Lithuanian Day of Jewish Genocide

Lithuanian Day of Jewish Genocide

10:00-11:00 A.M., September 22

A reading of the names of Holocaust victims will be held at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius to mark the Lithuanian Day of Remembrance of the Jewish Victims of Genocide. Participants will have the opportunity to light a candle in memory of their lost family members.

Conference and Righteous Gentiles Ceremony at Vytautas Magnus University

Conference and Righteous Gentiles Ceremony at Vytautas Magnus University

Vyautas Magnus University in Kaunas and the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry will host a conference dedicated to Japanese wartime diplomat and Righteous Gentile Chiune Sugihara in the Great Hall of the University located at Simono Daukanto street no. 28 in Kaunas from 9:00 A.M. till 2:00 P.M. on Thursday, September 24. The conference will include a ceremony to award Righteous Gentiles in Lithuania. The conference will have synchronous translation available via mobile telephone requiring the installation of a special app for that purpose.

This year, 2020, marks the 80th anniversary of Sugihara’s work rescuing Jews in Kaunas from the Holocaust in 1939 and 1940. The Lithuanian parliament in 2019 declared 2020 the Year of Chiune Sugihara.

Please indicate your intention to attend by sending an email to

Ceremony to Commemorate Victims of Genocide at Ponar

Ceremony to Commemorate Victims of Genocide at Ponar

You are invited to attend a commemoration of the Day of Remembrance of the Lithuanian Jewish Victims of Genocide at the Ponar Memorial Complex

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

10:50 A.M. Procession from memorial complex parking lot to monument

11:00 A.M. Commemoration ceremony begins

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda is scheduled to attend the ceremony.

Remembering the Victims in Žagarė

Remembering the Victims in Žagarė

On Sunday, September 13, foreign ambassadors, Lithuanian Jews and local residents gathered in Žagarė in northeast Lithuania to remember the once-thriving Jewish community who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Israeli ambassador Yossi Avni-Levy, German ambassador Matthias Sonn, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Sania Kerbelis of Šiauliai, among others, gathered at the small Dmitrijus Naryškinas park in the center of the rural Lithuanian town. Kerbelis’s grandmother, cousins and other relatives were shot in this park in 1941. They were killed in a mass murder operation where German, Lithuanian and Latvian police mowed down starving Jewish men, women and children with machine guns.

Around 800 victims were murdered in there in the town square. Smaller children were murdered by smashing their heads against trees and walls. Those who weren’t killed on the town square were marched into the nearby forest to pits where another 3,000 victims were cast.

One 15-year-old Jewish girl survived the massacre on the town square, taken and hidden by a Lithuanian family. That girl’s granddaughter is Kornelija Tiesnesytė, Lithuanian deputy minister of education, who was at the ceremony Sunday.

Jewish Symbols in the Calendar for 5781

Jewish Symbols in the Calendar for 5781

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is greeting the new year, 5781, with the publication and distribution of our Jewish calendar for the coming year. As well as being attractive and nice to look at, this year’s calendar, as in past years, points back to our shared Litvak legacy. Every featured item once belonged to the Lithuanian Jewish communities and Lithuanian synagogues.

Dr. Aistė Niunkaitė has written a text about Jewish symbols and shared it with us in Lithuanian and in English translation below.

§ § §

See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel…

Rosh Hashanah at the Choral Synagogue

Rosh Hashanah at the Choral Synagogue

Prayer service schedule

Friday, August 18, 6:45 P.M: Mincha/maariv holiday prayers, kiddush, holiday treats

Saturday, August 19 10:00 A.M.: Shacharit (morning prayers); 12 noon blowing of shofar horn; treats and gifts (Jewish calendar for 5781, honey cakes, special gifts for children); 6:00 P.M. Tashlich prayer service at Bokšto street no. 19 in Vilnius

LJC Marks New Year 5781 This Week with New Jewish Calendar

LJC Marks New Year 5781 This Week with New Jewish Calendar

The year 5781 is almost upon us. The Lithuanian Jewish Community is celebrating the new year with our calendar, which has become a tradition, dedicated this time to the unique symbols of the Jewish people and their significance.

Before talking about the next year, I can’t pass over the foregoing which became a year of challenges and coming together for the entire world. The corona virus restricted our social life and the Community’s operation, but at the same time showed to us we are capable of taking care of our members, especially the elderly, that we can apply and perfectly well use digital technology and that even under the most difficult conditions we were able to mark the dates so important to Jews, Israel, Lithuania and the world and our own holidays.

The Community was not able to mark appropriately the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History declared by the Lithuanian parliament because of the pandemic. But the historical past of Jews and its importance for Lithuania’s culture don’t fit within the frames of a single year, so I promise we will continue to organize events dedicated to Lithuania’s Jews, to Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman aka the Vilna Gaon and other important people. There can never be too many such events.

Conference for Historians Researching Jewish Heritage in NE Lithuania

Conference for Historians Researching Jewish Heritage in NE Lithuania

The Rokiškis Regional Museum hosted a conference called “The Jewish Community’s Contribution to the Cultural, Political and Economic Development of the North-Eastern Region of Lithuania during the Period of the First Republic of Lithuania” to mark the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History on Friday, September 4, 2020.

Kupiškis Ethnographic Museum specialist and historian Aušra Jonušytė in her presentation “The Jewish Community of Kupiškis” spoke about the former Jewish community in Kupiškis and their contribution to economic, social and political life in the Lithuanian town. She presented examples of friendship and fellowship between Jewish and Lithuanian families is safeguarding the town from fires.

Two books were presented at the conference: “Kupiškio žydų bendruomenė. Praeities ir dabarties sąsajos” [The Kupiškis Jewish Community: Connections between Past and Present] (2016) and “Kupiškio krašto žydų bendruomenės pastatai ir paminklai” [Buildings and Monuments of the Jewish Community of the Kupiškis Region] (2017). The audience appeared very interested in these books. Former Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon wrote the forewords to both books. Museum specialist and historian Aušra Jonušytė compiled these publications. She also talked about a new publication planned provisionally called “Žydų virtuvės valgiai, gaminti Kupiškyje” [Jewish Cuisine Made in Kupiškis] which will include input from LJC projects coordinator and Litvak cook Dovilė Rūkaitė, Natalja Cheifec and members of the Kaunas Jewish Community. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman has also offered his help with the new book project, as has philanthropist Philip Shapiro.

Makabi Fun Run

The Makabi Athletics Club and the Lithuanian Jewish Community are holding the annual Fun Run for charity again starting at 11:00 A.M. on Sunday, September 13, from the stage in Vingis park in Vilnius. Participants will chose one of two runs, 1.5 or 3 kilometers. Runners on the 1.5 km route will leave the starting line at 11:30 A.M. and those on the 3 km route will kick off at 12:15 P.M. This is for charity so runners will be required to pay a small fee to participate, 3 euros for students and retirees and 5 euros for others. The fee may be paid by bank transfer to the account

Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club
LT69 7040 0600 0090 8716

at SEB Bank, or paid in cash on site before the run. The money will be used by the Makabi Athletics Club to develop more activities.

Register by internet at and/or call or email competition coordinator Daniel dubrovinas at +370 68783005 and


10:00-11:00 A.M. assignment of numbers
11:00 A.M. opening ceremony
11:30 A.M. start of 1.5 km route
12:15 P.M. start of 3 km ruote
1:00 P.M. awarding of prizes with special prizes for winners in specific age groups

Seimonas Finkelšteinas, president
Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club

Book Presentation

A presentation of Rūta Vanagaitė’s book “Kaip tai įvyko? Christoph DIeckmann atsako Rūtai Vanagaitei” [How Did It Happen? Rūta Vanagaitė Interviews Christoph Dieckmann] and a panel discussion will be held at 6:00 P.M. on August 15 at the Adomas Mickevičius Public Library at Trakų street no. 10 in Vilnius. Speakers and panelists will include Rūta Vanagaitė, Lithuanian History Institute director Alvydas Nikžentaits, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, professors Irena Veisaitė and Tomas Venclova, and by video Christoph Dieckmann and Saulius Sužiedelis, moderated by Aurimas Švedas. The event is being held by the Adomas Mickevičius Public Library and the Vilnius Jewish Public Library in cooperation with the LJC.

Registration is required, spaces are limited and visitors will be required to wear surgical masks. To register, send an email to or call (8-5) 219 77 48 work days between 11:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M.

Vice-President Schinas Delivers Keynote Speech at DE Presidency Online Conference on Anti-Semitism

Dear friends,

Please find below the link to vice-president Margaritis Schinas’s keynote speech delivered this morning at the DE Presidency online conference on “Working Together to Fight Anti-Semitism in Europe: Structures and Strategies for a Holistic Approach.”

At the conference today, I will be addressing the Panel on “Strategies and Structures for a Holistic Approach to fighting Anti-Semitism” and share concluding remarks and thoughts for the future.

I will highlight the various approaches and strategies to be developed following the Council declaration and our ongoing support to member states to better prevent and combat anti-Semitism at the national level in a holistic way. This includes dealing with the use of the IHRA definition, reporting and data collection, security issues, education and cooperation among government bodies and between government and civil-society organizations.



Katharina von Schnurbein
European Commission Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism and Fostering Jewish Life

In Memoriam Ronald Harwood

In Memoriam Ronald Harwood

Ronald Harwood, the son of Isaac Hurwich and Isabelle Peper-Hurwich of Plungė who was born November 9, 1934 in the Union of South Africa, passed away in London September 9, 2020.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community expresses our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the late Sir Ronald Harwood.

He was graduated from the Sea Point Boys’ High School in Cape Town and in 1951 went to London to pursue an acting career, becoming the friend of and personal assistant to British actor Donald Wolfit, who directed a Shakespeare company. Harwood was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for the film Dresser and won an Academy Award for best-adapted screenplay for Pianist. He was awarded the order of Commander of the British Empire and named a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, among other distinctions.

Harwood visited his parents’ native Plungė, Lithuania, in 2002.

Twelve Thousand Holocaust Victims Commemorated Near Ukmergė

Twelve Thousand Holocaust Victims Commemorated Near Ukmergė

The annual commemoration in fall of about twelve thousand Holocaust victims killed in the Pivonija forest near Ukmergė (Vilkomir) were commemorated at their mass murder site Sunday. The annual commemoration takes place at noon on the first Sunday in the month of September.

Members of the Ukmergė Regional Jewish Community and a significant group of Jews from Vilnius, Šiauliai and the Kaunas Jewish Community attended the commemoration of the third largest mass murder site in Lithuania. So did representatives of the Ukmergė Regional Administration and the US embassy.

Ukmergė Regional Jewish Community chairman Artūras Taicas spoke, recalling the sea of people who moved from Ukmergė to the Pivonija woods 79 years ago, including thousands of children.

Let’s Remove the “Nazi Chain” around Lithuania’s Neck

Let’s Remove the “Nazi Chain” around Lithuania’s Neck

by Arūnas Gumuliauskas, chairman, Lithuanian parliamentary Commission on the Battles for Freedom and State Historical Memory

Every year there are echoes throughout Lithuania on disputes regarding judgments of partisans and other freedom fighters. Different organizations, circles of intellectuals and ethnic minority representatives file complaints and express dismay over the fact Lithuania honors her heroes who laid down their lives for the ideal of independence. Sometimes more loudly, sometimes more quietly.

So this summer as well a wave of discontent and slander went out regarding the announcement of a year to commemorate the noble partisan Juozas Lukša-Daumantas. It’s frequently difficult to understand why this is happening. Many of us also fail to understand, it seems, because it’s not the most important issue with that story.

But, like it or not, a person can’t just be satiated. He must respect himself and be respected by others. That applies even more so to the state. That’s why our history is rewritten and always in a way intending to desecrate those who contributed to history, and you must begin to listen. Very rarely does something happen coincidentally in politics. So after a decade of the constant attempt to convince Lithuania she is a country of fighters stained with blood and of Jew-shooters, one has to understand the reasons for this and oppose it appropriately.

Who Is That Gaon?

Who Is That Gaon?

by Sergejus Kanovičius. Photo by Evgenia Levin/

Soon the Year of the Vilna Gaon will end: the news websites will stop carrying out the internet education plans dedicated to Jewish history and the school curricula will remain as they always were: impoverished, and with the suppression of history. Everything will depend on the teacher’s initiative, again. The statues to the Gaon and Tsemakh Shabad will stare out, with acid poured over them. Plaques will hang commemorating the “desk murderer” in Vilnius and the statue to a murderer of Jews will continue to stand in the center of Ukmergė, and schools will continue to be named in their honor. The center tasked with researching genocide will offer jobs to people who think the “Lithuanian Activist Front would have found it easy to agree with Zionists.” Only suppressing the fact the LAF helped those Zionists travel into the bosom of Abraham.

Virtual internet reality will never coincide with true reality, and the proposition of living in two worlds will continue to be proposed. The official one will soon mourn at Paneriai and on Rūdninkai square because that’s what’s required. Actually, the pandemic in the true sense of the word helped save a pile of money which would have been used for those pompous but failed events. I would ask, couldn’t the money saved be used to change the school curricula so that a student who reads a headline or title “The Vilna Gaon…” doesn’t have to search the internet to find out who he was and why he’s important?

The best surrogate education–sampling Jewish foods–takes place via the stomach, and via internet. In both cases the effect of learning is equal to the time spent by the learner chewing a bagel or reading about some shtetl lost to oblivion, sipping coffee while reading the screen. There’s no need to even raise the question of enduring value or the long-term effect…

Kaunas Jewish Community Greets Fall with Renewed Pledge to Remember

Kaunas Jewish Community Greets Fall with Renewed Pledge to Remember

The Kaunas Jewish Community ushered out the waning summer and greeted the fall by remembering those who have gone before and the tragic loss of life in the Holocaust. In the last week of August Community members visited Prienai and remembered the victims there and in surrounding areas. The Kaunas Jewish Community would like to thank Prienai District Administration staff, representatives of the Balbieriškis (Balbirishok) Tolerance Center and students for caring that the Holocaust tragedy is their tragedy, too, with all its agony and loss, and for coming together without being told to hold a commemoration of those who once lived in the area as neighbors and perhaps even as friends of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

As the summer days fade into fall and under a dreary and drizzling sky Community members also visited and remember the victims of the mass murder of the Jews of Petrašiūnai and the victims from the Kaunas ghetto of the intellectuals’ aktion also murdered there. The Kaunas Jewish Community would like to thank violinist Jonė Barbora Laukaitytė for braving the weather and performing her melody to which resonated so clearly with out own heartstrings.

The end of summer also saw the premiere of Aleksandras Rubinovas’s one-man-play “My Father” which was supposed to happen back on March 13, and the Kaunas Picture Gallery is still featuring a show of Samuel Bak’s paintings until September 13.