Monthly Archives: October 2015
Rothschild Conference on Jewish Cemeteries Issues Press Release
Statement of the Kaunas Jewish Religious Community Regarding the Old Piramónt Jewish Cemetery in Šnipiškės
KAUNAS—Moushe Beirakas (Moyshe Beirak), head of the Kaunas Jewish Religious Community, which administers the city’s historic Choral Synagogue, issued the following statement today. The original is in Lithuanian, and the translation was approved by the author. [Update: A version of the English text appears on the community’s Facebook page.]
As Rothschild Conference Winds Up in Vilnius, Kaunas Religious Jewish Community Issues Statement of Defiance
VILNIUS—The controversial Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) London conference on Jewish cemeteries wound up here in the Lithuanian capital yesterday afternoon with a triumphant press release that seemed to suggest that there are no serious objections to a $25,000,000 convention center in the middle of the old Jewish cemetery (the release says little about most of the diverse topics and academic contributions that made up the bulk of the actual academically and culturally rich event). A dozen delegates contacted by DefendingHistory.com had no idea from one-sided conference presentations that there was a highly specific, budgeted-for decision taken for the multimillion dollar facility not necessarily appropriate for a historic cemetery where thousands of people’s remains are interred. They were under the impression that there is some consultative, respectful dialogue between the different sides. There was much more they were not told about.
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė Completes Official Visit to Israel
LITHUANIA TRIBUNE / DELFI; JERUSALEM POST
Hopes Dashed She Would Announce Cancellation of “Vilnius Convention Center in the Old Jewish Cemetery” and Promise to Remove Public Memorials for Holocaust Collaborators
Asra Kadisha Calls on Lithuanian President, After Yad Vashem Visit in Jerusalem, to Cancel “Convention Center in the Vilna Jewish Cemetery”
NEW YORK—The Brooklyn based office of the international NGO Asra Kadisha that works to preserve Jewish cemeteries worldwide from desecration has released the following statement to coincide with the official visit to Israel of Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaitė. Titled “World Jewry Hopes that Lithuanian President’s Visit to Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem will Result in Government’s Cancellation of Development Plans on Vilnius Cemetery,” it calls on the president to cancel the mass desecration of the oldest Jewish cemetery in the Lithuanian capital by a convention center where crowds would cheer, sing and drink surrounded by many thousands of Jewish graves. The old cemetery is in the Šnipiškės (Shnipishok) district, and is known in Vilna Yiddish culture as Piramónt. The Asra Kadisha statement reads as follows:
As Lithuania’s President Visits Israel
O P I N I O N
Rothschild (of London) Finances “Closed” Conference (in Vilnius) on Jewish Cemeteries (That May be Cover for Most Painful Desecration Yet of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery)
OPPOSITION PAPER TRAIL HIGH INTRIGUE DH SECTION EU ASPECTS
VILNIUS—Not for the first time, outstanding scholars and professionals are happy to accept a gracious invitation to a Jewish-topic international conference in this beautiful East European capital city that has for centuries been a symbol of the resilience of various minority cultures, including stateless cultures, to thrive side by side.
“HISTORY IN THE MAKING”
Delegates to a conference on Jewish cemeteries, held in Vilnius in 2015, can get to read the statement in 2015 on a certain Jewish cemetery by the Chief Rabbi of Lithuania of 11 years’ standing, for which he was dismissed a couple of months before the conference. Would the conference not wish to hear from the rabbi too?
Šeduva (Shádov): The Memorial Events of Friday 9 October 2015
E V E N T S / O P I N I O N
by Evaldas Balčiūnas
On Friday 9 October 2015, the Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund Society presented the results of their work on the project Lost Shtetl. There were, taken together, over two hundred visitors on the day. They included pupils of Vilnius’s Sholem Aleichem school and of the Šeduva high school, representatives of the Jewish community of Šiauliai (Shavl), Lithuanian Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky, the mayors of nearby towns, a deputy minister of foreign affairs, and ambassadors or embassy representatives of many countries, including the Netherlands, Japan, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, and Ukraine.
Run-Up to a Vilnius Rothschild Foundation (London) Conference
CONCERN SPREADING OVER “CLOSED [SECRET?] CONFERENCE” IN VILNIUS 25-28 OCTOBER FINANCED BY ROTHSCHILD FOUNDATION (HANADIV LONDON)! LIST OF SPEAKERS INCLUDES SPOKESMAN OF THE LONDON CPJCE “GRAVE TRADER RABBIS” BUT NOT ONE FROM THE MASSIVE INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION
Lithuanian Government Announces Construction of a $25,000,000 Convention Center in the Center of Vilna’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery
O P I N I O N / H I S T O R Y / P I R A M O N T / C E M E T E R I E S
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.
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:
First Moral Victory in the EU, in Effort to Prevent Unprecedented Desecration of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery
Alperovich Memorial on Monday 12 October 2015
Lithuanian Jewish Community remembrance event for its legendary leader for 25 years, the late Dr. Shimon Alperovich (Simonas Alperavičius, 1928-2014), at 11 AM sharp at Vilnius Jewish cemetery (Sudervės 28). Tributes upon his death. Alperovich section in DH.
Everybody Welcome at Svintsyán (Švenčionys) Memorial Events This Sunday 11 Oct. 2015
11 OCTOBER COMMEMORATION PROGRAM FOR THE 8000 HOLOCAUST VICTIMS OF SVINTSYÁN (ŠVENČIONYS) AND ITS REGION WHO WERE MURDERED ON 7-8 OCTOBER 1941 AT POLIGÓN OUTSIDE SVENČIONĖLIAI
Mass grave of the Jewish communities of Svintsyán (Švenčionys) and the neighboring towns Dugelíshik (Naujasis Daugėliškis), Duksht (Dūkštas), Haydútsetshik (Adutiškis), Ignáline (Ignalina), Kaméleshik (Kimelishki, Belarus), Koltinyán (Kaltanėnai), Lingmyán (Linkmenys), Líntep (Lintupy, Belarus), Maligán (Mielagėnai), Podbródz (Pabradė), Stayátseshik (Stajėtiškis), Svintsyánke / Náy-Svintsyàn (Švenčionėliai)
Telling the Stories of the Forgotten Jewish Refugees of Ukraine
O P I N I O N
by Sam Sokol
While antisemitism in France and other western European nations generates the headlines, the Jews of Ukraine are facing the greatest humanitarian catastrophe in the Jewish world in 2015. Thousands of Jews have been made homeless by the military conflict that has decimated their communities in Donetsk and Luhansk while both sides of the conflict bandy about casual accusations of antisemitism at their enemies for propaganda purposes, falsely turning the issue into a Jewish one.
Neo-Nazi Alleged to Work in Lithuanian Economy Ministry Didn’t Like DH’s Report on Vilnius Conference
VILNIUS—The pseudonymous neo-Nazi blogger “Zeppelinus,” long alleged to be the alias of a high official in the Ministry of the Economy (DH still awaits a reply to our open letter of 2013 to the relevant minister), is notorious for his racist, antisemitic, and homophobic images that continue to needlessly damage Lithuania’s good name (sampling at end of article). This web journal’s editor has long been one of his many photoshop and photofake targets, naturally a source of pride for any and all within Vilnius’s bona fide human rights community. As some Lithuanian human rights activists put it, “If you didn’t make it into Zeppelinus’s sicko gallery, you’re not really doing enough for human rights in this country.”
New York Descendant of Jews Buried at Piramónt Receives Reply from the European Commission
THE PAPER TRAIL / THE OPPOSITION / DH SECTION / BACKGROUND
Mr. Berel Fried of New York City, an Orthodox Jewish scholar and businessman, has authorized publication of the reply which he received from the European Commission to his letter of 25 August 2015, sent to Frans Timmermans, first vice president of the European Commission, regarding plans for a convention center at the old Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. He is a frequent visitor to Vilnius, where he is known for his exquisite Torah readings at the Choral Synagogue.
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.
Impressions of the Conference on “Antisemitism, Radicalization and Violent Extremism”
H U M A N R I G H T S / E V E N T S / O P I N I O N
by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė
A few days before the international conference on “Antisemitism, Radicalization and Violent Extremism” [DH report here], held at the Novotel on Vilnius’s central boulevard Gedimino on 30 September 2015, a friend’s acquaintance came from the United States to look for her ancestors’ Litvak heritage: the house in which they lived, the street on which they walked.
She said she did not find anything because the relevant archives in Kaunas no longer existed. Instead, she showed us pictures on her iphone of a pavement made out of crushed Jewish gravestones.
Looking at the photo of the continued use of the crushed gravestones, she said “This is very much an instance of antisemitism,” something she repeated more than once during our discussion.
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).