Chabad in Vilnius

Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky: Not Afraid to Blog on Community Leaders’ Injustices



CHABAD IN VILNIUS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION

VILNIUS—After a number of readers reported technical difficulties in accessing the publicly posted and widely read blog of Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, in the interests of preserving the history of the Lithuanian Jewish community these are here offered in chronological order with separate links for each (the original is also available in internet libraries). Rabbi Krinsky’s respectful call for the resignations of leaders of the Good Will Foundation is perhaps the best known, covering the wider issue of integrity of restitution payments far beyond Chabad issues alone. For  highly divergent views on the events the rabbi covers in these blog posts, see the Defending History section tracking Rabbi Krinsky’s recent history in Vilniusand the official website of the state-sponsored Jewish Community of Lithuania (e.g. herehere).

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Chabad in Vilnius, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky: Not Afraid to Blog on Community Leaders’ Injustices

Young Vilnius Jews Converge on Jewish Community Center to Protest Rigged Election



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Defending History Staff

VILNIUS—In one of the most remarkable events in post-Soviet Jewish Lithuania, around a hundred Jewish residents of this city, most of them from younger generations, came today to the Pylimo 4 headquarters of the “official” Jewish community to monitor the quadrennial elections for chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania which they believed to be rigged. First, the rules had been changed right in the middle of the campaign, on 19 April, disenfranchising the small Jewish population of Lithuania by reducing to one vote each Jewish community and abandoning the long-standing formula of 1 vote for 100 persons which gave a voice to actual Jewish people (while retaining one, two or even three votes for various oligarchs from NGOs and other organizations, associations, and entities, including a not-yet built museum in a town with no Jews). That meant that the 2,200 or so Jews of Vilnius would have one vote rather than around 22.

UPDATES OF 29 MAY:

Vilnius District Court today nullified the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s decision to eliminate proportional representation and reduce the electoral weight of Vilnius Jewry to one vote. It offered temporary relief with a right to appeal within seven days. Net moral effect of the decision is to delegitimize the “re-coronation” of the incumbent chairperson.

Also: The “Good Will Foundation” released its latest allocation figures of funds deriving from the communal religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities. Incredibly, it contains money for the state-sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” that is dedicated to the 2008 Prague Declaration

Second, the fifteen representatives which the newly elected Vilnius Jewish Community Board designated to attend the election conference were not admitted to the conference. Last Wednesday evening, the VJC elected Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) its chairperson. He is the challenger candidate for the national chairpersonship position.

Third, a massive multi-layered security presence (guards in the building wore at least three kinds of fancy uniforms, police and security cars graced the sidewalk outside) added both bad will and farce to a day that will invariably go down in Vilna Jewish history on a number of counts. The Vilnius Jewish Community’s report on the day’s events (in Lithuanian) is available on its Facebook page.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Chabad in Vilnius, Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Young Vilnius Jews Converge on Jewish Community Center to Protest Rigged Election

London Beth Din (Rabbinical Court) Issues Summons to Two Leaders of Lithuania’s Official Jewish Community



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

LONDONDefending History has learned from reliable sources that The Judicial Division of the London Beth Din (Court of the Chief Rabbi) issued a summons on 27 February 2017 (1 Adar 5777 by the Hebrew calendar) calling upon Simas Levinas, chairperson of the Vilna Jewish Religious Community, and Faina Kukliansky, chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, to “agree to attend a hearing and sign a binding Arbitration Agreement, on receipt of which we will fix a hearing date for the mutual convenience of all parties.”

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chabad in Vilnius, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on London Beth Din (Rabbinical Court) Issues Summons to Two Leaders of Lithuania’s Official Jewish Community

Vilna or Chelm? After 22 Years of Service to Community, Rabbi is Driven from Synagogue Gates by Hired Armed Guards for Having “Called out Page Numbers”



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—Security guards paid by the Jewish Community of Lithuania and financed by the “Good Will Foundation” via its allocations from the Restitution monies deriving from the religious Jewish properties of the annihilated pre-Holocaust Lithuanian Jewry, this morning physically prevented Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky from entering the prayer house, on Pylimo Street 39 for the shákhris (Israeli: shakharít) morning service. Defending History has confirmed via reliable sources that at least three foreign members of the Good Will Foundation’s Board, Herbert Block (New York), Nachliel Dison (Jerusalem), and Michael Hasenrath (London) do not agree that the campaign of destruction against Rabbi Krinsky and his many local students is appropriate use of the restitution funds. None of the three, however, has yet issued a public statement. Mr. Block, moreover, is deeply involved in the related scandal of the planned siting of a new national convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery. “The Good Will” Foundation, which usually sticks by charter to its stated business and purposes, has now published news of Mr. Block’s reappointment, in the last days of the Obama Administration, to the scandal-ridden Washington agency, USCPAHA, which has yet to issue a public word concerning the old Vilna cemetery’s planned desecration. The agency exists to preserve foreign cemeteries.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Chabad in Vilnius, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilna or Chelm? After 22 Years of Service to Community, Rabbi is Driven from Synagogue Gates by Hired Armed Guards for Having “Called out Page Numbers”

After “Blissful United Congregation” on Sabbath, Some Leaders of “Official” Community Again Take Aim at Rabbi Krinsky



 HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)

VILNIUS—Since the Vilnius Choral Synagogue, the only one to survive the war as an in-use synagogue (there were around 160 in town before the Holocaust), was reopened for “one and all” several weeks ago by the controlling “Religious Jewish Community,” on Monday 13 February, services have been blissful and harmonious. On Friday night and Saturday morning services, more Litvak handshakes accompanied by Gut-Shábes and A gútn Shábes were echoed up on high than in many a moon. And, as a kind of special blessing for a demographically challenged post-Holocaust post-Soviet community, attendance has been growing, reaching the largest number in years last weekend (not counting visits by organized tourist groups). Cantor Shmuel Yusem had everyone transfixed with his magnificent cantorial talents. Both rabbis in town this past weekend, Rabbi Sholem Ber Krinsky, the Chabad rabbi who has lived here 22 years, and the community’s official junior rabbi, Samson Daniel Izakson, who arrived just over one year ago, gave excellent brief sermons at their usual junctures in the service (each has their traditional slot in the service for the Dvar-Tóyre, or Dvar Torah).

UPDATES: JTA REPORT OF 27 FEB; DEFENDING HISTORY REPORT AND NEW VIDEO OF 28 FEB

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Chabad in Vilnius, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on After “Blissful United Congregation” on Sabbath, Some Leaders of “Official” Community Again Take Aim at Rabbi Krinsky

London CPJCE Spokesman Proclaims a Soviet Ruin in Vilnius to be Lithuania’s “Tower of London” and its “Statue of Liberty”



OPINION  |  PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

MORE ON THE CPJCE. OUR OPEN LETTER TO THEM. Exposés by WikileaksJerusalem PostJTA, and DH.

UPDATE: THIS ARTICLE WAS REPUBLISHED IN THE FIVE TOWNS JEWISH TIMES

In a remarkable interview cited today in the highly respected Five Towns Jewish Times, an Orthodox publication based in Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, and Hewlett, all in Nassau County, Queens, New York, Rabbi Abraham Ginsberg, the PR specialist for the London-based CPJCE (“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”) is quoted as explaining why, in his estimation, the Lithuanian state feels the burning national-priority need to build a convention center and annex in the heart of Vilna’s historic Jewish cemetery that dates to the 15th century and continues to hold the remains of thousands of Vilna Jewish citizens whose families duly bought their plots over the centuries:

“I asked the rabbi why we are accepting the fact that this excavation and construction that will potentially unearth more bones and destroy many more graves must go forward.

“The rabbi explained that the location is important to Lithuanians because it was in this stadium now in disrepair and rotting that the Lithuanians declared their independence in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism in 1990. ‘This location is Lithuania’s London Tower and Statue of Liberty; they are not letting it go anytime soon,’ Rabbi Ginsberg said.

“He’s a little upset at the American rabbis who met with the Lithuanian ambassador in Washington last week.”

Excerpt from Larry Gordon’s report, “A Grave Matter in Vilna”  in the Five Towns Jewish Times, 23 February 2017

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Posted in "Admas Kodesh", Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chabad in Vilnius, CPJCE (London), Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on London CPJCE Spokesman Proclaims a Soviet Ruin in Vilnius to be Lithuania’s “Tower of London” and its “Statue of Liberty”

When the Picture and the Headline Tell Opposite Stories



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE   |   LITVAK AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)

Full credit to the Forward’s Paul Berger, who has, as ever, sought to be meticulously fair in his new article on some aspects of contemporary Lithuanian Jewish life. This “addendum” goes in a sense more to the wider issues encountered when Western journalists cover stories in the “slightly exotic east,” here in Eastern Europe, on ground zero of the Holocaust, where Jewish communities are ipso facto remnant communities, and where certain larger trends can at times be in play.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Chabad in Vilnius, Dovid Katz, Israel, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, United States, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on When the Picture and the Headline Tell Opposite Stories

Official Community’s Private Security Force Again Bars Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky from Sabbath Services


IS THIS AN APPROPRIATE USE OF RESTITUTION FUNDS DERIVING FROM THE RELIGIOUS JEWISH PROPERTIES OF LITHUANIA’S ANNIHILATED JEWRY?

fireshot-capture-52-mausa-bairakas_-https___www-facebook-com_profile-phpWhen Rabbi Krinsky arrived on Sunday morning, 8 January 2017, for services, his entry was again blocked by a team of burly security guards. Photo is a still from the video taken by Kaunas religious community head Moyshe Beirak whose voice is heard, pleading with the guard, at the start of the video, which Mr. Beirak posted on his Facebook page. He was visiting in Vilnius for the weekend and also witnessed the initial barring of the rabbi at the Sabbath morning service on 7 January. See also additional video posted by Elchanan Prus.

This past week’s Vilnius Sabbath, 7 January 2017, was “shamelessly disrupted,” as one worshipper put it, by security guards, supported by two vehicles, who prevented the entry to Shabbos morning services by Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, for over twenty-two years Chabad rabbi in Vilnius who has provided the vast majority of religious services to Lithuanian Jews over this period. Rabbi Krinsky, who stood outside in the -20 degrees celsius frost for over half an hour asking to be admitted, was last week named one of Defending History’s three People of the Year for 2017.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Chabad in Vilnius, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Comments Off on Official Community’s Private Security Force Again Bars Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky from Sabbath Services

Defending History’s 2017 People of the Year



three-winners-1

As 2017 gets underway, Defending History is proud to honor three Vilnius personalities, this year all from its Orthodox Jewish community, who have stood up for cherished principles against powerful forces. In all cases, the principles defended pertain also to human rights more generally. Their courage and determination can serve as an example to all who defend human rights and history even when it is inconvenient and draws the ire of power-invested institutions that are often associated with state-supported entities.

The three honorees are, in alphabetical order, Ruta Bloshtein, Rabbi Kalev Krelin, and Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky. On Facebook. See from previous years the Prophet Amos Human Rights Awards and the 2014 Person of the Year.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chabad in Vilnius, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Defending History’s 2017 People of the Year

A Chanukah Scene in Central Vilnius, 28 Dec. 2016



VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMOR

TWO GUYS IN VILNIUS: BUT ARE THEY REALLY JEWISH?

Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky with Professor Pinchos Fridberg at the annual Grand Menorah in central Vilnius on 28 December 2016

די צוויי מענטשן, אויסער דעם וואָס זיי האָבן דאָקומענטן אַז זיי זײַנען יידן, האָבן נאָך דערצו יידישע נשמות…


Posted in Chabad in Vilnius, Humor (Of Sorts) | Comments Off on A Chanukah Scene in Central Vilnius, 28 Dec. 2016

Runup to Chanukah 2016 in Vilnius



READERS IN LITHUANIA

All welcome at Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky’s annual Grand Chanukah Menorah Lighting on Wednesday evening 28 December 2016 at 5 PM (17:00) in central Vilnius on Gedimino Boulevard on Kudirka Square (opposite the Novotel). An annual highlight of Jewish life and also for Lithuanian-Jewish and Christian-Jewish friendship for nearly a quarter century. Also in Klaipėda (26 Dec), Kaunas (27 Dec) and Šiauliai (29 Dec).

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Vilnius Resident Launches Petition on City’s Old Jewish Cemetery



PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUSRuta Bloshtein, a native and resident of the Lithuanian capital, and stalwart of its small Orthodox community, has launched an international petition via Change.org asking the leaders of Lithuania to move the project for a national convention center away from the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt where many thousands of the city’s Jewish citizens were buried from the 15th to the 19th centuries. It is one of East European Jewry’s most sacred sites. Many of its gravestones were lovingly preserved or renewed right up to the Holocaust, in which around 99% of Vilna’s Jewish community perished.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chabad in Vilnius, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Resident Launches Petition on City’s Old Jewish Cemetery

Updates & Opinion on Vilnius Synagogue Closure to 5 Dec. 2016


[UPDATED]

UPDATE OF 5 DEC 2016: VILNIUS SYNAGOGUE REOPENED WITHOUT INCIDENT

NEWS AND UPDATES FROM 28 OCT TO 1 DEC 2016:

GROWING FALLOUT FROM DECISION TO USE POLICE TO OUST RABBI SHOLOM BER KRINSKY (AND HIS CHILDREN AND FELLOW WORSHIPPERS) ON 28 OCT. AND — SHUT DOWN VILNIUS’S ONE SYNAGOGUE

City’s Last Functioning Pre-Holocaust Prayerhouse Was Shut from 28 Oct. to 4 Dec. 2016

THE DEBATE:

 BLOSHTEIN (2), FACEBOOK DISCUSSION;  BURSHTEIN; KAPLANKATZ; KRELIN & IZAKSON (2) (3); KRINSKY; KUKLIANSKY; OLICKIJ; PAZERAITE; PILIANSKY.  NEW SECTION: VILNIUS JEWISH LIFERABBI KRINSKY’S NEW BLOG.

MEDIA COVERAGE: JTA (+ THE TIMES OF ISRAEL / ALSO IN: FRENCH EDITION); JULIA RETS IN MZ (IN RUSSIAN)

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Posted in Chabad in Vilnius, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Updates & Opinion on Vilnius Synagogue Closure to 5 Dec. 2016

Divide and Conquer?


Iam very concerned about the situation for the last several years at our Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC). More specifically, about the LJC’s chairperson, whose policies have brought about instability and disunity in the Jewish community. It is a sad paradox, that a non-religious person is responsible for the most acutely religious questions in our community. It is even more unacceptable that a secular person, drawn to mundane and material things, would deign to push around the rabbis in town as if they are pawns on the chess table. Such behavior is totally opposite to Jewish religious standards. Yet for external consumption it is called “a renaissance of religious Judaism.”

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Posted in Chabad in Vilnius, Human Rights, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Divide and Conquer?

Leon Kaplan Comments on Eviction by Jewish Community Head of Rabbi Krinsky and his Fellow Worshippers



VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  OPINION

by Leon Kaplan

The following two comments appeared in Facebook on 1 November 2016 and on 3 November 2016, following publication of Dovid Katz’s 1 November article in Defending History. They have been slightly condensed and copy-edited here.

1 November 2016:

It is time to stand up to this behavior. Does Madam Kukliansky think that in Ponar and the other 250 places of murder that Jews, our brothers and sisters, our children (kinderlakh) had been separated at the time of murder and thrown into a Chabad ditch and into a Misnagdim ditch? If this is a decision by Madam Kukliansky, to call the police or to lock out Krinsky from the building of the Jewish Community, then it is simply disgusting.

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Friday, October 28th, in Vilnius



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS


by Jacob Piliansky

On Friday, October 28th 2016, at 5 PM, I approached the gates of our Choral Synagogue, at Pylimo Street 39, for the weekly Eve of Sabbath service. I saw that the gates were locked shut. Finally I noticed Kalman Krinsky, son of Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, the city’s Chabad rabbi for the past twenty-two years. Kalman told me in Yiddish (we speak Yiddish to each other) that the shul was closed and that the prayer service had been moved to the Jewish community’s building at Pylimo 4.

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Barring a Jew from Prayer Services is a Human Rights Issue



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Dovid Katz

VILNIUS—Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, Vilnius’s Chabad rabbi, has served Jewish people here and the city’s diverse cultural mosaic for some twenty-two years. And sure, he has had his share of issues, run-ins and errors over the decades, just like everyone else in town. His numerous packed Jewish holiday celebrations have become part and parcel of the city’s remarkable twenty-first century Jewish footprint, most famously on Chanukah. But yet again, he was denied entry to the Jewish community building for daily prayer services this morning by the burly security guards at the official Jewish Community building, who seemed highly adept at avoiding frontal photography. Services were abruptly moved there on Friday evening because of a mysterious “plumbing problem” (heating, in some versions) at the city’s Choral Synagogue. Then, on Friday evening 28 October, police were called to evict from the makeshift prayer address Rabbi Krinsky and his children, pupils and co-worshippers (reports by R. BloshteinZ. Olickij, and J. Piliansky). A sad date in the modern history of Jewish Vilnius.

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Posted in Chabad in Vilnius, Human Rights, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Opinion, Rákishok (Rokiškis) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Barring a Jew from Prayer Services is a Human Rights Issue

A Confusing Week in Jewish Vilnius



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

by Zecharya Olickij

This last week has been very confusing to me. I’m a local Vilna Jew, and I have been very happy to see the harmony in the city’s Choral Synagogue for many years now. In fact, for over a year now, all Jews have been praying together in absolute harmony in the main synagogue, the only one to survive the war intact.

I was very happy when I saw a large number of local Jews (most of whom are not personally observant) flocking to the synagogue to celebrate Simchas Torah last week. How beautiful to watch the dancing, the singing, the joy, the Torah. No strife, no quarrels, no negativism. The atmosphere of sheer holiness of this ancient and eternal Jewish joy. It was wonderful.

But then came Friday evening (the 28th of October, eve of the Sabbath of 27 Tishrei).

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Vilnius: All Welcome at Public Menorah



Vilnians of all backgrounds warmly invited this Tuesday, 16 December 6PM sharp (1800) for the public lighting in central Vilnius of the first candle of the Hanukah menorah

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Popular Daily has Full Front Page Spread on ‘The Jews’


European and North American human rights activists may have thought that Vakaro žinios (‘The Evening News’) could not outdo its past antisemitic sensations, but today’s full front page with a huge banner headline ‘THE JEWS’ may herald a new low in the series of 1930s grade dissemination of hate against Lithuania’s tiny and shrinking Jewish minority. Around 95% of the country’s Jewish population was killed during the Holocaust.

The front page article (PDF here; English translation here) continues on to pages 3 and 5. The outrage caps a December of mainstream publication antisemitic articles. This is the first to ‘feature’ Chabad rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky. Earlier in the month, long articles appeared targeting Dr. Shimon Alperovich, elected head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, first in Lithuania’s most prestigious newspaper, Lietuvos rytas (report), and then in the same Vakaro žinios (report).


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