August and September 2016 Memorials for Destroyed Jewish Communities
Summer and Fall 2016: 75th Anniversary
of the Nazis’ annihilation, with vast local collaboration, of Lithuania’s Jews in the towns, villages, provinces; implementation of ghettoization and mass murder in the cities.
Perhaps among the simplest, most minimalist measures of a municipality’s sincerity (beyond PR bonanzas, photo-ops and legitimizations via useful foreigners): (a) Modest town-center information board on the origins, history, culture, contributions and (true) fate of the town’s Jewish citizens; (b) Rapid removal of any local shrines, street names, museum tributes etc. to the local collaborators and murderers. “You just can’t make heroes out of the killers and expect to cover it up with some annual PR event for the foreigners.”
Language and respect for the victims: In addition to Lithuanian and English, will new memorial texts (including those at forest mass graves and old cemeteries) continue to include Yiddish, the language of 100% of the murdered Jews in all these towns? For many years, Lithuania has had a uniquely admirable record in this regard.
For information on the Jewish history and culture of each of the towns, see the relevant entry in the late Berl Kagan’s concise Yiddish encyclopedia. A full Lithuanian translation is to be published by Vilnius’s Jewish Cultural and Information Center.
AMONG THE SEASON’S EVENTS IN LITHUANIA:
Zarasai was known more formally in Yiddish as Nay-Aleksánder (cf. pre World War I Russian name, Novo-Aleksandrovsk), but informally, it was lovingly called Sénderke (see map).
QUESTION: IS IT CULTURALLY SENSITIVE AND APPROPRIATE FOR THE WIPED-OUT JEWISH COMMUNITY TO BE REMEMBERED BY MASS IN CHURCH FOLLOWED BY “YIDDISH SONGS IN THE CHURCH” (SEE: 12:45 TO 14:15)? WILL RABBIS BE INVITED TO ALSO LEAD A JEWISH MEMORIAL SERVICE? IS THE EVENT POLITICIZED BY FOREIGN MINISTRY INVOLVEMENT?
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