Reworking Trauma: Roma and Jewish History Research in the Baltic States and the USA

Reworking Trauma: Roma and Jewish History Research in the Baltic States and the USA

An international conference called “Reworking Trauma: Roma and Jewish History Research in the Baltic States and the USA” will be held at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library in Vilnius from 10:00 A.M. to around 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, September 13. The goal of the conference is to take a closer look at the social, cultural and political mechanisms used by the Jewish and Roma communities to work through trauma experienced during the Holocaust and what significance these mechanisms hold now in the Baltic states and the United States. The national history narrative often lacks space for “small histories,” the memories and stories of marginalized and voiceless minority communities who suffered so gravely from the tragic events of the 20th century. The main goals are to educate the public on the history of the Roma and Jewish communities in our region, to support academic research in this field and to stimulate international academic cooperation in minority, memory and Holocaust studies.

Anthropologist and US Holocaust Museum researcher Krista Hegburg is one of the main speakers and honored guest. She will also speak at panel discussion at the Vilnius Museum at 6:30 P.M. on September 15.

Other speakers include Volha Bartash from Regensburg University, Dovilė Budrytė from Georgia Gwinnett College, Neringa Latvytė from the Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum and Vilnius Univeristy, Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium principal and psychologist Ruth Reches, Agnieška Avin from Vyautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Anna Pilarczyk-Palaitis from Vytautas Magnus and Eva-Liisa Roht-Yilmaz from Tartu University.

Program:

Condolences

With deep sadness we report the death of Jefim Levin on September 7. He was born in 1931. Our condolences to his wife Nina and daughter Jelena.

German President Asks Forgiveness from Black September Victims’ Families

German President Asks Forgiveness from Black September Victims’ Families

Germany officially asked forgiveness Monday from the families of the victims killed during the 1972 hostage raid at the Munich Olympics.

“We can’t compensate for what happened, nor for what you experienced and suffered. I am ashamed of this,” German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at a ceremony at the NATO airbase in Fürstenfeldbruck held to commemorate the tragic death of Israeli athletes 50 years ago. Israel’s president Isaac Herzog and the Israeli Olympic team attended the ceremony.

Sunday he announced agreement had been reached for paying compensation to the families of the victims, but said it was shameful it took 50 years to come to this agreement.

On September 5, 1972, eight Palestinians from the terrorist group Black September broke into two apartments used by the Israeli team at the Olympic village in Munich. They shot two and took nine Israelis hostage. West German police made the decision to attack the terrorists and free the hostages, but all the hostages were killed during the raid in and around the airbase, along with five of the eight terrorists and a police officer. West Germany was condemned around the world for lax security at the Olympic village and for the failed rescue attempt.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Holocaust Commemoration in Panevėžys

Holocaust Commemoration in Panevėžys

Dear reader,

You and your family members are invited to attend a ceremony to commemorate the Holocaust in Panevėžys on September 23, 2022.

Program:

1:00 P.M. Beginning of ceremony at the “Sad Jewish Mother” monument at the Old Jewish Cemetery in Panevėžys
1:30 P.M. Continuation of ceremony honoring Holocaust victims at Ghetto Gate monument
2:00 Participants will be ferried by bus to mass murder site in Kurganava forest
2:20 P.M. Ceremony to remember the victims at the Kurganava mass murder site (following which participants will be returned to Panevėžys by bus).

Ex Libris Exhibit

Ex Libris Exhibit

The Immanuel Kant Public Library in Klaipėda is hosting an exhibit of ex libris plates called “Traces of Jewish Culture” which opened September 2 and will run till September 20. Josef Šapiro was an avid collector and creator of ex libris graphics and once ran the world’s only ex libris museum inside the building housing the Lithuanian Jewish Community. His book plates and others will be on display for the public, touching upon a variety of topics, including the Jewish people in Lithuania.

Snapshots from European Days of Jewish Culture Events in Vilnius

Snapshots from European Days of Jewish Culture Events in Vilnius

Our annual series of events to mark the European Days of Jewish Culture saw a good turnout all day Sunday, which turned out to be sunny but framed by clouds. There was cantorial song at synagogue, a tour of Jewish Vilna, a panel discussion on echoes of Jewish culture in modern Lithuania’s cultural scene, we baked challa and slowly cooked the legendary floimen tsimes and there was singing, playing and dancing for all. For some snapshots from different events, concerts, workshops and lectures, see below.

Yiddish Journalists of Argentina

Yiddish Journalists of Argentina

by Javier Sinay

A newly translated book spotlights the country’s long-forgotten Jewish journalism, and the immigrants who shaped it

In February of 1898, 4,824 immigrants arrived at the port of Buenos Aires: 2,919 Italians, 1,284 Spaniards, 166 French, 137 Turks, 84 Russians, 47 Austrians, 46 Germans, 42 Brits, 35 Portuguese, 23 Swiss, 15 Belgians, 13 Moroccans, five Americans, four Danes, three Swedes, and one Dutch. In Buenos Aires, 1 out of every 2 people on the streets had been born elsewhere, at least one ocean away.

Many of these communities had their own newspapers; the Jewish community did also. We know a lot about Argentina’s Yiddish pioneers thanks to Pinie Katz, a journalist who years later, in 1929, published in Buenos Aires a book titled Tsu der geshijte fun der idisher dyurnalistik in Argentine (with a Spanish title, Apuntes para la historia del periodismo judío en la Argentina), which tells the story of the Jewish press in Argentina between 1898 to 1914. That last year, David Goldman wrote in his book Di Yuden in Argentine (Jews in Argentina) that there was a “mass of corpses in Argentina’s literary cemetery,” referring to the high number of newspapers that were short-lived. Goldman calculated that up until 1914, some 40 newspapers had sprung up, and in 1951 the magazine Der Shpigl defined that early period as “the heroic era of Jewish journalism” in Argentina.

In his book, Pinie Katz told us about those restless Quixotes and their newspapers, their reports, their intrigues, the debates they prompted within the community, and their relationship to Argentine society. Over the years, however, Katz and the pioneers he chronicled became figures blurred by time, or as in most cases, completely forgotten. This was especially true given that they wrote and published in Yiddish, which isolated them from anyone who didn’t speak the language. Now, though, we have translated Katz’s book into Spanish, appearing under the title La caja de letras: Hallazgo y recuperación de “Apuntes para la historia del periodismo judío en la Argentina”, de Pinie Katz, or The Box of Letters: Discovery and Recovery of “Notes for a History of Jewish Journalism in Argentina,” by Pinie Katz.

Full story here.

Lithuanian President Receives Credentials of Ambassador from Israel

Lithuanian President Receives Credentials of Ambassador from Israel

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda has received and accepted the credentials of Israeli ambassador Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein. The head of the Lithuanian state said he was happy with increasing connections between the Republic of Lithuania and Israel. The two discussed the future of possible bilateral relations with a focus on innovative research and technologies, education and tourism, and also military cooperation in the two countries’ respective defense industries. The Lithuanian president noted wonderful cooperation at international bodies and Lithuania’s support for better dialogue between Israel and the European Union. Lithuania and Israel this year celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations.

Lithuanian Cinematographer and Cultural Expert Pranas Morkus Has Died

Lithuanian Cinematographer and Cultural Expert Pranas Morkus Has Died

The Lithuanian Jewish Community mourns the death of the famous Lithuanian filmmaker and cultural scientist Pranas Morkus (1938-2022) and we extend our most sincere and deepest condolences to his family members and friends.

Morkus was born February 18, 1938, in Klaipėda to the family of theater actress Galina Yatskevich. From 1955 to 1957 he was a student at the Lomonosov Philology Department of Moscow State University, and from 1957 to 1960 at the History and Philology Faculties of Vilnius University.

From 1962 to 1964 he was attended the highest-level courses for scriptwriters and directors in Moscow. He was a member of the Lithuanian Union of Cinematographers. From 1960 to 1962 he was editor-in-chief of radio theater for the Television Radio Committee of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, and from 1968 to 1970 he served as editor-in-chief for the creative body Lietuvos Telefilmas.

A Cry to Heaven

A Cry to Heaven

Photo: Jewish nursery school in Plungė, Lithuania. Almost no Jewish children survived in Lithuania. Photo source: Screenshot from the documentary J’Accuse

Renowned cantors unite to give their voices to Baltic Truth premiere

There were very few survivors from Lithuania. In the villages, there were almost none. We know what happened in some locations because we have testimonies from some survivors.

Yakov Zak testified about the Lithuanian Holocaust: “The rabbi of Kelmė, Kalmen Benushevits, who had escaped to Vaiguva at the outbreak of the war, had been brought together with the Jews from Vaiguva. He had been forced to kneel next to the pit the entire day. He had quietly whispered a prayer, watching while the Jews were shot. After all the Jews were shot, he was shot as well.”

And:

“The mystic religious melodies of the yeshiva students, their rabbis and leaders were eternally silenced. The town was ruined down to the foundations; the Jewish community of Kelmė was ruined forever. Peasants also related that while the yeshiva students were being taken to be shot, they did not weep. Like stone statues, they moved slowly, with their eyes raised to the sky, murmuring prayers.”

Ping-Pong Camp Successful

Ping-Pong Camp Successful

The ping-pong camp supported by the Goodwill Foundation and the Lithuanian Jewish Community from August 1 to August 25 at the Simonas Daukantas pre-gymnasium in Vilnius has ended. Some 27 young athletes, most of them from the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium, attended. The three-week intensive workshop was taught by Khen and Neta Alon and Šimonas Lukša.

A new season of training begins September first, twice weekly at Sholem Aleichem and at the Simonas Daukantas pre-gymnasium. For more information contact Neta at 862957005 or Khen at 861375124, write an email to stalotenisoklubas@yahoo.com.

Jerusalem of the North Orchestra Camp in Preila

Jerusalem of the North Orchestra Camp in Preila

The Jerusalem of the North Orchestra Camp for children and young people was held in Lithuania’s sea-side resort Preila over the summer with about 20 young people from music schools in Vilnius, Kaunas, Trakai, Šiauliai, Panevėžys and Klaipėda attending. They held daily repetitions, improvisational evenings and music-reading at the public library in Preila in the evenings. The final joint concert with the Vilnius St. Christopher’s Chamber Orchestra was performed August 25 at a church in nearby Nida, attended by parents, local residents, vacationers and others.

In addition to music, students learned dance from physical therapist, psychologist and dancer Kamile Pundziūtė; attended lessons on Litvak history, traditions and culture under the tutelage of Algirdas Davidavičius and went on cultural tours of the local area with historian, guide and writer Raimonda Meyer.

Lost Shtetl Museum Takes Part in Blue Family Picnic in Šeduva

Lost Shtetl Museum Takes Part in Blue Family Picnic in Šeduva

On the last weekend of summer we participated in the Blue Family Picnic which has been held in the Šeduva city park for seven years now. The Blue Family Picnic is intended to strengthen community, reduce social inequality and carry on family traditions.

We came up with all sorts of activities for attendees, including recognizing Jewish religious regalia, teaching them to write their names in Hebrew, a puzzle made up of period photographs of the town/shtetl, how to make traditional Sabbath challa and how to set the Sabbath table. Younger attendees made models of the shtetl, learned how to arrange food items on the plate for Passover seder and spun and taught other children to spin the dreidl. We treated everyone to traditional Litvak dishes as well.

So many friendly and eager to learn families came to the picnic. We wanted to share with them in a fun way the culture and traditions of the Jewish community of Šeduva and to remind them of the town’s not-so-distant past, the shtetl of Šeduva where Jews and Lithuanians lived peacefully together. Two special guests attended, two women from Šeduva for whom the shtetl isn’t lost in the mists of time. They spent their childhoods in the shtetl and have shared their memories with us numerous times.

Happy Birthday to Larisa Vyšniauskienė

Happy Birthday to Larisa Vyšniauskienė

We wish a very happy birthday to Larisa Vyšniauskienė, guardian of the eternal creative flame of the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble. We wish you even greater success, health and artistic achievement! Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Memory Stones Laid to Commemorate Rabinovitch Family

Memory Stones Laid to Commemorate Rabinovitch Family

The Lithuanian Human Rights Center is responsible for the laying of six new memory stones dedicated to the memory of the Rabinovitch family at Gedimino prospect nos. 37 and 46 in Vilnius.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky attended the unveiling ceremony and said: “Today I attended a very moving ceremony. Next to the buildings located at Gedimino prospect number 37 and number 46 six memory stones commemorating the Rabinovitch family were laid. They were murdered at Ponar. I am glad their memory and the memory of their relatives has come back to Vilnius. Thank you to the relatives who found the energy to preserve the memory of their loved ones and to travel to Vilnius for that purpose.”

New Israeli Ambassador Visits LJC

New Israeli Ambassador Visits LJC

Newly-appointed Israeli ambassador Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein visited the Lithuanian Jewish Community where chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and the Jewish community in Lithuania wished and wish her meaningful work and creative joint initiatives with the LJC. Chairwoman Kukliansky also introduced the new ambassador to Rozeta Ramonienė, the director of the Former Ghetto Prisoners Welfare and Support Fund.

European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

This year will be the seventh the Lithuanian Jewish Community is holding events for the European Days of Jewish Culture. This year’s theme is renewal.

Renewal is woven into almost all aspects of Jewish life. Jewish life is continually building on the past in new ways, bringing a sense of constant change along with a reassuring sense of continuity. The Jewish New Year opens with the festivals of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. These holy days through their traditions and prayers present an opportunity to reflect on and acknowledge our past actions while looking ahead with new resolutions, optimism and determination. During this period we reconcile personal and communal differences within ourselves and with others as we actively strive to renew our aspirations for the coming year, and beyond.

We invite you to attend the events, all of which are free and open to the public.

Register here, space is limited.

Program: