The Sabbath begins at 9:05 P.M. on Friday, July 30, and concludes at 10:32 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites you to an evening of poetry and music at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, August 11. Sergejus Kanovičius will read selections of his prose and poetry accompanied by Boris Kirzner on violin.
The Lithuanian daily newspaper and news website Lietuvos rytas reports the Road of Memory march on Sunday to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Šiauliai was attended by the US, Danish and Israeli ambassadors as well as Lithuanian members of parliament.
Besides members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, MPs Emanuelis Zingeris and Rima Baškienė, US ambassador Robert Gilchrist, Israeli ambassador Yosef Avny-Levi, Danish chargé d’affaires Jakob Greve Kromann, Lithuanian Jewish Community executive director Michailas Segalis, Vilnius Religious Jewish Community chairman Simas Levinas, Kaunas Religious Jewish Community chairman Mauša Bairakas, a representative of the Vilnius Jewish Community and others.
The event was staged by Lithuania’s International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupations Regimes in Lithuania as part of their “Road of Memory 1941-2021” project.
Members of the Šiauliai Regional and Klaipėda Jewish Communities attended an event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Holocaust in Ylakiai, Lithuania, on July 6. The town center hosted an exhibit called “The Homes They Lived In” about Jewish families, businesses and activities. During the commemoration opera soloist Olga Šardt-Žarova sang “Our Father” and other works in Hebrew. After a minute of silence, a procession set off for the mass murder site and the old Jewish cemetery. Candles were lit and flowers placed at the site of the former synagogue, as were stones as well at the mass murder site, where kaddish was also performed.
According to the census at the end of the 19th century, 57% of the town’s population were Jews. Before World War I there were 150 Jewish families there. The town was heavily damaged during that war and many buildings include the synagogue burned to the ground. The town was rebuilt with large contributions made by Jews and in 1923 Jews constituted 41% of the population then. Many Jewish residents engaged in trade, light production and even agriculture before World War I. There were two mills with Jewish owners. Commerce took place at the weekly market and the large fair held once every five years. According to a government survey in 1931, there were 20 shops there, of which 17 belonged to Jews.
The Sabbath begins at 9:27 P.M. on Friday, July 16, and concludes at 11:04 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region.
Telšiai became an important economic and cultural center in the late 19th century. The large Jewish community which had lived there since ancient times had great influence on the growth and success of the city. Its members harmoniously merged with the city’s cultural, economic and political activity and were active participants in it.
In Telšiai as in other Lithuanian towns and cities Jews mainly engaged in mercantilism and traditional trades; there were also many Jewish doctors and dentists as well as Jews offering other services. Services and light industry were an important source of income for the Jews of Telšiai. For many others, however, the Jewish spiritual seminary–the yeshiva and its synagogues where hundreds of students from all over the world studied–became the way of making a living.
It wasn’t just the residents but the entire atmosphere of the community which demonstrated the spirit of the Jews of Telšiai. Here the ancient past the present lived alongside one another, proponents of tradition and of the Enlightenment, the orthodox and the secular and social activists. There were Torah sages and highly-educated people among the Jews of Telšiai. The city was filled with creative energy and spirituality and materiality merged into a perfect whole there. The crooked narrow streets and the old buildings were miraculous, a world filled with enchantment where thousands of Jewish families lived.
Tisha b’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av on the Hebrew calendar, falls on Sunday, July 18 this year. The holiday actually begins at sundown on July 17 and a 25-hour fast is observed, ending this year in the Vilnius region at 10:34 P.M., July 18.
Tisha b’Av commemorates the destruction of the First Temple of Solomon ca. 587 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 CE in Jerusalem and is traditionally a day of fasting and mourning. Observance includes five prohibitions, the main one being a 25-hour fast. The Book of Lamentations is read in the synagogue followed by the recitation of kinnos, liturgical dirges for the Temple and Jerusalem. Since the day has become associated with other major Jewish tragedies, some kinnos recall other events, including the murder of the Ten Martyrs in ancient Rome, pogroms against medieval Jewish communities and the Holocaust.
According to tradition, the sin of the Ten Spies is the real origin of Tisha B’Av. In the Book of Numbers, 13:1-33 when the Israelites accepted their false report of the Promised Land, they wept, thinking God could no help them. The night the people wept and wailed was the ninth day of Av, which then became a day of weeping and misfortune for all time, according to tradition, following which the Jews were made to wander the desert for 40 years.
The A. and M. Miškiniai Public Library in Utena (Utyan in Yiddish), Lithuania, hosted a presentation of the only Lithuanian translation of a zakhor or memorial book in Yiddish about the city and region of Utena (the region includes Molėtai, Anykščiai, Vyžuonos and other locations. Incredibly, it took the book 42 years to reach the Lithuanian reading public: it was published in Tel Aviv by Nay Leben in 1979 under the title “Yishker-bukh Utyan un umgegnt.”
The translation and publication was the initiative of cultural historian Sandra Dastikienė as part of her project “Old Neighbors” to educate the public about the Jewish community, Jewish culture and the Litvak legacy in the Utena region.
“The old neighbors return to their towns in different ways–as works of art on the streets, through live appearances–but we are really missing the authentic history. This book fills that gap. It’s not an academic work, not an historical study, but the real memories of Jews who survived the Holocaust or left Lithuania before it. It raises more questions and presents a lot of answers,” Sandra Dastikienė said.
The recollections were collected into a single zakhor book from 1945 to 1979 in Israel. Roma Jančauskienė has long been interested in the history of the Utyan Jews and when she learned of the existence of this book tried over an extended period to buy a copy on the internet, unsuccessfully. About four years ago she finally did buy a copy on eBay, in Yiddish of course.
The Sabbath begins at 9:35 P.M. on Friday, July 9, and concludes at 11:17 P.M. on Saturday.
WJC president Ronald Lauder calls Polish legislation a “slap in the face” to what remains of Polish Jewry
World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder called on the Jewish community worldwide to rethink its relationship with the Polish government over the weekend after the country’s lower house of parliament passed a draft law which would severely limit any ability by Polish Jewish Holocaust victims to recover their stolen property.
“This law is a slap in the face to what remains of Polish Jewry and survivors of Nazi brutality everywhere. It also sets a terrible precedent throughout Europe as survivors and descendants continue to seek justice,” said Lauder, who’s WJC represents Jewish communities in 100 countries. “It pains me to say this, but I think that the time has come for the international Jewish community to reevaluate our relationship with a government that is behaving with unimaginable callousness and is emulating the worst traditions in Polish history rather than the best and most uplifting ones.”
While most post-Communist countries have sought to right historical wrongs and address the issue of stolen Holocaust-era Jewish property, Poland has lagged behind. The Sejm’s new legislation will make it impossible for Jewish claimants or their descendants to recover or be compensated for what was taken from them in Poland.
The Sabbath begins at 9:39 P.M. on Friday, July 2, and concludes at 11:26 P.M. on Saturday.
The Sabbath begins at 9:41 P.M. on Friday, June 25, and concludes at 11:32 P.M. on Saturday.
The first procession in this year’s series of “Path of Memory” commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust was held in Gargždai, Lithuania, on June 23. The Lithuanian prime minister, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman and the chairmen of the Klaipėda and Palanga Jewish Communities attended and spoke at the event.
“We lost many of our fellow Jewish citizens during the Holocaust and we can only imagine what Lithuania’s academic, cultural and economic life might have been if not for the Holocaust,” Lithuanian prime minister Ingrida Šimonytė told reporters the day before the event.
The commemoration took the form of a march from the site of a former synagogue to the Jewish mass murder site where a ceremony was held and speakers spoke. Some attendees carried stones with the names of murdered Jews on them, in keeping with the Jewish tradition of placing stones at a grave.
Here are some photos from the first “Path of Memory 1941-2021” commemoration held in Gargždai.
Photographs by Laima Penek, the Chancellery of the Government of Lithuania and others.
We all need to remember all of our innocent people who were murdered and will never return.
The Panevėžys Jewish Community has asked the Panevėžys regional administration to renew inscriptions on monuments and memorial plaques commemorating Jewish victims murdered in World War II. The inscription on the Ghetto Gates monument has already been renewed.
The Panevėžys Jewish Community is carrying out a project called “Let’s Maintain the Mass Murder Sites” to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania. We plan to visit all the mass murder sites in the Panevėžys district.
Through our work and contribution not only do we seek to remember the tragedy which began 80 years ago, but also to set an example for regional administration employees charged with maintaining Jewish mass murder sites and Jewish cemeteries under Lithuanian law. The area around the Kurganava mass murder site has been put in order this year, but saplings still need to be cut and the fence repaired.
The Panevėžys Jewish Community is grateful to our volunteers and staff, including Albertas and Virginija Savinčiai, Jurijus Grafmanas, Timūras Jerovickis, Borisas Marijampolskis, Ona Juospaitienė and others, for taking part in this project.
We are planning repair and upkeep next month as well, with Panevėžys Jewish Community members travelling to Žalioji forest, Ramygala, Raguva and other mass murder sites.
June 22, 1941, was the date the Nazis invaded Lithuania, Belarus and neighboring countries and the Holocaust began. Today the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius will hold a prayer service to remember the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania. Unlike in the West, Jewish victims in the East were mainly executed near their homes. Over just a few months in the summer and fall of 1941 the vast majority of the once-populous Jewish community of Lithuania were exterminated.
The Sabbath begins at 9:40 P.M. on Friday, June 18, and concludes at 11:32 on Saturday, June 19.
by Victoria Sideraitė-Alon
The old Jewish cemetery in the Šnipiškės (Shnipishok) neighborhood in Vilnius wasn’t destroyed in a single day. Back at the turn of the 19th to 20th century, the remains of 700 Vilnius Jews buried there were exhumed and reburied in a different part of the same cemetery during construction in the surrounding area.
Later during the Soviet era during the mid-20th century when work went on to extend what is now Šeimyniškių street, encroaching again on the old Jewish cemetery, these 700 burials were again exhumed and sent to a different grave. They were rediscovered in 2003 during construction of apartment houses next to Vilnius’s King Mindaugas Bridge. At the time, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairman Simonas Alperavičius resolved to have these 700 reinterred at the still-operational Jewish cemetery on Sudervės road in Vilnius. The reburial ceremony was attended by LJC officials and rabbis. The new grave there was marked with four posts.
June 9, 2021–European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen addressed thousands participating in the 2021 American Jewish Committee (AJC) Virtual Global Forum. She reiterated the Commission’s commitment to fighting antisemitism, fostering Jewish life, Holocaust remembrance and strong EU-Israel partnership.
“After taking office as Commission president in 2019, I stepped up Europe’s fight against anti-Semitism. This is why, later this year, the Commission will adopt its first-ever ‘EU Strategy on Combating Anti-Semitism and Fostering Jewish Life’ … All European students should learn about the Holocaust, no matter their background, family history or country of origin. … We want to foster Jewish life in Europe in all its diversity. We want to make sure that Jews are free to follow their religious and cultural traditions. … The European Commission has significantly increased the budget for preventing and addressing anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life, and we will also take action if European money is used to call into question Israel’s right to exist.”
Full speech here.
The Sabbath begins at 9:35 P.M. in Vilnius and the Vilnius district on Friday, June 10, 2021. The Sabbath concludes at 11:27 P.M. on Saturday, June 11, 2021.