Mother of Basketball Statue Unveiled in Alytus

Mother of Basketball Statue Unveiled in Alytus

The public organization Cultural and Historical Memory Foundation in concert with the Alytus district administration and the Butrimonys aldermanship invited the public to attend the unveiling of a new monument to commemorate Senda Berenson Abbot-Valvroyensky, the Mother of Basketball.

Basketball legend Senda was born on March 19, 1868, in Butrimonys, Lithuania, and later immigrated to the USA, where she became the Mother of Basketball and the founder of the modern rules for the game, according to the International Museum of Jewish Athletes and the Women’s Basketball Museum.

As Lithuanian celebrates the 100th anniversary of basketball, this basketball legend born here, the Mother of Basketball Senda Berenson Abbott-Valvroyensky, is also immortalized here.

Lithuanian Parliament Bans Symbol Commemorating Soviet Liberation from Nazis

Lithuanian Parliament Bans Symbol Commemorating Soviet Liberation from Nazis

In late April the Lithuanian parliament adopted and the Lithuanian president signed into law legislation banning the public display of the ribbon of St. George, usually worn on Victory Day in Lithuania to mark the liberation of the country by the Red Army from Nazi Germany in 1944.

According to Lithuanian parliamentarians it symbolizes Russian aggression in the Ukraine and is now banned along with hammers, sickles and swastikas.

The draft legislation had included bans on the public display of the letter Z, but this was apparently removed from the final draft with the parliament’s Cultural Committee pointing out Z is a common company logo and that Russian troops in the Ukraine are also using the letters V, O, X and A. The Cultural Committee also said use of letters by Russian troops appeared to be arbitrary and subject to change as the campaign continues.

David Harris’s Speech at Ponar on Yom haShoah

David Harris’s Speech at Ponar on Yom haShoah

American Jewish Committee chief executive officer David Harris spoke at the Ponar Memorial Complex and at a reception afterwards held in Vilnius on Yom haShoah, Holocaust Day, on April 28.

Harris announced his intentions last summer to leave the post in which he has served for 32 years now, with the current month of May as the target date for his retirement.

“For the past 31 years as CEO, David has built AJC into the leading global Jewish advocacy organization it is today,” wrote AJC president Harriet P. Schleifer in a letter to AJC’s leadership. “A tireless visionary and a passionate advocate for world Jewry, the State of Israel and democratic values, David’s leadership has been a gift to AJC and to the Jewish people.”

Lithuanian President Sends haAtzmaut Greetings to Israeli President

Lithuanian President Sends haAtzmaut Greetings to Israeli President

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda sent greetings to Israeli president Isaac Herzog on Yom haAtzmaut, Israeli independence day, on April 5 this year as Israel celebrates its 74th year as a modern state. He used the occasion to talk about the Ukraine.

“Today a war is happening in Europe. Ukraine. The Ukraine is experiencing Russia’s military aggression. Every day many innocent people of the Ukraine die, are wounded and lose their homes,” he said, adding: “I very much appreciate Israel has joined the countries condemning Russia’s actions.”

Lithuanians at March of the Living in Poland

Lithuanians at March of the Living in Poland

Members of the Lithuanian public took part April 28 in a March of the Living procession at Auschwitz. People from 25 countries including non-Jews attended.

The event was timed to commemorate the Warsaw Uprising on April 28. Marchers walked about 3.5 kilometers from the Auschwitz museum to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. A group of about 50 people from Lithuania attended. A ceremony to honor the victims took place at the former concentration camp. This began with a word of welcome in 25 languages, including “sveiki,” meaning hello, in Lithuanian. Polish president Andrzej Duda spoke there and used the occasion to compare the war in the Ukraine to the Holocaust.

Survivors spoke of the horror of the camp. Edward Mosberg recalled the murder of his family and spoke about his life history. Torches were lit during the ceremony to symbolize the loss of 6 million murdered Jews. A female university student from Lithuania lit one torch in concert with young people from Germany, Austria, Poland and Israel.

Those who came from Lithuania for the march included Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community chairman Sania Karbelis and other members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, and others.

Following the event participants had the chance to meet Righteous Gentile Chiune Sugihara’s son Nobuki.

EJC Condemns Russian FM Lavrov’s Statements

Tuesday, May 3, 2022–The European Jewish Congress has condemned statements made by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in which he claimed that the “most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews” and that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood.”

EJC president Ariel Muzicant said: “These comments are not just inaccurate and offensive, but harm the memory of victims of the Holocaust. Blaming Jews for anti-Semitism is never acceptable. Jewish communities recall that it was the Red Army that liberated Auschwitz and that millions of Soviet soldiers died fighting Nazism. With this in mind, we call on foreign minister Lavrov to retract these statements and to refrain from making inflammatory comments that can have very serious consequences for Jews in Russia and elsewhere.”

Text here.

Abi Men Zet Zich Club Celebrates 24th Birthday

Abi Men Zet Zich Club Celebrates 24th Birthday

The club for senior citizens was set up by Lithuanian Jewish Community chairman Simonas Alperavičius and deputy chairwoman Maša Grodnikienė on April 26, 1998, and was later named Abi Men Zet Zich, Yiddish for “just to see you again.” The name was the idea of the late Milan Cheronski. We wish club coordinator and social services director Žana Skudovičienė and all our seniors a very happy anniversary.

Panevėžys Jewish Community Holds Classes to Teach Holocaust, Jewish History

Panevėžys Jewish Community Holds Classes to Teach Holocaust, Jewish History

On May 3 students and teachers from the Mykolas Karka primary school in Panevėžys learned about the Holocaust and Jewish history at the Panevėžys Jewish Community. The students didn’t know much about Jewish history so Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman began with the Old Testament and Torah, and Jewish history facts recorded there. The students asked many questions. Kofman talked about the Holocaust as well, pointing out it took place in Panevėžys as well. Some of the students heard the word “Holocaust” for the first time. Many questions and discussions also followed that topic.

For more than 20 years now the Panevėžys Jewish Community has been doing educational outreach in the community with students from the city and district. Gennady Kofman said this was one of the Panevėžys Jewish Community’s main goals.

These events are informal at the table over tea. Students received the Jewish calendar for 5782 published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community and packages of matzo as gifts.

Condolences

Marija Alferovič passed away May 2. She was born in 1938. We extend our condolences to her husband Chaimas and son Michailas.

May 4 to May 5, 2022, Is Yom haAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day

May 4 to May 5, 2022, Is Yom haAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day

Yom haAtzmaut is Israeli Independence Day, a day of great celebration held every year in late April or early May, on the day (in the Hebrew calendar) which, in 1948, Israel declared its independence. Across Israel, events and celebrations take place to mark Independence, both on a national scale and on a more local scale, with almost every city, town, and village, having some sort of celebration. In 2022, Yom haAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) falls from sundown on May 4 to sundown on May 5.

The major state ceremony for Yom haAtzmaut takes place on the eve of Yom haAtzmaut at Mount Herzl, Israel’s National Ceremony in Jerusalem. This event marks the end of Yom haZikaron (Israel’s memorial day, which falls immediately before), and the beginning of the celebration for Yom haAtzmaut. The ceremony involves performances, speeches, and a ceremonial lighting of twelve torches which symbolizes the Twelve Tribes of Israel by twelve citizens who have made a great impact on the country. At the same time, towns and cities across the country have parties and firework displays.

Full story here.

Yom haShoah Commemoration at the Ponar Memorial Complex

Yom haShoah Commemoration at the Ponar Memorial Complex

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky spoke at the gathering at the Ponar Memorial Complex near Vilnius April 28 marking Yom haShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The scars left by the tragedy of the Holocaust go deep not just in the memory of the Jewish people. These are also unhealing scars for Lithuania which the passing years serve in no way to diminish. This nightmare took place on the streets and squares of Lithuania’s cities, in the suburbs and at the margins of forests,” she said.

“Today we must look at the tragedy of the Holocaust with open eyes and combat arising expressions of anti-Semitism through specific actions,” she continued.

She said attacks on the Ponar Memorial Complex would not be tolerated and that they dishonor the memory of the Lithuanian Jews who were murdered. In April vandals painted the letters V and Z on several signs and monuments at the memorial complex, letters associated with the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

“”We will not stand silent and we will not tolerate these sorts of actions. History has taught us that silence and bowed heads only encourages the criminals to go further. That will not happen,” Kukliansky said.

Historian Ruth Leiserowitz to Present New Publication on Jews from Klaipėda

Historian Ruth Leiserowitz to Present New Publication on Jews from Klaipėda

Ruth Leiserowitz, an historian from Germany, has researched the dramatic forced migration out of Klaipėda, also known as Memel, before World War II. She will present her newest book on the subject called “Žydai Klaipėdoje (Mėmelyje)” [Jews in Klaipėda (Memel)] at the Ieva Simonaitytė Public Library in Klaipėda at 5:00 P.M. on April 29.

The publication is intended to coincide with the 770th birthday of the port city.

Leiserowitz’s father came from Memel and she worked at Klaipėda University after Lithuanian independence, and helped organize the Thomas Mann festival in Nida, Lithuania. She got interested in her research topic because of her Jewish father-in-law who was born in Šilutė, then known as Heydekrug. In 1923 his family left Memelland when it was annexed by Lithuania. She decided to look into the fate of Jewish families forced to leave the region. She says her research is often something like a detective novel.

Commemorate Yom haShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on April 28

Commemorate Yom haShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on April 28

The world will commemorate Yom haShoah–Holocaust Remembrance Day–on April 28 this year.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites you to mark the day with us and to remember the victims of the Holocaust together. You are invited to attend a commemorative ceremony at the Ponar Memorial Complex outside Vilnius at 12 noon. Those needing transportation will be able to catch a bus there and back from the LJC at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius. Passengers must register by sending an email to office@lzb.lt or by calling 868506900. The bus leaves the LJC at 11:00 A.M. sharp on Thursday, April 28.

Happy Birthday to Jakovas Mendelevskis

Happy Birthday to Jakovas Mendelevskis

We wish a very happy birthday to Jakov who turned 90 April 26. He is an active member of the minyan at the Choral Synagogue. It’s said a man’s life isn’t measured in years, but in deeds. In that case, given his experience and wisdom, wishing him “bis 120” might not be nearly enough. Mazl tov!