbutz. It is his own story, and that of his parents and grand-parents, which he began writing for his son Lior in 2014, the fruit of personal research stretching back decades, in which the author seeks to answer the question of his origins and what exactly happened to him as a child during the Holocaust.

The autobiography reads like a thriller novel and the author himself describes it as a series of detective stories.

Asked to speak about his experience as a child of the Holocaust at a Holocaust survivor and Jewish partisan conference held in Israel in the ’90s, Leviatan realized he had actually been passed from one guardian to another at least seven times. Initially his parents had him smuggled out of the Kaunas ghetto, where they perished, but after that his path to Israel after the war became very foggy in his own mind. Hardly unusual for a child born in 1939 to not remember all of the horror of the Holocaust in his first few years, but Leviatan’s memory gaps seem to have always bothered him, and he managed over the decades to track down real documentation of himself as a Jewish orphan in Lithuania and later at the Sanhedria children’s home in Israel, now sporting a different first name following what he described as his “almost kidnapping” by a Jewish religious group which gathered up Jewish orphans in Europe. This group changed his name, falsified his date of birth and it was only when his aunt, already in Israel, went looking for him and happened to ask another child from Kaunas about Uri that he was rescued.

Visit LJC Stand and Events at the Vilnius Book Fair

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will have a stand at the Vilnius Book Fair which opens February 21 and concludes on February 24. The stand number is 3.19.

At 2:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 21, Uriel Leviatan’s book “Iš rankų į rankas” [“From Hand to Hand,” translated from the Hebrew to Lithuanian by Victoria Sideraitė-Alon with an introduction by Dalia Epšteinaitė, who also edited the Lithuanian version] will be presented by the LJC in hall 3.1 at the Vilnius Book Fair. At 3:00 P.M. on Saturday, February 23, a presentation of Litvak literature celebrating the 90th birthday of Grigoriy Kanovich will be held in hall 5.2.

Presentation of Uri Levitan’s Book “From Hand to Hand” at LJC

Presentation of Uri Levitan’s Book “From Hand to Hand” at LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community kindly invites you to attend a presentation of the book “Iš rankų į rankas” [“From Hand to Hand,” translated from the Hebrew to Lithuanian by Victoria Sideraitė-Alon with an introduction by Dalia Epšteinaitė, who also edited the Lithuanian version] by head of the Sociology and Anthropology Faculty and head of the Kibbutz Institute of Haifa University professor Uriel Leviatan and a meeting with the author at 6:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 21, at the LJC in Vilnius.

Professor Leviatan was born in Kaunas. His grandfather Isaac Leviatan was a renowned gynecologist in prewar Lithuania. The birthing clinic he created on Miško street in Kaunas in 1926 is still operating. Isaac Leviatan was a talented doctor and an active figure in Kaunas public life. He became chairman of the Zionist party Zionim Klaleem in 1935 and was the long-time representative of that party at Zionist congresses held in Europe.

Of the family of Isaac Leviatan renowned in Kaunas and throughout Lithuania, only Uriel survived through a kind of miracle. His parents sensed the coming liquidation of the ghetto in 1943 and made sure three-year-old Uriel was smuggled out of the ghetto…

Jewish Scouts Hike to Synagogue in Žiežmariai

Jewish Scouts Hike to Synagogue in Žiežmariai

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invited Jewish scouts for a winter hike on February 17. The delegation left by train for Žasliai where they were welcomed by the town alderman and local students. The scouts presented the community and the school with a gift, the ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski in Lithuanian.

The hike began through Strošiūnai Forest where the scouts learned how to build a fire and had a snack.

Hikers later visited the Jewish mass murder site in Strošiūnai Forest where everyone laid a stone in memory of the victims. The hike concluded at the Žiežmariai Cultural Center where the scouts, along with Kaišiadorys regional administration head Vytenis Tomkus, they raised and viewed the traditional Žiežmariai haShomer haTzair scouting flag, generously donated for the occasion by the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.

Condolences

With great sadness we report the death of Liudmila Grafman after a long battle with chronic illness. She was born in 1952. The Panevėžys Jewish Community sends our deepest condolences to her husband Michailas, daughters Julija and Simona, son Jurijus and her grandchildren and friends for their loss. We mourn with the family.

Launch of Book about Jews of Švėkšna

Launch of Book about Jews of Švėkšna

Monika Žąsytienė, a Bagel Shop project volunteer and museum specialist, has written a book called “Švėkšnos žydų bendruomenė XVII–XX a.” [The Jewish Community of Švėkšna from the 17th to the 20th Century].

The Bagel Shop Café will host the launch of the new book at 6:00 P.M. on February 19. Register here.

According to the author, the book makes no pretense of being an historical work. Instead, Monika Žąsytienė sought to bring together local lore and regional history for future work on the subject. She made use of material from Lithuanian archives, Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C. Some of the information–testimonies, memoirs, correspondence in Yiddish, Hebrew, German and English–appears for the first time in Lithuanian in her book.

Liova Taicas Memorial Tournament in Šiauliai

Liova Taicas Memorial Tournament in Šiauliai

An athletics tournament in memory of Liova Taicas (1952-2009) has been held annually in Šiauliai since 2010.

Chess, ping-pong, basketball and inside soccer matches were held this year with 123 contestants from the city and region of Šiauliai, Vilnius, Kaunas, Panevėžys, Klaipėda, Ukmergė, Žagarė and even Israel. Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon, Lithuanian MP Viktorija Čmilytė Nielsen, Rabbi Kalev Krelin, deputy mayor of Šiauliai Justinas Sartauskas, deputy head of the Šiauliai regional administration Algis Mačiulis, chairmen of the regional Jewish communities and many other members and friends participated.

Liova Taicas and Oser Gleizer were active members in Šiauliai of broader a group who sought to resurrect the Makabi athletics club in the 1988-1989 period, as Lithuania was breaking away from the Soviet Union. Both became directors of Makabi in Šiauliai and organized sporting events, mainly involving the then-large Lithuanian Jewish communities.

Following Taicas’s death, Gleizer proposed holding annual sporting events to honor Taicas and his contributions to the Jewish athletics movement. The 10th Liova Taicas memorial tournament was held on February 10 of this year.

Aaron Garon’s Book Vilnius Jewish World Presented at LJC

Aaron Garon’s Book Vilnius Jewish World Presented at LJC

Aaron Garon (Garonas, 1919-2009) was born in Vilnius and most of his life was associated with his beloved home town. He moved to Israel in 1992 but always looked forward to the summers when he would return to Vilnius.

Garon became a witness to the phenomenon of the Vilnius Jewish world at a young age and harbored a life-long and deep love of Jewish culture and his native Yiddish language.

A reserved and proud Litvak, Garon painfully witnessed, too, the decline of Yiddish: “How can we erase a thousand years of Jewish cultural history?”

Garon’s terse tales of his home, parents and school–all of which he adored–served as a kind of return to paradise lost for him: “If there is anything positive in me, I must thank my parents and school and our wonderful principal Sofia Gurevich for this,” he wrote.

The Jewish world of Vilnius thrived for centuries but was wiped out in the Holocaust, although survivors continued to speak Yiddish with their families for decades. Most of them made their way to Israel, and Yiddish was no longer heard on the streets of Vilnius. This book–a Lithuanian translation of select articles by Garon the journalist and writer–is more than just vivid memories, it is a testimony to and a painting in Yiddish of a lost world which might teach future generations just how much the city lost. The new book is in both Lithuanian and Yiddish.

Exhibit by Kaunas Collector at Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

Exhibit by Kaunas Collector at Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

An exhibit of items in the collection of well-known collector Michailis Duškesas regarding pre-war Vilnius Jewish organizations is on display at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius showing the rich and active life of Vilnius Jews before the Holocaust.

Thank you to Michailis and Natalija Duškesai of Kaunas who made the effort to organize and set up this unique exhibit in Vilnius.

The second floor of the synagogue is still hosting an exhibit of photographs of wooden synagogues as well. The photos were donated by Daumantas Todesas, director of the Jakov Bunka support and welfare fund.

Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects

Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects

Serafima Velkovich from Israel delivered a public lecture at the Chaim Frankel villa on February 14, 2019, called “The Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects.” The event was intended to mark the 75th anniversary of the liquidation of the Šiauliai ghetto. The lecture was in English with simultaneous translation to Lithuania. Velkovich works in the archives of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial institute in Israel. The event was attended by members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, Lithuanian MP Stasiys Tumėnas’s advisor Nerijus Brazauskas, representatives of the local municipal and regional administrations, employees from the Aušra, Joniškis and Pakruojis Museums, high school students from Šiauliai and local public figures and members of the public.

The event was organized by the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community. Partners included the Goodwill Foundation, the International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania, the Aušra Museum in Šiauliai, the Klaipėda Jewish Religious Community, the Kaunas Jewish Religious Community, the Conference of European Rabbis, descendants of Litvaks abroad, the Panevėžys Jewish Support Association and the Jewish Cultural Heritage Route Association.