Yossi Levy’s Love Peddlers Published in Lithuanian

Yossi Levy’s Love Peddlers Published in Lithuanian

Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania Yossi Avni-Levy isn’t just a seasoned diplomat, he’s also an accomplished Israeli writer. One of his short stories was the basis for a film in 2013 and his “Man Without a Shadow” is currently being filmed. Now his novel “Love Peddlers” (“Rochlei haAhavot,” Hebrew, 2016) has been published in Lithuanian.

According to the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature:

A couple returns to their apartment in Tel Aviv with a tiny baby wrapped in a blanket. They are welcomed by the grandmother who showers them with candies and the grandfather who heaps blessings upon them. Far away, in time and space, a frightened, handsome Jewish lad sets out on the journey of his life, a journey to the maze of alleys of the legendary city of Herat in Afghanistan. What is the thread that connects the boy slipping away from school so that he can watch the dancers in their colorful garb cavorting in the marketplaces, to Assaf, an Israeli professor of linguistics, a gay man, a new father, who wants to be reconciled with his own father?

Yossi Avny-Levy’s novel is an emotional confession of a father to his newly born first son who embodies a mixture of different cultures, an intimate confession through which he tries to trace his own identity. Assaf unfolds the saga of his family, beginning in Afghanistan in the 1940s, and reveals the story of his father and in particular the story of his father’s younger brother, Assaf’s uncle, who was a dancer in the Herat marketplaces and a lover of a Pashtun man.

It is a book that is both sad and amusing, a powerful and humane love story which will resonate all around the globe – a constricted, unspoken love between a son and his father, an unrestrained love of a child for his mother, and a tortuous love between two fathers. It is also a story of love for a world that is no more, for its colors and fragrances, studded with characters who are both delightful and heart-breaking. In his inimitable and sensual language, Avni-Levy leads the reader through the poverty-stricken and yet magnificent streets of a dusty Israeli town of the 1960s to the picturesque streets of a remote city in Afghanistan, where humans and demons live side by side.

Vilnius, Jerusalem of Lithuania Jewish Community Gives New Book to Holocaust Survivors

Vilnius, Jerusalem of Lithuania Jewish Community Gives New Book to Holocaust Survivors

The Vilnius, Jerusalem of Lithuania Jewish Community has provided every member of the Union of Former Ghetto and Concentration Camp Inmates a copy of the Russian edition of the book “Irena Veisaitė: Life SHould Be Transpartent” by A. Švedas and translated by Anna Gerasimova, published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community. The Social Programs Department will help us distribute the book to senior citizens living outside Vilnius. Thank you!

Dance and Day Camp for Children

On Sunday, October 20, the Dubi, Ilan and Mishpoca Clubs invite children to an evening of dance with Jelizaveta Volynskaja together with tiny dancers from the Fayerlakh song and dance ensemble. From October 28 to October 31 children aged 7 to 12 are invited to the Amehaye Fall Camp at the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Registration is required. Please call Sofja at 8 601 46656 or write her at sofja@lzb.lt to register or for more information. An on-line registration form for the camp is posted here:

http://bit.ly/35IanQ4

Lithuanian General Prosecutor Says Vilnius Mayor Exceeded Authority in Noreika Take-Down

Lithuanian General Prosecutor Says Vilnius Mayor Exceeded Authority in Noreika Take-Down

Lithuania’s Office of General Prosecutor says Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius exceeded his authority in unilaterally ordering the removal of a plaque commemorating Jonas Noreika.

In a statement released Thursday the lead prosecutor in the defense of the public interest department at the Office of General Prosecutor said he had considered complaints filed by public organizations on a lower prosecutor’s decision and said the mayor had exceeded his authority.

“Public administrative actions performed by a public administration entity which exceed the authority provided that entity, and also the issuance of administrative acts [rules, regulations, orders] which exceed the authority granted are illegal,” the prosecutor said in his finding. He also considered complaints from public organizations on the city council’s renaming of Kazys Škirpa Alley and rejected them, letting stand a lower prosecutor’s opinion regarding the matter.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Note: Noreika and Škirpa were Holocaust perpetrators.

YIVO to Lend Lithuania Vilna Gaon Synagogue Pinkas

YIVO to Lend Lithuania Vilna Gaon Synagogue Pinkas

The board of directors of New York’s YIVO has voted to lend the pinkas of the Vilna Gaon synagogue to Lithuania for exhibition following a meeting with Lithuanian minister of culture Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, YIVO director Jonathan Brent said.

This is the book of vital statistics for the local Jewish community, a priceless source of information on the life of the Vilnius Jewish community. The document will be lent in 2020 as Lithuania marks its Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History. The plan is to show it at the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Story of a Man of God

Story of a Man of God

Arkadijus Gotesmanas working together with director Adolfas Večerskis and artist Linas Liandzbergis created the Story of a Man of God almost a decade ago. Author of the music and text, he was also the performer of this drama. One week ago it was presented to an audience in Uzhgorod, Ukraine. In the one-man play Gotesmanas recalled horrible, funny, sad and happy events from his own life accompanied by creative percussion, the life of one man, one family, one people marked by the tragedies of the 20th century but nonetheless filled with unconditional love for faltering humanity.

The audience in Uzhgorod listened and watched in rapt attention. Arkadijus was born there 60 years ago. The “hometown boy” appears to have impressed the audience with his high degree of creativity, talent and musical ability. Arkadijus said he only really knew about “our Uzhgorod” from his parents before this. In infancy he and his parents left the city. So the next performance of Story of a Man of God might include this trip as well.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Thank You

Thank You

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman wants to thank Bagel Shop Café director Dovilė Rūkaitė and senior cook Riva Portnaja for their wonderful idea to hold a Litvak culinary luncheon with a delegation from the Taube Jewish Heritage Tours with partial support from the Ethnic Minorities Department, and for their tireless enthusiasm in promoting and passing on the Litvak Jewish culinary heritage. Thank you to Taube delegation leader and Ashkenazi cooking expert Jeffrey Yoskowitz and to all the volunteers and guests who made this event so much fun. It was good to sit down together at a shared table and it was very delicious.

Launch of Book about Vilkija Ghetto in Kaunas

Launch of Book about Vilkija Ghetto in Kaunas

The rare books department of the Kaunas Public Library hosted the launch of the book “Vilkijos getas. 1941 metai” by Aleksandras Vitkus and Chaim Bargman. Vilkija deputy alderman Algimantas Smolenskas led the event.

Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas spoke about Lithuanian Jewish community activities before 1940 and the active participation of Jews in the country’s cultural, economic and social life.

Participants discussed current commemoration policies, Lithuanian and Jewish relations, what goes into determining Nazi collaboration, education and other topics.

The Jewish community formed in the village of Vilkija, just 30 kilometers from Kaunas, in the late 18th century. According to the censuses, there were 652 Jews in Vilkija in 1766, 789 in 1847 and 1,431 out of a total population of 2,012 in 1897.

Sukkot Celebration with Guests from America and Baked Gefilte Herring

Sukkot Celebration with Guests from America and Baked Gefilte Herring

It’s long been the tradition during SUkkot to set up a booth, invite guests and treat them to various family recipes. While they say there is no traditional Sukkot dish, it does seem to be characteristic to make things which are stuffed and rolled, like the Torah scroll. Stuffed cabbage and filled pancakes are popular.

Ashkenazi cooking expert Jeffrey Yoskowitz visited the Lithuanian Jewish Community on the first day of Sukkot and made select dishes from the Litvak culinary legacy. Guests–loves of Litvak cooking–joined in and for every dish there were multiple stories and recollections from childhood. There was even a dispute on the correct form cut carrots should take.

Jeffrey Yoskowitz is leading a Taube Jewish Heritage Tours tour currently in Lithuania. He and Dovilė from the Bagel Shop Café had a long discussion on which dishes to include in cooking workshops. In the end they arrived at the solution of Litvak exceptionalism: to select the dishes which Polish Jews don’t make and which are unknown to the American Jewish community.

U.S. Rep Sends Letter to Lithuanian PM: We Never Exonerated Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis

U.S. Rep Sends Letter to Lithuanian PM: We Never Exonerated Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis

by Vilius Petkauskas, 15min.lt

Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis has received a letter from the Congress of the United States requesting Lithuania stop claiming U.S. institutions had found Lithuanian Provisional Government prime minister Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis hadn’t been party to the genocide of Lithuanian Jews [was not a Holocaust perpetrator] in 1941.

According to information available to 15min.lt, the chairman of the [subcommittee on Asia of the] Foreign Affairs Committee [representative Brad Sherman of California] sent a letter to Skvernelis which asks the Lithuanian PM to require the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania to stop claiming erroneously Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis had been exonerated. Prime ministerial press representative Tomas Beržinskas confirmed such a letter had been received.

“Yes, the prime minister has received such a letter. A reply has not been drafted yet,” he told 15min.lt

Full article in Lithuanian here.

Have a Happy Sukkot with Friends and Family

Have a Happy Sukkot with Friends and Family

Members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community traditionally gather in the Sukkot tent–the sukka–to talk and eat. The happy holiday lasts seven days.

Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles or tents) is one of three pilgrim holidays mentioned in the Bible as shalosh regalim. In earlier times it was an agricultural holiday to give thanks for the harvest. The sukka is a tent, the only home Jews knew for the 40 years they wandered the desert after the exodus from Egypt. As a temporary shelter, the sukka also reminds us existence is fragile, and Sukkot is a time when we should appreciate our home and body.

The sukka is a necessary part of the holiday of Sukkot and needs to be built. Jews are supposed to sit in the booth and eat and celebrate. It is celebrated for seven days in Israel. There, where it’s usually warm, people even sleep in the make-shift dwellings and children especially enjoy the holiday. The dwelling place is decorated on the eve of the holiday and it is forbidden to work on the first day of the holiday.

Four species of plant are required and are placed together on a platter or plate and waved around. This is written in the Bible. The species are the fruit of the citron tree, palm fronds, myrtle fronds and willow branches. On the seventh day of Sukkot Jews circle seven times in synagogue reciting the prayer used on that day.

Holocaust Commemoration in Švenčionys on October 6

Holocaust Commemoration in Švenčionys on October 6

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Švenčionys Jewish Community remembered the victims of the Holocaust from the Švenčionys region at their mass murder site, the Švenčionėliai military base, on October 6, 2019. The mass murder site is the final resting place of about 8,000 Jews from the surrounding area.

Švenčionys Jewish Community chairman Moisej Šapiro said: “Memory is alive and no one is forgotten. Together we must recall from generation to generation the painful fate of the Jewish people, so that the memory of the innocent people who died under such extremely brutal and inhumane circumstances is honored. So that respect and history are maintained for as long as a single citizen of this country lives.”

Participants from Lithuania, Belarus, Sweden, Israel and elsewhere attended. Švenčionys regional administration head Rimantas Klipčius spoke and laid a wreath at the memorial. Pawel Tadeusz Purski, third secretary at the Polish embassy in Vilnius, also participated. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky spoke at the ceremony.

Walls That Remember Art Installation Vandalized

Walls That Remember Art Installation Vandalized

The main feature of the Walls That Remember project has been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti in central Vilnius.

The project aimed to remind passer-by of Vilnius’s rich Jewish past by portraying scenes from Jewish life in what was mainly the Jewish quarter of the Vilnius Old Town before World War.

Over the weekend someone added a star of David crossed out with the void symbol to the wall next to the painting. Project staff issued the following statement:

Special Guests from America and Israel at Kaunas Ghetto Concert

Special Guests from America and Israel at Kaunas Ghetto Concert

DELFI.lt

Many Lithuanians know something about the ghetto in Kaunas where tens of thousands of Jews were imprisoned from 1941 to 1944. Nonetheless, even if it’s not a secret, what life was like there behind the walls is a page of history which hasn’t been considered yet. One event in the Kaunas 2022 history festival will spotlight one of the ghetto’s leading lights, the Kaunas ghetto orchestra. On October 20 the music of the “Final Concert” at the Kaunas cultural center will mirror history: performed in the same building where the Gestapo was headquartered during World War II.

Full Lithuanian text here.

European Commission Wants Better Security for Jewish Institutions

European Commission Wants Better Security for Jewish Institutions

European Commission coordinator for fighting anti-Semitism Katharina von Schnurbein reports many EU states need to increase security for Jewish institutions.

Following Wednesday’s attack in Halle in eastern Germany, the EC is calling on all member-states to insure protection for Jewish institutions and communities. In an interview with the Funke media group published on October 11, von Shnurbein said many countries need to pay more attention and improve their methods and attitudes regarding security. She said each country is responsible for providing security for its Jewish communities.

The Commission’s coordinator for anti-Semitism said this is a problem throughout Europe which needs solving and that EU member-states must also help finance security for synagogues.

Sukkah on the Shore

Sukkah on the Shore

Singer and Yiddish enthusiast Sara Klompus describes spending Sukkot in Lithuania during her time at the Vilnius summer Yiddish program. She remembers the unique experience of celebrating in a special sukkah on the shore in Trakai and in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

This is an excerpt from an oral history with Sara Klompus.

This excerpt is in English.

This interview is part of the Yiddish and the Arts: Musicians, Actors and Artists series.

Cooperation or Collaboration: Who Deserves a Statue in Vilnius?

Cooperation or Collaboration: Who Deserves a Statue in Vilnius?

by Vytautas Plečkaitis, formerly Lithuania’s ambassador to the Ukraine and Switzerland

Seventy years having passed since World War II, disputes over collaboration with the Nazi regime in Germany continue in Lithuania, in neighboring Poland and in other Central and Eastern European countries.

The generation who grew up in the period of freedom and independence want to know the whole truth about the crimes of the Communist regime and the crimes of the German Nazis and those who collaborated with them and took part in the Holocaust. This is demanded of us by basic human nature, and historical memory of the Jewish community who lived in our land [sic] since the time of Vytautas the Great and who were annihilated hasn’t been fully taken into account.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Holocaust “Historian” Pinchos Fridberg Asks the Holocaust Historians of the Genocide Center: Can We Trust Archival Document LCVA f. R-1436, ap. 1, b. 29, l. 13-13 a. p.?

Holocaust “Historian” Pinchos Fridberg Asks the Holocaust Historians of the Genocide Center: Can We Trust Archival Document LCVA f. R-1436, ap. 1, b. 29, l. 13-13 a. p.?


professor Pinchos Fridberg

Comments on the Title of the Article

1. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty called me an Holocaust historian. I won’t deny such words please the ear. They aren’t true, though. I’m actually a pedant: I read very carefully without missing a letter. And at the same time I also think a little bit.

2. The real (infallible) Holocaust Historians work at the Genocide Center. For that reason in the second instance I write Historian capitalized and without quotation marks. The findings of the research of these historians are even carved in granite.

3. To my very odd question “can we rely upon the archival document?” I can give a not less odd reply: who can deny that this document wasn’t created by NKVD agents seeking to discredit collaborators who worked closely with the Nazis?

The Day After the Shootings in Halle and Landsberg

The Day After the Shootings in Halle and Landsberg

A suspect in the shooting in the eastern German city of Halle was arrested Wednesday according to German police. German chancellor Angela Merkel joined mourners holding a silent vigil at Berlin’s main synagogue Wednesday evening.

At least two people were killed in the shootings Wednesday and at least two more wounded. Eye-witnesses at the shooting in Halle said the local synagogue was one of the targets as Jews there marked Yom Kippur.

More in Lithuanian here.

Children Invited to Sukkot Event

Children Invited to Sukkot Event

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Ilan and Dubi Clubs invite children to a fun gathering at 1:00 P.M. on October 13 called “From Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot.” We’ll “dwell” in the Sukkot booth and have traditional Jewish snacks and treats. Lego engineering teachers will be on hand for building and playing. Come to the Ilan Club at the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Registration is required, so call 8 601 46656 or send an email to sofja@lzb.lt