Jewish Educational Conference Lithuanian Limmud 2018

Dear friends,

This year Limmud will be even better than usual, so if you haven’t registered yet, do so now.

The conference will take place at the Vilnius Grand Resort Hotel from February 9 to 11.

Lecturers and performers are to include:

Prof. Zeef Chanin from Israel.

Yulia Rutberg, an actress from Russia, to host the Creative Evening.

Yuri Tabak, religious studies scholar, Jewish history expert and writer from Russia.

Tzvi Kaplan, rabbi, family specialist and psychologist from Israel.

Dr. Lara Lempertienė, scholar, Vilnius University teacher, senior bibliographer for Jewish books at the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library, from Lithuania.

Regina Pats, a film expert from Estonia, to present program of new and interesting films.

Hop Stop Banda, a German musical band.

Maja Tarachovskaja, teacher, writer from Lithuania.

Sasha Song, a vocalist from Lithuania.

Ala Segal, beauty expert, Lithuania.

Grigoriy Abramovich, rabbi, Belarus.

Irina Abromovich, rebitsen, Belarus.

Svetlana Liser, yoga activities, Lithuania.

Laurina Todesaitė, Jewish culinary expert, Lithuania.

Boris Kirzner, violinist, Lithuania.

Daumantas Levas Todesas from Lithuania, to present the film “Aš turiu papasakoti” [I Must Tell the Story].

Boris Burda from Ukraine and the game “Who, what, where?”

Play by students of Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium “Let Me Live.”

For more information, contact limmudlietuva@lzb.lt or call Žana Skudovičienė at +37067881514.

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky’s Speech at Lithuanian Foreign Ministry January 26

Honorable foreign minister,

Dear Holocaust survivors,

Dear rescuer friends,

Members of the Jewish Community,

Honored ambassadors,

This day is dedicated to remembering, thinking and looking towards the future.

We have gathered here to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Today we mourn together.

Let us honor the victims of the Holocaust with a minute of silence.

We mourn our countrymen, our friends, patriots, and in the case of members of my community, every time we experience the loss again of our family members.

We appreciate that the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, in other words, the Lithuanian state, initiated this shared honoring of the victims.

Lithuanian State Commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Užsienio reikalų ministerijoje surengtasTarptautinės Holokausto aukų atminimo dienos minėjimas

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry in conjunction with the Lithuanian Jewish Community commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the ministry Friday, January 26.

The event was humble, tasteful and without much fanfare, but was attended over 100 people, including survivors, children of survivors, grandchildren, foreign ambassadors, staff and members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the foreign minister and the father of Lithuanian independence, professor Vytautas Landsbergis, along with many ministry employees.

Foreign minister Linas Linkevičius spoke briefly and fully “owned” the Holocaust for Lithuania, saying while it was sad to begin the year celebrating the 100th birthday of the modern state with the Holocaust, it was necessary so that people would never forget. He called the Holocaust a scar across the face of the nation and the darkest page in Lithuania’s and humanity’s history, but also pointed out Lithuania now boasts 891 Righteous Gentiles.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky spoke and said the fact the Foreign Ministry was hosting the event meant the Lithuanian state was recognizing the importance of remembering what happened. She also announced the upcoming release of Yitzhak Rudashevski’s ghetto diary in Lithuanian.

A representative from the Israeli embassy praised Lithuania for adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Rafailas Karpis performed songs in Hebrew and Yiddish.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky’s Appeal Regarding Legal Disputes within the Jewish Community

I would like to address our Community again:

• As you know, a group of people calling themselves “the Vilnius Jewish Community” initiated legal proceedings.

• We received no reply to our proposals, made directly and in written form, to give up these legal disputes. A decision was handed down in the Vilnius Jewish Community’s petition which will be appealed in the usual appeals process and we have complete confidence the decision will be annulled.

• In other legal proceedings, the court found the rules and regulations of the LJC were not legal, and the point allowing the formation of a representational quorum during elections was voided. The court again emphasized the rules and regulations must conform to the law: one member, one vote. This affects the regional communities, but moreover all of the associated members, and means that the LJC elections in 2017 were held in keeping with the law. This decision by the court is final and is not subject to appeal.

Again, every Lithuanian Jew may decide for him or herself what sort of community they want, but first, everyone must know the truth. Leaders and community members who await the end of the disputes so they can decide which side to support must wait a little longer. I feel this decision is a matter of conscience for each person to make on their own.

I ask those who are sowing division between Jews, engaging in provocations, filing complaints and spreading rumors and gossip to stop it, without regard to whatever posts they occupy. You are doing harm to the entire Lithuanian Jewish Community.

I invite all members of the community to come together and join forces for things that are important rather than engage in fruitless internal struggles. Our priority tasks are celebrating and passing on the distinct Litvak culture and historical memory of the history of Jews in Lithuania, and making life better for Jews here and now. We can only accomplish this by coming together.

Knesset Speaker Addresses Belgian Parliament on Holocaust Remembrance Day

For the first time ever, the speaker of the Israeli parliament the Knesset has addressed the Belgian parliament. On Tuesday, January 23, Knesset speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein spoke at a special session of the Belgian parliament held to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Also speaking were Belgian Federal Parliament speaker Zigfrid Brakke and Holocaust survivor Paul Sobol.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky attended and met with Edelstein.

Knesset speaker Edelstein both praised and criticized the Belgian government, and reminded the audience a Belgian citizen had entered and won a monetary prize in an anti-Semitic cartoon contest sponsored by the government of Iran.

“I will mention with a sad smile that recently the Antwerp municipality attempted to move the city’s Holocaust memorial to a quieter place where it would have less of an impact on traffic. In another case, which I will mention without any smile at all, praise was lavished on a Belgian teacher who won a cash prize in Iran for a cartoon demeaning the Holocaust and the state of Israel. Last year after he won the award his hometown here in Belgium named him a cultural ambassador par excellence. To judge from his cartoon, however, I am not certain what culture he represents. We must not forget the heinous attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels in which four people, including two Israelis, were murdered. The list of tragic events can be continued,” Edelstein said.

“After the Holocaust, it dawned on the world that the Jewish people would never be safe without a country to call their own,” Edelstein continued. “Today the state of Israel insures that no Jew can ever lack for a home or suffer the neglect of indifference, but while this is the national mission of the state of Israel, the scourge of anti-Semitism demands a global response. Ladies and gentlemen, Holocaust remembrance cannot belong to only a single day, one day in a year. It must pervade our lives everyday and inspire us constantly. As Elie Wiesel once warned, if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. In the words of the author of the Psalms, it is not enough to turn from evil, we must also do good. Let us put an end to the complacency. When we hear anti-Semitic slurs, we must stand up. When we see Jewish victims of hate crimes, we must come to their aid. When we read anti-Jewish canards thinly veiled as criticism of Israel, we must not make excuses. We must raise our voices in collective protest. This effort is not easy or pleasant,” the speaker of the Knesset told the Belgian Federal Parliament.

Press Release

Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius and the Lithuanian Jewish Community invite you to come observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry at 1:30 P.M. on January 26. Participants to include survivors, rescuers, members of the Jewish community, members of parliament and foreign ambassadors.

A photography exhibition by Mečys Brazaitis called “The Jewish Quarter of Vilnius” will open during the event and opera singer Rafailas Karpis will perform.

Please bring identification to be shown at the entrance.

Mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day with the Kaunas Jewish Community

A commemoration including a composition called “Rescued Worlds” will take place for International Holocaust Remembrance Day at 1:00 P.M. on January 29 at Laisvės alley No. 57. Vilna Gaon Museum Rescuers and Righteous Gentiles Department director Danutė Selčinskaja will attend. Excerpts from the film “Sketches of Hope” will be screened as well. The event is being organized by the Kaunas Art Gymnasium in cooperation with the Kaunas Jewish Community, the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, the Mikas Petrauskas Music School and the Vincas Kudirka Public Library in Kaunas.

Al Jaffee Cartoon Exhibit “Childhood Adventures in Zarasai”

The exhibit at the Zarasai Regional History Museum contains illustrations by Al Jaffee included in Mary-Lou Weisman’s book “Al Jaffee’s Mad Life: A Biography.” In an interview with his biographer Al Jaffee called himself a reverse immigrant: when most people were leaving Lithuania for the USA, he went in the opposite direction. Savannah in the 1920s had electricity, inside toilets, asphalt streets, movie theaters and newspapers with daily comic strips. Zarasai, however, hadn’t changed much since the end of the 19th century. Al was the odd man out among the local children in Zarasai, where multilingualism was the rule and people spoke Lithuanian, Russian, Polish and Yiddish. He did manage to adapt to live there, though. The children invented games as children do and the entire town was their playground. The small town became the petri dish where Al and his brother Harry developed their creative talents. Even now Al says the years of his childhood he spent in Zarasai are some of the happiest years of his life.

Al’s popularity has grown continuously. In 1955 he began drawing for Mad magazine in New York City. He’s still drawing now. He lives with his wife Joyce in Manhattan.

You’re invited to visit the exhibit weekdays from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. (other times are available as well if prior notice is given).

We Remember 2018: Once Upon a Time There Lived Aizik Kanovich


Rokha (Rocha-Samuraj) and Dovid Kanovich, Solomon’s brothers Moshe-Yankel,
Aizik and Motl, sister Khava (from collections of Sergejus Kanovičius and Lisa
Abukrat-Kanovich)

by Sergejus Kanovičius

The sky was light blue. “So clear, almost like the water in the yard of the house in Jonava,” Aizik Kanovich thought, and closed his eyes again. A few flakes of snow fell from the blue of the sky. In a way you could almost count. Like members of the family: the snowflake Sara, snowflake Rosette, snowflake Yosif and snowflake Bernard, one, two, three, four, Aizikas counted with his eyes shut.

“Faster, move, move, go on, the train won’t wait,” the bossy voices echoed.

“Aizik, Aizik, get up, we don’t have much time, just a little, and we’ll be on the train. And a little longer and we’ll be home in Paris,” Moris-Moshe Zuskind whispered, bent down towards his friend, his hands tucked into his armpits away from the cold.

Aizik’s thoughts travelled back to his first home, where he was born, on Fishermen’s Street in Jonava. Back to December, 1920, when he crossed the threshold and proudly said:

“Look here, I have a passport. With the signature of burgermeister Ramoška. Now I can go.”

“When?” the quiet Shlome asked.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Kaunas 2022 Program to Revive Lost Memory

The first event in the Kaunas 2022 program has been held at the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum and was dedicated to commemoration of the Kaunas Jewish community before the Holocaust.

Kaunas residents often boast their city is the most Lithuanian city, but that’s not the whole truth. In the early 20th century Kaunas was very multicultural and this was an important part of the city’s identity. The “Office of Memory” part of the Kaunas 2022 program is aimed at reviving the history of the city and encouraging residents to remember that which has been forgotten.

Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon said there must be realization the Jews of Kaunas were Lithuanian citizens who had lived in the country for aeons, loved their country and worked to improve it. The ambassador spoke of a modern Jewish museum, one which would be attractive and interactive, “telling the story of the entire nation through the stories of different individuals.”

Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas said the old Hassidic synagogue in Kaunas would be an ideal site for such a museum. He also said the heroes of the brutal period of the Holocaust cannot be forgotten and that a monument to Lithuanians who rescued Jews should be erected outside the museum.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Documentary about Kovner’s Planned Revenge for Genocide to Air on British TV


Abba Kovner stands at the center of the Vilna ghetto fighters, some of whom later joined the group Nakam. (CC BY-SA Wikimedia Commons)

Film to show new details of Jewish post-war revenge plot to poison German cities

UK’s Channel 4 to air documentary featuring long-lost tapes describing how a Jewish group sought to exact revenge for the murder of 6 million

A new documentary promises to release never-before-seen evidence on the plot by a group of Holocaust survivors to poison hundreds of thousands of Germans in an act of revenge after World War II.

The film “Holocaust: The Revenge Plot” revolves around tapes of resistance fighter and later-poet Abba Kovner detailing his recollections of the plan, according to Britain’s Channel 4, which commissioned the documentary.

The tapes were recorded in 1985 as Kovner was dying from cancer and explore the 1946 plans to poison the water supplies in several German cities and a second plot to kill thousands of SS officers being held in an American prisoner camp.

Kovner is said to reveal how his secret organization, code-named Nakam (Hebrew for vengeance), infiltrated the waterworks of Hamburg, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Munich in order to poison the water supply with arsenic.

Full story here.

AJC Delegation Visits Vilnius and Meets Foreign Minister

January 17, 2018, Vilnius–An AJC leadership delegation has concluded a two-day visit to Lithuania.

The delegation led by AJC CEO David Harris had excellent meetings with foreign minister Linas Linkevicius; speaker of parliament Viktoras Pranckietis; U.S. ambassador Anne Hall; Israeli deputy chief of mission Efrat Hochstetler and Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, an AJC partner organization.

After the meeting foreign minister Linkevicius expressed via twitter his gratitude to AJC for being “the first Jewish organization to firmly support Lithuania’s fight for freedom.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania also published a press release about the meeting.

AJC also had the opportunity to meet privately over dinner with a group of parliamentarians, former cabinet officials, other prominent Lithuanian leaders and ambassador Hall, organized by Emanuelis Zingeris, a seven-term member of parliament, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and long-time friend of AJC.

We Remember

The World Jewish Congress has launched this initiative for the second year in a row, with active participation by the Lithuanian Jewish Community. The campaign runs from January 8 to January 27, 2018. To be part of it, take a photo of yourself holding the inscription “We Remember” or “I remember” and post it on social media with the hashtag #WeRemember.

The campaign will run through International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the end of January, culminating with a live projection of all participant photos, interviews with Holocaust survivors, and messages from influencers from varied backgrounds, professions, ages and religions on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau January 24 to January 27.

Last year the initiative had 25 million participants around the world.

Full story here.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Meets AJC Director

“The creation and consolidation of the Lithuanian state 100 years ago would have been inconceivable without the contribution made by Jews. We respect Jewish traditions and celebrate the Jewish heritage,” Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius said in a meeting with American Jewish Committee director David Harris.

The meeting at the Foreign Ministry on January 17, 2018, included Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky. Participants discussed trans-Atlantic relations, European Union policy in the Middle East, Lithuanian-Israeli relations and plans to celebrate in meaningful way the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Lithuanian state together with ethnic minorities. The foreign minister also said Lithuania truly appreciates the activities of the AJC right up to the present day, and the AJC’s support for the development of Lithuanian democracy. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and embassies and consulates maintain regular contact with US and global Jewish organizations.

The AJC actively supports democratic change in Eastern and Central Europe. It was the first Jewish organization to support the recognition of Lithuanian independence, and NATO expansion. This year the AJC again reminded the world of the Lithuanian tragedy of January 13, 1991, saying that although Lithuania paid for it at great price in terms of blood and health, the Baltic nation paved the way for freedom and destroyed the Soviet Union.

The AJC opened an Eastern European office in Warsaw in 2017 in order to maintain close relations with the Baltic and Vyshegrad countries and their Jewish communities.

Information courtesy of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, www.urm.lt

Commemorative Chess Tournament

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will host a special chess tournament in honor of world champion Emanuel Lasker at 3:00 P.M., Sunday, January 21. FIDE master Boris Rositsan will direct the tournament. For more information, email info@metbor.lt or call +370 6 55 43 556.

On Kaunas, Sugihara and Lithuanian-Japanese Relations Past and Present


by Simonas Jazavita
Bernardinai.lt

Lithuania came under the Japanese media spotlight January 14. The small Sugihara museum on Vaižganto street became known to Japanese, but also to readers of major papers in Israel, the USA, France and other countries. Prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe found the time on his tour of Eastern and Central Europe to visit this museum which showcases Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara who worked here, in the provisional capital of Lithuania, in 1939 and 1949 and saved the lives of over 6,000 Jews.

Just because of Sugihara’s story, Kaunas and Lithuania are becoming a nice place dear to Japanese people. It’s not a coincidence that Abe’s portraits in the global media are often taken in Kaunas, even though he visited Latvia and Estonia first. If we make use of that historical tie, we could bring more of Japan’s attention to bear upon us rather than towards our neighbors, and make the tie stronger.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Learn to Embrace the Simple Past Tense: A Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust

You are invited an event to commemorate victims of the Holocaust with a presentation by tenor Rafailas Karpis, pianist Darius Mažintas and Sergejus Kanovičius called “Embrace the Simple Past Tense.”

Is it possible for the Yiddish and the Lithuanian language to meet under one roof?
Is it possible to feel a lullaby even if you can’t understand the words?
Is dialogue possible between sung Yiddish and Lithuanian work read out loud?
Can love, longing and remorse meet in memory?

Come, feel it and find out the answers on the last Sunday in January:

PLACE: Third floor, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius
TIME: 5:00 P.M., January 28.

Come Celebrate the 210th Birthday of Abraham Mapu

The Kaunas Jewish Community will celebrate the 210th birthday of Abraham Mapu at 5:00 P.M. on January 18 and everyone is invited! The event called “Abraham Mapu: Writer, Teacher, Kaunas Resident” is to be held at the Youth, Art and Music Section of the Vincas Kudirka Public Library at A. Mapu street no. 18 in Kaunas.

Participants include Dr. Lara Lempert, director of the Judaic Studies Center at the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library; literature studies doctoral candidate Goda Volbikaitė; director of the Ars et Mundus public enterprise and initiator of the statue to Mapu Olegas Darčanovas and members of the Makštutis family who will perform a concert.

New Series of Seven Lessons Begins at Choral Synagogue

The first of seven lessons in the “Oh My G_d” series kicked off Sunday at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius with 40 people attending. They discussed the topic “How can we know G_d exists?” Seminar organizer and moderator Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky engaged the majority of people at the seminar and drew them into the discussion with his passion and characteristic sense of humor.

The main topics of discussion were:

– Is belief based on reason or blind faith?
– What sort of proof is there that G_d exists?
– What are the arguments of atheists?
– Is atheism more rational than belief?

Participants lingered after the formal lesson ended, discussing and spending time with one another, and were treated to cakes and fruit brought by Rebbetzin Dina.

The “Oh My G_d” series of seminars will now include seven classes. The next seminar’s topic will be “Are there logical proofs G_d exists” with the following subtopics for discussion:

– Whence does belief in G_d arise?
– Is there rational proof G_d exists?
– Is it more rational to believe on G_d the Creator, or something else?

All are welcome at the next, the second seminar, at 4:30 P.M. on Sunday, January 21 at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius. Both men and women are encouraged to come. The seminar will last approximately one hour.