VILNIUS—Baltic News Service (BNS) carried today the text of a public statement issued by the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC), joined by the Jewish communities of Klaipėda, Šiauliai, and Ukmergė (known in Jewish history as Meml, Shavl and Vilkomir, respectively). For its readers’ information, Defending History is providing a translation below. Please note that in the event of any query arising, the Lithuanian text alone is authoritative; items in square brackets  have been added in the translation for clarity.
Readers wishing to look at the background are invited to our tracking section, Lithuania’s Jewish Community Issues. As our readers know, the Defending History community tends to see in the sad events of recent years the ominous hand of manipulation of a small but creative and proud Jewish community, by way of restitution monies that, some believe, are being channeled in ways that are not according to the democratic wishes of the members of the nation’s Jewish community. During last year’s election campaign, the rules were changed mid-campaign to disenfranchise the Jewish community’s living members via a new system based on a handful of organization chiefs, one of whom lives in Brussels. In one of the saga’s lowpoints, picking up on local antisemitic tropes, the official, government-sponsored community, where various ex-government or political officials and/or their children occupy some of the major positions, accused the actual Vilnius Jewish Community of being Russian speakers who pretend to be Jews, leading to international media coverage.
Translation of Text from BNS, 23 March 2017:
Press Release: Motion of No Confidence in Chairwoman of Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community Faina Kukliansky
The Jewish communities of Vilnius, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, and Ukmergė, comprising an absolute majority of Lithuanian Jews, state their lack of confidence in chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community (LJC) Faina Kukliansky.
Neither she nor the organization she leads any longer represent the interests of Jews living in Lithuania. The period of Ms. Kukliansky’s leadership has seen the ruination of the very concept of the community. Via legal manipulations, the community was turned into an association of organizations, the majority of which represent the interests of one or several founders/chairpersons, including organizations that exist only on paper, e.g., the Charity Foundation of the LJC that is currently under liquidation. Moreover, the liquidator of several years’ standing has been Ms. Kukliansky herself.
Ms. Kukliansky has concentrated both financial and decision-making power in her own hands. She is the chairwoman of both the Good Will Foundation (GWF), the main sponsor of the Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community that dispenses the real estate [derived restitution funds] of [the prewar] Jewish religious communities, as well as of the Lithuanian Jewish Heritage Foundation that is the only shareholder of the Good Will Foundation. Instead of being a respected protector of all Lithuanian Jews’ interests, she became a classic dictator who uses her power only for the benefit of herself and her inner circle.
LJC authorities use both legal and unscrupulous actions for one purpose only: to keep power in their hands for as long as possible. Those “loyal” to the authorities are cynically encouraged with money from the GWF. The Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC), comprising more than half of all Lithuanian Jews, was “punished” for taking an independent stance. Due to the illegal actions of the chairwoman of the LJC, the VJC is not allowed to take part in the governing bodies of the LJC. Jewish life is stagnating due to the myriad complex of conflicts and the endless lawsuits. More and more people, including our youth, are distancing themselves from the conflict-ridden community. These are all consequences of Ms. Kukliansky’s authoritarian leadership.
In the name of the Jewish communities of Vilnius, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, and Ukmergė, we aim to behold the resignation of the current chairwoman of the LJC from all posts where she purportedly represents Lithuanian Jews, including, but not restricted to, the LJC and the GWF.
In the name of the Jewish people whom we represent, we call for legal and democratic elections of the governing body of the LJC, in which the proportional representation of all Lithuanian Jews, i.e., members of each of our Jewish communities to be respected, instead of the opinions of only a handful of so-called representatives of Jewish organizations being heard. In this way, transparency will be assured, manipulations and possible fraud would be averted, and the new authorities would be elected with the primary goal of restoring democratic governance, transparency, unity, and a sense of community to the life of the LJC. We strive for the LJC to become, once again, an open and warm home for all Lithuanian Jews.
- Simonas Gurevičius
- Vilnius Jewish Community