Rafailas Karpis and Vilnius State Choir Take Audience on Musical Journey through Jewish History

Rafailas Karpis and Vilnius State Choir Take Audience on Musical Journey through Jewish History

On June 4 the St. Kotryna (aka Catherine) Church in Vilnius was the gathering place for LJC members, foreign embassy staff, members of the Christian community and friends from Israel who came to take in another Shalom Culture and Music Festival in which opera soloist Rafailas Karpis, the Vilnius State Choir conducted by Artūras Dambrauskas, violinist Borisas Kirzneris and pianist Vincenzo de Martino performed an exceptional program of Jewish music with vocal works in Yiddish, Hebrew, Latin, English and Lithuanian, a musical journey through millennia of Jewish and Litvak history.

Art Exhibit at Kurkliai Wooden Synagogue

Art Exhibit at Kurkliai Wooden Synagogue

The recently-restored wooden synagogue in Kurkliai in the Anykščiai region recently opened its doors to the public again with an exhibit of paintings and graphic designs by Vytautas Kasiulis. The images were of different snapshots of Jewish life. The characters featured gracefully against a backdrop of town streets, natural scenes and indoors. The artist and his wife Bronė had donated the paintings to Lithuania in 2010. At the opening ceremony for the synagogue exhibition soloist Judita Leitaitė performed a concert. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman and Panevėžys Jewish Community member Albertas Savinčius with his wife Virginija attended.

Kofman delivered a welcome speech and read written greetings from Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky.

There was a relatively large Jewish population in the village of Kurkliai in the early 20th century, exterminated during the Holocaust. The small village had had a population of about 90 Jews before that, and the Jewish community centered around the synagogue.

News from Panevėžys

News from Panevėžys

Former board member, poet, musician and chanson enthusiast Aleksandras Krasnačiarovas and wife Galina have made their customary visit to the Panevėžys Jewish Community.

The formerly long-time members of the Panevėžys Jewish Community now live near Tel Aviv in Israel. They shared memories about life in Panevėžys and told many fun stories from their time in Lithuania.

They also shared a lot of information about the situation in Israel. The married couple said they were glad they had found a relatively peaceful location in Israel to spend their retirement, but that Hamas is a continuing concern. They met their daughter Ekaterina in Panevėžys as well. She is a member of the Panevėžys Jewish Community executive board.

Aleksandras Krasnačiarovas has published five books of his poetry and donated editions of all five to the Panevėžys Jewish Community library. The pleasant trip down memory lane was complemented by Aleksandras singing Jewish songs with acoustic guitar.

Ilan Club Ending Season

Ilan Club Ending Season

After a fun, intriguing and crazily fantastic season for the Ilan Club for children, the closing ceremony should be just as much fun. It happens this Sunday. To find out where and when, register by sending an email to levickajasimona@gmail.com. Please register by June 8.

Let’s Celebrate Shavuot

Let’s Celebrate Shavuot

The Saul Kagan Welfare Center and the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s social services department greet you on the up-coming holiday of Shavuot and invite members and clients to a holiday concert. The Jewish song and dance ensemble Simcha from the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium promise a fun and interesting experience.

Registration required by sending an email to zanas@sc.lzb.lt or by calling (+370) 678 81514.

Time: 1:00 P.M., Monday, June 10
Place: Third floor, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Vilnius

Israeli Ambassador Visits Panevėžys

Israeli Ambassador Visits Panevėžys

Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community recently where she met with chairman Gennady Kofman and the board of directors. Kofman gave a brief sketch of the life and activities of the Panevėžys Jewish Community and showed the ambassador their archives including thousands of testimonies from Litvak who once lived in the city.

Kofman escorted the ambassador to the former yeshiva building there, the former market square, the Hera Torah synagogue, the Jewish cemetery and Memory Square with the monument Sad Jewish Mother. He told her as well about the JDC’s work in Lithuania between the two world wars and they laid a wreath at the marker showing the location of the former ghetto gate.

He also took her to the city hall where he introduced her to Panevėžys mayor Rytis Račkauskas. They discussed various forms of cooperation.

Following in Kanovitch’s Footsteps

Following in Kanovitch’s Footsteps

June 9 will mark the 95th birthday of late Litvak novelist Grigoriy Kanovitch. The Kaunas Jewish Community and the Palanga Jewish Community recently celebrated his memory with a procession and walking tour through Kanovitch’s native town Jonava with Jonava Regional History Museum guide Giedrė Konbtrimė. They visited the sites where the writer spent his childhood and youth. Felikas Paulauskas is also putting the finishing touches on an installation which should open in a few weeks in Jonava which will also present to the public of the inner worlds of the Litvak writer.

Remembering David Brenner

Remembering David Brenner

Viktor David Brenner (1871-1924) is probably best known as the artist responsible for the Lincoln one-cent coin design, the U.S. penny, but was also a versatile artist, sculptor and designer with many works to his credit. Back in 2016 late novelist and long-time director of the Vilna Gaon Museum Markas Zingeris spoke at the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Brenner in the latter’s home town Šiauliai saying the commemoration of the famous Litvak V. D. Brenner gave rise to wider thoughts on historical memory, identity, national traditions and culture.

There will be a commemoration at the commemorative plaque on the Šiauliai Bank building in Šiauliai at 12:00 noon on June 12, with plaque authors and creators Vaidotas Janulis and Jonas Nekrašius, with a musical interlude by violinists from a local music school.

At 5:30 P.M. the same day the Šiauliai Jewish Community at P. Višinskio street no. 24 will open an exhibit of reproductions of works by Brenner including coins, medallions and bas-reliefs from the collection of the M. K. Čiurlionis Museum, with a discussion over tea and coffee moderated by Jonas Nekrašius. Šiauliai Bank is sponsoring these events.

Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day

Today, the 28th day of the month of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, is the Israeli national holiday Jerusalem Day, commemorating Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War in 1967 and the return of the ancient capital to the Jewish state.

It has been declared a minor religious holiday by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and it is a holiday on which Israelis get a day off work. It is also a day when schools, government offices, and many businesses are closed.

Art Studio Ends Season with Exhibit

Art Studio Ends Season with Exhibit

The Lithuanian Jewish Community’s Art Studio under the tutelage of master painter Raimondas Savickas is ending the season with an exhibit of works by participants. Everyone is welcome, but registration is required by sending an email to zanas@sc.lzb.lt.

Time: 6:00 P.M., Friday, June 7
Place: Third floor, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Vilnius

Mexican President-Elect Has Litvak Roots

Mexican President-Elect Has Litvak Roots

Mexico’s presidential election Sunday saw two females face off with Claudia Sheinbaum winning by a significant majority. She becomes Mexico’s first female, first Jewish and first Litvak president. Her paternal grandparents immigrated to Mexico from Lithuania with her maternal grandparents coming from Bulgaria. Her father was a chemical engineer and her mother a biologist.

UNRWA Law to Designate Agency as Terror Organization Passes First Knesset Reading

UNRWA Law to Designate Agency as Terror Organization Passes First Knesset Reading

A bill aimed to designate the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) a terrorist organization passed its first reading in the Israeli Knesset on Wednesday.

If approved the Bill to Abolish the Immunity and Privileges of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would cancel the privileges and immunities currently provided to employees of the UN organization.

Theose immunities established by the 1947 UN Privileges and Immunities Ordinance exempt the United Nations and its officials from legal action, taxes, import and export bans, among other things.

Diplomatic immunities extended to UNRWA staff would be revoked by Israel’s foreign affairs minister.

Safe Haven: Nazi Collaborators and the Failure of Justice

Safe Haven: Nazi Collaborators and the Failure of Justice

Dear friends,

Your final reminder about today’s Zoom event: Sunday, June 2, at 8:30 P.M. Israeli time (1:30 P.M. EDT).

Britain’s controversial 1991 War Crimes Act gave new powers to courts to try non-British citizens resident in the UK for war crimes committed during WWII. Despite the extensive investigative and legal work that followed and the expense of £11 million, it led to just one conviction.

Drawing on previously unavailable archival documents, Safe Haven considers for the first time why and how convictions failed to follow on the investigations, and why so many Nazi collaborators escaped justice and never even appeared in a criminal court. It provokes a timely reconsideration of the relationship between law, history and truth.

We will be joined by the book’s co-author Jon Silverman and a returning guest speaker for us, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of its Israel Office and Eastern European affairs.

Jon Silverman is professor emeritus for media and criminal justice at the University of Bedfordshire. He’s a former BBC home affairs correspondent in which role he won the Sony Radio Journalist of the Year award for his coverage of the UK’s investigations into Nazi collaborators. He reported from both the Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals and has written extensively for journals on international war crimes justice, including the relationship between the International Criminal Court and Africa. He is the author of four books.

In his role at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff has discovered the escape destinations all over the world of more than 3,000 suspected Nazi war criminals and has facilitated the exposure and prosecution of dozens of them. The author of four books (translated into 15 languages) and more than 500 articles on Nazi-hunting, Holocaust history and contemporary Jewish life and identity, Zuroff is one of the leading spokesmen in the world on Holocaust-related issues.

Join us live on zoom:

Topic: Nazi Collaborators and the Failure of Justice
Time: June 2, 2024, 8:30 P.M. Israeli time/1:30 P.M. EDT

Join the zoom meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9411014000?omn=81972506471
Meeting ID: 941 101 4000

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:26 P.M. on Friday, May 30, and concludes at 11:10 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region.

Call for Volunteers to Clean Up Jewish Cemetery

Call for Volunteers to Clean Up Jewish Cemetery

You are invited to volunteer for what has become a beautiful tradition sponsored by the US embassy in Vilnius and various volunteers: to help maintain the old Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania. This time we’ll work on the old Jewish cemetery in the village of Turgeliai in the Šalčininkai region of Lithuania south of Vilnius.

Time: 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., Sunday, June 2
Place: Old Jewish cemetery in Turgeliai in the Šalčininkai region
Link: https://shorturl.at/QILlI

Everyone is invited to take part. Come show your respect and concern for the history of the Jews of Lithuania and for Lithuania. It’s a small sacrifice, only a few hours, and no heavy lifting is involved!

LJC Chairwoman Sends Thank-You Letter to Israeli Leaders for New Legislation Recognizing Diaspora Victims of Anti-Semitism

LJC Chairwoman Sends Thank-You Letter to Israeli Leaders for New Legislation Recognizing Diaspora Victims of Anti-Semitism

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky has sent thank-you letters to Israeli president Isaac Herzog, minister for Diaspora affairs and combating anti-Semitism Amichai Chikli and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein for the Israeli Government’s recent resolution recognizing victims of anti-Semitism living in the Diaspora.

§§§

May 29, 202

On behalf of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, I extend our gratitude to the State of Israel for historic government resolution 492 which officially recognizes Jewish victims of anti-Semitic acts in the Diaspora.

This resolution carries huge importance, especially in these times when the Jewish people face increased anti-Semitism globally, exacerbated by the ongoing war between Israel and the brutal Hamas organization. Your leadership in spearheading this initiative assures us that the memories of those who suffered from anti-Semitism and hate crimes, targeted solely because of their Jewish identity, are honored, and thus solidarity among Jews worldwide is reinforced.

We sincerely appreciate the support of the State of Israel for its dedication to the welfare of Jews around the world. We strongly believe that these commitments strengthen the bonds within our global Jewish community and our resilience.

With sincere regards,

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

Israeli Government Recognizes Diaspora Victims of Anti-Semitism in Historic Resolution

Israeli Government Recognizes Diaspora Victims of Anti-Semitism in Historic Resolution

The historic resolution adopted on May 27, 2024, follows a call made in 2022 by Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization.

by Jerusalem Post staff, May 27, 2024

The Israeli Government Monday approved Resolution 492 officially commemorating Jews in the Diaspora who have lost their lives due to their Jewishness in hostile acts with an anti-Semitic motive.

For the first time since the establishment of the state, the Government on Monday approved a proposal by Diaspora Affairs and Combating Anti-Semitism minister Amichai Chikli to recognize the State of Israel’s duty as the nation-state of the Jewish people to officially commemorate Diaspora Jews who are not Israeli citizens and were murdered because of their Jewishness in hostile acts based on motives of anti-Semitism. The Ruderman Plan as the ministry dubbed it was named after the Ruderman Family Foundation which laid out the framework for promoting this historic step.

The Government established a special committee headed by director-general of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry with national institutions and representatives of public bodies. The committee submitted its recommendations to the Government Monday which were approved unanimously and which included the determination of a commemoration date and establishment of a dedicated monument, making information about the fallen accessible by creating a website and a database, organizing educational activities and integrating them into the formal and informal education systems.

Full story here.

Commemorating Dubingiai Shtetl

Commemorating Dubingiai Shtetl

An information stand commemorating the more than 100 pre-Holocaust Jewish residents of Dubingiai was unveiled in the town last weekend. The information stand is located where the synagogue once stood, and an outline of the synagogue on a transparent backdrop is the main feature of the stand. Next to the synagogue stood a mikvah, or ritual purification bath, and Jewish homes, some of which are still standing. One couple who lives in a former Jewish home there, Jolanta and Kastytis Žilinskis, financed the erection of the sign which was designed by historian Vaida Navickaitė. Other members of the local community also contributed financially and in other ways to making this small memorial possible.

“By taking this step, we contribute to keeping the memory of the Jews of Lithuania alive,” Navickaitė said at the unveiling ceremony.

Opera soloist Rafailas Karpis and pianist Darius Mažintas provided a musical component to the ceremony, invoking the atmosphere of shtetl life.

Jews of Šiauliai Celebrate Lag b’Omer

Jews of Šiauliai Celebrate Lag b’Omer

The Šiauliai Jewish Community celebrated Lag b’Omer in their backyards last Friday evening. Lag b’Omer is a Jewish holiday which is also called the day of bonfires, weddings and the cutting of children’s hair. Because it coincided with the Sabbath of Friday, Jewish residents of Šiauliai celebrated both together.

The men kindled and fueled the fire, other men cooked the meat and the women cooked the potatoes in aluminum foil. Later the celebrants broke bread, and the women lit the Sabbath candles praying for the health and strength of their children and loved ones.

The Šiauliai Jewish Community thanks everyone who participated and celebrated these holidays in common.