Happy Birthday to Antanas Sutkus

Happy Birthday to Antanas Sutkus

Legend of Lithuanian photography and friend of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Antanas Sutkus is celebrating a milestone birthday. The LJC wishes him a very happy birthday, and continuing good health, energy and the endless creative inspiration which has given us so many unique works of art over these many years. Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:41 P.M. on Friday, June 28, and concludes at 11:30 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region.

Dainius Žalimas on Kazys Škirpa and Other Lithuanian Nazis

Dainius Žalimas on Kazys Škirpa and Other Lithuanian Nazis

Dainius Žalimas served as the chief justice of the Constitutional Court of Lithuania from 2014 to 2021. He currently teaches. When protestors gathered to stop the city of Vilnius from taking down an illicit monument to wartime-era Lithuanian Nazi leader Kazys Škirpa, Lithuanian media went to Žalimas for commentary, because he had ruled in a case concerning Škirpa several years ago. The arrest of three protestors Sunday was followed by an unsanctioned but apparently announced protest in front of Vilnius City Hall Monday, where premade glossy posters were handed out to about 20 Škirpa fanatics, including one set of posters attacking Faina Kukliansky, the chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, for allegedly dictating political decisions to Vilnius mayor Valdas Benkunskas, who had called the Škirpa shrine, illegally installed on the Vilnius court building and former KGB palace, an act of “hooliganism,” which was later redacted by other members of the municipality to “vandalism.”

Dainius Žalimas posted to facebook regarding the legacy of Lithuanian Nazi leader Kazys Škirpa by quoting himself from an interview conducted by 15min.lt a year ago. This is an unofficial translation of his self-quote:

Some of us mark June 23 as a day of national pride and post photographs from that time of Lithuanian soldiers and residents joyfully greeting the Lithuanian insurgents and Germans, as well as photos of Soviet POWs being led through the streets. Yes, the Russian Bolshevik occupation had gone much too far for everyone. So there was no reason to feel pity for the occupiers. Under other circumstances we truly could’ve had something of which to be proud.

New Jewish Kindergarten Set to Open September 1

New Jewish Kindergarten Set to Open September 1

A new Jewish kindergarten in Vilnius long in the works is set to open its doors at the beginning of the next school year, September 1.

Located within the territory of the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium but in a newly renovated building separate from the main school, the kindergarten will cater to Jewish children and provide an introduction to Hebrew and Jewish culture and tradition with respect paid to the individual needs of each child in a safe and secure environment

More information for registering children to attend is available in Lithuanian here.

Vilnius Municipal Workers Take Down Škirpa Monument as Police Arrest Three Protestors

Vilnius Municipal Workers Take Down Škirpa Monument as Police Arrest Three Protestors

Photo by Orestas Gurevičius/ELTA

On Sunday afternoon city workers with police escort went to the Lithuanian Appellate and Lithuanian District Court courthouse in Vilnius where a shrine to Lithuanian Nazi Kazys Škirpa was installed without permission Friday in order to remove the illegal construction.

Over a dozen protestors attempted to stop the workers. They attempted to push the workers, who called for police backup, then several protestors locked arms to prevent access to the wall.

The police backup used force to push the protestors away. Protestors on the sidelines chanted “for shame,” “rascists” [sic] and “vatniks.”

Vilnius mayor Valdas Benkunskas told the ELTA news agency he would appeal to law enforcement regarding the illegal construction. He called the installation of the shrine by members of the National Unification party an act of hooliganism.

Three men were arrested at the scene and later charged with administrative law offenses, namely, refusing to obey justified orders from police to disperse.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Silvia Foti in Šiauliai

Silvia Foti in Šiauliai

Journalist and writer Silvia Foti has visited Šiauliai for the second time to speak about her grandfather Jonas Noreika at the Šiauliai Jewish Community and his Holocaust crimes in Plungė, Telšiai and the Šiauliai district during World War II. She delivered a talk followed by a discussion and questions from the audience. We sincerely thank Silvia for making the visit and for her honesty and openness on this sensitive and very personal topic.

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:42 P.M. on Friday, June 21, and concludes at 11:32 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region. Note: St. John’s Eve or Midsummer’s Eve, aka Joninės in Lithuanian and Litha in Celtic lore, is an official holiday in Lithuania observed this year from Saturday through Monday with government offices and some businesses closed.

Congratulations to Our Young Chess Master Candidate

Congratulations to Our Young Chess Master Candidate

Heartfelt congratulations go to our young chess champion Daniel Ser from Šiauliai competing as part of the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club. He took silver in the European Union chess championship and met the rating requirements for FIDE to bestow the title of candidate chess master upon him and is now the youngest candidate for master in the three Baltic states. We are very proud of Daniel and his parents and wish him every continued success.

Memory Stones at Bergen-Belsen

Memory Stones at Bergen-Belsen

Lithuanian journalist Rimas Bružas has travelled to Germany to make a film about Lithuanian Jewish concentration camp inmates.

Currently he’s visiting Bergen-Belsen located about 65 kilometers from Hannover in Lower Saxony. Originally this concentration camp was intended for privileged victims including inmates from neutral countries and prisoners the Nazis were hoping to trade in prisoner swaps with the Allied countries.

In the fall of 1944 Bergen-Belsen began receiving transports from concentration and death camps such as Auschwitz and the inmate population grew from 7,300 in July of 1944 to about 15,000 by December, 1944. When British troops liberated the camp on April 15, 1945, there were about 60,000 prisoners there, almost all of them Jews. Anne Frank was among the 50,000 people murdered there.

The Bergen-Belsen memorial site continues to maintain memory stones inscribed by students from the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium in Vilnius commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.

#WeRemember

Learning about Jewish Life and Culture at the TOLI Seminar

Learning about Jewish Life and Culture at the TOLI Seminar

All last week the LJC hosted the TOLI seminar where experts on Jewish life and culture from different Lithuanian institutions of learning come together to teach teachers about Litvak life before the Holocaust and about the Holocaust.

The TOLI institute founded by Olga Lengvel in New York and Lithuania’s International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regime in Lithuania jointly held the seminar which this year was called “Learning from the Past, Action for the Future: Teaching the Holocaust and Human Rights.”

The seminar was attended by over 30 teachers and educators from throughout Lithuania. They included ethics, Lithuanian language and literature, English, geography, information theory and history teachers, as well as librarians and social workers who sacrificed their summer vacations to learn and improve their knowledge.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Panevėžys Jewish Community Receives Visitors from Haifa

Panevėžys Jewish Community Receives Visitors from Haifa

Psychologist Dirot Huber, her husband Jacob who directs a water-supply company and their daughter Romi from Haifa visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community last week. They were searching for family roots in Panevėžys and Ukmergė, namely, relatives of great-grandfather and pharmacist Haim Leibovitch born in 1867 and a grandfather named Teodor Todres, born in 1903 and deceased in 1951.

The pharmacy had been located on the first floor of the building at Smetonos street no. 3 with the owners living above it. Leibovitch’s brother Tovia was the principal of the Hebrew gymnasium in Ukmergė.

The visitor brought with them period photographs which they kindly allowed the Panevėžys Jewish Community to scan digitally for conservation in the Community’s archives. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman showed them many photographs from that archive.

Velvl Chernin Giving Lecture on Israel and Repatriation

Velvl Chernin Giving Lecture on Israel and Repatriation

Yiddish poet, literary scholar, author and SF enthusiast Velvl Chernin who is now also an envoy for the Jewish Agency will deliver a lecture next week at the Lithuanian Jewish Community on the current political and economic situation in Israel and opportunities for making aliyah and settling in Israel.

Time: 6:30 P.M., Tuesday, June 25
Place: Third floor, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Vilnius

Holocaust Memorial Desecrated in Southern Lithuania

Holocaust Memorial Desecrated in Southern Lithuania

BNS reports yet another anti-Semitic attack in Lithuania, this time upon a Holocaust memorial in the cemetery in Senoji Varėna (Old Varėna) in southeast Lithuania.

Police from Alytus, Lithuania, told BNS they received a report of the vandalism just after noon on Monday from a local resident who saw it on Sunday evening as he was walking in the forest.

Alytus Police Department communications department director Kristina Janulevičienė told the news agency the vandalism was recorded as evidence and including destruction of an information stand, the partial destruction of a memorial obelisk and the placement of some sort of sticker forbidding people from placing stones at the memorial, a common Jewish tradition at grave sites.

“It doesn’t appear this was just done by children somehow. It’s a premeditated crime and act of vandalism. According to our information an obelisk marking the site was also damaged,” Varėna regional administration mayor Algis Kašėta told the 15min.lt website.

Alytus police head of communications Kristina Janulevičienė said police are currently on scene investigating.

Silvia Foti Speaking in Šiauliai

Silvia Foti Speaking in Šiauliai

The Šiauliai Jewish Community invites you to a meeting and discussion with Silvia Foti.

Foti is a Lithuanian-American writer who lives in Chicago. She is also the granddaughter of Lithuanian Nazi commander Jonas Noreika. When she began writing her family’s story, she approached it from the viewpoint of modern Lithuanian Holocaust denial, but quickly discovered her grandfather was responsible for the mass murder of Jews, and she began writing about that, alienating the Lithuanian public in North America and Lithuania who were raised to deny Lithuanian complicity in the Holocaust.

Foti’s books have been published in English and Lithuanian and she has appeared on major media telling her story of the journey from Holocaust denial to the truth, including on the BBC’s Hard Talk interview program.

Everyone is welcome to attend and participate.

Time: 6:00 P.M., Friday, June 21
Place: Šiauliai Jewish Community, P. Višinskio street no. 24, Šiauliai

Shavuot Celebrated in Šiauliai

Shavuot Celebrated in Šiauliai

Last Friday evening the Šiauliai Jewish Community celebrated the Sabbath and holiday of Shavuot with guests from Israel Alon Ron and Nadia Roizen, lighting the Sabbath candles, breaking bread and sampling the sanctified wine.

The guests from Israel thanked Community members for their fellowship and vowed to return again to their grandparents’ hometown, Šiauliai to visit their new friends.

Sabbath Times

Sabbath Times

The Sabbath begins at 9:39 P.M. on Friday, June 14, and concludes at 11:30 P.M. on Saturday in the Vilnius region.

Condolences

We are saddened to report Mikhail Filippov-Yablonsky died June 12. He was born in 1947. He was a great soul beloved by everyone, an artist, musician and singer and a long-time member of the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble. May he rest in peace. We extend our deepest condolences to Misha’s wife, children and many friends and family members.

Happy Shavuot

Happy Shavuot

Dear readers,

Happy Shavuot!

Today Jews around the world celebrate Shavuot, one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar for centuries, with not one but several significant meanings.

The first is the religious one which tells the story of how seven weeks after the Hebrews left Egypt, God gave the gift of the Torah to Moses and the entire Jewish people, the sacred text in the form of the Pentateuch with 613 mitzvot, or laws. Shavuot is also called the Feast of Weeks. Traditionally Jews do not sleep on this night and spend it studying Torah, intoning the morning prayer when dawn breaks.

This is an especially important holiday because God’s Ten Commandments have determined the whole course of human morality and civilization. Having received the oral Torah, only a portion was written down, with the rest inscribed only 1,500 years later, after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Shavuot is also the celebration of the first harvest, featuring abundant dairy products and homes decorated with flowers. Traditionally Jews make pancakes with curds and cheesecake, and eat ice cream, drink milk shakes and consume other treats.

Have a delicious holiday!

Litvak Literature Conference

Litvak Literature Conference

The Vilnius Jewish Public Library will host a conference on Litvak literature on Sunday, June 22, at 1:00 P.M. Yuri Greisman, Arkadijus Vinokuras, Elena Suodienė, Samoilas Lormanas, Leonida Kriščiūnienė and others will give presentations in Lithuanian. The Vilnius Jewish Public Library is located at Gedimino prospect no. 24 in Vilnius.