Ten Euro Gaon Combo Coin (and its prehistory)

New “Litvak” Postage Stamp is Disturbing for Lithuanian Jews, Holocaust Survivors, and Yiddish Lovers



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  IDENTITY THEFT OF LITVAK HERITAGE  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  SYMBOLOGY

by Dovid Katz

One does not have to be a theoretical champion of Free Enterprise vs. Government Intervention to take stock of this week’s incredible contrast between the two major products of this last week in September, the annual week of intensive Jewish commemoration activity in Lithuania, and particularly, in its fabled capital, Vilnius. By “products” we mean things of substantive physicality that will outlive by far the week’s posturing, speeches, and meetings with glittering public officials and national leaders.

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Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Israel, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Ten Euro Gaon Combo Coin (and its prehistory), Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , | Comments Off on New “Litvak” Postage Stamp is Disturbing for Lithuanian Jews, Holocaust Survivors, and Yiddish Lovers

When is a Hollowed-Out Jewish Menorah a Flowerpot for a Symbol Nowadays Brandished by Far-Right Antisemites?



OPINION

by Dovid Katz

[UPDATE OF 27 NOV: See now the same author’s follow-up article of 22 Nov. including links to the known responses and debates up to that date. See now Ruta Bloshtein’s short essay in DH].

Many in the local Lithuanian Jewish and the international Litvak communities have responded with some shock to the news that the Lithuanian government’s official “Year of the Gaon of Vilna and Jewish Heritage” has been launched by a handsome, shiny 10 Euro Coin that plonks a symbol beloved in recent years of neo-Nazis (and prominently used in their new projects) onto a Jewish Menorah. The symbolism strikes some as evoking the idea that the largely vanished Lithuanian Jews and their language make for one of the “cute Jewish toys” for the ultranationalist camp to exploit in its PR outreach to unwitting foreigners.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Double Games, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Ten Euro Gaon Combo Coin (and its prehistory) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on When is a Hollowed-Out Jewish Menorah a Flowerpot for a Symbol Nowadays Brandished by Far-Right Antisemites?

But What is a Litvak Symbol?



OPINION

Sample of a logo produced by Defending History for Litvak projects in Vilnius in recent years , with no demands or expectation that anyone recognize it as some international “official Litvak symbol”. If a symbol is needed, opinion of the Litvaks, not of state-sponsored agencies, must be researched with respect and humility.

by Dovid Katz

Last week’s DH op-ed on the declared state-sanctioned Litvak Symbol has attracted robust responses. The debate has been covered fairly by much international Jewish media (see Arutz ShevaEnlace Judío, Haaretz, Israel National News, Jewish ChronicleJTA, YNet, YNetEspanol, and the Times of Israel /ToI French edition). Turning to the major debaters’ pieces per se, it is regrettable (but not unrelated to the main question) that characterizations of folks with differing opinions such as “irresponsible and malicious spreading of lies outside Lithuania or within the country” (but with no links to enable the reader to read both sides), on top of gross misrepresentation of our actual views, could be found only on the pages of the state-sponsored “official” Jewish community (not to be confused with the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish Community, and more importantly, the roughly three thousand Jewish citizens who live in the country). In a strange way, this goes to a question at the heart of the matter: What happens when a small, weak, remnant post-Holocaust, post-Soviet lavishly funded community organization is spiritually hijacked by the state?

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Posted in News & Views, Ten Euro Gaon Combo Coin (and its prehistory) | Comments Off on But What is a Litvak Symbol?

How does One Hurt and Humiliate a Person (or a People)?



OPINION

by Ruta Bloshtein

The author is a native of Vilnius hailing from centuries of Litvaks, who has worked for years in the Judaica department of Lithuania’s Martynas Mažvydas National Library. She is a prominent member of Vilnius’s small Orthodox Jewish community. She is the author of the international petition to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. English translations of some of her writings are available online. For more on the 10 euro “Gaon coin” referred to, see its DH section. The views reflected in this article are strictly Ms. Bloshtein’s.

 

How does one hurt and humiliate a person (or a people)?

By Actions.

2020 has been declared “The Year of the Vilna Gaon and the Jewish Heritage.” Sounds solemn? It only sounds so. Empty pots make the most noise. What are these words based on? On plans to build a convention center on Jewish graves? On the remains of the Vilna Gaon’s family members and tens of thousands of other Jews. How does that sound? Like a mockery of the close to 50,000 Jews and Non-Jews from around the world who signed the protest petition. How does that sound? Like laughing at the sorrow of the venerable rabbis, of the great leaders of Lithuanian-tradition yeshivas. How does that sound? Like a rape of the very spirit, of the religious and moral norms of the entire nation.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, Ten Euro Gaon Combo Coin (and its prehistory) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How does One Hurt and Humiliate a Person (or a People)?