Religion

Before Yom Kippur, please forgive me if I unintentionally hurt people. I wasn’t sensitive enough, I can admit that right now. I needed to exert myself to better recognize and understand others, to become more sensitive. “I’m sorry” is the most miraculous phrase which could ever be uttered. It is a bridge between war and peace and is the foundation for the survival of humanity.

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman,
Lithuanian Jewish Community

Yom Kippur at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

Yom Kippur at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

B”H

Sunday, September 27
5:45 P.M. Meal before fast
6:46 P.M. Start of fast
6:30 P.M. Kol Nidre prayer

Monday, September 28
10:00 A.M. Shacharit
12:30 P.M. Iskor (remembrance prayer)
5:30 P.M. Mincha

6:30 P.M. Final prayer Neila
7:55 P.M. End of fast/meal

Donations in the memory of loved ones (as written in the Izkor prayer) will be accepted on Sunday from 4:00 P.M. in the synagogue

President Gitanas Nausėda Speaks at Ceremony to Commemorate Victims of Genocide at Paneriai

President Gitanas Nausėda Speaks at Ceremony to Commemorate Victims of Genocide at Paneriai

Dear Holocaust survivors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

We are gathered here today to pay our respects to the hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Shoah means catastrophe. But this is not just the tragedy and catastrophe of the Jewish people. The Shoah is Lithuania’s. This is the Shoah of all mankind. This is a Shoah of our humanity, compassion and ambivalence.

Here alone in Paneriai, we, the state of Lithuania, lost tens of thousands of our fellow citizens with whom we built the independent Lithuanian state together. Fighting together in the battles for independence, suffering together the young state’s most difficult years, together putting our hopes in the future of an independent Lithuania.

We lost talented scholars, artists, poets, doctors, businesspeople and artisans, teachers and clerics. Me lost elders who preserved the memory of hundreds of generations living together in friendship, and we lost the children who would have been this country’s future.

Lithuanian President Sends Rosh Hashanah Greetings

Lithuanian President Sends Rosh Hashanah Greetings

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda has issued Rosh Hashanah greetings to the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the global Jewish community.

He wished the people of Israel strength, resolution and health in the struggle against the corona virus and its effects, and Jews of Lithuania and the world a beautiful, sweet New Year’s celebration and success in all things. “We live in a time-period filled with challenges, but holidays always remind us of the fundamental values, placing our misfortunes in the background. Today is it is important not to forget the power which shared goodness, support and unity have. I wish you a successful and peaceful 5781,” the Lithuanian president said. He also said it’s significant 2020 was declared the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History. “Despite the outbreak of the pandemic, we were successful in marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Vilna Gaon, in appreciating his influence on the development of Judaism, and in recalling the undeniable contribution the Jewish community has made in promoting Lithuania’s image in the world.

Lithuanian MPs Send Rosh Hashanah Greetings

Lithuanian MPs Send Rosh Hashanah Greetings

Members of Lithuania’s parliament Gediminas Kirkilas and Aušrinė Armonaitė sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to the Lithuanian Jewish Community as the country’s Jewish community marked the beginning of the new year, 5781 on the Jewish calendar.

Former prime minister Gediminas Kirkilas, now deputy speaker of parliament and chairman of the European Affairs Committee there as well as heading his Social Democratic Labor Party, regularly sends greetings to the Community on major holidays and occasions.

Aušrinė Armonaitė was voted in as an MP in 2016 on the Liberal Movement ticket and was a member of the independent faction there. In 2019 she helped found and was voted in as chairwoman of the new Freedom Party. Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius is a deputy chairman in the new party.

Jewish Symbols in the Calendar for 5781

Jewish Symbols in the Calendar for 5781

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is greeting the new year, 5781, with the publication and distribution of our Jewish calendar for the coming year. As well as being attractive and nice to look at, this year’s calendar, as in past years, points back to our shared Litvak legacy. Every featured item once belonged to the Lithuanian Jewish communities and Lithuanian synagogues.

Dr. Aistė Niunkaitė has written a text about Jewish symbols and shared it with us in Lithuanian and in English translation below.

§ § §

See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel…

Rosh Hashanah at the Choral Synagogue

Rosh Hashanah at the Choral Synagogue

Prayer service schedule

Friday, August 18, 6:45 P.M: Mincha/maariv holiday prayers, kiddush, holiday treats

Saturday, August 19 10:00 A.M.: Shacharit (morning prayers); 12 noon blowing of shofar horn; treats and gifts (Jewish calendar for 5781, honey cakes, special gifts for children); 6:00 P.M. Tashlich prayer service at Bokšto street no. 19 in Vilnius

LJC Marks New Year 5781 This Week with New Jewish Calendar

LJC Marks New Year 5781 This Week with New Jewish Calendar

The year 5781 is almost upon us. The Lithuanian Jewish Community is celebrating the new year with our calendar, which has become a tradition, dedicated this time to the unique symbols of the Jewish people and their significance.

Before talking about the next year, I can’t pass over the foregoing which became a year of challenges and coming together for the entire world. The corona virus restricted our social life and the Community’s operation, but at the same time showed to us we are capable of taking care of our members, especially the elderly, that we can apply and perfectly well use digital technology and that even under the most difficult conditions we were able to mark the dates so important to Jews, Israel, Lithuania and the world and our own holidays.

The Community was not able to mark appropriately the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History declared by the Lithuanian parliament because of the pandemic. But the historical past of Jews and its importance for Lithuania’s culture don’t fit within the frames of a single year, so I promise we will continue to organize events dedicated to Lithuania’s Jews, to Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman aka the Vilna Gaon and other important people. There can never be too many such events.

Fun Celebration of European Day of Jewish Culture for 2020

Fun Celebration of European Day of Jewish Culture for 2020

On Sunday, September 6, 2020, the Lithuanian Jewish Community held a fun celebration of the European Day of Jewish Culture. Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Community members, the Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yosi Levy, Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department director Vidmantas Bezaras and guests had a good time and attended the Hebrew language lesson provided by Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymansium principal Ruth Reches. The public, invited by the LJC, came to celebrate the first Sunday in September by sampling Jewish treats made at the Bagel Shop Café, located on the first floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community building in Vilnius, a center of Litvak bagel culture.

The Bagel Shop Café presented paintings from Mark Kaplan’s collection during the event.

Participants also attended the lecture “Deification and Demonization of Jews: Anti-Semitic Superstitions in Society.”

You Are Invited to the European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

You Are Invited to the European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is continuing the tradition of marking the annual event European Days of Jewish Culture, this time for the fifth year, with a program of events in Vilnius scheduled for Sunday, September 6, 2020.

All parts of the event program are free and open to the public. The number of participants has been limited this year due to health concerns so please register as soon as possible.

For cooking lessons, register by sending an email to kavine@lzb.lt
For the Jerulita tour, register by sending an email to travel@jerulita.lt

To register by internet, click here.

Simnas Celebrates Title of Tiny Capital of Lithuanian Culture for 2020

Simnas Celebrates Title of Tiny Capital of Lithuanian Culture for 2020

On August 23 the largest event so far this year took place in Simnas, Lithuania: the Simnas church celebrated its 500th anniversary and the town of Simnas celebrated its recognition as the Tiny Capital of Lithuanian Culture for 2020.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Catholic cardinal Sigitas Tamkevičiusattended events there, which included a book launch, consecration of a new cross at the church, Catholic Mass, a performance by opera singer Rasa Juzukonytė and a performance by the Lithuanian Ground Forces orchestra. A procession left the church for the town square where the formal opening ceremony of the event took place only then. There followed vocal and instrumental concerts and a fair featuring religious items, folk art and crafts.

A synagogue in Simnas has been restored and renovated. It was built in 1905. There was a school on the second floor and the prayer hall was arranged so worshipers prayed facing in the direction of Jerusalem. A Soviet palace of culture operated there after World War II, followed by an athletics hall. Consideration is on-going on how to utilize the synagogue space.

Amehaye 2020

The Amehaye summer camp has been holding camps for children for two weeks in the summer for several years now. The program was just as rich and interesting this year and the children failed to grow bored over two weeks of learning and friendship. Special attention is giver to Jewish traditions at the camp. In summer the main and most fun events take place in nature and everyone seemed to enjoy the games and sports. Educational discussions were also held in nature.

The program included a lesson on Israel and how to make humus. Some of the boys celebrated their mar mitzvahs at camp. The young campers also learned how to prepare other Jewish dishes from matzoh and how to make challa for Sabbath. They also celebrated Sabbath with the traditional rituals, prayer and lighting of candles.

A children’s psychologist visited the camp and delivered an interesting lesson. Campers also entered the chemistry laboratory and took part in incredible experiments. Two excursions also took place: one to the Safari Park in Anykščiai, Lithuania, and the other to Druskininkai, Lithuania, where the young people learned to make the Lithuanian pastry šakotis.

A bubble party was held the last day of camp and the official closing ceremony included releasing balloons into the sky after making a wish, followed by the Sabbath celebration.

Indian-Lithuanian Friendship Celebrated in Rusnė

Indian-Lithuanian Friendship Celebrated in Rusnė

An awards ceremony to present the award “For Contributions to Friendship between India and Lithuania” was held in Rusnė, Lithuania, recently. The recipient this year was Vytautas Toleikis who researched and published the story of the friendship between the father of modern India Mohandas Gandhi and Rusnė-resident Litvak Hermann Kallenbach.

Gandhi and Kallenbach’s friendship was commemorated in a sculpture by the late Romas Kvintas which was placed on the bank of the Atmata River in Rusnė in 2015. The Lithuanian embassy to India contributed to erecting the statue.

On July 25 Toleikis was presented a miniature of this statue at the awards ceremony attended by Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, Indian ambassador Tsewang Namgyal, Israeli ambassador Yossi Levy, US ambassador Robert Gilchrist, German ambassador Matthias P. Sonn, Lithuanian ambassador to India Julius Pranevičius, Indian honorary consul Rajinder Chaudhary, Šilutė regional mayor Vytautas Laurinaitis and Rusnė alderwoman Dalia Drobnienė. Chairwoman Kukliansky congratulated Toleikis on winning the award.

Members of Panevėžys Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired Interested in Jewish History

Members of Panevėžys Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired Interested in Jewish History

The Panevėžys Jewish Community continues its educational outreach efforts despite difficult times. This time an elderly group from the Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community. They have been following the weekly installments in the newspaper Panevėžio balsas dedicated to Jewish life, and requested a face-to-face meeting to learn firsthand about Jewish history before the Holocaust. In late July Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman spoke to them about the prewar history, but also what happened during the war and after. The guests said they realized the idea of Jews as money-lenders was a stereotype and that many important and famous Jews had lived in Panevėžys. They expressed surprise when they were told about the Joint Distribution Committee. THey also learned of the famous rabbi Josef Kaufman who restored the Ponevezh yeshiva which still operates today in Israel.

The guests asked different questions and heard about Jewish businesspeople, teachers and doctors, including famous Panevėžys doctor Abraham Mer and others. Plans were made for a next meeting, and guests and hosts exchanged gifts. The guests left entries in the guest book.

Condolences

We are saddened to report the death of long-time Community member and member of the minyan Chaim Zagin. He passed away August 3. He was born in 1928. Our deepest condolences to his children and loved ones.