Choral Synagogue in Vilnius Celebrates 115th Birthday

Choral Synagogue in Vilnius Celebrates 115th Birthday

The Choral Synagogue was lit with festive lights December 16 as Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinksy and Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas greeted Lithuanian Jewish Community members and guests to a celebration of the 115th anniversary of the founding of the synagogue.

Lithuanian poet, publicist and professor Tomas Venclova, Lithuanian essayist and film writer Pranas Morkus and other well-known figures attended the event.

Professor Donatas Katkus directed a concert by the Vilnius Chamber Orchestra at the birthday celebration.

A complicated early history of seeking permission from authorities to build what was called the Taharat HaKodesh synagogue finally led to the opening of the synagogue at its current location in 1903. Architect Dovid Rozenhaus designed the synagogue in the Moorish-Romanesque style. The only classical Vilnius Jewish synagogue to survive the Holocaust out of more than 110 Jewish houses of prayer operating in the city before the war, the Choral Synagogue became the focus of the post-war Vilnius Jewish community during Soviet times and remains so today.

Paper Puppet Theater Workshop

Paper Puppet Theater Workshop

The Ilan Club of the Lithuanian Jewish Community invites children to attend a paper-puppet theater workshop at 1:00 P.M. on December 16 on the second floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius. For more information contact Sofja at sofja@lzb.lt or call +370 672 57540.

Kaunas Jewish Community Chairman Gercas Žakas Recognized

Kaunas Jewish Community Chairman Gercas Žakas Recognized

Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas received the Lithuanian state’s award “For Merit” on International Tolerance Day. Dainius Babilas, the director of Kaunas’s Ethnic Cultures Center, called Žakas one of the most active members of the city working in the cultural and social activities of the ethnic communities, both as head of the Kaunas Jewish Community and as the leader of various projects.

Since taking the post as Kaunas Jewish Community chairman in 2000, Žakas has rallied many Jewish people, initiated dozens of cultural projects and educated people on the history of Lithuanian Jews and the Jewish legacy during public events. Thanks to his resolution and consistency, the city of Kaunas remembers so many of its famous citizens who have made major contributions to Lithuania and humanity.

The newspaper Kauno diena has published an article in Lithuanian about Gercas Žakas and his work, available here.

French Yellow Vests Take Up Anti-Semitic Chants and Slogans

French Yellow Vests Take Up Anti-Semitic Chants and Slogans

The mass protests in France by the “yellow vests” have taken on a sort of red-brown racist ideology and have gone on an anti-Semitic rampage on facebook. Slogans include “Seize everything and redistribute it” and “The Jews get fat while the French have nothing to eat” as well as others aimed at Jews. A banner appeared on the A6 freeway linking Paris and Marseilles with the inscription “Macron is a whore of the Jews.” Israel’s Ynet reported on activities by what they called organizers of pogroms last Saturday, during which for the first time in many years Chabad House on the Champs-Élysées remained closed. Community leaders reported they didn’t want to take any risks because the French police were not in control of the situation.

The social media have become a source for anti-Semitism with Jews now being singled out as France’s main enemies. Popular accusations include “The Jews brought Macron to power so he would serve as their puppet,” “It must be realized that the true enemy is the Jews,” “The Jews light candles while the French go hungry” and so on.

Israel’s Russian-language TV 9 has a report here.

Condolences

Our deepest condolences to Social Programs Department director Mikhail Segal on the death of his grandmother. We are with you in this time of great loss.

Condolences


Judita Rozin passed away December 12, 2018, following a battle with illness and a recent debilitating fall. She was born January 8, 1937 in the Birobidzhan Autonomous Jewish oblast (the Birobidzhan ASSR) located in the Soviet Far East. She was graduated from High School No. 6 in Vilnius in 1955 and matriculated at the Philology Faculty at Vilnius University specializing in Russian language and literature. After being graduated she worked for the next 32 years at the Vilnius Teachers School in Naujoji Vilna. She worked at the History Department of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum from 1992 until 2012, and volunteered at the museum even in retirement up to the present time. Judita was unusually fluent in English even by current Lithuanian standards and used to say she preferred being called Judith; “That’s my real name in Hebrew.”.

A wake and funeral for Judith will be held in hall 4 at the Vilnius Funeral Home located at Olandų street no. 22 on Friday, December 14, starting at 11:00 A.M. The coffin will be transported to the Jewish cemetery at Sudervės road no. 28 at 1:34 P.M.

Rest in peace, Judith.

Heart to Heart Concert

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will host the concert Heart to Hear at 6:00 P.M. on December 17. The concert is free and will include singers Marija Dushkina and Mark Volynski, pianist Jurijus Suchanovas, Boris Kirzner on violin and an appearance by the soloist Judita Leitaitė. Shmuel Yatom, the cantor at the Choral Synagogue, will be the guest of honor. The program includes works by Kern, Pakhmutov and Dunayevsky as well as popular classic Jewish and Russian tunes.

Hanukkah Celebration for Children

Around 70 children attended the Hanukkah celebration the Lithuanian Jewish Community held at the Future Live hall in Vilnius. The candles were lit and songs were performed in Hebrew and Yiddish. Children spun the dreidl and took part in quizzes and competitions. Traditional doughnuts were eaten and Hanukkah gelt was passed out. Children also received dreidls to take home.

Israelit de Lita Best Jewish Woman Contest 2018

Israelit de Lita Best Jewish Woman Contest 2018

The Fayerlakh song and dance ensemble announces the finale of the Israelit de Lita Best Jewish Woman contest 2018/5778 and music show to be held at 4:00 P.M. on December 23 at the Vilnius House of Polish Culture, Naugarduko street no. 76, Vilnius. For ticket information, contact the Lithuanian Jewish Community at +370 5 261 3003 or Valerija Jurevičiūtė at +370 646 84 823.

Appellate Court Finds Lithuanian Jewish Community Leadership Elected Legitimately

Appellate Court Finds Lithuanian Jewish Community Leadership Elected Legitimately

Press Release
December 11, 2018

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky was elected in May of 2017 legally, in keeping with all the requirements of law, the Vilnius Regional Court confirmed, annulling an earlier finding by the Vilnius District Court and rejecting a claim by the Vilnius Jewish Community against the legality of the decisions made by the LJC conference.

“The principle of the rule of law triumphed in the case of the legitimacy of the LJC elections. The work of the Lithuanian Jewish Community should be directed towards the continuity of community traditions and the needs of members, to solving the most urgent problems and celebrating Jewish life in Vilnius and throughout Lithuania. We should all focus on that which is truly important rather than on destructive activities. Now, after this exhausting legal argument has ended, it is time for the community to come together and continue our work together. Jews must be united, we must take care of one another and those around us, and work needs to replace disputes,” LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said.

Birthday Party Invitation

You are invited to come celebrate the 115th anniversary of the opening of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius at 2:00 P.M. on December 16 at the synagogue, located at Pylimo street no. 39. The celebration is to include a concert by the Vilnius Chamber Orchestra conducted by Donatas Katkus, birthday greetings and a buffet.

International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists Mark 70th Anniversary of Genocide Convention

Rafael Lemkin, the Jewish lawyer who at the end of World War II coined the term “genocide” and brought it to global awareness, understood that atrocities are all the more grievous when based upon race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. The systematic extermination of Jews in the Holocaust was the predominant event that led Lemkin to this understanding, but he was also motivated by other atrocities he had witnessed during his lifetime.

The world commemorates this week the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It was designed to set in stone the well-known proclamation “never again”. The Genocide Convention was passed by the UN on December 9, 1948 and has been ratified to date by approximately 150 states. The Genocide Convention classifies genocide as an international crime and provides that all member states must prevent and punish genocide, its incitement, and any attempt to commit genocide. Israel ratified the treaty in 1950 and enacted the Crime of Genocide (Prevention and Punishment) Law that provides Israel with universal jurisdiction over this crime. Genocide is customarily referred to as “the crime of crimes” because it seeks to wipe out an entire group of people based upon nationality, ethnicity, race or religion. All states are called upon to prevent and punish the perpetrators.

Thirtieth Birthday Hanukkah Celebration

Thirtieth Birthday Hanukkah Celebration

Our 30th birthday Hanukkah celebration was just as fun as it was 30 years ago, and almost the same number of people attended, around 400. Although times have changed, there’s a new generation and we have lost many of those who attended in 1988, we remember them, say a good word about them and take joy in the present, in the fact that Community members of all ages came to celebrate, including children and young families from the regional communities.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky welcomed celebrants. Social programs department director Žana Skudovičienė spoke about the first post-war communal Hanukkah celebration on December 4, 1988, held at the Dainava restaurant in central Vilnius. Then as now, Yiddish was spoken and sung, and the Fayerlakh ensemble performed, while 30 years ago the event was organized by the Lithuanian Jewish Cultural Association.

This year we celebrated at the Radisson Blu Lietuva hotel in Vilnius. The Israeli klezmer band Gefilte Drive and saxophonist Juozas Kuraitis performed and delighted the audience with their concerts.

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Celebrates 30th Anniversary

The Polifonija music auditorium hosted a concert December 3 held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the restoration of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community.

Most of our current members responded 30 years ago to an invitation published in the newspaper Šiaulių naujienos to attend a meeting of the Sąjūdis initiative group [Lithuanian independence movement] at the Planning Institute. About 100 Jewish residents of Šiauliai attended and the Šiauliai Jewish community was reconstituted, including the Jews of the region and formally called the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, the successor organization to the formerly large Šiauliai City Jewish Community which ceased functioning in 1941.

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community chairman Naumas Gleizeris began the evening by welcoming and greeting the audience on Hanukkah and the 30th birthday of the organization. He thanked all guests for spending the evening with Community members.

Linas Adomaitis: Kaunas is Full of Culture, Full of Intelligence


Virginija Vitkienė next to Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas

Culture is a wide open door. It is a journey to one’s self. It is also a person’s relationship with another person. This week the team of “Kaunas, Cultural Capital of Europe 2022” invited residents of the city and region of Kaunas, friends and partners to get to know the city better during an open-door day. “This is not the first but the fourth year of the team. For two years we prepared, and for the other two we acted,” Kaunas 2022 director Virginija Vitkienė said. Several weeks ago Kaunas residents visited Brussels where they met with representatives of the European Commission supervising and assessing the activities of the European cultural capitals. Vitkienė said this was the first check-up on their activities and there will be three in total in the run-up to 2022.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Unprecedented EU Poll Finds 90% of European Jews Feel Anti-Semitism Increasing

Unprecedented EU Poll Finds 90% of European Jews Feel Anti-Semitism Increasing

Anti-Semitism “disturbingly normalized,” EU rights chief says after large survey of 12 EU states finds 85% of Jews rate it the biggest social problem in their countries

by Robert Philpot

LONDON–Nearly 90 percent of European Jews feel anti-Semitism has increased in their home countries over the past five years and almost 30% say they have been harassed at least once in the past year, a major European Union report published on Monday reveals.

The poll was carried out in 12 European Union member states and was the largest ever of its kind worldwide.

Of the more than 16,000 Jews who participated in the online survey, 85% rated anti-Semitism the biggest social or political problem in the country where they live. Thirty-eight percent said they had considered emigrating because they did not feel safe as Jews.

Britain, Germany and Sweden saw the sharpest increases in those saying anti-Semitism is a “very big” or “fairly big” problem. The highest level recorded was in France at 95%. Denmark saw the lowest level at 56%, while Jews in Hungary suggested that anti-Semitism was becoming less of a problem.

The UK results, experts suggest, may point to a “Corbyn factor” connected to the ongoing row over anti-Semitism in the British Labour party.

Šiauliai Regional and Panevėžys Jewish Communities Celebrate Hanukkah Together

Šiauliai Regional and Panevėžys Jewish Communities Celebrate Hanukkah Together

The Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community and the Panevėžys Jewish Community gathered December 8 to celebrate Hanukkah together. Chairmen Naum Gleizer and Gennady Kofman welcomed their communities to the holiday celebration and wished everyone happiness, health and familial warmth. Frida Šteinienė read the prayer, lit the candles and retold the history of the holiday.

The holiday table featured traditional dishes such as latkes, doughnuts, gefilte fish, chopped hearing and chicken liver.

Children received the traditional gift of chocolates wrapped in gold foil in the shape of coins, Hanukkah geld. Different members performed songs and delivered musical greetings and there was much dancing.