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Archive for June, 2013

Category : Business, economy, investments / Featured black

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What’s wrong with Europe
and how to fix it?


Valdas Samonis

Lithuania will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2013, starting from the 1st of July. VilNews has on this background asked readers to annotate and analyze factors that have to do with Europe, the EU, the euro and Lithuania. This is one of the posts we have received.

An article by Valdas Samonis, PhD, CPC
The Web Professor of Global Management(SM)

Cutting through the EU bureaucratic gobbledygook
Part 2


The more I am into my research on my forthcoming book
"INSIDER CRONY SOCIALISM", the more I see the parallels
between the Gorbachev's USSR and Barroso's EU!

Collapsing EUSSR under Reformer Barrosov?
Pray that God gives more wisdom to European Leaders!

I have to admit it.

The more I am into my research on my forthcoming book "INSIDER CRONY SOCIALISM", the more I see the parallels between the Gorbachev's USSR and Barroso's EU!

Read more...

Category : Front page

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Vilnius authorities
ban upcoming
Baltic Pride march


Vilnius municipal authorities ban the upcoming Baltic Pride march, even if Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court this week confirmed a ruling from the First Instance Court, stating that the Vilnius municipality was in breach of domestic law on peaceful assemblies by denying the possibility for the march to take place in the city centre.

Last January, Vilnius municipal authorities said the march could not be held along the Gediminas Avenue, in the centre of the city, claiming it would force shops and hotels to shut down due to security concerns, and, instead, proposed a secluded location along the banks of the Neris River.

Municipal authorities also claim the proposed route is too close to judicial and governmental buildings, raising national security concerns. However, in the past, demonstrations have been allowed on the same avenue.

“The decision to ban the Baltic Pride march on security grounds is disproportionate, given that the Vilnius authorities refused to engage in constructive discussions with the Lithuania Gay League, despite rulings by domestic Courts’ saying that negotiations had to be re-opened,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International has launched a petition calling on Lithuanian authorities to ensure the event takes place according to the organizers’ plans and that adequate protection is provided.

The Vilnius municipal authorities sought to block the first Baltic Pride in Vilnius in 2010, but the event ultimately went ahead following a court-ruling.

“It is frankly amazing that three years after the first Baltic Pride in Vilnius, we are back in exactly the same situation as before, with the City authorities openly refusing to respect the freedom of assembly of Pride participants and seemingly prepared to ignore administrative court rulings.”

Comments

Arunas Teiserskis The problem here is social conservatism, which has nothing to do with nationhood or freedom. Discrimination of gays was just recently widely accepted by lots of societies in the world and even enshrined in many religions (and still is). So changing this attitude won't be easy and will definitely not be done by means of directives "from above". Take note, that Lithuanian people were liberated from Soviet ideology, which they tried to replace either by Western liberalism or the same Western mainly Christian conservatism. And both proponents of those conflicting ideologies are accusing each other of being Soviet-style, what doesn't help to discuss in calm fashion. And by virtue of being anti-Soviet even neo-Nazis are deemed by social conservatives as less appalling than the open gayness. This problem exists in the West as well (especially taking into account recent decision of Supreme Court in the US, because if there were no problems with than, there would have been no need of Supreme Court involvement), so this is just another case of worldwide problem in separate country - which should be confronted, of course. Though one didn't talk about the whole US and its all population acting in backward and primitive fashion, when the DOMA was voted in. So please reserve your criticism for the conservative part of Lithuanian society, not the whole country. Especially when the Lithuanian court already ruled out that Vilnius Municipality's policies towards the parade broke the already existing Lithuanian laws.


Mary Ann Albee Bigotry in any form is still spelled the same.


Ricardas Cepas If somebody decided to be Napoleon or Czar they have medical atention. If sobebody decides to be Gay, their rights are protected. Thats not fair towards Napoleons or Czars;)


Arunas Teiserskis Ricardai, AFAIK, rights of "Napoleons and Czars" in modern society are to be equally protected as well of all other people, no matter what you decide or born to be. You should check your (total lack of) knowledge on legal matters in this field, if you think it is lawful in Lithuania to discriminate against people with mental disorder (not talking about your ethics to mock on this issue in this discussion).


Mary Ann Albee Being gay is not a mental illness nor does it use brutal and deadly force against those who do not march to their drummer.


Timotiejus Sevelis AMEN Sista!

Don't forget, GAYS are environmentally friendly....We don't add new people to the planet!!! LOL

NOW!! get out of my bedroom and let me have fun with my boyfriend!!!


Ricardas Cepas Arunas,
1. My problem is not that you Gay, its your private choice, my problem is, that you promote your private choice to children and people, which did not born Gay and you do it outside of your private life and do that hiding behind core values of human rights. By the way, Nazis use this strategy to come to power back then.

2. You mentioned "modern societies" it usually comes and goes, in my humble opinion, its more fashion of these years, then shift of core values, for some of us fortunatelly for some unfortunatelly. But I agree fashion always was hot topic. Remember Hipies "free love" movements? Where are they today?
So choice of promoting Gays by any means in press, demonstrations and etc., looks like natural survival strategy worldwide and has nothing to do with Human rights.

3. And if you born Gay-be it, dont promote it to children who were not born Gays. Respect their rights similary like I respect your private choice.


Linas Johansonas Ricardas Cepas Gays are born gay. And every gay was a child. What kind of "promotion" are you afraid of for children? You cannot turn a child or adult gay. Just like you didn't choose to be straight. It happens naturally within us. There is nothing wrong with teaching children that there are gay people in the world. It's a part of life.

and yes Ricardai, gay rights have to do with human rights.


Ricardas Cepas Linas Johansonas, Children are addicts to any advertising and they tent to try stuff when its promoted everywhere so hard.


Arunas Teiserskis Ricardai, I'm not gay, I'm very straight, married and have children. Meanwhile you're obviously dumb. Because you don't realize, that one in no possible means can "advertise" any straight person into being gay. And vice versa. It's not drugs and neither it is fashion. Go and educate yourself a bit, before pretending being smart.


Linas Johansonas  Ricardas Cepas: no one is promoting gay sex to them. For example, the gay march is about gay rights, not sex. yes, some teenagers do experiment with gay sex just like they experiment with straight sex & you know what, thats how some find out whether they are straight or gay. Teenagers having sex is going to happen without any promotion. It's a fact of life. Thats why you have to have sex education for teens. As for young children, they aren't developed enoiugh to be interested in any sex.


Wyman Brent I am straight and married and my wife and I will soon have our first child. We do not believe that knowing gay people exists will turn our child gay. He may be born gay but it will have nothing to do with the knowledge that others are gay. That would be like saying all gay people will become straight because they know that most people are straight.

Category : Opinions

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VILNIUS
NEWSLETTER

A New Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum is Open

The Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum is a new unit of the Lithuanian Art Museum, open to public from 28 of June. Vytautas Kasiulis has fully deserved to be called by art reviewers as one of the most interested painters of Paris school of the second half of 20th century.
Read more

Culture Night –
“Let There Be Night!”

Vilnius Old Town
2013-07-05

Music jingling all night long from the abandoned backyard in Vilnius old town, never-ending movie show in the meadow at the Baltasis Bridge, concerts, performances, exhibitions, workshops, and installations taking place on the streets, squares, and the most unexpected spaces... The entire city is filled with music, colors, lights, and smiles. And this is not a dream or a motive from a motion-picture. All this is the Culture Night.
Programme

New Self-Serve Bike Rental System in Vilnius

Starting July 15th, bikes will be available for self-serve rental for Vilnius residents and visitors. At the rental stations, bikes will be available for rent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The stations will be distributed at distances of 300-400m from each other. The bike rental season will extend to October 15th.
Read more

Discover Vilnius Old Town

If you came to Vilnius on your own and want to become acquainted with the city, to see its most beautiful sites, we invite you to join the tour Discover Vilnius Old Town. Tours are organised in English, Russian & German languages and start at 11 am from Cathedral Belfry.
Read more

Listen to the
Sounds of Music


Various Places
2013-07-021 – 2013-09-08

This is an international Christopher Summer Festival that abides by the rule “all genres are good except the boring ones”. It is one of the biggest summer events in Vilnius, which attracts numerous performers from Lithuania and other countries. A limitless, happy, eclectic marathon of fun “holiday” concerts is about to begin!
Read more

Days of Live Archaeology
in Kernavė


Cultural Reserve of Kernavė
Kerniaus g. 4a, Kernavė
2013-07-06 – 2013-07-07

The past will rise from the oblivion in the ancient capital of Lithuania. Festival of experimental archaeology is dedicated to commemorate the Coronation of Mindaugas – the Statehood Day. During the festival visitors will have a possibility to try various medieval games and funfairs, watch the craftsmen work.
Programme

Tamsta Music Festival

Trakai
2013-07-12 – 2013-07-14

July 12-14 – that's the weekend, when Lithuanians and their friends from all over the World are going to Trakai. Friendly atmosphere, tones of music, love, entertainment, games, beautiful nature and water – this festival is “a must” of this summer.
Programme

Contacts:
Vilnius Tourist Information Centre & Convention Bureau
Vilniaus g. 22 LT-01119 Vilnius
tic@vilnius.lt

Category : News

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What’s wrong with Europe
and how to fix it?


Valdas Samonis

Lithuania will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2013, starting from the 1st of July. VilNews has on this background asked readers to annotate and analyze factors that have to do with Europe, the EU, the euro and Lithuania. This is one of the posts we have received.

An article by Valdas Samonis, PhD, CPC
The Web Professor of Global Management(SM)

Cutting through the EU bureaucratic gobbledygook
Part 2


The more I am into my research on my forthcoming book
"INSIDER CRONY SOCIALISM", the more I see the parallels
between the Gorbachev's USSR and Barroso's EU!

Collapsing EUSSR under Reformer Barrosov?
Pray that God gives more wisdom to European Leaders!

I have to admit it.

The more I am into my research on my forthcoming book "INSIDER CRONY SOCIALISM", the more I see the parallels between the Gorbachev's USSR and Barroso's EU!

According to the numbers circulating in the European financial press, the EU outstanding debt is some euro 40 trillion!

The practically only EU paymaster's (Germany') GDP is some euro 2,5 trillion. I will not insult your intelligence; just compare the two!

For the first time in human history, the picture is further dangerously complicated by some one thousand trillion in toxic derivatives sloshing around the global economy. It is like financial AIDS and no bank will tell you that!

In terms of financial intermediation, Europe relies on banks much more than any other major region of the world economy.

On June 26, the EU agreed to a couple of years of reforms towards the European Banking Union (EBU), a very complex bank supervision, etc, arrangement that leaves some countries out, some in, to different and obfuscated extents, etc.

Coming to the Gorby/USSR parallel, when the central planning from Moscow (sorry: Frankfurt/Brussels!) doesn't work, the solution proposed by the planners is more centralized planning rather than letting nations or EU sub-regions to find their own workable solutions.

Germans are wise as usual; they exempted the great majority of their banks (that serve the German economy) from the EBU and will regulate them from Berlin, not Frankfurt (ECB)! Voila!

If I were a young European, I would buy my transatlantic ticket today; one way!

Pray that God gives more wisdom to European Leaders; as the Lithuanian Bishops suggests when the LT Presidency of the EU starts on July 01, 2013.

Category : Business, economy, investments

“If you seek wisdom, Vilnius is the place to go”

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Adv. Marcelle Juliet Saul Sheiman, an attorney to the Supreme Court of the Republic of South Africa and Israeli advocate, who attended the World Lithuania Economic Forum in Vilnius earlier this month. Marcelle Juliet Saul Sheiman (MS) currently serves as Chairman of the Israel-South Africa Chamber of Commerce.

South African attorney Marcelle Juliet Saul Sheiman:
Lithuanian Impressions 2010

15.05.2010
I am in Lithuania now and described my thoughts last night when I went along to the Shabbat dinner hosted by the Vilna Chabad Rabbi Krinsky: ones of belonging and identity.

I described these thoughts and feelings to the guests there - a community of English Jews who came as part of Jewish Journeys, a Canadian Rabbi and his wife, the Israeli now living in Lithuania and studying at its universities, and to the very elderly community members who were there (a meager amount of people). This followed the short lecture by the Rabbi as to Shavuot, and numbers - and how people were and are counted and the meaning of numbers in our life. He spoke of the being part of the Jewish people and how some no longer want to be a part of it and of the many dead.

I started telling the people about my feelings on landing in Lithuania – one of sadness in what was – the rise and fall of Yiddish civilization and how much had been and how many had lived and then also the feeling of belonging, something in me of belonging here. There was a part of me that was here.

I also very much felt a sense of belonging that night – interestingly enough juxtaposed to what was expressed by one person – his sense of alienation in Lithuania.

Read more...

Category : Front page

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“If you seek wisdom,
Vilnius is the place to go”

Adv. Marcelle Juliet Saul Sheiman, an attorney to the Supreme Court of the Republic of South Africa and Israeli advocate, who attended the World Lithuania Economic Forum in Vilnius earlier this month. Marcelle Juliet Saul Sheiman (MS) currently serves as Chairman of the Israel-South Africa Chamber of Commerce.

Adv. Marcelle Juliet Saul Sheiman: Lithuanian Impressions 2010

15.05.2010

I am in Lithuania now and described my thoughts last night when I went along to the Shabbat dinner hosted by the Vilna Chabad Rabbi Krinsky: ones of belonging and identity.

I described these thoughts and feelings  to the guests there -  a community of English Jews who came as part of Jewish Journeys, a Canadian Rabbi and his wife, the Israeli now living in Lithuania and studying at its universities, and to the very elderly community members who were there (a meager amount of people). This followed the short lecture by the Rabbi as to Shavuot, and numbers - and how people were and are counted and the meaning of numbers in our life. He spoke of the being part of the Jewish people and how some no longer want to be a part of it and of the many dead.

I started telling the people about my feelings on landing in Lithuania – one of sadness in what was – the rise and fall of Yiddish civilization and how much had been and how many had lived and then also the feeling of belonging, something in me of belonging here. There was a part of me that was here.

I also very much felt a sense of belonging that night – interestingly enough juxtaposed to what was expressed by one person – his sense of alienation in Lithuania.

I may go the synagogue tomorrow. I land up doing things that I did so many years ago and am not sure of the fit anymore. How does this relate to how I am feeling today, personally? It feels strange to know that there is a time for everything, maybe because I always felt timeless. There is a time for everything and there is timelessness to everything and that includes a time to live and time to die. Who makes that choice? In what way are we G-d’s messengers and in what we do, G-d’s will? Is everything G-d’s will? Even the greatest of horrors? And then how can they be horrors?

I spoke of souls to the Rabbi last night – that I believe that when Jewish souls get too many, something happens to the Jewish people, and that our strength lies not in numbers. Everything is as it is meant to be. I question this place then of free choice and then there is this place of natural - of no decision – not to do and not not to do – where it simply is. [Maybe that is the place of free choice]. That is the feeling that I have now – is it the empty, or is it the missing? Is it the abundance or the lack  thereof? There is no sense to anything in the literal meaning of sense.

IT IS SOMETIMES SO DIFFICULT TO KNOW THAT EVERYTHING CAN BE – probably because then we realize just how powerful we are  - that our thoughts do create our reality; that things can lead one way or another based on our thoughts; and that we are the creators of our thoughts and lose touch with what is natural. But if our thoughts guide our reality, then anything can be so why is there so much suffering? Is it because we resist? resist what? How do our thoughts and its influence on reality have anything to do with G-d?

What is the natural way of things?

I looked at the Rebbitzin last night . She looks young, people say and she has 10 children. She is probably younger than me. I see her beautiful children.  When I said to the Rabbi – wow you have 9 children (as I thought) he said – 10, but who is counting. I remember and recalled for him the story of the Palestinian woman whom I met and who was called Enough.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I went to the Choraline Synagogue yesterday (Shabbat) – the only synagogue left standing in Vilna. I started off my day by going into the Vilnius cathedral, a huge white marble cathedral opposite my hotel. I then walked down the streets on the way to the synagogue. Magnificent little coffee houses and medieval architecture and then arrived at the Gates of Dawn - very ornamental, gold, Christian  - making my way through them to another part of the world it seemed. A part that is old, decrepit and run down, in the direction of the synagogue. It had locked gates but I managed to get in with the help of an elderly man that was also entering. There is a bell though.

I took a prayer book and sat down in the section separated for women by a lace curtain.  I started praying and crying – an overwhelming feeling of being in a place which in my imagination had been filled with so many people. I could imagine my family and then  - all of them being killed. Maybe herded in this shul before being taken off somewhere to die. Life and death together. I could feel the death so palpably interwoven with the life.

The Cantor's wife - came to talk to me. She had on what seemed to be a beautiful short wig. She struck me more like a beautiful doll. She told me of herself, her family. Whereas the Chabad rabbi had told of 1000 people at his Seder, she tells me of the dying community  - mostly assimilated or very old. There are these two old women praying in the Shul. They must be in their 80’s. they must have been very  beautiful and still seem as such – blond but with hunched backs and walking sticks. I wish them Shabbat Shalom and they smile at me through their toothless mouths. There is also this Rabbi (brought in from outside the community) with a menacing look  - a huge beard and everyone seems to be a bit frightened of him. He peers through these round rimmed spectacles and rants and raves in the Shul. I walk on through the Jewish quarter with the UK crowd of people I met Friday night at the Chabad rabbi. We are doing a walking tour  - the one concentrating on the life that was – the Vilna Gaon, the scholastic dynasty. Later on a tour will be taken in the same parts  - the ghetto and the Holocaust. The Rabbi who is guiding the UK troupe on its Jewish journey says that it is very confusing to do the Life and Death parts together. I leave them after a while to go off to Trakas castle on my own.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I take a guided tour to Trakas on Saturday afternoon. The guide, a young Lithuanian woman is amazed to hear that as a Jew from South Africa and now in Israel, I had grandparents born in born Kovna (Kaunas) and Ponevys. On the way to this beautiful castle we pass Ponerai. There is such beautiful countryside, farms, trees amidst the difficult pictures I have in my mind.

+++++++++++++

16.5.10

This is a beautiful country – they look like cherry blossoms on the trees, I think they may be apple. And then the little beginnings of pines. Everywhere.  A land soaked with blood. It is a big country here – once spreading from the Baltic to the Black sea. There is a declining population and it has a different energy to the one I know in Israel. The Jewish community is also dead.

+++++++++++++

17.5.10

I went for a walk this morning to find the Green House. I eventually found it, confusing it originally with the Museum for Genocide Victims, based on Russian atrocities on the Lithuanians during their occupation. I walk up a small hill  and make my way there through a 7 roomed little house. You ring a bell and a woman answers. The first exhibit that strikes me is an excerpt from the “Jaeger report”. I copy it down:

Secret Reich Business:

I consider the Jewish action more or less terminated as far as Einsatzkommando 3 is concerned. Those working Jews and Jewesses still available are needed urgently and I can envisage through the winter will be required even more urgently. I am of the view that the sterilization programme of the male worker Jews should be started immediately so that reproduction is prevented. If despite sterilization a Jewess becomes pregnant, she will be liquidated.

Today I can confirm that our objective to solve the Jewish problem of Lithuania has been achieved by EK3. In Lithuania, there are no more Jews apart from Jewish workers and their families.

These total:   In Schaulen c4,500

In Kauen c15,000

In Wilna c15,000

I  copy down other references to Stahlecker ‘s Reich secret document on Jews. A poem – Never Say by Hirsh Glik. A reference to a book by Solly Ganor – Light One Candle. Rabbi Ephraim Oshry’s  - The Annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry (translation by Y. Leiman).

I have come to the museum although I did want to follow the life of the Jews not so much for their deaths as for their life. But I find them so inextricably interwoven in this place. I read a letter from a woman to her brother in South Africa just before she and as she says – her babies are going to be killed. She is writing to her brother and tells him that her husband has been killed and now she and her children are about to be killed. She asks for blood to be avenged. I read and write various things and some are too sickening to read, so I don’t. I exit the museum and am met by the Cantor's wife. She is in pants this time and dons that beautiful  - what seems like – coiffed wig. She takes me home  - we meet her husband who is on the way out to get a cucumber for our meal. We walk up the stairs and she kisses the Mezuza on the inside of the house. Don’t you have mezuzot on the outside of the door  - No she says – it is too dangerous. Even her husband wears a cap and not a skullcap. His beard also sometimes arouses speculation. He comes home and we talk. I ask him why he still lives here. He is from Minsk. He tells of his wife’s elderly parents but this is not the only reason – he belongs here he says. In this place where the Vilna Goan and a thriving Jewish community lived. It is not always necessary to follow the Kehila he says, even though living amongst a Kehila is also important. There are only old Jews here he says  - they come to Chabad and to the synagogue for help. The rabbi who I described already -  he says -  comes to take the services.. This Cantor is a man who opens the heavens with his singing and comes from generations of Hazans.

We speak of Israel and I mention the calling for our spirit as Jews. And he quotes from psalms – a piece which reiterates the sentiment that  the Jewish spirit is the shtetl Jew and we sit and talk and I eat. Would you believe.. Herring, Chopped Herring  - just as I know it is made – with apple, and onions and eggs. It feels like home. His wife has set us a feast of chopped herring, bread, cheese, eggs for me, coffee and for me especially she brings out the Amarula – South African liqueur.  She accompanies me back to the hotel, past a few more of the forgotten Jewish sites. I tell her that I learnt there was only one tree in the Ghetto – I wonder where that tree is?

I find myself attracted to her vivacity, her liveliness and that of her husband. I am Lithuanian, a Lithuanian Jewess it feels. I don’t feel loved and am wary of being the outsider but in many ways as with the Cantor, we belong.

19.05.2010

I wake up this morning with a frightened feeling. This is not Vilna, this is Kaunas - Kovna for me. This is what the guide on Saturday called the dead place. The bus ride to Kaunas brings me to a station which is replete with older cars, townspeople, something that reminds me of the towns or other cities in South Africa – not Johannesburg. There is even one man dressed in complete Russian soldier attire. It really feels strange – I see  lots of open spaces, greenery, places where I have a sense one could have hid a lot of bones. My imagination.

What was here before? I want to be able to trace back the life and I feel frightened because somehow I feel alienation here [Yet from my few experiences since arriving here, the people appear friendlier than in Vilna].  Then I sit down at breakfast and in another moment I taste the way the omelets are made and I want to tell my father that no wonder he makes such great eggs. He obviously must have learnt that from his father. Does he remember what he ate way back when he was a little boy. Maybe his dad cooked for him. I have to learn to make omelets the way they do here.

I walked quite some way yesterday just to find and then touch some vestige of Jewish life. I come to the Synagogue. The gate is open and I ring the bell. A man who speaks Yiddish lets me in and I take pictures. I am reminded of the Jewish rivalries between the various synagogue factions and am told that “Kalmanowitz” you know, the mafia one from Moscow who was killed, is/ was a part of this synagogue. My "Zeida" on my father’s side was an atheist and a communist, a “difficult” man who was at once, a great artisan being able to carve the most beautiful pieces of wood and at same time, a man who could kill to protect his family. I think at once of the Jews. Those people of whom the Baal Tefila spoke. And I realize just how strong these Jews were. They were educated and strong in spirit. Who has the audacity to say that they went like sheep to the slaughter. Are these the same Jews that have guns and tanks – not that we shouldn’t have guns –– but there is strength in spirit.

I think of modesty and realize the gift of simplicity and modesty. Something it seems I have forgotten or with which I am not in touch in my milieu.  Too much money,  big houses. This place seems denuded of money. It is very much country. I think of my yesterday’s reading up on the flag of Lithuania – Yellow, Green and Red. The colours of the Lithuanian flag – Yellow, green and red – represent sum, light and prosperity; the beauty of nature, freedom and hope; and earth, courage and blood shed in defending Lithuania’s independence. At the moment it has been only green and red for me.

Vilnius – some excerpts:

Before WWII there was a saying among European Jews: if you are keen on earning money, go to Lodz; if you seek wisdom, Vilnius is the place to go.

“I live in this city with a feeling that it does not belong to me and that I have only come here for a visit – as a human being, a poet and a Lithuanian. In this respect Vilnius could be compared only to Jerusalem. Only Jerusalem is the city of G-d, whereas Vilnius is the city of a dream. Trivial as it might seem, it was founded after Gediminas has a dream. It’s as if Vilnius was not created by man – you have the feeling that Vilnius has risen from the ground, from the confluence of the rivers, from the landscape – it rises on its won, possibly with some support by man. It is also in the details that the beauty of Vilnius lies. On the one hand, the Vilnius of the dream lets its citizens merely touch it; on the other hand, Vilnius sucks them in and swallows them”

AIDAS MARCENAS poet

Market day in Vilnius

The soul of a bearded Jew

Is weighing memory

SIGITAS PARULSKIS

POET and WRITER

There is only one Jewish house of prayer in Vilnius at present. Not too long ago, however the Lithuanian capital was called ‘a city of a hundred synagogues’. On the even of WWII, Vilnius, which was then called the Jerusalem of Lithuania, had over 110 Jewish houses of prayer, the majority of which were destroyed during the war.

“I sometimes think that Vilnius was invented by a jolly maiden, that it is a dream she dreamed about – the flood, the boats, the two rivers, the mountain and the temples, lots of temples and little streets.

In the evening, when people disperse into their homes, and darkness walks the streets of Vilnius, I see how, in the shelter of their sleeping houses, their dreams alight – the dreams about something different, about how good it would be if it could be. Wrapped in silence, the streets of Vilnius… are dreaming.

Vilnius speaks with every stone of its cobble roads, every window bathed in soft light at night, every roof of a church, the happy laugh of students: once we were here, it was here that we that we were happy and sad, we built, we searched, we lost and found our path again. I myself am dispersing into the streets and the faces of passerby, I start flickering among the leaves of trees in the park and become a tiny part of the big dream of Vilnius…

They say that there are no stairs to heaven. Yet I can feel them here. Oftentimes in a narrow land, an old courtyard, in the glance of a passerby, in the sweet aroma of fresh bread rolls lingering in the air after the bakery opens in the morning. Sometimes autumnal leaves brush against them gently and whirl upward to our cherished dreams.” 

Category : Litvak forum

- Posted by - (0) Comment

90% of all Jews in
South Africa are Litvaks

Text and photos: Aage Myhre

It is considered that around 90% of the approximately 80,000 Jews living in South Africa are of Lithuanian descent (the so-called Litvaks), which thus constitutes the largest pocket of Litvaks in the world! You are hereby invited to learn more about this unique Jewish community that still holds Lithuania alive in their hearts, museums and synagogues.


The Jewish Museum in Cape Town is more Lithuanian than Lithuania itself.

The Jewish Museum in Cape Town offers visitors a journey back in time. Most museums do. The striking feature of this museum, however, is that the journey to the past also brings us to a completely different part of our world, from Africa's southern tip to a seemingly modest little country far to the north, to a country where around 90% of South Africa's Jewish population has its roots (there are today about 80,000 Jews in South Africa).

The museum's basement is dominated by a village environment (shtetl) from the late 1800s. A few houses are reconstructed in full scale, and you can clearly see how people lived and co-existed at the time. The village is called Riteve. It was recreated in the museum on the basis of entries made in the 1990s by a group of experts who went from South Africa to Lithuania to find traces of the family of the museum's founder, Mendel Kaplan.

The village is called Rietavas in Lithuanian. It is there to this day, less than a half hour drive from Klaipeda, at the highway direction Kaunas and Vilnius. The Kaplan family emigrated from here in the 1920s, while the village's population was still 90% Jewish. Today, no Jews live in Rietavas.

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Category : Front page / Litvak forum

Sad fate of wooden synagogues in Lithuania

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Inside of former synagogue. Used for storage (Photo: AFP)

Lithuania's wooden synagogues, the vestiges of a Jewish presence which was wiped out in the Holocaust, are falling into ruin from a lack of funding and support.

Hidden behind a row of houses, the wooden synagogue in the eastern town of Alanta looks more like a barn than a former house of worship.

This rundown building, which served as a fertilizer warehouse during the days of state farms, is now used for storage by Algis Jakutonis, a farmer living next door.

"I store my stuff there, and we still find traces of the Soviet era," said the 60-something Jakutonis, while displaying the large iron key to the former synagogue, which he acquired before Lithuania's independence in 1990.

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Category : Front page / Litvak forum

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How can we make the world aware of Lithuania, its 50 years of nonviolant resistance against the USSR?

GameChanger: A film about Lithuania's nonviolent resistance
__________________________


Ruta Musonis 
This is great, Aage!!


David Zincavage 
My grandfather came to America in 1912 after violently resisting the Russian Occupation.


Mia Pia 
My grandparents and parents lost everything, due to the violent wars and occupation by the USSR.


Ida Hardy 
We need a feature film like Hunting for Red October - but with more of the details of Lithuania. Or an epic romance featuring the beautiful countryside, following ten generations and what they saw in their lifetime. But whoever writes it please let there be a happy ending?


Aage Myhre 
Rima Alessandra, please let Ida Hardy have some idea about your potential 'happy ending'


Rima Alessandra Gungor,
GameChanger Director, at the remaining barricade elements that still remain outside the Parliament as visible symbols of Lithuania's nonviolent revolution in 1991.
Category : Opinions

- Posted by - (1) Comment


Israeli President Shimon Peres invited to head the advisory board for restoration of the Vilnius Great Synagogue


The government of Lithuania asked Israeli President Shimon Peres to head the international advisory board for the restoration of the Vilnius Great Synagogue.

“The [restoration] project is an important part of the effort to both preserve and restore Vilnius’ Jewish heritage, and I think that President Peres could bring valuable guidance and insight to our project,” Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas said, according to the Baltic Review news site.

The comprehensive restoration and construction project could be completed as early as 2017, according to Tuesday’s report.
The offer came during a visit to Israel this week by Zuokas and Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius in which they met with Peres.

If Peres agrees, he would join Lithuania’s former President Valdas Adamkus, current Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius and the prominent architect Daniel Liebeskind, who are all members of the board.

The Great Synagogue in Vilnius was an icon of Lithuanian and Eastern European Jewish culture before it was ruined during World War II and demolished in the 1950s. From the 16th through the 20th centuries, it was among the best-known synagogues in Central Europe.

Read more...

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The Great Vilna Synagogue

The Great Synagogue of Vilna which once stood at the end of Jewish Street in the centre of Vilnius (where today’s courtyard between Vokieciu Street and Stikliu Street is located), was built between 1630-1633 after permission was granted to construct a synagogue from stone. Standing on the spot of an existing synagogue built in 1572, the site had first been used to house a Jewish house of prayer in 1440.

According to legend it was so magnificent and impressive, Napoleon who stood on the threshold of this synagogue in 1812 and gazed at the interior was speechless with admiration. The synagogue had a number of entrances. One, at street level, consisted of a pair of iron gates which, had been donated by a tailors’ society in 1640. The other entrance on the western side, added in 1800, was a bit more imposing. An elevated two-tiered wooden gable with a portal and wrought iron posts. There was a heavy iron door with an original Hebrew inscription indicating it was a gift of a "society of Psalm reciters" in 1642.

Read more...
Category : Litvak forum

- Posted by - (0) Comment


Israeli President Shimon Peres invited to head the advisory board for restoration of the Vilnius Great Synagogue


The government of Lithuania asked Israeli President Shimon Peres to head the international advisory board for the restoration of the Vilnius Great Synagogue.

“The [restoration] project is an important part of the effort to both preserve and restore Vilnius’ Jewish heritage, and I think that President Peres could bring valuable guidance and insight to our project,” Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas said, according to the Baltic Review news site.

The comprehensive restoration and construction project could be completed as early as 2017, according to Tuesday’s report.
The offer came during a visit to Israel this week by Zuokas and Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius in which they met with Peres.

If Peres agrees, he would join Lithuania’s former President Valdas Adamkus, current Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius and the prominent architect Daniel Liebeskind, who are all members of the board.

The Great Synagogue in Vilnius was an icon of Lithuanian and Eastern European Jewish culture before it was ruined during World War II and demolished in the 1950s. From the 16th through the 20th centuries, it was among the best-known synagogues in Central Europe.

Read more...

_____________________________

The Great Vilna Synagogue

The Great Synagogue of Vilna which once stood at the end of Jewish Street in the centre of Vilnius (where today’s courtyard between Vokieciu Street and Stikliu Street is located), was built between 1630-1633 after permission was granted to construct a synagogue from stone. Standing on the spot of an existing synagogue built in 1572, the site had first been used to house a Jewish house of prayer in 1440.

According to legend it was so magnificent and impressive, Napoleon who stood on the threshold of this synagogue in 1812 and gazed at the interior was speechless with admiration. The synagogue had a number of entrances. One, at street level, consisted of a pair of iron gates which, had been donated by a tailors’ society in 1640. The other entrance on the western side, added in 1800, was a bit more imposing. An elevated two-tiered wooden gable with a portal and wrought iron posts. There was a heavy iron door with an original Hebrew inscription indicating it was a gift of a "society of Psalm reciters" in 1642.

Read more...
Category : News

OPINIONS

Have your say. Send to:
editor@VilNews.com


By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

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Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

Read more...
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* * *
VilNews
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius


* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
future
By Leonidas Donskis
Kaunas
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political
commentator

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

Read more...
* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!


* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

Read more...
* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

Read more...
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Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

Read more...
* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.
MADE IN WALES -
ENGLISH VERSION OF THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS.

Read more...
* * *
IS IT POSSIBLE TO
COMMENT ON OUR
ARTICLES? :-)
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
www.anatanassileika.com

http://www.vdu.lt/lt/rasytojas-antanas-sileika-pristatys-savo-kuryba/
https://leu.lt/lt/lf/lf_naujienos/kvieciame-i-rasytojo-59hc.html
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
HERE.
* * *
EU-Russia:
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

Read more...
* * *

The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

Read more...
* * *

Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

Read more...
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Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

Read more...
* * *

It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,
PhD, CPC

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

Read more...
* * *

Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

Read more...
* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >



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