Yiddish Affairs

Antisemitism in the 21st Century Shtetl



 

OPINION  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  COMMEMORATIONS FOR DESTROYED COMMUNITIES

by Dovid Katz

This article appeared today in ISGAP Flashpoint:

The words “antisemitism in the shtetl” might evoke recollections of Fiddler on the Roof, a touch of family lore “from the old country” way back when, or for those familiar with modern Yiddish literature, a scene from this or that writer. Baffling as it may sound, however, it a substantial contemporary topic in the study of antisemitism, and, perhaps even more surprisingly, part of a phenomenon with implications for the future, given the vast number of cities, towns and villages in the world with a rich Jewish history but no living Jews, where potent anti-Jewish feeling (as well as pro-Jewish feeling) can be observed. As noted back in Flashpoint 21, antisemitism in Eastern Europe is very different from its much better known Western and Middle East incarnations.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Norway, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Antisemitism in the 21st Century Shtetl

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.

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Yiddish Loses Last Global Position as Symbolic “First Jewish Language” in Vilnius



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.

For the first time in thirty years, Yiddish has been denied primacy of place among the Jewish languages of the city. The new sign starts with an Israeli Hebrew version used by nobody in pre-Holocaust Vilna.

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Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Dovid Katz, Events, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Israel, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Yiddish Loses Last Global Position as Symbolic “First Jewish Language” in Vilnius

Editor’s Comment on a Yad Vashem Group Visiting Lithuania



The following comment appeared on Facebook today:

YAD VASHEM’S “political department” and the group that visited Lithuania last week:

Thanks to both members of the group who quietly reached out to the Defending History team for a meeting. As you saw, nothing but good comes from relaxed, pleasurable, respectful and frank exchange of ideas and knowledge, over a cup of coffee. It was sad that the group was (again) hermetically sealed from “The Second Opinion” here in Vilnius (and those Holocaust survivors who hold such opinions), as if Israeli citizens cannot be trusted to cope with a rich tapestry of opposing views when they visit Eastern Europe. (That various “Yiddish” institutions gleefully, at times, play the role of gatekeeper of ideas here is another issue.) For background on the issues from our team’s perspective, please see:
https://defendinghistory.com/…/political-pressure-on-yad-vas…
https://defendinghistory.com/israel-debates/43340
https://defendinghistory.com/blaming-the-victims
https://defendinghistory.com/category/israel

Over the years some amazing Israeli heroes of truth and courage have indeed spoken out.

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Baltic Red-Brown “Nazi-Soviet Hunter” Featured at Brazil’s Olympics in Rio



OPINION  |  RED-BROWN COMMISSION (PAGE)  |  RB COMMISSION (SECTION)  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE

VILNIUS—The news portal Delfi.lt reported yesterday on Lithuanian sharpshooting star Ronaldas Račinskas making a hit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics not only for his talents with a rifle, but on his work back home for which the headline calls him the “Nazi-Soviet hunter,” in the latest of a long series of Holocaust terms appropriated and ably recast by the Red-Brown movement’s PR wizzards. Besides heading a commission that now includes the gentleman who launched the campaign, a decade ago, to “hunt” Holocaust survivors who joined the Jewish partisans, his “Nazi and Soviet hunting” refers to his role as Director of the Secretariat of that comission, popularly known as the Red-Brown Commission, a state-financed entity that is one of the main European engines for spreading the revisionist far right’s “Double Genocide” model of World War II history. In that history, as an example, those who liberated Auschwitz are declared to be equal in principle to those who committed the genocide there. Moreover the movement’s primary document, the 2008 Prague Declaration (PD), insists that all European “minds” accept the revised history and regard Nazi and Soviet crimes as equal, a stance widely considered to be a camouflage for obfuscating and diminishing the Holocaust. The response in the European arena came in the form of the 2012 Seventy Years Declaration (SYD).

Director of the Secretariat of the state-sponsored International Commission on the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania (known for short as the “Red-Brown Commission”) is a sharpshooting star at the Rio Olympics. He has rapidly brought red-brown politics into the apolitical environment of the Olympic Games. His views on the Holocaust feature in a new German documentary.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Double Genocide, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Views of Mr. Ronaldas Račinskas and the State-Sponsored "International Commission" (ICECNSORL), Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Baltic Red-Brown “Nazi-Soviet Hunter” Featured at Brazil’s Olympics in Rio

Appeal to Conscience of the “Red-Brown Commission”


[updated]


Appeal to the conscience of the members of the renewed state-financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", 70 Years Declaration, A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Double Genocide, Germany, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory, Prague "Platform", Yad Vashem Manipulated?, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Appeal to Conscience of the “Red-Brown Commission”

Forward Coverage of Yivo Strife Omits Mention of Instrumentalization by Lithuanian Holocaust Revisionism Industry



YIVO MANIPULATED?  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  DOUBLE GAMES

NEW YORK CITY—A 9 March 2016 Forward article, by Britta Lokting, focused on Martin Peretz’s recent resignation from Yivo’s board, cited a number of current Yivo issues. It did not, however, mention the major issue of instrumentalization by the Lithuanian government’s campaign of Holocaust obfuscation, relativization and revisionism. It did reference the now-famous Vilnius-based digitization project.

In 2011, Yivo honored an antisemitic foreign minister while failing to honor the Yiddish speaking Vilna Holocaust survivors maligned by Lithuanian prosecutors, resulting in a heartfelt plea from the long-time editor of the Jewish community’s quadrilingual newspaper. Then, in 2012, it sent its director to Vilnius to help cover for the reburial with full honors of a Holocaust perpetrator, and saw its director join (and thereby give legitimacy to) the notorious “Red-Brown Commission.” A year ago, the organization was called to task by a Vilna Holocaust survivor in the Yiddish Fórverts (English translation here; unmentioned in the English Forward?). See Defending History’s section on Yivo issues in recent years.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Forward Coverage of Yivo Strife Omits Mention of Instrumentalization by Lithuanian Holocaust Revisionism Industry

A Picture and its One Thousand Words: The Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery Revisited



HISTORY   |  PIRAMÓNT   |   CEMETERIES   |  PAPER TRAIL   |  OPPOSITION

by Sid (Shnayer) Leiman

The following is a reprint, with Professor Leiman’s permission, of his essay originally published on 14 January 2016 in The Seforim Blog. His October 2015 essay on the current plans for a convention center in the heart of the same cemetery is available here. He is Professor Emeritus of Jewish History and Literature at Brooklyn College in the City University of New York.

A: The Photograph

1: R. Menahem Manes Chajes (1560-1636)

2:  R. Shaul Katzenellenbogen (ca. 1770-1825)

3: R. Moshe, Dayyan of Vilna (ca. 1670-1740)

4: R. Hillel b. Yonah (d. 1706)

5: R. Moshe Darshan (d. 1726)

 6: R. Yaakov Kahana (d. 1826)

7: R. Eliyahu Hasid (d. 1710)

8: R. Yosef b. Elyah (d. 1718)

B: A Visit to the Old Jewish Cemetery in 1940

NOTES

DEDICATION OF THIS ESSAY TO R. KHAYKL LUNSKI

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Sid (Shnayer) Leiman, Yiddish Affairs | Comments Off on A Picture and its One Thousand Words: The Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery Revisited

Vilnius Mayor Plays with Fire: Yiddish, Pilfered Jewish Gravestones, and an Olympics of “Barbarism”



O P I N I O N     /     C E M E T E R I E S    /     P I R A M Ó N T    /    P A P E R   T R A I L

by Dovid Katz

VILNIUS—This city’s dashing young new mayor, Remigijus Šimašius, elected last spring, has now added Yiddish to the previously bilingual (Lithuanian-English) signs, wrought of expensive metal in rounded-edged casement, in times of austerity for pensioners and others in town. These signs are being placed near Soviet-era edifices made of pilfered Jewish gravestones (matséyves) that are a blot on this charming East European capital. This is the latest model featured on the mayor’s office website:

mayorskhokhme

Photo: Vilnius Municipality / Mayor’s Office.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, CPJCE (London), Double Genocide, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Reformed Evangelical Church (Vilnius), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Mayor Plays with Fire: Yiddish, Pilfered Jewish Gravestones, and an Olympics of “Barbarism”

Impressions of the 11 October 2015 Memorial Program in Svintsyán (Švenčionys)



VILNIUS—The following is an informal report on today’s Jewish memorial events in the Svintsyán (Švenčionys) region, posted by Dovid Katz on his Facebook page:
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Police Prevent Kaunas Jewish Guide Chaim Bargman from Attending Annual Memorial for the Annihilated Jews of Ukmergė (Vilkomir)



VILNIUS—Chaim Bargman, Jewish guide in Kaunas, asked today in Vilnius that DefendingHistory.com record a statement in Yiddish from him on an incident that occurred on 6 September (video here). Bargman, a beloved guide and genealogist for international Jewish-interest tourists in the Kaunas (Kovno) area for decades, was immortalized in the late Dan Jacobson’s Heshel’s Kingdom (1998). September 6th was the date of this year’s annual commemoration ceremony for the murdered Jews of Ukmergė (Yiddish: Vílkomir) held at the nearby mass grave, where, according to the Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, between 6,358 and 10,000 Jews from the region were humiliated and murdered. There was massive local collaboration as well as large-scale local participation in the slaughter of one of Lithuania’s most famous Jewish communities over many centuries. Disturbingly, for many, a town square in the heart of Ukmergė has a monument dedicating it to the memory of a notorious Holocaust perpetrator.

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Another “Conference on Antisemitism” in Lithuania



Human Rights  /  Antisemitism  /  Opinion

by Defending History Staff

The well-organized conference “Antisemitism, Radicalization and Violent Extremism”  was held on 30 September 2015 at Vilnius’s Novotel Hotel by the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HMRI) with partners (see program). It will go down in history as one of the most remarkable capers yet in the fraught local “Dead Jew Business,” as it is increasingly becoming known. The biggest shock of the day was that one of the three keynote morning session speakers was Swedish-born Lithuania-resident filmmaker Jonas Ohman, known in town for his (far right style) glorification of postwar resistance fighters — one of the most painful issues of Baltic antisemitism in the twenty-first century — without the slightest mention of the alleged Holocaust perpetrator background of the precise figures glorified.

But the film maker chosen for the morning session manages at the same time to also be a (far left style) Israel baiter, whose current “humanitarian project” is a petition asking the mayor of Vilnius to sack a Jewish (Israeli-Lithuanian) advisor on the basis of social media “silly photos” that become bacteriologically antisemitic when recycled in his own petition, and beyond, in its recontextualized, politically charged incarnation. Far from doing the same to counter officials and advisors with neo-Nazi links, he boasted in his talk (amateur video) of his links to Right Sector and other Ukrainian groups that adulate wartime Holocaust perpetrators. When he was trashing Israel, the Israeli ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon, sitting in the hall, boldly called out a question: “Are you rewriting the history?” (at time code 13:31).

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, History, Human Rights, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Norway, Opinion, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Another “Conference on Antisemitism” in Lithuania

90th Anniversary Yivo Conference in Vilnius is Major Success



E V E N T S    /    O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Despite the relatively modest number of participants in the hall, around fifty, the 90th Anniversary Conference of Yivo in Vilnius was unanimously judged to be a major success with Yiddish scholars and cultural leaders from Buenos Aires, New York, Tel Aviv and Vilnius reading papers in English, Lithuanian, and Yiddish. Four papers were in Yiddish (by Lea Garfinkel, Dovid Katz, Abraham Lichtenbaum and Mordehay Yushkovsky), representing a serious Yiddish-in-Yiddish component of an academic conference for the first time in years. Yiddish greetings were also delivered by Emanuelis Zingeris, parliamentarian and founder of the city’s Jewish museum. There were greetings from the Israeli ambassador and the Lithuanian parliament and foreign ministry.

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Delegates to Yivo Conference: Welcome to Vilnius!


ברוכיﬦ הביﬦ ﬡין וויﬥנע, דעלעגאַטן ויף דער ייוואָ קאָנפערענץ!

SVEIKI ATVYKĘ Į VILNIŲ, JIVO KONFERENCIJOS DELEGATAI!

WELCOME TO VILNIUS, DELEGATES TO THE YIVO CONFERENCE!

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Julius Berman Remembers Uri Chanoch



O B I T U A R I E S   /   L I T V A K   A F F A I R S

The following message following the death of  Uri Chanoch (1928-2015) was circulated this week by Julius Berman, president of the Claims Conference in New York.

I am heartbroken to share the news that Uri Chanoch, a dear friend and stalwart supporter of the Claims Conference, and a member of the board of directors and negotiating committee, passed away at his home in Israel on Tuesday night, September 1. I wrote Uri a note earlier this week and told him how much we appreciate and look forward to his exhortations at board meetings as he cried out from the heart about the continuing despicable conduct of certain European nations regarding restitution.

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Dr. Rachel Margolis Dies in Rehovot; Didn’t Get to See Her Native Vilna One Last Time



רחל מאַרגאָליס (מַרְגָלִית) ז″ל

Rachel Margolis

Vilna, 28 October 1921  —  Rehovot, 6 July 2015


About Rachel Margolis: Shimon AlperovichAlgirdas Brazauskas, Gordon Brown, Abraham Foxman, Steinar Gil, Martin Gilbert, Chen Ivri Apter, Dovid Katz (Y), Francois Laumonier, NCSJGeoff Vasil. UK House of Lords, 5 US Congressmen, 9 Western ambassadors in Vilnius.

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Dancing on Jewish Graves in Vilna



O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

Editor’s note: Reprint from The Times of Israel, where this article, with several photographs, appeared on 25 June 2016.


I am a Holocaust survivor. I was born here in Vilnius (Yiddish: Vílne), today’s capital of Lithuania, known forever as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” for its vibrant Jewish culture, religious and secular, for hundreds of years. Today our post-Holocaust Jewish community is a tiny remnant, just a few thousand people, but we are vibrant, and, as always, a community of many opinions. Once again, a question has arisen that calls for robust discourse.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Dancing on Jewish Graves in Vilna

Why Was Richard Maullin, Head of California ISO, Honored by the Foreign Minister of Lithuania?



O P I N I O N

LOS ANGELES—Richard A. Maullin, elected less than a year ago as the chair of the California Independent System Operator (ISO) Board, was lavishly honored here on May 31st by both the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States and the Foreign Minister of Lithuania. The latter, in the tradition of royalty, meticulously placed the Lithuanian Diplomatic Star around the neck of Dr. Maullin, a major American pollster and principal of the LA polling and public policy research firm FM3, often still known by its older name Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Double Games, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Richard Maullin, United States, Views of Prof. Sarunas Liekis, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Was Richard Maullin, Head of California ISO, Honored by the Foreign Minister of Lithuania?

SLS’s 2015 Sutzkever Prize: Yiddish Poetry Serving Right-Wing East European Politics?



O P I N I O N

The bizarre saga of the Montreal-based Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) “Jewish Lithuania Sutzkever Prize” continues apace with ever-increasing disrespect toward Abraham Sutzkever and his fellow Jewish partisans who helped liberate Lithuania from the Nazis, and ever more political entanglement with current geopolitical instrumentalization of Yiddish and Jewish causes in Eastern Europe in the context of East-West tensions.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Canada, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Sutzkever Prize in Lithuania, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on SLS’s 2015 Sutzkever Prize: Yiddish Poetry Serving Right-Wing East European Politics?

Is the WJC Facing a Yiddish Values-and-Ethics Test?



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Yiddish comedy is alive and kicking. Here’s the plot for the new play. The World Jewish Congress gets millions from a Kyrgyz-Kazachstani donor with Lithuanian connections to set up the International Yiddish Center in Vilnius that will save the Yiddish language, a high priority for both the Kyrgyz and Kazachstani peoples. There are just a few strings attached from Lithuanian government-related units and commissions about who may not have a Yiddish teaching job there (for example those who oppose Holocaust Denial or have stood up for Yiddish speaking survivors accused by Lithuanian authorities of war crimes). The new International Yiddish Center is offered an opportunity one day to raise its profile bigtime by being showcased  in the Lithuanian Parliament. Who could refuse that? There may even be some medals to go around. But what is it they have to pull off to get there?

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