Arkadijus Vinokuras: We Are Afflicted by Fear

Arkadijus Vinokuras: We Are Afflicted by Fear

Photo © 2019 DELFI/Andrius Ufartas

We are afflicted by Soviet recidivism, i.e., by fear. Fear of the past, fear of a dark history which demands we look upon our own scared face in the mirror. We are afflicted by fear of responsibility. When powerless people are afraid, that is one thing, but it’s entirely different when the people who are afraid are in power.

Gitanas Nauseda, as if he had just fallen to Earth, is proposing to create a Cultural Commission to solve matters of historical memory.

Mr. President, we have two expert institutions which have been doing this for 20 years now. The problem is that one institution, the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania, or Genocide Center for short, sees no reason to adhere to the international convention defining the crimes of genocide, to which Lithuania is a signatory. Otherwise Jonas Noreika and Kazys Škirpa would have been dethroned long ago. All that is needed is to follow the Convention and hundreds of other documents.

The fact is, the Genocide Center is under the guidance of the right, and thus there are these kinds of politicized decisions. Who will form a new forum? Again, nationalists on the right, who have spent the last 10 years reiterating again and again that the situation is still unclear? Or perhaps it would be more constructive and more credible to convoke independent historians who are not in the pocket of the state and therefore unafraid to issue unpoliticized conclusions?

Full editorial in Lithuanian here.

Keiko Borjeson Concert in Kaunas Honors Righteous Gentile

Keiko Borjeson Concert in Kaunas Honors Righteous Gentile

The Kaunas State Philharmonic held a concert September 6 to honor Righteous Gentile Ona Jablonskytė-Landsbergienė on what would have been her 125th birthday.

Actor and director Aleksandras Rubinovas presented a brief biography of the woman including how she hid Jews during the Holocaust. Her son was present and shared his memories of his mother’s deeds and views.

Jazz vocalist Keiko Borjeson (ボルジェソン ケイコ) of Japan, Arvydas Joffe on percussion, Mykolas Bazaras on bass and Tomas Botyrius on sax delivered a program of jazz standards, improvisation and Jewish melodies.

Outdoor Painting Workshop Works Exhibited at LJC

Outdoor Painting Workshop Works Exhibited at LJC

For the sixth season members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community have been attending the Raimondas Savickas Art School, learning to paint and attending the outdoor plein air painting camps/workshops. Students exhibit their works at the LJC after the workshops. This time was the sixth ehibition which opened September 6. Friends and family of the painters gathered to view the works. They are hanging on the third floor. The colorful paintings were made this summer at scenic Lake Karvys and portray landscapes, colorful flowers, the lake, fields, the park there and other things.

Diplomas were passed out to the plein air students at the opening ceremony as well as letters of thanks to Raimondas Savickas and workshop project coordinator Žana Skudovičienė.

Kaunas Library Conducting Jewish Tours

Kaunas Library Conducting Jewish Tours

The Vincas Kudirka Public Library in Kaunas invites the public to a series of tours in a project called Jewish Heritage in Kaunas. The tours will be conducted on September 6, 8 and 10 and will cover modern architecture, the Old Town, Slobodka and major achievements by Litvaks. Registration required. Call (37) 22 23 57 or send an email to renginiai@kaunas.mvb.lt

The guided tour on September 10 begins at 6:00 P.M. and will be led by local guide Asia Gutermanaitė.

European Day of Jewish Culture in Šeduva September 15

European Day of Jewish Culture in Šeduva September 15

A lesson on how to bake traditional challa bread will be held at 3:00 P.M. on September 15 at the Šeduva Crafts and Culture Center located at Vilniaus street no. 1 in Šeduva. Chefs from the Bagel Shop Café will share the secrets of traditional Litvak holiday customs and cuisine.

European Day of Jewish Culture Events in Šiauliai

European Day of Jewish Culture Events in Šiauliai

The Aušra Museum in Šiauliai will mark European Day of Jewish Culture on September 8, 2019. At 1:00 P.M. a game will be held on the grounds of the Frankel factory. At 2:00 P.M. the museum will open the exhibit “The Frankel Factory: A Symbol of Šiauliai Industry and Modernization” and screen a series of documentary films about Jews of Šiauliai called “Dingusio pasaulio pėdsakais. Žydiškieji Šiauliai” [Traces of a Lost World: Jewish Šiauliai] directed by Jūratė Sobutienė at the Chaim Frankel villa.

The game will requires teams of from 2 to 4 people with telephones or tablets with internet access. To register your team call 8 41 524 392 or send an e-mail to istorija@ausrosmuziejus.lt

More information:
www.ausrosmuziejus.lt
https://www.facebook.com/events/698501067290781

Augustė Labenskytė, acting director,
History Department, Aušra Museum

First Day of School

First Day of School

The Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium began the school year Monday with a large welcome-back ceremony attended by new Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yossi Avni Levy. Principal Miša Jakobas spoke to the large audience of pupils, parents and teachers:

“This is my last September today. All these years I’ve been with you, I’ve shared my heart and feelings with you. There is no greater feeling today than that which I feel seeing Lithuanian and Jewish children sing the Israeli anthem. I would like to thank everyone who believed in me. The school and the high school understand that nothing lasts forever. Today I can only take pride in our wonderful teachers and great atmosphere,” he said. After thanking teachers by name, he added: “I am very proud that our 70 gymnasium students are doing especially well.”

Home Movies from Before the Flood

Home Movies from Before the Flood

On Wednesday Kaunas Holocaust survivor Dita Zupavičienė-Šperlingienė spoke at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library and presented a home movie.

The silent film was a series of street scenes from Vilnius, Riga and Lvov before the war. Zupavičienė-Šperlingienė explained how her uncle Hanon, a medical student in Paris, used to come visit the family. In bed for over a week with scarlet fever, the young Dita was overjoyed when her physician uncle told the family she could get up and do things around the house without making it worse. Dita said she jumped out of bed at the first opportunity and from that time on Hanon became her favorite uncle.

Hanon was an amateur filmmaker and used an 8 mm camera on some of his travels. As the Nazis drew closer to Paris, he grabbed a bicycle and rode south, to Vichy France. Zupavičienė-Šperlingienė said he soon discovered life was dangerous for a Jew there, as well. After the Holocaust Hanon continued to live in Paris. Dita made it to Israel where it turned out she was, for whatever reason, one of the few Jews able to teach the German language. In the early 1970s she had the opportunity to improve her German teaching skills in West Germany, and visited Hanon in Paris during that trip. That’s when he mentioned he still had some of the footage he had taken before the Holocaust.

Reception for New Israeli Ambassador

Reception for New Israeli Ambassador

The Lithuanian Jewish Community held a reception for Israel’s new ambassador to Lithuania Yossi Avni Levy and her team last week. Chairmen of the regional Lithuanian Jewish communities attended the event. LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky welcomed the new ambassador’s arrival and introduced him to members of the Community at the event.

Levy is an Israeli writer and diplomat. He has held various posts at Israeli embassies in Bonn, Berlin, Belgrade and Warsaw. His literary work has received the prize of the Israeli prime minister’s office.

Born in 1962, Levy’s mother has roots in Iran and his father in Afghanistan. He was graduated with honors by Hebrew University in Jerusalem in history of the Middle East and Arabic in 1983.

Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club Fun Run 2019

Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club Fun Run 2019

The Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club will hold a fun run starting from Vingis Park in Vilnius at 11:00 A.M., September 8, 2019. Runners who are members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and friends of the Community are invited to compete. Runners may chose to run 1.5 or 3 kilometers. The 1.5=kilometer run starts at 11:30 and the 3-k at 12:15 P.M. The fee is 3 euros for students and retirees, 5 euros for everyone else. Payment may be made prior to SEB Bank or in cash at the starting line. Bank code: LT69 7040 0600 0090 8716. Registration by internet is open to midnight, September 5, here:

https://dbsportas.lt/lt/varz/2019148

Registered runners will receive a unique number to wear.

Artiom Perepelica is the coordinator and can be reached by telephone at+370 60 448 036 or by sending an emila to artiom.perp@gmail.com

New Leonard Cohen Statue in Vilnius

New Leonard Cohen Statue in Vilnius

A bronze statue was unveiled Saturday evening to the late Litvak Canadian singer Leonard Cohen to a small audience in the courtyard of a restaurant in the Vilnius Old Town. Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius and wife Agnė Matulaitė attended the closed-door ceremony and the mayor promised to find a more public, permanent location for the statue in the near future. The sculpture is the work of the late sculptor Romualdas Kvintas, who has done a number of works on Jewish and Litvak themes. According to Agnė Matulaitė, it is the first statue commemorating Leonard Cohen in the world.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Condolences

Boris Volkov passed away August 29. He was born in 1935. Our condolences to his family and loved ones.

Focus on Cuisine and History at European Day of Jewish Culture Events

Focus on Cuisine and History at European Day of Jewish Culture Events

VILNIUS, September 1, BNS–Events were held to celebrate European Day of Jewish Culture in Vilnius on the first Sunday in September. Tours of the Lithuanian capital, lectures and authentic Jewish cuisine were offered to the public.

The events program included Jewish music in the Vilnius Old Town–the old Jewish Quarter–and restaurants offering authentic Jewish foods.

“Jewish cuisine is an inalienable part of Jewish culture, Jewish tradition and Jewish heritage. Jewish cuisine is a prerequisite part of any Jewish holiday,” Lithuanian Jewish Community projects director Dovilė Rūkaitė told BNS.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Libel

Libel

Attorney Faina Kukliansky representing unnamed members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has submitted a complaint to the office of prosecutor regarding false information about representatives of the Jewish community made publicly.

From the material collected so far it appears the person who has spread the mendacious information knew it was false, and has no evidence or falsified evidence regarding the people and their parents who were libeled. The prosecutor has launched a criminal case, i.e., a pre-trial investigation, regarding this person. Article 154, section 2 of the Lithuanian criminal code says this crime incurs either a fine, limitations on personal freedom or jail for up to one year.

Libel and slander mean the spreading of false information about another person which could have a harmful or insulting effect upon the other person, or which might do damage to his reputation.

The second part of this article of law provides prison time for committing slander and committing libel through the media or press, a serious and grave crime.

The LJC informs the public that in every case of slander or libel against a member of the Community or his or her family member or members, the LJC will contact law-enforcement for criminal prosecution.

LJC Celebrates 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in Vilnius Old Town

LJC Celebrates 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in Vilnius Old Town

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated the 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in the traditional Jewish Quarter of Vilnius September 1 with song, dance and food. The weather was beautiful. Restaurants in the Vilnius Old Town feature Jewish foods with traditional breakfast served at the Bagel Shop Café, restaurants and cafés on Žydų and Stiklių streets and other locations. DJs RafRaf, Akvilina and Marius Šmitas provided dance music with a 10-hour musical program at the Amadeus Bar.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky greeted celebrants and Vidmantas Bezaras, director of the Cultural Heritage Deparment, and Vida Montvydaitė, director of the Department of Ethnic Minorities, also spoke, noting there is no town or village in Lithuania without some sign of a Jewish presence. Vida Montvydaitė said this isn’t just Jewish heritage, it’s Lithuania’s legacy, and protecting it is becoming ever more important.

The writer Kristina Sabaliauskaitė spoke about her childhood memories of the Jews who still lived in central Vilnius then and with whom she made lasting friendships. She says interpersonal relationships are still one of the most important things in life to her.