by Dovid Katz
A“designer menorah” proposed as an official “new Litvak logo” featuring the candelabrum’s center replaced by a Lithuanian national symbol that is perfectly legitimate but has in recent years frequently been adopted by neo-Nazi and far-right nationalist groups? One that is also at the center of the logo of the far-right organization that sponsored a demonstration defaming 95 year old Holocaust survivor (and anti-Nazi partisan hero) Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky just a few months ago? One over which women’s rights campaigners have been prosecuted in recent years (at the whim of far-right groups) for “desecrating”? One which a far right political candidate has used on his poster along with swastikas?
The official Lithuanian Jewish Community website, lavishly financed in three languages by the restitution-funded “Good Will Foundation” has this week featured on its English and Lithuanian pages the design, under the headline A New Litvak Logo. The accompanying unsigned editorial purporting to represent the “Jewish community” boasts with some potentially obsequious glee that the Justice Ministry has graciously given the community “permission” to use the symbol in its “Jewish” logo, going on to announce for the benefit of readers that incorporating the symbol “into a Litvak logo makes perfect sense” and indeed, to warn any would-be copycats that this dazzling invention is being “patented”. There is no mention anywhere about any local Jewish people (in other words the members of the community in whose name various pronouncements are being made) being surveyed, questioned or consulted.
Lithuanian Jewry may be small and fragile but it is vibrant as ever. The first published protest came within minutes of its publication in the “Motke Chabad” blog on the website of the Vilnius Russian-language publication Obzor [update: following this article, a report appeared in Izrus.il].