23 February 2018
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Lithuanian Jewish Community

Lietuvos Žydų Bendruomenė

LJC Chairman Dr. Simonas Alperavičius

The Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) is an organisation offering a wide range of cultural, communal and social services from kindergarten to senior level activties. Dr. Simonas Alperavičius has been the leader of the organisation since 1992. Along with the two functioning houses of worship, their house at Pylimo 4 is where you can meet the genuine Jewish locals and read the country’s only Jewish newspaper, Jerusalem of Lithuania, available in English, Yiddish, Lithuanian and Russian. The building also houses a youth club, Jewish Student Union, Union of Former Ghetto and Concentration Camp Inmates and the Union of WWII Jewish Veterans.

The LJC Chariman, Simonas Alperavičius, was born 11 October 1928 in Vilnius. In 1933, his family moved to Kaunas, where he completed six grades at the Kaunas Sholom Aleichem Jewish gymnasium. At the outbreak of World War II, he and his parents escaped to Russia.
In 1944, Alperavičius returned to Vilnius, where he graduated from the city‘s 4th Gymnasium in 1947. In 1947-1952, Alperavičius studied law at Vilnius University and graduated magna cum laude.

Alperavičius spent a period working in the Klaipėdas regional Ministry of Justice, and in 1961-1988 he taught at the Ministry of the Interior.

In 1989, he became executive director of the Jewish Community of Lithuania and in 1992 he was elected chairman. In 2006, he was elected chairman of the Jewish Community of Vilnius. He currently leads the Religious Jewish Communities of Vilnius and Lithuania. Alperavičius helped organize the first and second World Litvak Congresses.

Writer Grigory Kanovich was the first Chairman of the nowadays Lithuanian Jewish Community


Grigory Kanovich is one of the most re-known contemporary Jewish writers novelist, play and script writers. Grigory Kanovich was born in traditional Jewish family on 18th of June 1929 in Jonava (Yonava), Lithuania. His family escaped the WWII and spent evacuation in Kazahstan and Ural. In 1945 his family returned to Vilnius where he took Slavistic studies at Vilnius State Universitywhich he graduated in 1953.

His first poetry book was published in 1948. The very first novel about Jews to be published (1959) in post-war Soviet Union was written by G.Kanovich “I Am Glazing At Stars”. It was highly valued by that time living classic of Russian literature Konstantin Paustovski. Since then G.Kanovich wrote number of novels a kind of saga - about the fate of East European Jewry from middle of 19th century till nowadays trilogy “Candles In The Wind”, dilogy “FOOLS TEARS AND PRAYERS”, “Smile Upon Us, Lord!”, ”Two penny kid”, ”There Is No Paradise For Slaves”, ”Turn Not The Face From Death”, ”The Jewish Park”, ” Leaves Of Fallen Trees”, ”Fascination of Devil” and others.

Kanovich, as a member of the Holocaust generation, writing in Russian, depicts his protagonists as spiritual and hardworking people with strong self-confidence, resting on religion and custom. By means of the narrative technique of memory, Kanovich creates a literary resurrection of the Lithuanian Jews as a people which was almost completely exterminated during the Holocaust.
Omnipresent pictures of cemetery and grave transform the Lithuanian space into a metonymy of death and, grotesquely, to the only place of home, being the”shelter” for the killed bodies of the Lithuanian Jewry. (Christina Parnell, Department of Slavic Literature, University of Erfurt,Germany) East European Jewish Affairs, Volume 38, Issue 2 August 2008 , pages 169 183) Both Kanovich's personality and the special circumstances in Lithuania relating to Jewish nationality turned him into a cultural symbol for a whole generation of Soviet Russian Jews (Velvl Chernin, Jewish Political Studies Review 14:1-2 (Spring 2002) Novels of G.Kanovich are published with turnaround of more than 1,5mio copies in 12 languages English, German, Hebrew, Polish, Chezch and others. Literary critics often compare works of G. Kanovich with those of Itzhak Bashevis Zinger.

G. Kanovich won numerous awards for his novels National Prize of Literature of Lithuania ( for his trilogy ”Candles In The Wind” 1989), best novel in Israel (1997 ”Jewish Park”), number of times his novels were among those to seek award of Russian Booker prize. His novel ”Seller of Dreams was among those nominated for International Booker award in 1997. His latest novel ”Fascination of Devil” is among nominees of Russian Booker award for 2009.

G. Kanovich is an author of more than twenty plays and scripts. A play based on his novels ”Smile Upon Us, Lord !” and ”Two Penny Kid” staged by Rimas Tuminas and performed by Vilnius Mazasis Teatras is considered the best theatrical performance in Lithuaniain the past 20 years. The play and actors have won numerous national and international awards among them First prize of International Theatre Festival of Baltic and North European Countries held in Sankt Petersburg, Russia.” Smile Upon Us, Lord is a production which touched me, overwhelmed me from head to toes, which made me cry and then laugh through tears. I belong to those who did read the novels of Grigori Kanovich and I have to say that all his novels build up a single large painting about the life of Lithuanian Jews, like a mosaic made of tiny colour stones, that you can't dismantle, which you can't share out, because this entirety, like the creation of Sholom Aleikhem, Iossif Babel, has already become a part of a newly discovered, fixed, stopped and already passed life. I never imagined that one could transfer it on stage, and do it so easily as if it was a research, a game, an improvisation, with the joy of being on the stage and of having a possibility to act” (

In 1989 G. Kanovich was elected to the last Supreme Soviet in Moscow as a candidate of Lithuanian Independence movement Sajudis. He was among few delegates who have initiated a letter to last Soviet President Gorbachev about growing anti-Semitism in USSR. Letter was signed by 200 delegates of Supreme Soviet, including B.Jeltzin.

From 1989 till his repatriation in 1993 to Israel G. Kanovich was elected and served as a Chairman of Lithuanian Jewish Community. He remains an Honorary Chairman of this Community up to date. For his literature achievements and his role in Lithuanian culture GG. Kanovich was awarded by Lithuanian president V. Adamkus medal of Gediminas. G. Kanovich is a member of Israel and Russia PEN club. G. Kanovich and his wife Olga are residing in Bat Yam, Israel.


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