Religion

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:23 P.M. on Friday, July 19, and concludes at 10:57 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region. Saturday is also World Chess Day.

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:32 P.M. on Friday, July 12, and concludes at 11:11 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region.

Condolences

We report with deep sadness the death of Sania Kerbelis on July 11. He was born in 1963. His death followed his struggle with a chronic illness. Sania Kerbelis was the chairman of the Šiauliai District Jewish Community and the Šiauliai Jewish Religious Community. Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and the entire Lithuanian Jewish Community extend our deepest condolences to his sons Doyvdas and Simonas and his many friends and family members. Baruch Dayan ha’Emet.

Events in Kaunas Considered by Researchers: “Think about History, Understand Memory”

Events in Kaunas Considered by Researchers: “Think about History, Understand Memory”

by Jurgita Šakienė, kauno.diena.lt

An international academic conference to mark the 80th anniversary of the liquidation of the Kaunas ghetto has begun at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. Called “Think about History, Understand Memory,” the conference includes researchers from Lithuania and abroad who will present Jewish life before and during the Holocaust through the lens of history, politics, social sciences, the theater and the arts.

“This anniversary is a powerful reminder of our collective responsibility to understand memory and to insure the lessons of the past inform our present and future,” Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein said during her speech opening the conference. Also giving welcome speeches were US ambassador Kara McDonald and Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas.

Germany’s ambassador Cornelius Zimmerman in his speech said, among other things, “It’s difficult to understand how these unspeakably brutal things could have happened. But they happened. I feel sadness, remorse and shame. It’s crucial to remember everything in order to prevent this from happening again.”

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Natalja Cheifec Discussion Club Zoom Meeting

Natalja Cheifec Discussion Club Zoom Meeting

Natalja Cheifec’s Shalom discussion club is planning a meeting on the zoom internet platform at 5:30 P.M. on Tuesday, July 2. The discussion will focus on “forbidden topics” such as why Jewish women aren’t allowed to wear the tallis and tefellin, on the less controversial topic of women serving in the Israeli military, but also any topic participants wish to discuss. Participants are urged to send in their topics of interest prior to the internet meeting.

To obtain zoom credentials to participate and to propose topics for discussion, see here: https://mailchi.mp/a60b2d1747ba/alom-12683479

Everyone is welcome.

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:41 P.M. on Friday, June 28, and concludes at 11:30 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region.

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:42 P.M. on Friday, June 21, and concludes at 11:32 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region. Note: St. John’s Eve or Midsummer’s Eve, aka Joninės in Lithuanian and Litha in Celtic lore, is an official holiday in Lithuania observed this year from Saturday through Monday with government offices and some businesses closed.

Learning about Jewish Life and Culture at the TOLI Seminar

Learning about Jewish Life and Culture at the TOLI Seminar

All last week the LJC hosted the TOLI seminar where experts on Jewish life and culture from different Lithuanian institutions of learning come together to teach teachers about Litvak life before the Holocaust and about the Holocaust.

The TOLI institute founded by Olga Lengvel in New York and Lithuania’s International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regime in Lithuania jointly held the seminar which this year was called “Learning from the Past, Action for the Future: Teaching the Holocaust and Human Rights.”

The seminar was attended by over 30 teachers and educators from throughout Lithuania. They included ethics, Lithuanian language and literature, English, geography, information theory and history teachers, as well as librarians and social workers who sacrificed their summer vacations to learn and improve their knowledge.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Holocaust Memorial Desecrated in Southern Lithuania

Holocaust Memorial Desecrated in Southern Lithuania

BNS reports yet another anti-Semitic attack in Lithuania, this time upon a Holocaust memorial in the cemetery in Senoji Varėna (Old Varėna) in southeast Lithuania.

Police from Alytus, Lithuania, told BNS they received a report of the vandalism just after noon on Monday from a local resident who saw it on Sunday evening as he was walking in the forest.

Alytus Police Department communications department director Kristina Janulevičienė told the news agency the vandalism was recorded as evidence and including destruction of an information stand, the partial destruction of a memorial obelisk and the placement of some sort of sticker forbidding people from placing stones at the memorial, a common Jewish tradition at grave sites.

“It doesn’t appear this was just done by children somehow. It’s a premeditated crime and act of vandalism. According to our information an obelisk marking the site was also damaged,” Varėna regional administration mayor Algis Kašėta told the 15min.lt website.

Alytus police head of communications Kristina Janulevičienė said police are currently on scene investigating.

Shavuot Celebrated in Šiauliai

Shavuot Celebrated in Šiauliai

Last Friday evening the Šiauliai Jewish Community celebrated the Sabbath and holiday of Shavuot with guests from Israel Alon Ron and Nadia Roizen, lighting the Sabbath candles, breaking bread and sampling the sanctified wine.

The guests from Israel thanked Community members for their fellowship and vowed to return again to their grandparents’ hometown, Šiauliai to visit their new friends.

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:39 P.M. on Friday, June 14, and concludes at 11:30 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region.

Happy Shavuot

Happy Shavuot

Dear readers,

Happy Shavuot!

Today Jews around the world celebrate Shavuot, one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar for centuries, with not one but several significant meanings.

The first is the religious one which tells the story of how seven weeks after the Hebrews left Egypt, God gave the gift of the Torah to Moses and the entire Jewish people, the sacred text in the form of the Pentateuch with 613 mitzvot, or laws. Shavuot is also called the Feast of Weeks. Traditionally Jews do not sleep on this night and spend it studying Torah, intoning the morning prayer when dawn breaks.

This is an especially important holiday because God’s Ten Commandments have determined the whole course of human morality and civilization. Having received the oral Torah, only a portion was written down, with the rest inscribed only 1,500 years later, after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Shavuot is also the celebration of the first harvest, featuring abundant dairy products and homes decorated with flowers. Traditionally Jews make pancakes with curds and cheesecake, and eat ice cream, drink milk shakes and consume other treats.

Have a delicious holiday!

More Attacks on Lithuanian Jewish Community

More Attacks on Lithuanian Jewish Community

Last week two more attacks were made against the Lithuanian Jewish Community. A man in a mask with the help of an accomplice brazenly stole the Israeli flag flying above the entrance of the building in Vilnius, then took the flag to a nearby park and cut it up with a knife. He also apparently threatened a person there with the same knife, but didn’t wound that person. The next day someone broke a window at the Bagel Shop Café operated by the LJC in the same building as LJC headquarters.

Both incidents were recorded on security video which has been turned over to police.

The LJC expects law enforcement will take swift action to punish the criminals in light of the rising danger posed to Jews in the Lithuanian capital.

“What’s most discouraging isn’t the crimes themselves, but people’s apathy. In the video recording you can clearly see pedestrians passing by who stopped to look back at the crazed masked man but didn’t bother to call the police. There is more than one living eye-witness in our community who has personally experienced what tragic consequences can ensue from remaining passive while crimes are committed,” LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky commented.

Germany Bestows Award on Faina Kukliansky on D-Day

Germany Bestows Award on Faina Kukliansky on D-Day

Yesterday, on historic D-Day, “decision day” marking the entry of the western Allies into Nazi-occupied France and the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany, German ambassador to Lithuania Cornelius Zimmermann presented Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany for her tireless work commemorating Lithuanian Holocaust victims and long-term efforts to unite the LJC including enhancing the organization’s role on the national and international level.

Ambassador Zimmermann presented the honor, saying Germany’s responsibility for the Holocaust will remain forever. He said the Holocaust was a barbaric crime against humanity which led to the death of 95% of the Lithuanian Jewish community. He also said the small Litvak community which survives plays an important role in Lithuanian political life and in the international community, thanks to the efforts of the exceptional person occupying the post of leadership at the LJC.

“I received this award truly not only because my parents were imprisoned in a ghetto and experienced other horrors of the Holocaust, along with other Lithuanian Jews. Their children are not presented medals because of that. I hope this award is an evaluation of preserving memory. I’m not the only person doing this, each of our communities in every region where they have been established are doing everything possible to maintain the old cemeteries and restore synagogues. Sometimes I’m asked why we are doing this if there are no Jews left in the towns anyway. In order to preserve their memory. We no longer possess our parents’ candelabra which every family had for lighting the Sabbath candles. The only thing we have left is memory and respect, and not just self-respect, but also that of the state of Germany which, despite the tragic lessons of history, today is a shining example in many regards. I truly cherish this award because it wasn’t presented to me personally but as an assessment of the work by the entire Jewish community,” chairwoman Kukliansky said, thanking the German president, ambassador Zimmermann and previous German ambassador to Lithuania Matthias Sohn.

Rafailas Karpis and Vilnius State Choir Take Audience on Musical Journey through Jewish History

Rafailas Karpis and Vilnius State Choir Take Audience on Musical Journey through Jewish History

On June 4 the St. Kotryna (aka Catherine) Church in Vilnius was the gathering place for LJC members, foreign embassy staff, members of the Christian community and friends from Israel who came to take in another Shalom Culture and Music Festival in which opera soloist Rafailas Karpis, the Vilnius State Choir conducted by Artūras Dambrauskas, violinist Borisas Kirzneris and pianist Vincenzo de Martino performed an exceptional program of Jewish music with vocal works in Yiddish, Hebrew, Latin, English and Lithuanian, a musical journey through millennia of Jewish and Litvak history.

Art Exhibit at Kurkliai Wooden Synagogue

Art Exhibit at Kurkliai Wooden Synagogue

The recently-restored wooden synagogue in Kurkliai in the Anykščiai region recently opened its doors to the public again with an exhibit of paintings and graphic designs by Vytautas Kasiulis. The images were of different snapshots of Jewish life. The characters featured gracefully against a backdrop of town streets, natural scenes and indoors. The artist and his wife Bronė had donated the paintings to Lithuania in 2010. At the opening ceremony for the synagogue exhibition soloist Judita Leitaitė performed a concert. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman and Panevėžys Jewish Community member Albertas Savinčius with his wife Virginija attended.

Kofman delivered a welcome speech and read written greetings from Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky.

There was a relatively large Jewish population in the village of Kurkliai in the early 20th century, exterminated during the Holocaust. The small village had had a population of about 90 Jews before that, and the Jewish community centered around the synagogue.

Let’s Celebrate Shavuot

Let’s Celebrate Shavuot

The Saul Kagan Welfare Center and the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s social services department greet you on the up-coming holiday of Shavuot and invite members and clients to a holiday concert. The Jewish song and dance ensemble Simcha from the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium promise a fun and interesting experience.

Registration required by sending an email to zanas@sc.lzb.lt or by calling (+370) 678 81514.

Time: 1:00 P.M., Monday, June 10
Place: Third floor, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Vilnius

Israeli Ambassador Visits Panevėžys

Israeli Ambassador Visits Panevėžys

Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community recently where she met with chairman Gennady Kofman and the board of directors. Kofman gave a brief sketch of the life and activities of the Panevėžys Jewish Community and showed the ambassador their archives including thousands of testimonies from Litvak who once lived in the city.

Kofman escorted the ambassador to the former yeshiva building there, the former market square, the Hera Torah synagogue, the Jewish cemetery and Memory Square with the monument Sad Jewish Mother. He told her as well about the JDC’s work in Lithuania between the two world wars and they laid a wreath at the marker showing the location of the former ghetto gate.

He also took her to the city hall where he introduced her to Panevėžys mayor Rytis Račkauskas. They discussed various forms of cooperation.