Religion

Purim Carnival

Purim Carnival

The Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium and the Vilnius Religious Jewish Community invite you to a celebration of Purim, the happiest holiday on the Jewish calendar.

The program includes the traditional Purimshpil, an appearance by the Shmeikhl choir, the debut of a musical group made up of students, African drumming, a quiz, the costume carnival contest, DJs and other fun stuff, with the indefatigable Michaelas Frišmanas as master-of-ceremonies.

Time: 6:00 P.M., Friday, March 22
Place: Legendos Klubas, Kalvarijų street no. 85, Vilnius

The costume theme is legends of film. Cost for adults is 30 euros. Cost for children aged 7-18 is 20 euros.

Tickets available here: https://topticket.lt/lt/event/PURIM-2024

 

Condolences

We are deeply saddened to report the death of Rimas Timunas. He was born in 1952. A renowned theater director, he staged Grigoriy Kanovitch’s “Nusišypsok mums, Viešpatie” and popularized Litvak culture on the Lithuanian and world stage. He passed away in Italy from lung cancer.

Judaica Research Institute: Yiddish from Georgia

Judaica Research Institute: Yiddish from Georgia

The Judaica Research Institute at the Martynas Mažvydas Lithuanian National Library invites the public to a concert called “Yiddish from Georgia” to be held on the third-floor atrium starting at 6:00 P.M. on Monday, March 18.

The Yiddish quartet was form by Georgian actress Ana Sanaia in 2022. Receiving great acclaim, Sanaia made the quartet part of her mono-drama Martokina in 2023. That same year, with several other talented musicians including Tamar Rtveliashvili, Ioana Navadze and Aleksandra Lortkipanidze, the quartet became part of the Yiddish Theater in Tblisi, also resurrected by Sanaia after more than a century of absence.

The quartet is vocalist Salome Bakuradze, musician Maria Elene Bezhashvili, actress Sofia Akhuashvili and actress and director Ekaterine Kato Sharikadze, and are well known to radio and television audiences in Georgia. While none of them are Jewish, they all feel a deep and abiding respect for the Georgian Jewish heritage and share an understanding of the contribution the Ashkenazi who spoke Yiddish made in bringing Georgia into Europe.

The program includes songs in Yiddish and Georgian. Lasha Shakulashvili, a lecturer in Yiddish language and culture at Tblisi State University, will also speak on Yiddish culture in Georgia and its connections to Litvak culture.

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

Photo: Deborah Feldman by D. Umbrasas/LRT

Lithuanian State Radio and Television has featured another Jewish author who appeared at the Vilnius Book Fair last month, Deborah Feldman, author of “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” under the headline “Author of Bestseller ‘Unorthodox’ with Litvak Roots: My Grandmother Is the Only Reason I’m Not Crazy” [Lietuviškų šaknų turinti bestselerio „Neortodoksiška“ autorė: močiutė – vienintelė priežastis, kodėl neišprotėjau].

Feldman recounts trying to sell her book to a publisher, and their response that it was a Jewish story, and why would it be interesting to non-Jews?

The American-born German author grew up in the close-knit Hassidic community of Satmar in Brooklyn, New York. She travelled to Lithuania to launch the Lithuanian translation of “Exodus, Revisisted,” the sequel to “Unorthodox,” at the Vilnius Book Fair. The Lithuanian translation was published by the Baltas Publishing House.

The New York Times bestseller “Unorthodox” tells the story of a young Jewish woman who extracts herself from an ultra-conservative community and has attracted readers around the world. It was made into a Netflix mini-series of the same name and was nominated for 8 Emmy awards.

Full article in Lithuanian here.

NAALE International Exchange Student Program with Israel Coming to LJC Sunday

NAALE International Exchange Student Program with Israel Coming to LJC Sunday

A representative from the NAALE Elite Academy will give a presentation this Sunday at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius for adolescents who want to study in Israel.

The NAALE program provides an opportunity to young people with Jewish roots to receive scholarships and attend from 3 to 4 years the best high schools in Israel.

The program was established in 1992 by the Progressive Education Association in cooperation with the Israeli Education Ministry and the Jewish Agency. Initially it was intended for children from families repatriating to Israel, but a decade later expanded to include all talented Jewish adolescents from around the globe, giving them the chance to get the best high school education and a priceless tool in aspiring after their future goals. NAALE Elite Academy also helps Jewish young people make a strong connexion with their Jewish roots and friendships to last a lifetime.

NAALE project leader Igal Brantman will give the presentation and answer all questions from the audience.

Time: 9:30 A.M., Sunday, March 10
Place: Lithuanian Jewish Community, Vilnius

Registration is required by sending an email to viljamas@lzb.lt or by calling +370 672 50699. We hope to see you there.

Sabbath with Guitar Music

Sabbath with Guitar Music

Last Friday the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Bnei Maskilim held a Sabbath celebration with prayer, food, guitar music and an evening of friendship and fun. This is at least a once-monthly event at the Community now. You’re invited to join next time. For more information about the next gathering, stay tuned, or send an email to viljamas@lzb.lt or call (+370) 672 50699.

Anti-Jew Hit List in Australia Bears Fruit: Man Kidnapped, Tortured

Anti-Jew Hit List in Australia Bears Fruit: Man Kidnapped, Tortured

Photo: Australian pro-Hamas activist Laura Allam, from X/Twitter

Following the circulation of a hit-list of around 600 Jews targeted for attacks by pro-Hamas activists in Australia, Victoria State Police are only now disclosing to the public a kidnapping, assault and robbery of a man committed on February 16. The man works for a Jewish employer and was ripped from the driver’s seat of his car, placed in another vehicle, assaulted, robbed and discarded. One of the several perpetrators was known to police and had been reported for making death threats against a female Jewish journalist and television presenter.

Prominent Pro-Hamas Activist Arrested on Kidnapping and Torture Charges

Algemeiner, February 29, 2024

Melbourne–Australian police on Monday announced the arrest of a prominent pro-Hamas advocate accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and torture of a man whose perceived offense was to work for a Jewish employer.

Melbourne resident Laura Allam was charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, illegal detention, assault and battery against the 31-year-old man, who has not been named by authorities. Working with an accomplice who has also been arrested and charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, armed robbery, threats to kill, intention to cause injury, recklessly causing injury, unlawful assault and assault with weapon, the 28-year-old Allam is understood to have targeted the man solely because his employer is Jewish.

Paideia Accepting Applications

Paideia Accepting Applications

The Paideia Institute for Jewish studies in Stockholm is accepting applications now for international students interested in their Jewish studies program focusing on Scripture for 2024-2025, starting next September and continuing on until May of 2025. Minimum requirements include a bachelor’s degree and proficiency in English.

Application can be made here: https://shorturl.at/qCE02

For more information, send an e-mail to recruitment@paideia-eu.org.

Applications must be received by April 14, 2024.

Ambassadors Ask Lithuanian PM for Police Response to Growing Anti-Semitism

Ambassadors Ask Lithuanian PM for Police Response to Growing Anti-Semitism

The ambassadors of Germany, the United States and Israel have sent a letter to the Lithuanian prime minister pointing out the alarming growth of anti-Semitic attacks in Lithuania over recent weeks and calling for an increased police presence at Jewish community buildings, schools and synagogues.

American ambassador Kara McDonald, Israeli ambassador Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein and German ambassador Cornelius Zimmerman addressed their plea to Lithuanian prime minister Ingrida Šimonytė, invoking shared values of tolerance and inclusion and the rejection of anti-Semitism and citing recent stone-throwing incidents at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius and the Šiauliai Jewish Community in Šiauliai, Nazi symbols graffitied on a former synagogue in Daugai, Lithuania, and on a bridge in Vilnius and the overturning of a monument to the victims of the Druskininkai ghetto in Druskininkai, Lithuania, as examples of the rising number of incidents.

Efraim Zuroff Interview: It Always Starts with the Jews but Never Ends with the Jews

Efraim Zuroff Interview: It Always Starts with the Jews but Never Ends with the Jews

The Visegrad24 news website has been reporting on the conflict with Gaza live from Israel. In a recent interview they spoke with Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, about the Holocaust, justice for the victims, justice for the victims of the Hamas massacre on October 7, Israeli security failures and the problem of Islamists migrating to Western Europe and North America and open borders in general.

“It always starts with the Jews, but never ends with the Jews. Hitler wanted to launch a war to destroy the Jews and 50 million people were murdered, and not all of them Jews, far from it. This is what people have to understand: the Jews are like the canaries in the coal mine. They’re the first victims. And if they go after us, be sure that they’ll go after the Christians in Europe and everywhere else because their dream is to take over the world. That’s the problem,” Zuroff said during the interview.

Family Sabbath Celebration with Guitar Music

Family Sabbath Celebration with Guitar Music

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and Bnei Maskilim invite you to a Sabbath celebration this Friday including not only a family atmosphere, good feelings and great company, but also live guitar.

Time: 6:30 P.M., Friday, February 23
Place: Lithuanian Jewish Community, Vilnius

Cost is 5 euros and registration is required by sending an email to viljamas@lzb.lt or by calling (+370) 672 50699.

Congratulations to Daumantas Todesas

Congratulations to Daumantas Todesas

The Lithuanian Jewish Community congratulates Daumantas Levas Todesas, chairman of the Council of Ethnic Communities, for recognition of his efforts in preserving the Litvak heritage in Lithuania, in representing the interests of the ethnic minority communities in Lithuania and in his public activities promoting the integration of minorities into Lithuanian society, as demonstrated by Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda’s presentation to him of the Lithuanian medal the Order of Merit, the Knight’s Cross, on February 16 at the presidential palace in Vilnius.

Israel Rejects Palestinian Statehood

Israel Rejects Palestinian Statehood

Rebuffing Biden, cabinet rejects unilateral Palestinian state as “reward for terrorism”

Approved even by centrist ministers, the statement rejects “international diktats” pushing two states; minister Sa’ar compares reported US-Arab proposal to appeasement of Nazis in 1938

Israel’s cabinet Sunday unanimously approved a declaration rejecting “international diktats” seeking to push Palestinian statehood in the wake of reports the US and several Arab partners were preparing a detailed plan for a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians which was to include a “firm timeline” for a Palestinian state.

“Israel utterly rejects international diktats regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians,” the cabinet decision read. “A settlement, if it is to be reached, will come about solely through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.

“Israel will continue to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state,” the motion added. “Such recognition in the wake of the October 7th massacre would be a massive and unprecedented reward to terrorism and would foil any future peace settlement.”

Full story here.

Circumcision Specialist Coming to Lithuania Early March

Circumcision Specialist Coming to Lithuania Early March

Circumcision specialist Dr. Martin Harris of Great Britain will visit Vilnius March 3 and 4. He is ready to offer his services to Lithuanian Jewish Community and Jewish religious community members free of charge. Those interested are invited to register by sending an email to sinagoga1903@gmail.com. More information about Dr. Harris is available here.

Abstract Expressionist Shows Work at LJC

Abstract Expressionist Shows Work at LJC

Abstract expressionist painter Simonas Gelminauskis opened an exhibition of his work at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius last Thursday called “From Paris with Love.”

The 18 works on display are the fruit of a decade of creativity following his 22-year break from painting.

“The fall I spent in my studio in the Marais Jewish neighborhood in Paris in the global center of residences of art helped me recover after my father’s death and helped me think about impermanence. So this exhibition is dedicated to love. To the love of life,” the artist said at the opening ceremony for the exhibit. He didn’t chose the venue lightly, either: his current studio is located at the site of the former Great Synagogue on Jewish Street in Vilnius, from which he says he draws artistic inspiration, as he did in the Marais in Paris.

The exhibit will remain on display a the LJC for several months.

Lithuanian President Decorates Goodwill Foundation Co-Chairpeople

Lithuanian President Decorates Goodwill Foundation Co-Chairpeople

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda decorated Goodwill Foundation co-chairpeople Faina Kukliansky and Rabbi Andrew Baker with the Lithuanian Order of Merit, Officer’s Cross, at an awards ceremony held on Restoration of Lithuanian Statehood Day, February 16.

This was in high recognition of their great efforts in promoting Jewish culture and seeking respect and fairness for the Lithuanian Jewish community, seeking appropriate commemoration for victims of the Holocaust and seeking symbolic restitution for their property stolen.

“This award is not just personal recognition, but is a testimony to the entire Lithuanian Jewish Community who haven’t rested in seeking justice, concord, community and joint effort. To be recognized on this important day to us and to Lithuania is a great honor,” attorney, Goodwill Foundation chairman and Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said at the ceremony held at the Office of President. She also congratulate Rabbi Andrew Baker, co-chairman of the Goodwill Foundation, on his receipt of the same prize.

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 5:09 P.M. on Friday, February 16, and concludes at 6:24 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region. Friday is also one of Lithuania’s two independence celebrations, Restoration of the State Day, marking the promulgation of the Act of Independence of Lithuania in Vilnius on February 16, 1918, and is officially observed with government offices and most businesses closed for the day.

Yet Another Anti-Semitic Attack in Lithuania

Yet Another Anti-Semitic Attack in Lithuania

A monument to commemorate Jewish prisoners in the ghetto in Druskininkai, fabricated and erected by private donations, has been knocked over. The latest attack on Lithuanian Jews was discovered Tuesday morning.

“We receive offensive letters daily, rocks are hurled at our Community building, synagogues are being vandalized and anti-Semitic rhetoric rings out from the podium in the national parliament. This seems very much like coordinated activity. This process isn’t getting weaker, on the contrary, it’s accelerating, so we need to take the strictest measures to avert tragedy,” Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky commented.

Beginning with anti-Semitic statements MP Remigijus Žemaitaitis made last spring and continues to make on the internet and to the press and following Hamas’s terrorist attack killing over a thousand Israelis on October 7, attacks against Lithuanian Jews are growing ever-more frequent. Last week alone the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius and the Šiauliai Jewish Community in Šiauliai were attacked, Nazi and white power symbols were graffitied on a pedestrian bridge in a Vilnius suburb and stickers from an extremist group were plastered on Vilnius mass transit. Both the Choral Synagogue, the only working synagogue in Vilnius, and the Zavl shul synagogue on Gelių street in Vilnius were vandalized.

The vandalism committed on Šv. Jokūbo street in Druskininkai, the southern Lithuanian spa town on the border with Belarus, is just another link in a long chain of anti-Semitic acts. The monument in Druskininkai marks the location of the Druskininkai ghetto stood from 1941 to 1943, where around 900 Jews from the town and surrounding villages and farms were held prisoner before being murdered.

“While other countries and some people criticize Israeli policies, this has nothing at all to do with the Jews who live in Lithuania today. We are Lithuanian citizens and we expect and hope the state will insure our safety,” chairwoman Kukliansky added.