Tag Archives: Jewish Community of Lithuania
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.
VILNIUS—At Sabbath services at Vilnius’s Choral Synagogue this morning, word began to spread that Vilnius’s oldest surviving veteran of the Jewish Partisans, Chasia (Khásye) Langbord Shpanerflig, had passed away at the age of 96.
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).
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”
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.
Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairperson Faina Kukliansky Issues Powerful Statement on Annual “Holiday” that Humiliates Jews and Roma
VILNIUS—Lithuanian Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky today issued a powerful statement on the community’s website condemning the newest call from some top politicians asking the population to revere a national holiday in Lithuania, Užgavėnės, or Shrovetide, that falls this year tomorrow, 28 February 2017. Defending History has been (intermittently) monitoring the day since 2008, as part of the mission to monitor antisemitism and racism, and to cover those sectors of Human Rights that tend to be wholly ignored by the lavishly funded, official human rights organizations here in the Lithuanian capital.
UPDATES AND INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE:
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.
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.
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.”
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).
OPINION | COMMEMORATION OF DESTROYED COMMUNITIES | YIDDISH AFFAIRS | LITVAK AFFAIRS | IDENTITY-THEFT LITVAK INDUSTRY
by Dovid Katz
VILNIUS—For close to three decades, Vilnius has been the only city in the world with municipally sponsored public plaques and signs that regularly include Yiddish. Symbologically for a small, weak, stateless, threatened and “threat-to-nobody” language in this part of the world, it was an equally important statement of respect for the language, literature and culture of the murdered Jewish people of the city that Yiddish sometimes came first, “on top,” and always so when it was a question between Yiddish and modern Israeli Hebrew.
Lithuanian Government Announces Construction of a $25,000,000 Convention Center in the Center of Vilna’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery
by Sid Leiman
The following is a reprint, with Professor Leiman’s permission, of his essay originally published on 13 September 2015 (Erev Rosh Ha-Shanah 5776) in The Seforim Blog. He is Professor Emeritus of Jewish History and Literature at Brooklyn College in the City University of New York. Russian versions have to date appeared twice, here and here.
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
by Julius Norwilla
This year much of the world commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. The day of its liberation, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. To mark the day this year, on the 26th of January, the Jewish Community of Lithuania organized three events, as reported in Defending History.
The final event of the day was the book launch for The Šiauliai Ghetto featuring as sole announced speaker its author, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania; for a critical view of the Genocide Center, as it is known for short, see Defending History’s page and news section on the institution.
A new page has been launched to provide selected articles from the English edition of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s Jerusalem of Lithuania. The newspaper was regularly published in four separate editions (English, Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish) from 1989 to early 2011. These selections are from the years 1999-2011, when the quadrilingual publication was edited by Milan Chersonski, now a senior staff writer at Defending History. The page is being developed in close consultation with Mr. Chersonski.
Vilnius native and life-long resident Professor Pinchos Fridberg sent the following question to the leadership of the Jewish Community of Lithuania (JCL), and received the following answer. These official English translations, accepted by JCL, are reprinted verbatim, with permission from the website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, where the question appears here and the reply here.
O P I N I O N
by Milan Chersonski
Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish amateur theater company. The views he expresses in DefendingHistory are his own. This is an authorized English version (updated by the author) by Ludmilla Makedonskaya (Los Angeles). Russian original.
Photo: Milan Chersonski at this desk at the Jewish Community of Lithuania (image © 2012 Jurgita Kunigiškytė). Milan Chersonski section.
Dear Mr. Jonathan Brent,
A little over a year ago, on 12 September 2011, I wrote my first open letter to you. I wrote that it is inappropriate to hold an event commemorating the Jews of Vilna who were victims of genocide together with the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Audronis Ažubalis on the premises of Yivo. If you did not then find time to read my letter, you can find it now online.
On the Recent Amateur Treatments of the Role of the Provisional Government of 1941 in the Mass Media
O P I N I O N
by Shimon Alperovich
Authorized translation from Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil of the 26 June 2012 statement issued by Dr. Shimon Alperovich (Simonas Alperavičius), chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. Posted on the community’s website at: http://www.lzb.lt/en/home/691-recent.html. According to sources in the community, Dr. Alperovich wrote this in response to an article on Delfi.lt by Vidmantas Valiušaitis called “Why are Historians Afraid of the Facts?” (Lithuanian text here), and when Delfi allegedly declined to publish Dr. Alperovich’s response, the community placed it on its own webpage and elsewhere.
Recently there has been an increasing number of internet articles by amateur, non-professional authors without training in history expressing approval for the actions of the 1941 Provisional Government of Lithuania toward the Jews of Lithuania, without regard for the antisemitic actions of that government in the context of the mass murder of the Jews of Lithuania already underway at that time.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community earlier provided an assessment of the Lithuanian Activist Front and the Provisional Government.
It is saddening that the authors of these texts choose to ignore the conclusions of professional historians as well as the findings of the special commission established by decree of former president Valdas Adamkus and operating under the Lithuanian government, which clearly and categorically judges the actions of the LAF and PG thus:
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
On Wednesday, November 16th 2011, the Tolerance Center in Vilnius hosted a conference called: Tolerance and Totalitarianism. Challenges to Freedom.