Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016)

Новая «литвакская» почтовая марка стала источником беспокойства для литовских евреев, жертв Холокоста и любителей идиша



Довид Кац

Перевод: Юлия Рец

Исходный текст на английском языке здесь

Не нужно быть великим теоретиком, чтобы заметить разительный контраст между двумя главными «продуктами» последней недели сентября, на которую приходится ежегодная поминальная активность Литвы по чествованию убитых в годы Холокоста литовских евреев – особенно в легендарной столице Литвы, в Вильнюсе. Под «продуктом» мы понимаем культурные события, имевшие вещественное воплощение, артефакты, которые надолго переживут недельное позерство, речи и встречи блестящих государственных чиновников и национальных лидеров.

Continue reading

Posted in Dovid Katz, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, In Russian, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Новая «литвакская» почтовая марка стала источником беспокойства для литовских евреев, жертв Холокоста и любителей идиша

New Section in Lithuanian on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUSDefending History today inaugurated a new section, in the Lithuanian language, on the international efforts calling for restoration of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt and for the Jewish heritage of Vilna and Lithuania to not be defiled by a convention center surrounded by a half millennium of Litvak graves. The convention center project can easily be moved to another appropriate venue. The section aims to provide content stemming from various communities within Lithuania as well as translations of the international outcry over the convention center project.

Vilniaus senosios žydų (Piramonto) kapinės Šnipiškėse

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on New Section in Lithuanian on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)

Mounting Opposition to Vilnius ‘Convention Center in the Old Jewish Cemetery’


[LAST UPDATE]

Registry of Opposition to “The National Convention Center” Atop the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės)

2017:  PETITION;  VIDEO;  UNITED STATES CONGRESS; ARTICLES IN LITHUANIAN

(I) Groups of leading Litvak (and other) rabbis

(II) Institutions

(III) Individuals

(IV) Lithuania’s Jewish community

(V) United States Congress

(VI) Background

Continue reading

Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Rothschild Foundation Europe (Hanadiv): Lithuanian Issues, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mounting Opposition to Vilnius ‘Convention Center in the Old Jewish Cemetery’

Real or Rigged ‘International Conference on Fascism and Antisemitism’ in Vilnius on 9 November?



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Yet again, a conference here in the Lithuanian capital dedicated to combating fascism and antisemitism is announced, without there having been a public call for papers, without a single speaker from among those who actually combat fascism and antisemitism in the country, with nobody from the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish community (not even the long-time editor of Jerusalem of Lithuania who has exposed and combated antisemitism for decades). No Holocaust survivors. None of the nationally relevant questions of the day can be found on the conference program. As ever, outstanding academic personalities from abroad are recruited to lend the gravitas and provide serious papers on an array of topics (which they admirably do), as long as these have little directly to do with the actual contemporary issues here in Lithuania (but the conference introduction by Prof. Dovilė Budrytė does indeed touch on some of the issues, which seem, however, to be largely absent from the actual conference program). The last such event, in 2015, resulted in the Norwegian Embassy withdrawing support and launching an inquiry on behalf of the EEA (European Economic Area) funders of that event.

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Real or Rigged ‘International Conference on Fascism and Antisemitism’ in Vilnius on 9 November?

Harvard Publishes “Catalog of the Leyzer Ran Collection in Harvard College Library”



BOOKS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

Image (279)VILNIUS—As the first small shipment of Harvard Library’s new book, Catalog of the Leyzer Ran Collection in the Harvard College Library arrived this week in the Lithuanian capital, there was widespread satisfaction that at least a tabulation of the contents of Leyzer Ran’s extensive archive of Jewish Vilna is finally available. The collection was bequeathed to Harvard University where the Library maintains it as a distinct entity with its own name, space, and now, a handsome catalogue brought out by Harvard University. Leyzer Ran (1912-1995) is widely considered to be the primary postwar chronicler of the centuries-old unique Jewish civilization of the city known in Yiddish as Vílne, Yerusholáyim d’Líte — Vilna, Jerusalem of Lithuania. The newly appeared catalogue was compiled and edited by Dr. Charles Berlin, who is Head of Judaica at Harvard Library and Harvard University’s Lee M. Friedman Bibliographer in Judaica.

Continue reading

Posted in Books, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Harvard Publishes “Catalog of the Leyzer Ran Collection in Harvard College Library”

“Weekly of Vilnius” Provides Exclusive English Language Coverage of the Vanagaitė Saga



FREE SPEECH  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUSThe Weekly of Vilnius, sometimes considered to be this city’s most prestigious English-language news publication, today released its weekly issue which contains a highly documented summary of many of the sides in the debate over author and PR specialist Ruta Vanagaitė’s comments concerning state plans to name 2018 for someone who led a pro-Nazi militia during the early days of the Lithuanian Holocaust in 1941, but who is being honored for his postwar service in the anti-Soviet resistance. Defending History has published its own take along with a much more limited summary of the debate which readers may consult for comparison and helping “complete the picture” as best as it can be in English. Note that selections of Lithuanian articles on the subject from the major news portal Delfi.lt, and from BNS (Baltic News Service), in both cases generally representing government and “nationalist establishment” positions, are available in English translation on the English Delfi.lt (Lithuania Tribune) site (search “Vanagaitė” for rapid reference).

With the permission of the publishers of The Weekly of Vilnius, we are reproducing the pages relating to the Vanagaitė saga from this week’s issue. In the spirit of classic journalism, The Weekly of Vilnius has no online edition (only an online description page) and is available weekly by emailed PDF or hard copy to its elite circle of subscribers, known to include embassies, government agencies, captains of industry, politicians, academics and relevant libraries, and think tanks. It is edited by the distinguished economist and journalist Mr. Nehro Khalil. The Weekly of Vilnius now has a Facebook page.

A PDF facsimile of today’s Weekly of Vilnius report follows. Please use the arrows in the upper left hand corner to turn pages in either direction.

THE WEEKLY OF VILNIUS - ISSUE No. 265 - Week in Review - November 6, 2017
Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on “Weekly of Vilnius” Provides Exclusive English Language Coverage of the Vanagaitė Saga

Vilnius District Court’s 29 May 2017 Ruling on LJC’s Mid-Campaign Election Rule Change



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

Vilnius District Court Judge Rima Bražinskienė’s 29 May 2017 ruling, concerning the “official” Lithuanian Jewish Community’s mid-campaign rule change during last spring’s leadership contest, effectively disenfranchising 2,200 Jewish people of Vilnius (the vast majority of Lithuania’s Jews today) in favor of a new voting system granting effective power over the election to a roomful of “oligarchs” (some of whom have two or three votes each, i.e. two or three times as much weight as the 2,200 Jews disenfranchised) is now publicly available.

The following, for the convenience of our readers, is an English translation. Note that in the case of any query arising, the Lithuanian original is alone authoritative.

As readers will recall, this judgment was circumvented by the council of the LJC being called to vote a day before this ruling was issued, on 28 May, in a highly undemocratic scene characterized by massive armed security and the exclusion of members of the community from the community’s building at Pylimo 4. This was a stark contrast with the democratic elections for the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) held several days earlier, on 24 May, at Hotel Karolina, which resulted in the LJC website’s infamous antisemitic grade attack on “Russian speakers who claim to be Jewish,” as reported at the time by JTA. As one of the community’s stalwarts, Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, a Holocaust survivor, noted, the author of that diatribe remains unknown as does the question of his or her continued employment as writer for the Jewish community’s official website.


 

  • Civil Case No. e2-27518-545/2017
  • Court Process No. 2-68-3-20933-2017-6
  • Categories of Procedural Decision: 3.1.18.1.1.2.; 3.1.18.3.; 3.2.7.1

DISTRICT COURT OF THE

CITY OF VILNIUS

RULING

Continue reading

Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius District Court’s 29 May 2017 Ruling on LJC’s Mid-Campaign Election Rule Change

Instead of Removing Honors for Holocaust Collaborators, New Petition is Launched to Ask for Yet Another



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

In a 2012 article in Defending History, I asked why Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika is made into a “national hero” here in Lithuania, one honored by street names and public plaques. Since then protests have come, among others, from a somewhat obscured  petition by Lithuanian intellectuals,  an appeal from journalist and Declaration of Independence signatory Rimvydas Valatka, Lithuania’s official Jewish community, Grant Gochin, a South African born author resident in the United States, and others. These appeals, all from 2015, were crowned by a rare protest by Jewish students at a Noreika shrine in central Vilnius (see Defending History’s guide for English readers to the links in the 2015 debate).

Continue reading

Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Instead of Removing Honors for Holocaust Collaborators, New Petition is Launched to Ask for Yet Another

Text of Irish Ambassador Dónal Denham’s 2008 Speech at Brantsovsky Reception is Released for the Record



DOCUMENTS  |  IRELAND  |  BLAMING THE VICTIMS?

Nearly a decade after MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHE Dónal Denham’s 3 June 2008 historic reception for Fania Brantsovsky, a hero of the Holocaust-era anti-Nazi Jewish partisan resistance in Lithuania, held at the Irish Ambassador’s Residence in Vinius, the text of his speech has been released. It appears below. See our report on the June 2008 event. Historical note: Defending History believes it was the first time since collapse of the Soviet Union that Western embassies in one of the new democracies saw a need to honor a person who was being unjustly targeted by state prosecution services and other national elites. The American, Austrian, British, French, German, Norwegian and other embassies followed the Irish lead. 

Continue reading

Posted in Documents, Ireland, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Yiddish Institute | Comments Off on Text of Irish Ambassador Dónal Denham’s 2008 Speech at Brantsovsky Reception is Released for the Record

Whom Does the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” Board Really Represent?



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION

by Josifas Parasonis

Professor Josifas Parasonis (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University) contributed this opinion piece in Lithuanian earlier today. This translation is provided by Defending History, with Prof. Parasonis’s consent, for our readers’ information (with hyperlinks provided by DH). In the event of any query arising, the Lithuanian version alone is authoritative. Prof. Parasonis is one of the twenty-one Vilnius Jewish Community council members elected on 24 May 2017. See also the letter signed by him and nineteen others, addressed to the Good Will Foundation last July, and, in reverse chronological order, Defending History’s section on Vilnius Jewish life. DH opinion pieces represent the views of the author.

Methods of authoritarian and obtuse governance, evident for many years in the management of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), have recently reached the public sphere. Despite the fierce resistance and brutal interference of the chairwoman of the LJC (and, until recently, of the Vilnius Jewish Community, too) Faina Kukliansky, the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) [on 24 May 2017] organized a general conference of Vilnius Jews according to all legal procedures — with, incidentally, record-high attendance — and elected its new council [of 21 members] democratically. But the notion that Jewish people solve their problems in a wise manner, although prevalent in society, demonstrably did not take root in this case. As a former deputy chairman of the LJC (2000–2005), I feel an obligation to share my thoughts on why this has happened. It seems to me that I have a moral right to share these thoughts.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Josifas Parasonis, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Whom Does the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” Board Really Represent?

Is Prof. Krutikov the Latest Lithuanian Gov. “Yiddish Star” to be Manipulated?



OPINION  |  JEWISH STUDIES AS COVER  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—Beware of any academic conference hosted by a nation’s parliament. This isn’t about Lithuania, the Baltics, or Eastern Europe. It’s about the intellectual independence and academic integrity of bona fide academic conclaves anywhere. There are elementary questions. Was there a public call for papers? Was there an academic committee established to select those papers by the most competent specialists on the actual topic of the conference? An academic committee that would guard against the petty jealousies, politics of revenge and personal exclusions, as well as larger political correctnesses or state-sponsored-agency attempts to predetermine the proceedings or (ab)use them for governmental PR? Is the conference a free tribune for the exchange of ideas in an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual respect? One where scholars of opposing views can thrash it out, robustly and publicly — without the loss of interpersonal respect — to yield positive results for the area of human enquiry to which the conference was dedicated in the first place. One of the ironies is that Vilnius is nowadays host to some of the world’s best (and most academically free) conferences in an array of fields, both in the humanities and the sciences. That Soviet-style rigging should survive in the case of Judaic studies, of all things, will itself be studied one day.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Bloomington-Borns Program Manipulated?, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Prof. Krutikov the Latest Lithuanian Gov. “Yiddish Star” to be Manipulated?

Lithuanian Gov. Announces Renaming of “Genocide Museum”; Defending History Congratulates Officials



Defending History Brings Results

Lithuanian Gov. Announces Name Change for a Far-Right History-Distorting “Genocide Museum”

“COURAGEOUS STEP”;  DEFENDING HISTORY SAYS: CONGRATULATIONS!

See Dovid Katz in 2009;  Defending History in 2010;  “Genocide Center” behind the museum; 2016 study of “Double Genocide” impact on museums

THE CHANGE IS A MAJOR SETBACK FOR THE DOUBLE GENOCIDE MOVEMENT’S CAMPAIGN TO REDEFINE GENOCIDE IN THE CAUSE OF EQUALIZING AND MIX-AND-MATCHING TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT EVILS

Continue reading

Posted in Double Genocide, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Lithuanian Gov. Announces Renaming of “Genocide Museum”; Defending History Congratulates Officials

Vilnius Celebrating Milan Chersonski’s 80th Birthday on September 2nd 2017



EVENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

אַ ליכטיקן געבאָרנטאָג, טײַערער מילאַן!

Happy Birthday, Milan!

Milan Chersonski

Holocaust flight survivor. Powerful essayist and masterful editor. For 20 years he directed the Vilnius Yiddish Folk Theater. Then, for a dozen years he edited Jerusalem of Lithuania, the Jewish community’s quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper (with each issue produced in four separate editions!). Beloved writer at DefendingHistory.com. Champion of Yiddish culture, Jewish heritage, teaching the truth about the Holocaust, human rights and equality, honesty in journalism and intellectual discourse, freedom of speech, and a more just and fair society for all. 

Posted in Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Milan Chersonski, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Vilnius Celebrating Milan Chersonski’s 80th Birthday on September 2nd 2017

Honest Error at German Embassy in Vilnius?



OPINION  |  USE AND ABUSE OF PONÁR  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—“There is nothing new under the sun,” as the Good Book says (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Sure, on occasion, Irish communities will feud in Boston, Italians in New York, Chinese in LA and Lithuanians in Chicago. It is part of the professional training, posture, and policy of diplomats to negotiate such inevitabilities by way of common sense, wisdom, and fairness. For years now, the widely admired German ambassador to Lithuania, HE Jutta Schmitz has kept her embassy’s diplomatic table open to people and organizations, governmental and non-governmental, from across the colorfully diverse spectrum of opinion in Lithuania. It is not known whether the recent completion of her Vilnius ambassadorship and departure from Lithuania,  and the temporary vacancy,  had anything to do with the embassy’s recent, and quite innocent, faux-pas.

Continue reading

Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Honest Error at German Embassy in Vilnius?

Brand New Yiddish Signs Come to Malát (Molėtai), Town in Northeast Lithuania



MALÁT  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

MALÁT (MOLĖTAI)—At the initiative of Viktorija Kazlienė, founder and director of the Museum of the Molėtai Region (Molėtų krašto muziejus) in northeastern Lithuania, a series of Jewish historical signs were unveiled this week. The project came to fruition thanks to the material support of the Department of Cultural Heritage, that is under the aegis of Lithuania’s Ministry of Culture.

In the event, these signs mark the one-year anniversary of the internationally acclaimed march of memory held in August 2016 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the massacre of the town’s Jews in 1941 by local collaborators, under the aegis of the Nazis, and during the period of rapid annihilation of Lithuania’s provincial Jewry. In addition to playing a pivotal role in enabling the 2016 march and commemorative events, Ms. Kazlienė organized an extensive exhibition on the centuries-old Jewish life in the erstwhile shtetl, known in Yiddish as Malát. With Leonas Kaplanas, she coauthored a book based on the exhibition. It was featured in this year’s Vilnius Book Fair.

Continue reading

Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Brand New Yiddish Signs Come to Malát (Molėtai), Town in Northeast Lithuania

Neo-Nazis in Lithuania Again Get “Material” from “Official” Jewish Community’s Leadership



VILNIUS—In a kind of topsy-turvy-world follow-up to last June’s neo-Nazi pick-up of an abusive article on the website of the official state-sponsored Jewish Community of Lithuania, the nation’s chief neo-Nazi blogger, “Zeppelinus,” infamous for his racist, misogynistic, homophobic and antisemitic invective and graphics (samples here and here), has again jumped on the recent attempts of the current leadership of the state-sponsored official “Jewish Community of Lithuania” to use the historic term “Litvak” (‘Jew of Lithuanian heritage’) to divide the Jewish community racially and ethnically between alleged “pure-blooded Lithuanian Jews identifiable today by their Lithuanian language” and “Russian-speakers.” On at least one occasion, an international scandal resulted in a half-mouthed apology following the most offensive official posting and a hapless attempted “edit” that followed on. Vilna-born Holocaust survivor Prof. Pinchos Fridberg has commented on the affair.

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Neo-Nazis in Lithuania Again Get “Material” from “Official” Jewish Community’s Leadership

Vilnius TV & Radio Debates on Future of Piramónt — the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



DOCUMENTS  |  THE OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Following Defending History’s publication last weekend of the 28 July 2017 letter to the president of Lithuania signed by twelve United States congressmen, pleading for the new national convention center project to be moved away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius), the news was reported by The Weekly of Vilnius, an elite diplomatic publication on Lithuanian affairs, and then by BNS (Baltic News Service, and in English via the Lithuania Tribune), which put it into the wider Baltic domain. Last Monday, 14 August, there were at least four panel discussions broadcast on Lithuanian TV and radio. The following are full English translations of each of these broadcasts, provided by DefendingHistory.com.

(1) LNK TV: News. With Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Faina Kukliansky,   Rūta Leitanaitė, Daniel Lupschitz (Danielius Lupšicas),  Deividas Matulionis, Romas Pakalnis, Donatas Stundis

(2) LRT TV: Panorama. With Simon Gurevich, Skirmantas Malinauskas, Valdonė Rundenkienė

(3) LRT Radio: Lithuanian Day. With Simon Gurevich, Agnė Kairiūnaitė, Deividas Matulionis

(4) LRT Radio: 60 Minutes. With Simon Gurevich, Agnė Kairiūnaitė, Faina Kukliansky, Deividas Matulionis, passers-by and a taxi driver

LITE-Vulovak-on-national-convention-center-opening

Vulovak for DefendingHistory.com

Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius TV & Radio Debates on Future of Piramónt — the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Professor Leiman Responds to Lithuanian President on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—The following statement by Professor Shnayer (Sid) Leiman, appeared today in the respected American weekly Five Towns Jewish Times. It is a reaction to the comments by Lithuania’s top leaders, made after receiving a letter of protest from twelve United States congressmen concerning plans to site a projected new national convention center in the heart of the territory of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). International opposition to “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” continues to mount.

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Professor Leiman Responds to Lithuanian President on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Ruta Bloshtein Responds to Lithuania’s Top Politicians on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—The following statement by Vilnius native and resident Ruta Bloshtein, an active member of the city’s religious Jewish community, appeared today as an update to her international petition, which has just approached the 40,000 signature mark. Her update was issued as  a reaction to the comments by Lithuania’s top leaders, made after receiving a letter of protest from twelve United States congressmen concerning plans to site a projected new national convention center in the heart of the territory of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). International opposition to “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” continues to mount.


Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Ruta Bloshtein Responds to Lithuania’s Top Politicians on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

“Weekly of Vilnius” is First Lithuanian Publication to Cover US Congress Letter on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



DOCUMENTS  |  THE OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUSThe Weekly of Vilnius, widely considered to be this city’s most prestigious English-language news publication, was today the first in the Lithuanian capital to cover news of the letter from twelve United States congressmen to the president of Lithuania concerning current plans to situate a projected new national convention center in the heart of the city’s historic old Jewish cemetery, at Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės section of modern Vilnius. With the permission of the publishers, we are reproducing the title page of today’s edition and the entire article concerning the cemetery. In the spirit of classic journalism, The Weekly of Vilnius has no online edition (only an online description page) and is available weekly by emailed PDF or hard copy to its elite group of subscribers, known to include embassies, government agencies, captains of industry, politicians, academics and relevant institutions, libraries, and think tanks around the world. It is edited by the distinguished economist and journalist Mr. Nehro Khalil. A PDF facsimile of today’s report follows. Please use the arrows in the upper left hand corner to turn pages in either direction.

Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on “Weekly of Vilnius” is First Lithuanian Publication to Cover US Congress Letter on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

12 US Congressmen Call on Lithuania’s President to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

Congress Letter on Piramont

WASHINGTON—A resolute letter (facsimile below; as PDF) signed by twelve United States congressmen to the president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was released here today. Dated 28 July 2017, the letter expresses American “opposition to the conversion of the old Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports into a convention center on the site of the old Jewish cemetery.” It asserts that “the very presence of the existing structure in the middle of the old Jewish cemetery desecrates it and conflicts with the respect for human dignity that forms the basis of Western Civilization. By contrast, moving the convention center project to another site, and permitting the dismantling of the abandoned Sports Palace it was to replace, would affirm the Lithuanian government’s commitment to basic human rights.”

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 12 US Congressmen Call on Lithuania’s President to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”



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

VILNIUS—One month ago, on 7 July 2017, twenty of the twenty-one elected board members of the Vilnius Jewish Community (the 21st was abroad) signed a full-hearted letter addressed to the Good Will Foundation, the Lithuanian government restitution fund for Jewish community survival deriving from part of the value of the communal properties owned by the annihilated religious Jewish communities of prewar Lithuania. To this date, there has been no reply from the Good Will Foundation, nor any statement from its esteemed foreign board members who represent the World Jewish Restitution Organization. The board’s co-chair is Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee, who is a recipient of a number of Lithuanian government medals over the years.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”

Defending History Releases Yiddish Version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English Poster for Piramónt



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Defending History today released here a Yiddish version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English posters produced in the course of the current campaign to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from becoming the “geo-basis” for a new national convention center where revelers would cheer, clap, sing, and dance, and use bars and toilets, surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Human rights specialists concur that such a fate would not be contemplated for a Christian cemetery in the European Union, much less with the proposed EU contribution of millions of euros in “structural funds”.

As in the case of the Lithuanian and English posters, readers are invited to make as many printouts as possible, and to distribute them far and wide, mentioning wherever possible the ongoing international petition which has to date attracted some 40,000 signatures from many parts of the globe. The Yiddish poster is also available as PDF and higher-res image.

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Yiddish Affairs | Comments Off on Defending History Releases Yiddish Version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English Poster for Piramónt

Summer’s Cool New Vilnius Poster to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—For the first time in the history of modern Lithuania, a non-Jewish campaign initiative for a Jewish cause has seen its poster flood the streets of this city’s storied Old Town at the height of the summer tourist season. Conceived and produced by Julius Norwilla (Norvila), a former Protestant minister, using a quote from Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, a Catholic philosopher, and based on an artistic visualization of a young Vilnius artist who supports the campaign, the poster is entitled “Vilnius Without its Ugliest Soviet Eyesore”. That is a reference to the hated ruin of the Soviet Sports Palace which stands in the middle of the old Vilna cemetery, where the city’s Jewish residents were buried in graves paid for by their families as freehold property, from the 15th to the 19th century. The poster makes reference to Vilnius native Ruta Bloshtein’s international petition, which is, at 40,000 signatures to date, arguably the largest Litvak initiative since the Holocaust. Members of Lithuania’s Jewish community who have spoken out to date include Moyshe Bairak, Ruta Bloshtein, Milan Chersonski, Pinchos Fridberg, Dovid Katz, and Josif Parasonis (more here). Current and recent rabbis in Vilnius who have taken a public stand include Chaim Burshtein, Shmuel Jacob Feffer, Kalev Krelin, and Sholom Ber Krinsky.

Continue reading

Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Summer’s Cool New Vilnius Poster to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Vilnius, 23 June 2017: Nationalists Glorify Atrocities with Posters on Genocide Museum Fence



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  VILNIUS GENOCIDE CENTER  |  MUSEUMS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

by Andrius Kulikauskas

(Department of Philosophy & Cultural Studies, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University)

On June 23, 2017, the Lithuanian Freedom Fighters Association (Lietuvos laisvės kovotojų sąjunga) organized a commemoration of the June 23, 1941 anti-Soviet uprising with a complete lack of sensitivity for Lithuanian victims of the Holocaust.

The official celebration at the Parliament’s Independence Square included an elaborately choreographed flag raising by the Lithuanian Army’s Honor Guard, music by the Armed Forces Orchestra, a reenactment of the Declaration of Independence with its hopes for a place for Lithuania in Hitler’s New Europe, and a speech by Vytautas Landsbergis, patriarch of modern-day Lithuania.

More by Andrius Kulikauskas. Articles by Evaldas Balčiūnas; Milan Chersonski; Leonidas Donskis; Nida Vasiliauskaitė.  See also:
DH section on The Legacy of 23 June 1941. DH pages on: LAF intentions; painful street names; dry-clean of the week of 23 June 1941.

Continue reading

Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius, 23 June 2017: Nationalists Glorify Atrocities with Posters on Genocide Museum Fence

Really? A Street in an EU Capital Named for 23 June 1941?



COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  LEGACY OF 23 JUNE  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

June-23rd-Street-in-Vilnius

FIND ON GOOGLE MAPS

Vilnius street named for 23 June 1941, and once again: events to honor the shameful day in Lithuanian history, when, guided by the LAF and its provisional government, political, moral and religious leaders turned on their Jewish neighbors in a hate campaign that was to end with the highest rate of Holocaust murder in Europe. More here. More on this and other offensive street names and public shrines. And — How are members of the tiny surviving Jewish minority in Lithuania supposed to feel about this? Holocaust survivors and their families and descendants internationally?

INTERNATIONAL PETITION. See also DH articles by Andrius Kulikauskas, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Milan Chersonski, Leonidas Donskis, Nida Vasiliauskaitė. Also: DH section on The Legacy of 23 June 1941. DH pages on: LAF intentions; painful street names; dry-clean of the week of 23 June 1941.

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Really? A Street in an EU Capital Named for 23 June 1941?

Neo-Nazis Pick Up Hate Materials from… (Hijacked?) Official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” Website



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

VILNIUS—Lithuania’s top neo-Nazi blogger “Zeppelinus” has republished with some noticeable relish, in a post dated 27 May 2017, parts of the 19 May official “Lithuanian Jewish Community website” attack (as PDF) on this journal’s editor, Dovid Katz. The attack was, some would say shamefully, signed “LJC staff” though sources rapidly revealed its prime author (see our rapid response on the day). It is not the first time that the antisemitic far-right has found its material on the website of the official Jewish Community under its current leadership (that is under legal challenge after the recent allegedly rigged election), at a time when the website is, disturbingly, allegedly under control of elements very far from the interests of Lithuania’s Jews. Last autumn’s website attacks on Rabbi Sholom-Ber Krinsky were picked up and elaborated by another key antisemitic blogger who went so far as to  dig up the 1790s antisemitic attacks on a prime founder of Lithuanian Hasidism.

You know something is wrong when the neo-Nazis are finding their material on the “website of an official Jewish community”. It’s a website funded in fact by the state via restitution funds deriving from the communal religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities of Lithuania, administered by a (this one’s for you, George Orwell) “Good Will Foundation”.

Then there was the most recent fiasco, a comparison of the democratic electoral congress of the Vilnius Jewish Community on 24 May to Russia’s “Zapad 2017” military exercises, and the charge that the assembled 300 or so Vilnius Jews were “mainly Russian speakers calling themselves Jews, with only a minority of people with Litvak blood” (see our report which led to JTA’s coverage, and the essays by Professor Pinchos Fridberg and by Leonas Kaplanas). This was a proverbial gift of the gods to the local antisemitic establishment here that revels in delegitimizing the country’s living Jews while embracing a de-Judaized ersatz “Litvak heritage” for PR, with some help from a tiny elite of privileged “court Jews” who themselves at times, it seems, become conduits for antisemitic invective against the local Jewish community. Prof. Fridberg has pointed out that a subsequent vague and unclear “apology” posted failed to disclose the author(s) of the offending text, and never even appeared in the Russian-language section of the website. Is the author of the offending text still employed by the official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community”? Why is his or her identity a secret?

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Neo-Nazis Pick Up Hate Materials from… (Hijacked?) Official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” Website

Pinchos Fridberg’s Open Letter Concerning a Website Post of the Official Lithuanian Jewish Community



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

VILNIUS—The following is an English translation (by Ludmilla Makedonskaya) of Professor Pinchos Fridberg’s article in Russian that appeared in the Vilnius-based publication Obzor on 26 May 2017. Note that the original Russian version is the only authoritative text for any issues arising. Professor Fridberg is a native of Vilna, a Holocaust survivor, a retired physics professor and the author of numerous articles and studies. For translations of a selection of his work on Defending History’s issues, in English translation, see our Pinchos Fridberg section.

For more information on the issue see the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) website report on the 24 May elections held by the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC), Defending History’s initial real-time report and rejoinder, the second version posted, the JTA report on the affair,  the subsequent LJC “apology” and Leon Kaplan’s essay on these pages.

Continue reading

Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Pinchos Fridberg’s Open Letter Concerning a Website Post of the Official Lithuanian Jewish Community

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.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Young Vilnius Jews Converge on Jewish Community Center to Protest Rigged Election

S’brent, Bríderlakh, S’brent (It’s Burning, Dear Brothers, it’s Burning)


 


OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Leon Kaplan

Last night, Wednesday the 24th of May 2017, I came home from a long (three-and-a-half-hour) but wonderful gathering. It was the Vilnius Jewish Community’s conference, a democratic, well-organized and well-attended election for the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) as well as for its new board. When I got home I decided to listen to a disk of Yiddish songs by the late Nechama Lifschitz, a disk that her daughter Roza Litay gave me as a gift during a visit at her apartment in Tel Aviv. Around twelve midnight, while listening to songs of our “singing soul” I opened my Facebook page and could not believe my eyes when I saw the link to an article on the official website of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) that presumed to cover the evening I had myself attended. It had a big picture not of any of the personalities of the evening, but of the chairperson, Faina Kukliansky standing next to a car and making a V for Victory sign like a victorious general gleeful over the destruction of an array of enemies.

Continue reading

Posted in Leon Kaplan, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Russian Speakers' Personal Status, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on S’brent, Bríderlakh, S’brent (It’s Burning, Dear Brothers, it’s Burning)

Lithuanian Intellectual Joins Israeli Rabbis in Plea to Ambassador Bagdonas at Tel Aviv Embassy on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—In recent weeks, Lithuania’s Jewish community has been shaken by a number of vicious attacks against various of its members, apparently written by operatives out to provoke “senseless interethnic strife and division” who have infiltrated to echelons of the official community’s power structures, and published personal invective replete with “demonstrable falsehoods” under the imprimatur not of any named author but of the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” per se (examples here, here, and here). Against that backdrop many Jews and Lithuanians alike, who enjoy some of the best daily relations of any two groups in Eastern Europe, have been finding it necessary to stress that Lithuanian-Jewish relations are excellent and will not be disturbed by such mischief makers (see also today’s JTA report, and a 2015 paper by this journal’s editor). The ongoing passionate debates about the Holocaust, “Double Genocide”, defamation of Jewish partisans, glorification of local Nazi collaborators, city-center neo-Nazi marches on independence days, plans to have a new national convention center in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery, and the fair allocation of restitution funds, are not disputes between “Jews and Lithuanians”: there are, at least locally, proponents from both groups on all sides of each of these debates and various others.

Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Intellectual Joins Israeli Rabbis in Plea to Ambassador Bagdonas at Tel Aviv Embassy on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Adopting Antisemitic Trope, “Official Jewish Community Website” Blasts 300 Vilnius Jews as “Mainly Russian Speakers Calling Themselves Jews”



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

VILNIUS—Over 300 members of the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC), representing all adult age groups, and constituting the numerically largest such conference this century, this evening elected a new VJC chairman at the Karolina Hotel in Vilnius. Professionally organized, members with voting rights had to present their membership cards and separate ID at conference tables organized by initial letters of surnames. The proceedings, started with a few sentences of Yiddish by Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevicius), were meticulously conducted bilingually, with all proceedings in both Lithuanian (first) and (then) Russian in an atmosphere of democratic catharsis of an East European Jewish community, many of whose members have felt sidelined by the interests of a handful of elites close to government circles in recent years. The assembly included virtually all of the known personalities of Vilnius Jewry who do not happen to have employment at Pylimo Street 4, the official community’s headquarters (but there were a few of those too, as well as some from the official synagogue minyan).

After the election of the new chairperson came elections for twenty-one members of the Vilnius Board. Also, a resolution was adopted cancelling the recent attempt to disenfranchise some two thousand Vilnius Jews by recounting their votes as a single vote (while the heads of various NGOs, including the not-yet-built Sheduva Lost Shtetl Museum, have two or more votes each).

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Russian Speakers' Personal Status, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Adopting Antisemitic Trope, “Official Jewish Community Website” Blasts 300 Vilnius Jews as “Mainly Russian Speakers Calling Themselves Jews”

Gurevich Explains How Kukliansky, Levin, Žakas, and Kanovich Control 40% of Votes in “Kangaroo Election”



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

VILNIUS—Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), candidate for the leadership of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, today issued a statement on his public Facebook page inviting members of the community to participate in the electoral conference for chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community, to be held this Wednesday evening 24 May 2014 6 PM (18:00) at the Karolina Hotel in Vilnius. His statement, in Lithuanian, reminds readers that the recent attempts to cancel the conference (whose date was democratically voted on by a clear majority of Vilnius Jewish Community Board members) would result in the application of the “new rules” decided on in the middle of the current campaign that would effectively disenfranchise 2,200 Vilnius Jews by recounting their votes from the present 22 or so (via the longstanding formula of 100 people = one vote) to one vote, while each of the elite power brokers in the chairperson’s circle (not all of whom live in Lithuania) would in effect have the votes to decide the entire future of the Jewish community, resulting in a tragic undermining of the future of the actual living Jewish people in Lithuania. To make matters worse, various of these “machers” have two or three votes each.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Shádov (Šeduva), Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gurevich Explains How Kukliansky, Levin, Žakas, and Kanovich Control 40% of Votes in “Kangaroo Election”

Has Anti-Lithuanian Political Operative Infiltrated Official Jewish Community to Sow Turmoil?



Geoff Vasil (Vilnius)

GEOFF VASIL: Heart, soul, brains and conscience of today’s official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community”?

VILNIUS—The author of a “Pravda” style invective (see below) absurdly accusing Lithuania (!) of troublemaking in the 2014 conflict in Ukraine is now a major figure in the office of the chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, eminent attorney Faina Kukliansky, leading to some security concerns about infiltration of political elements in small, vulnerable East European Jewish communities. These may include persons with no Jewish background or loyalty who are experienced “gun-for-hire journalists” who flip their convictions on a dime depending on who is paying them. The results can be tragic with astute sowing of concocted (and needless) interpersonal feuds within weak and fragile remnant Jewish communities that “have enough problems of their own” just surviving in the post-Holocaust post-Soviet environment.

SEE UPDATE

According to sources in Ms. Kukliansky’s office, the author of today’s personal attack against this journal’s editor is the same Mr. Geoff Vasil, author of the piece below, and formerly, for years, a dedicated correspondent on Holocaust obfuscation and neo-Nazi monitoring at DefendingHistory.com (where nothing remotely pro-Putin is ever considered for publication; DH’s stance on the sacrosanct NATO mission to secure Lithuania’s security in perpetuity has been made clear on multiple occasions; authors’ uncovered Putinist advocacy results in severance from Defending History).

Continue reading

Posted in Double Games, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Has Anti-Lithuanian Political Operative Infiltrated Official Jewish Community to Sow Turmoil?

Arkadijus Vinokuras: Chairperson’s Henchman-Spoiler or Independent Candidate?



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

VILNIUS—Arkadijus Vinokuras, the highly talented and successful Lithuanian Jewish author, journalist, and comedian, has today jumped into the fray of the official Jewish Community’s elections for the post of chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community. In contrast to Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), who declared his candidacy at the start of the election season and whose candidacy has (as of the time of this posting) not even been reported on the official community website, Mr. Vinokuras’s effort comes one week before the scheduled May 24th Vilnius Jewish Community conference, and has been announced with respect and a fine photograph on the website today (the same moment it came out on his own Facebook page). But that is not the main reason his candidacy is thought by many in the community, on first reaction, to be in the service of chairperson Faina Kukliansky, whose democratic terms as chief of both the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) and the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) ran out last month.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Arkadijus Vinokuras: Chairperson’s Henchman-Spoiler or Independent Candidate?

Is “Good Will Foundation” Enabling a Mockery of Jewish Community Democracy in Lithuania?



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

VILNIUS—The official trilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian) website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, generously financed from the restitution funds (deriving from prewar Jewish religious communal properties) allocated by the state-sponsored Good Will Foundation, is in the nature of things meant to represent that community. Once a community chairperson’s tenure was expired and a democratic election campaign was underway, it was widely expected that the website and its editor, Lithuanian journalist Ilona Rūkienė, would take every care to ensure evenhandedness, giving the various candidates equal space and each campaign the same respect, coverage, and democratic tools for reaching the electorate, thereby enabling voters to make an informed decision.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Is “Good Will Foundation” Enabling a Mockery of Jewish Community Democracy in Lithuania?

Lithuanian Jews Dismayed at New Attempt to Crush Democracy



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Coming hard on the heels of the mid-campaign rule-change of 19 April that effectively disenfranchised over 2,000 Vilnius Jews, by “recounting” their collective vote as one vote instead of over 20 (via the long-established formula of 100 persons = one vote), the chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, eminent attorney Faina Kukliansky, on 4 May placed an announcement on the Lithuanian-language page of the official community website (followed by the Russian section), Lzb.lt, cancelling the widely announced 24 May 2017 conference of the Vilnius Jewish Community decided upon by a clear majority vote of its Council (15 of 21 active members), for which the large hall of Hotel Karolina had already been booked. This was followed on 5 May by an English language version complete with “Red-Ink Warnings from the Leader” which seems to inaccurately report that the planned 24 May conference was an “arbitrary” act of “one” Council of the Vilnius Jewish Community member, presumably referring to her opponent in the race, Simonas Gurevičius.

UPDATES TO 12 MAY 2017: 

8 May 2017: Vilnius Jewish Community board member Simon Ceitlin posts a notice on his Facebook page confirming that the 24 May event at Hotel Karolina will proceed as announced.

10 May 2017: Simonas Gurevičius posts refutation of official Community website notice and confirms that the 24 May meeting, decided by all present at the most recent Vilnius Jewish Community board meeting, will proceed.

12 May 2017: Faina Kukliansky reposts announcement on community website assuring readers that the meeting will not occur.

 

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Jews Dismayed at New Attempt to Crush Democracy

Translation of Lithuanian Radio Debate on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

The following is a full translation of the radio debate on the fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the capital’s Snipiskes district), aired by LRT.lt radio as part of its People and Ideas series on 1 March and again on 5 March 2017 and available in the original Lithuanian on the station’s website. The debate was hosted by Audra Girijotė with the participants (in alphabetical order here): Renaldas Augustinavičius, Ruta Bloshtein, Faina Kukliansky, Andrius Kulikauskas, Shnayer Leiman, Remigijus Šimašius.

Note that this translation works from the Lithuanian voice-over on Professor Leiman’s originally English contribution, rather than from a separate tape of the full English interview with Professor Leiman used by the organizers (who put together the “debate” after separate interviews with the participants). This was decided upon in the spirit of trying to characterize, as best we can, the text and texture actually received by the Lithuanian language audience.

Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Translation of Lithuanian Radio Debate on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Vilnius Jews “Shocked” by Maneuver to “Rig the Community’s Elections”



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Interviews by several Defending History staffers with several dozen members of Vilnius’s Jewish community over the past several days have turned up what seems to be a widespread sense of (citing terms that recurred frequently in the conversations) “disappointment” or “shock” at the “unbelievable changing of the rules of an election in the middle of the campaign.” (Such mini-surveys are not scientific, and a professional survey of today’s Jewish community on a number of issues is a critical desideratum here.)

The change seems to be in the cause of in effect disenfranchising the actual living Jews of Lithuania by suddenly decoupling the numbers of living, resident Jews from votes cast for the leadership of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, for which elections are scheduled, as of today, for May 28th (for recent developments see the DH section on Vilnius Jewish Life). A number of those interviewed mentioned the role of the “Good Will Foundation” that allocates funding for the community’s administration, including elections, from the government finance provided as restitution for prewar communal religious Jewish property. Some of its allocations have been highly controversial.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Shádov (Šeduva), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jews “Shocked” by Maneuver to “Rig the Community’s Elections”

Community Democratization: Four Leadership Jobs? Four People!



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  MEDIA WATCH

VILNIUS—The disappointing failure of the official website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania to give Equal Space to each candidate, and to each campaign, in the current leadership contest is a scar in the modern community’s history that can still be repaired as the campaign turns to its final stages. Let us hope it will be, and that this minimal democratic standard will be respected by the site’s editor and by the Good Will Foundation that allocates lavish finance for the website, which was never intended to be a Soviet-style paean to a single never-to-be-questioned Leader. Perhaps the Board’s foreign members, in particular, will rise to the occasion, at long last, at next week’s scheduled meeting here in Vilnius, especially in light of the recent series of unsettling reports.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Community Democratization: Four Leadership Jobs? Four People!

What Should be Done with the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?



OPINION  |  PIRAMÓNT  | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  CEMETERIES

by Shnayer Leiman

What should be done with the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius)? It should be restored. For this to happen, the Soviet ruin in its center should be taken down to ground level, with no further earthworks in the cemetery, ever. Let it forever remain a testimonial to the vibrancy of Jewish life in Vilna.

Two of Vilna’s greatest photographers and artists, Juozapas Kamarauskas (d. 1946) and Jan Bulhak (d. 1950) were mesmerized by Vilna’s Jewish sites, and especially by the Old Jewish Cemetery. They left us with an abundance of photographs and sketches of the Old Jewish Cemetery. Jewish scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries, residents of Vilna, recorded and published for posterity meticulous transcriptions of the texts of hundreds of epitaphs inscribed on the tombstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery.

Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on What Should be Done with the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?

Spring 2017 Battle Over Public Honors in Vilnius for Holocaust Collaborators


[last update]

Škirpa and Noreika

17 Organizations in Lithuania Sign Petition in Favor of Central Vilnius Street Name Glorifying Holocaust Promoter K. Škirpa

Among the 17 who signed is Sąjūdis (Vilnius & Kaunas), whose honorary national chairman is Prof. V. Landsbergis, and whose national council includes MP Emanuelis Zingeris. Will Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius in his reply stand up for what’s right?

Continue reading

Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Comments Off on Spring 2017 Battle Over Public Honors in Vilnius for Holocaust Collaborators

Lithuanian Jews Call for Democracy in their Community



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—The human rights of even small, weak and demographically struggling minorities to enjoy a free and open website that offers a forum to people and groups of diverse opinions is well established. It is also a test of democracy that members of such groups feel able to speak out when those rights are abrogated. Against that backdrop, it was significant today that a group of older members of Lithuania’s Jewish community (including Holocaust survivors), spoke out on the subject, around a week after a pubic appeal for website democracy by a younger generation on Facebook.  The older group blogs under the name of the semi-legendary 19th century Vilna Jewish “wisecracker and whistleblower” Mótke Chabád in the Russian-language Vilnius-based publication Obzor (not to be confused with Defending History’s “own” Motke Chabad…).

“Bravo to Vilnius’s Jewish community for their pre-Passover 2017 stand for democracy, the younger generation in Facebook, the survivor generation in Obzor.”

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Lithuanian Jews Call for Democracy in their Community

Sign The Petition for the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery Today!



Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Sign The Petition for the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery Today!

Vilnius Jewish Community Board Issues “Historic Call” for Restoration of Democracy



VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  | DEMOCRACY  |  DOCUMENTS

VILNIUS—The Board of the Vilnius Jewish Community today issued a letter to the chairperson of both the Vilnius and Lithuanian Jewish communities, attorney Ms. Faina Kukliansky, calling on her to convene a meeting of the Board, as required by the Community’s bylaws. In the context of perceived silence over a number of years, the letter, signed by an overwhelming majority of  members of the Board, is widely being taken as a sign of communal energy, courage and willingness to come together to act for the community’s democratic integrity, that some observers have felt has been lacking in the years since the death of the near-legendary longtime chairperson of the Jewish community, Dr. Simon Alperovich, in 2014. The facsimile follows.

Continue reading

Posted in Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Vilnius Jewish Community Board Issues “Historic Call” for Restoration of Democracy

Vilnius Author of Piramónt Petition, Head of Kaunas Synagogue Present Petition’s 39,000 Signatures to Lithuanian Government



PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUS—Ruta Bloshtein, author of the international petition to save the old Jewish cemetery in Vilnius from a massive convention center project, and Meyshe Bairak, director of the Choral Synagogue of Kaunas and chair of the city’s religious community, today presented a copy of Ms. Bloshtein’s petition in the Lithuanian translation of Julius Norwilla to Government House in central Vilnius. The large swath of paper, visible in the informal photograph, on the public counter, is the printout of the nearly 39,000 signatures from all over the world garnered to date. Ms. Bloshtein is a native of Vilnius, Mr. Bairak of Kaunas. Both are scions of old Litvak Jewish families of many centuries’ vintage in the depths of Lithuania. Most of their relatives perished in the Holocaust.

Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Vilnius Author of Piramónt Petition, Head of Kaunas Synagogue Present Petition’s 39,000 Signatures to Lithuanian Government

“Statistics” Posted by the “Good Will Foundation” in Vilnius



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

VILNIUS—The following list of “Statistics: Project Funding Allocations” is a screenshot taken today of the page of that name on the website of the Lithuanian government’s Good Will Foundation (GWF). It is also available (with some browsers) in the alternative interactive Tableau format (below the screenshot).

Continue reading

Posted in "Admas Kodesh", "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Documents, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Statistics” Posted by the “Good Will Foundation” in Vilnius

Defending History’s Statement on Need for Announcement of Democratic Elections for Leadership of Lithuanian Jewish Community



OPINION  |  DEMOCRACY  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

Can small East European Jewish communities preserve their independence in the face of powerful state (and non-state) interests? Should the granting of restitution deriving from the value of properties of annihilated Jewish communities be directed to preserving free, democratic, vibrant and diverse Jewish life into the future as opposed to the interests of certain environments of governments and other elites, and their tiny cliques of so-called “Court Jews” — an endeavor that has, at times, here in Lithuania, declined into a race to the PR status of “Ah, but I am the last real Litvak, the rest of them, I don’t know…”

Events are now coming to a head. Simon Gurevich, longtime former executive director of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, has announced his candidacy for the community’s leadership. The country’s chief rabbi, former chief rabbi, and hundreds of younger, everyday community members rapidly signaled their support on Mr. Gurevich’s Facebook page. (Older members of the community, who tend not to use the web, do not yet by and large know of the looming elections.) The incumbent, the eminent attorney Faina Kukliansky, has a significant base of support too. The stage is set for a lively and dignified contest of ideas, plans and dreams for a small but beautiful Jewish future in the country. What with a substantial diaspora of diverse kinds of Litvak identification and rediscovery of roots, the implications are to some degree international. Incidentally, both candidates are scions of centuries-old Litvak families hailing from the depths of Lithuania.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Defending History’s Statement on Need for Announcement of Democratic Elections for Leadership of Lithuanian Jewish Community

“List of Allocations” of the “Good Will Foundation” in Vilnius



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

VILNIUS—The following “List of Project Allocations” is a screenshot taken today of the page of that name on the website of the Lithuanian government’s Good Will Foundation. It is also available in the alternative interactive Tableau format (below the screenshot).

It bears the date 1 July 2016 and includes the following introductory text: “We thank all the applicants who submitted project applications to the Good Will Foundation (Geros valios fondas). You may find a list of all projects, including the ones that received funding allocation from the Foundation. All applicants will be contacted individually and informed about the results and decisions taken.”

See also the “Statistics” page that covers several recent years.

The decisions on these allocations are taken by the Foundation’s Board.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on “List of Allocations” of the “Good Will Foundation” in Vilnius

Simóntshik Launches Campaign for Leadership of Lithuanian Jewish Community



VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  LITHUANIA

Simóntshik (Shimen Gurevich) addressing a Vilnius conference

VILNIUS—Thirty-something Simonas Gurevičius (Yiddish — Shímen Gurévitsh, English — Simon Gurevich), who was from his earliest teens a Jewish camp counselor, head of the Jewish Students Union in his college years, and then, for years until spring 2015 executive director of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, this morning effectively announced his candidacy for the Community’s chairpersonship in a brief Lithuanian-language Facebook post (reproduced below). Universally known, with love and warmth, to Lithuanian Jews and to many non-Jewish friends who follow Jewish affairs as just Simóntshik, he is a native speaker of Yiddish (very rare for young people here outside the family of Chabad Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky), as well as Lithuanian and Russian, with practiced command of English and growing sophistication in Hebrew, both ancient and modern.

Is the mantle of Litvak leadership passing on to a new generation?

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Simóntshik Launches Campaign for Leadership of Lithuanian Jewish Community

Over 500 Neo-Nazis Granted Center of Vilnius for March 11th Parade; A Tirade Against Holocaust Survivor Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, 95


[last update 14 March 2017]

HUMAN RIGHTS  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  NEO-NAZI MARCHES  |  IN VILNIUS  | KAUNAS  |  RIGA

by Dovid Katz

VILNIUS—A six-person monitoring group assembled by Defending History was the only human rights team at this year’s March 11th neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius. DH’s monitors were Eveldas Balčiūnas, Dovid Katz, Julius Norwilla, Ruta Ostrovskaja, Jacob Piliansky, and Julia Rets. Two senior longtime annual observers, both major figures in Lithuania’s Jewish community for over half a century, Milan Chersonski and Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, were prevented  by health issues from monitoring the event this year.

For years Defending History has asked that the marchers’ freedom of speech be respected at venues away from the center of the capital on the nation’s independence day. The granting of “that time and place” (only since 2008) conveys a sense of legitimization by both the municipality and national government, which are sometimes thought to be playing a “double game” by facilitating the honoring of Holocaust perpetrators locally, alongside commemorations for the victims for foreign consumption. At least two Western ambassadors were “quietly” among the observing crowds.

Photo Galleries:

Evaldas Balčiūnas; Julius Norwilla; Julia RetsAlkas.lt; Delfi.lt. Did “mainstream media” coverage avoid imaging swastikas, other fascist symbols, and Hitler salutes?

Continue reading

Posted in "Vilnius Jewish Public Library", A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on Over 500 Neo-Nazis Granted Center of Vilnius for March 11th Parade; A Tirade Against Holocaust Survivor Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, 95

Defending History to Monitor Central Vilnius Neo-Nazi Parade on March 11th Independence Day



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  NEO-NAZI MARCHES  |  IN VLNIUS  | KAUNAS  |  RIGA

VILNIUS—DefendingHistory.com invites citizens and visitors in town, and the Human Rights community especially, to come join the annual monitoring mission that will meet this Saturday, 11 March, at 3:30 PM at the Bell Tower on Cathedral square. From 2008, the year the center of Vilnius was first gifted by the municipality to the neo-nazis on the nation’s cherished March 11th independence day, the Vilnius-based team has been keeping track of the annual event, which has caused unbearable pain to the last Holocaust survivors and their families, not least because the marchers often flaunt placards glorifying various specific local Holocaust collaborators, in what appears to be a kind of celebration of the murder of the country’s Jewish citizens in the Holocaust. Since 2009, the team has been monitoring personally, on an annual basis, at the same time silently protesting and commemorating the annihilated Jewish population of the city that was once called Jerusalem of Lithuania. The march’s Facebook page is here.

The following is today’s public entry on the Facebook page of DH’s editor, Dovid Katz:

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Defending History to Monitor Central Vilnius Neo-Nazi Parade on March 11th Independence Day

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.”

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, United Kingdom, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | 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.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | 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

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on After “Blissful United Congregation” on Sabbath, Some Leaders of “Official” Community Again Take Aim at Rabbi Krinsky

A Major New Shtetl Museum for Shádev (Shádov, Shádeve, Today’s — Šeduva)



OPINION  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  MUSEUMS

by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)

VILNIUS—The Litvak world, internationally fragmented and weak, yet so vibrant and creative, has been cheered by news reports of the new shtetl museum to rise in the near future in Shádev, a Lithuanian town of many centuries of Jewish heritage where a great rabbinic personality, Reb Móyshe Ha-Góyle (“Moses the Exile”, Méyshe Ha-Géyle in deep Litvish pronunciation, Moshé Ha-Golé in Israeli Hebrew) thrived in the fifteenth century.

A good shtetl museum here will be a blessing to the Litvak, European Jewish, Yiddish and shtetl heritage internationally. It will be a blessing to modern, democratic Lithuania. To this day, the basket of idols of the contemporary Jewish market downplays the magnitude of Yiddish language, literature, and culture, shtetl culture and heritage, and the magnificent East European Jewish legacy more generally. News media have gone with reports by AFP and by JTA, and there is more on the project’s website.

Continue reading

Posted in Arts, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Shádov (Šeduva), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Major New Shtetl Museum for Shádev (Shádov, Shádeve, Today’s — Šeduva)

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.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Dovid Katz, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, United States, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on When the Picture and the Headline Tell Opposite Stories

Lithuanian Jewish Community Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day



   COMMEMORATIONS  |  EVENTS  | CEMETERIES AND MASS GRAVES 

by Julius Norwilla

This year’s annual events organized by the Lithuanian Jewish Community to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day were held on the evening of Thursday, 26 January, on the eve of the officially designated day that falls on the 27th of each year. This year, the official Jewish Community organized two impressive public events to mark the occasion, which is important for every Jewish person in the country, where about 96% of the Jewish population was annihilated during the Holocaust.

Continue reading

Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Jewish Community Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

“Weekly of Vilnius” is First to Cover Bloshtein Petition in Lithuanian Media



PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUS—The prestigious Weekly of Vilnius, which provides a digest and interpretation in English of news concerning Lithuania, especially for the diplomatic, governmental, business, academic, arts, cultural and international affairs communities, became the first publication, in its 5 February issue, to break the ostensible wall of silence in the Lithuanian media on the international petition by Vilnius native and resident Ruta Bloshtein. Her petition, concerning the fate of the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt in the Šnipiškės (Shnípishok) district of Vilnius, the nation’s capital, has to date garnered close to 38,000 signatures, making it the largest Litvak effort since the Holocaust. The petition calls on Lithuania’s president, prime minister, chancellor, the mayor of Vilnius and the European Commission’s president to move the project of a new national convention center away from the old cemetery. It comes after years of local and international opposition to the project. The Weekly of Vilnius, edited by the widely admired Nehro Khalil, has been known on more than one occasion to breach walls of silence concerning “the second opinion” on an array of issues and topics.

Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Weekly of Vilnius” is First to Cover Bloshtein Petition in Lithuanian Media

Rabbi S. J. Feffer, Authority on Gaon of Vilna, Issues Ruling on Old Jewish Cemetery



PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUS—Rabbi Shmuel Jacob Feffer, who has edited many volumes of the works of the Gaon of Vilna (Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, 1720-1797) under the imprint of Machon HaGra, today released the following statement concerning the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery and the current plans to erect a convention center within it. It is also available in PDF format. In the format below, please click on the arrow in the upper left hand corner to turn the page forward or backward. Earlier versions of the ruling are available in the original rabbinic Hebrew, in the author’s manuscript, and digitally.

Continue reading

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Shmuel Jacob Feffer, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Rabbi S. J. Feffer, Authority on Gaon of Vilna, Issues Ruling on Old Jewish Cemetery

A Reply to London’s Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE



PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

LONDON—The world’s greatest rabbinic authorities are unanimously opposed to the project to construct a 34 million euro convention center in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery, surrounded by thousands of graves on all four sides. And now, 34,000 people around the world have also spoken up in a new international petition. Nevertheless, one group of London rabbis, the “CPJCE” (Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe [italics added]) continues to campaign for the convention center in close cooperation with the local business interests and politicians. Its Rabbi Herschel (Hershel) Gluck OBE has spoken out in the London Jewish Chronicle, trashing the petition of a Vilnius born Orthodox Jewish woman, Ruta Bloshtein.

Neither Rabbi Gluck nor the Jewish Chronicle mention that his “CPJCE” was allegedly exposed in Wikileaks (reports in the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, DH) for demanding money for their “supervision”. Rabbi Gluck told the London Jewish Chronicle:

Continue reading

Posted in "Admas Kodesh", Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, United Kingdom, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Reply to London’s Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE

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.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | 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.

Continue reading

Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Defending History’s 2017 People of the Year

Vilnius 2016 Chanukah Celebrations



VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

 

Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky led his 23rd annual Grand Menorah Lighting in the center of Vilnius on Wednesday evening 28 December, for (in Lithuanian Yiddish) di fínfte líkhtale, the fifth candle of Chanukah. The event attracted hundreds from different faiths who filled the square to celebrate harmony in the Lithuanian capital. It was addressed by Mayor Remigijus Šimašius and attended by diplomats from the embassies of Israel, Norway, Turkey, and the United States, among others, and dignitaries from the nation’s parliament, among them MP Emanuelis Zingeris, cofounder of the city’s Jewish museum.

MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE VILNIUS CITY-CENTER MENORAH:

City of Vilnius    TV3.lt    Lrytas.lt   15min.lt   Delfi.lt   Wilnoteka.lt

The event seemed to succeed even more this year following various alleged attempts at sabotage. Many of the Vilnius Jewish residents present were visibly thrilled that Mayor Šimašius had boldly ignored some public calls, one from a Lithuanian academic, one from an unsigned piece on the official Jewish community website, and one from an antisemitic author, all of which imlpied that it was suddenly (after 22 years of previous universally beloved events) “controversial,” perhaps for featuring Rabbi Krinsky, who has recently been the target of a bizarre campaign of harassment.

A big part of the crowd comprised young people who particularly enjoyed the candle lighting, the smaller menorah of ice, and the large tent where traditional foods were served to hundreds of Vilnius residents. Chanukah menorahs were handed out to all who wanted one.Continue reading

Posted in Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius 2016 Chanukah Celebrations

“Surreal” Nov. 29th Vilnius Public Debate on Street Named for Nazi Collaborator


[LAST UPDATE]

In Vilnius, City Council Holds “Surreal” Public Debate on 29 Nov. 2016 on Street Name Honoring a Nazi Collaborator; But Will the Mayor (Who Did Not Attend) Ever Speak Out with Moral Clarity?

Keynote speaker was Mark Adam Harold, the British born city councillor who “courageously and dramatically” proposed renaming the street that currently honors Nazi collaborator K. Škirpa.

Continue reading

Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Comments Off on “Surreal” Nov. 29th Vilnius Public Debate on Street Named for Nazi Collaborator

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)

Continue reading

Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Updates & Opinion on Vilnius Synagogue Closure to 5 Dec. 2016

Vilnius Jewish Visitor Resources (Selection)


[UPDATED]

SEE ALSO: YOUR JOURNEY

lamed

ADDRESSES:

Continue reading

Posted in Exotic Jewish Tourism, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jewish Visitor Resources (Selection)

Some Vilnius Jewish Events in the Week of 20 Nov. 2016



SUNDAY 20 NOV at 12 NOON: Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) lecture series features Julius Norwilla who will speak on forgotten Holocaust-era cemeteries and mass grave sites in the Vilnius area, at the Community’s premises on Pylimo St. 4 (IN RUSSIAN). See Julius Norwilla section in DH.

Continue reading

Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Some Vilnius Jewish Events in the Week of 20 Nov. 2016

Head of Lithuanian Jewish Community Calls on Mayor of Vilnius to Remove Plaque Honoring a Holocaust Collaborator



VILNIUS—Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky, a prominent lawyer here in the Lithuanian capital, today released on the community’s official website the text of her letter to the mayor of Vilnius calling for the removal of a plaque honoring the notorious Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. The letter follows her bold speech at the 23 September Ponár (Paneriai) memorial which likewise called on government officials to remove honors for Holocaust perpetrators, citing three prominent collaborators by name.

There was immediate speculation on which human rights, Jewish and Israeli organizations, here and internationally, would react with rapid public expressions of support for the chairperson’s letter. The charismatic young mayor of Vilnius has a colorful record on Jewish issues, which Defending History has been following for years, starting with his earlier stint as justice minister.

Continue reading

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Christian-Jewish Issues, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", EU, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Head of Lithuanian Jewish Community Calls on Mayor of Vilnius to Remove Plaque Honoring a Holocaust Collaborator

New Section: Vilnius Jewish Life



NOTICE TO OUR READERS:

VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUSDefending History announced to its readers today that a new section called Vilnius Jewish Life is being initiated. It will retroactively include dated posts roughly from the beginning of 2016 onward.

Continue reading

Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on New Section: Vilnius Jewish Life

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.”

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Divide and Conquer?

Skaldymas ir valdymas



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

Ruta Bloshtein

Noriu išreikšti susirūpinimą dėl padėties, kuri jau keletą metų klostosi Lietuvos žydų bendruomenėje. O būtent, dėl LŽB pirmininkės veiksmų, keliančių pavojų Lietuvos žydų gyvenimo vienovei ir darnai. Paradoksas ir liūdna ironija tame, kad žydų religinius klausimus sprendžia nereliginga moteris. Ir dar labiau nepriimtina, kad pasaulietė, siekdama savanaudiškų žemiškų tikslų, stumdo rabinus kaip šachmatų figūras. Tokia elgsena prieštarauja religinėms tradicijoms. Ir tai vadinama „judaizmo atgimimu“?

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Skaldymas ir valdymas

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Leon Kaplan, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Leon Kaplan Comments on Eviction by Jewish Community Head of Rabbi Krinsky and his Fellow Worshippers

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Jacob Piliansky, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Friday, October 28th, in Vilnius

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Opinion, Rákishok (Rokiškis), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | 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).

Continue reading

Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Confusing Week in Jewish Vilnius

5777 New Year’s Greeting to Our Jewish Readers Everywhere



TO OUR JEWISH READERS EVERYWHERE:

A HAPPY, HEALTHY, CREATIVE NEW YEAR

5777

אַ גליקלעכן, געזונטן, שעפערישן נײַעם יאָר און אַ גמר חתימה טובה

תשע″ז


Posted in Litvak Affairs, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on 5777 New Year’s Greeting to Our Jewish Readers Everywhere

Vilnius Municipality Leak Suggests Plan to Dismantle Jewish Cultural Center in Vilnius Old Town



VILNIUS—Just as Jewish people in Vilnius were getting down to intense preparations for the Jewish new year (Rosh Hashonnah, Rosheshóne in Yiddish), an official at Vilnius City Hall (the municipality) provided to Defending History (and presumably other publications) a letter that purports to be from the official Jewish community’s lay leader, Faina Kukliansky (in professional life the nation’s top EU citizenship lawyer for foreigners) that would sound the death knell for the internationally admired Jewish Cultural and Information Center (JCIC) on Mesiniu Street in the Lithuanian capital’s scenic Old Town.

Continue reading

Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Vilnius Municipality Leak Suggests Plan to Dismantle Jewish Cultural Center in Vilnius Old Town

New “Rules of the Synagogue” Document Brings Disquiet to Single Vilnius Synagogue



DOCUMENTS

The following new Rules of the Synagogue document appeared in two long-standing dusty frames in the entrance hallway on approximately 29 September 2016, at the Vilnius Choral Synagogue on Pylimo Street 39 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The document, dated 22 September 2016, in Lithuanian alone, replaces a set of rules that were posted bilingually for many years, in Yiddish and Lithuanian. Some members of the congregation believe that these Rules were enacted only after a 27 September 2016 morning services incident, at which a rabbi resident in Vilnius for 22 years was asked by the gabbai (Yiddish gábe, the official synagogue administrator), at a time when the official rabbis were not present, to blow the traditional ram’s horn (shofar, Yiddish shóyfer, Litvak Yiddish shéyfer, Israeli shofár), in the run-up to the Jewish New Year.

Continue reading

Posted in Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Yiddish Affairs | Comments Off on New “Rules of the Synagogue” Document Brings Disquiet to Single Vilnius Synagogue