Mieli Lietuvos draugai,
Gražiai praleidome vasario 16-tą. Džiaugiamės, kad Alkas.lt paskelbė
mano Tėtės aprašymą mūsų pabendravimo:
Tai parodo, kad tautinė spauda gali savo skaitytojus supažindinti su
mūsų veikla ir jos tikslais. Bandysime šį ryšį vystyti toliau. Ačiū
Valdui Valiūnui už nuotraukas:
Yra taip pat nuotraukų iš Rimanto Stankevičiaus renginio, žydų
gelbėtojos Onos Šimaitės pagerbimo:
Jau kelintas straipsnis žiauriai puola mūsų Liną Vildžiūną už jo
teisingą kalbą, matyt, jisai gerai pataikė.
Visgi, naudinga įsiklausyti, kas jiems skauda. Kiek suprantu,
nacionalistai siekia “tautų federacijos”, kurioje tautos sugyventų, bet
neišnyktų. Jie bijo tautų suniveliavimo, kalbų dingimo. Jiems rūpi
tautinė savigarba, kad kiti mums nenurodinėtų, kas gali būti mūsų
didvyriai, kaip rašyti savo istoriją.
Vilniuje rinksimės kovo 4 d., trečiadienį, 16:30-18:30, Pylimo g. 22 D,
“Freunde” restorane, aptarti tolimesnę veiklą, įskaitant pabendravimą
šalia Vilniaus sporto rūmų, kovo mėn. 11 d. Galvoju plėtoti tautinės
savigarbos temą ir pasikviesti Rusijos opozicijos atstovus, taip pat
litvakų bei kitų tautų atstovus. Taip pat lauksime naujų dalyvių su
kuriais susipažinome, kurie gyvena šalia Vilniaus sporto rūmų ir
prieštarauja jų pavertimui kongresų rūmais.
Šiandien 15:30, Mariott viešbutyje, aš ir mano Tėtė (Edmundas), ir gal
Valdas ir Chaimas iš Kauno, susitiksime su Dov Fried. Jisai atskrido iš
Niujorko susitikti su advokate Evelina Dobrovolska aptarti jų bylą dėl
Vilniaus sporto rūmų ir žydų kapinių. Ta proga sudalyvavo mūsų
pabendravime. Kiek įsivaizduoju, jisai ir jo pažįstami turi pinigų,
kuriais galėtų paremti veiklą. Tad pirmiausiai man rūpi, kad išeivijos
litvakai paremtų mūsų šviesuolį Dovid Katzą. Aš pridedu laišką anglų
kalba kurį parašiau jam ir rabinams ir jų bičiuliams.
Vakare 17:30 galvoju užsukti į pokalbį Mažvydo bibliotekoje apie
Lietuvos simbolius, man įdomu pakalbinti Kariuomenės Strateginės
komunikacijos istoriką Karolį Zikarą
Naujai pridedu straipsnį iš Lietuvos ryto šeštadieninio priedo, “Sostinės”.
Ačiū visiems už gražią veiklą! Smagu ir šaunu, kaip mano Tėtė moko.
Andrius Kulikauskas, email@example.com, +370 607 27 665
Update, analysis, and further steps
Dear Rabbi Elchonon, Rabbi Aaron, Chaya and Dov Fried and all,
I and my father Edmundas and perhaps a few others will meet tomorrow,
Wednesday, with Mr.Fried at 15:30. So I want to write an update, share
my analysis, and also give my thoughts on further steps. I believe that
a key step now would be to organize moral and financial support for
Here in Lithuania, our participants are very modest in number, but we
seem to have the critical mass to keep going, and we have some progress
I attach an objective, comprehensive and supportive article written by
reporter Arvydas Lukavičius on 2020.02.15 for the print edition of the
Satudary metropolitan supplement “Sostinė” (Capital) of the leading
newspaper “Lietuvos rytas”: “Jews Again Resist the New Congress
Center”. It explains the opposition to the Lithuanian Jewish Community
and its deal with the City and Turto Bankas. I don’t know who or what
spurred him to write the piece, but he mentions your meeting with the
Ambassador, and perhaps he found the video from a link at Dovid Katz’s
We are very pleased with our gathering on Independence Day, February 16,
at the Sports Palace. It was a pleasant surprise to include Mr.Dov
Fried. My father Edmundas Kulikauskas made a great effort, and created
five signs for us to carry. We focused on honoring Lithuania’s Jews who
fought in our Wars of Independence in 1918-1920. I am personally very
please that the leading nationalist web portal published both an invitation
and my father’s report:
although the latter did get tucked away and was not placed on the main
page. But you will see that it includes great photos, including one
with Mr.Fried. The last paragraph is about Mr.Freid, his prayer and
That article also includes a photo and summary of a poster of a quick
study that I did of the fates of Lithuania’s Jewish military officers:
* 1 – Jokūbas Goldbergas – was imprisoned by the Soviets early on, on
July 13, 1940.
* 3 were deported by the Soviets in 1941
* 1 – nonofficer but founder of the Lithuanian Jewish veterans movement,
Izaokas Šapira, was murdered in Vilnius at the start of the war.
* 4 were various victims of the Holocaust in Kaunas and Dachau
* 9 became policemen of the Vilijampolė (Slobodka) ghetto
* 1 more such policeman, Jehuda Šeftelis Zupovičius, was executed for
not providing information about the underground
* 1 policeman from the Vilnius ghetto, Moišė Brauzas, became a partisan
and blew up a train, injuring or killing 200 German soldiers
* 1 I listed as a Nazi collaborator – Jokūbas Gensas, leader of the
Vilnius ghetto council
* 3 fought in the Soviet Lithuanian 16th Division or in other Soviet
* 3 I listed as Soviet collaborators – interrogator Savelijus Zimanas,
NKVD agent Abelis Stražas, lawyer Leonidas Krasauskas
The fates are entirely unknown for a further 17 officers. The material
is from a book by Vilius Kavaliauskas, who led the Government’s previous
negotations regarding the Cemetery.
There are several purposes here, but one is to raise our issues within
the nationalist community itself, which involves discovering how to
frame this all in ways that respect its nationalist values. This also
means avoiding, as much as possible, a polarizing and debilitating
squabble, which we don’t have the energy for. This also make evident
that, on some levels, the nationalist community is not, in principle,
anti-semitic, and in fact, there are people, who are, in principle, not
anti-semitic. Which is to say, we all help show that nationalism is not
and need not be inherently anti-semitic. The historical exposition that
I presented shows the way I propose to look at Lithuanian history, which
is to lay out the facts comprehensively, and see the variety. So it is
important to take the time to lay out the extremes and nonextremes.
This is what defangs antisemitism because it shows that it blows up
small truths into preposterious lies. It also shows that one one level
are the facts, on another are interpretations, and on yet another are
By meeting at the site of the cemetery, we were able to make important
contacts with three local residents who are interested to work against
the Congress Center. We also met Eugenijus Titovas, a Russian dissident
and journalist, so through him I hope to develop ties with the Russian
opposition, especially on talking about history. And there was a
Lithuanian American historian, Virgil Krapauskas, who is studying the
roots of modern day Lithuanian anti-semitism.
My father has spent 150 euros on the posters, 200 euros funding two
trips by local Holocaust historians Chaimas Bargmanas, Aleksandras
Vitkus, Valdas Valiūnas, and 300 euros for a study by Evaldas Balčiūnas
on the extent of the involvement of the 1944-1953 anti-Soviet partisans
in the 1941 genocide.
Our participant Linas Vildžiūnas, winner of the Leonidas Donskis award
for tolerance, has been repeatedly attacked by nationalists because his
forthright acceptance speech hit a nerve. The Lithuanian Jewish
Community (our opponent regarding the cemetery) honored him
subsequently. So we are bridging two extremes.
I wrote to Seimas member Arūnas Gumuliauskas, who had proposed the law
banning claims that Lithuania was responsible for the Holocaust. He
called me and gave me a brief statement that he was in favor of an
“Architecture of Memory” and working together towards harmony.
I exchanged letters with Seimas member Egidijus Masiulis who had
mentioned in his article his opposition to the further desecration of
the Vinius Jewish cemetery. He wrote that he didn’t think there were
many Seimas members who would take his position.
I invited Presidential adviser on Foreign Affairs, Asta Skaisgirytė, to
our gathering and she wrote back, as an old friend:
Tiesą sakant, nematau prasmės piketuoti prie buvusių Šnipiškių kapinių,
kur nieko nevyksta.
Atvirkščiai, kapinių buvimo faktas pabrėžtas memorialine lentele. Tu
turbūt žinai, kad kapines sunaikino sovietų valdžia, pastatydama ten
baseiną ir Sporto rūmus. Lietuvos Vyriausybė skrupulingai derino Sporto
rūmų rekonstrukcijos projektą su Europos žydų kapinių komitetu, kuris
yra didžiausias autoritetas šioje srityje (ir kurio nariai yra rabinai,
kai kurie kildina save iš Gaono). Niekas be jų žinios nebus daroma.
“Truth be told, I don’t see the point of picketing by the former
Šnipiškės cemetery, where nothing is going on. Conversely, a memorial
sign emphasizes the fact that there was a cemetery here. You probably
kow that the Soviet government destroyed the cemetery, building a
swimming pool and Sports palace there. The Lithuanian Government
scrupulously negotiated the reconstruction project of the Sports palace
with the European Jewish cemetery committee, which is the greatest
authority in this domain (and whose members are rabbis who hold
themselves descendants of the Gaon). Nothing will be done without their
So the President’s thinking may be similar. Also, on February 17, the
President met with all 69 foreign ambassadors.
He raised three challenges for Lithuania:
1) be proactive in risk management against negative scenarios, such as
uncontrollable migration, degeneration of the environment, and the
division of the world into agressive, competitive blocs
2) look for global economic partners, while staying firmly in the EU and
3) develop soft power, strengthen a positive image, fight efforts to
rewrite Lithuanian history.
You know best, but a very important breakthrough is the ruling by Harav
Chaim Kanievsky on the Vilnius cemetery.
We have very few people but of some variety and so we can use our
efforts wisely to great effect. We don’t have the energy to break down
doors but we should have the wisdom to find the keys to open them. In
many ways it is very effective if we work independently, however we
should have a high level of consciousness, be sparing with our energy,
and be prepared that this may all take decades.
Perhaps the first is to appreciate that the all around significance of
respecting the Vilnius cemetery. For all of us, it represents our
sensitivity to a divine commandment that you recognize. Starting from
there, the Cemetery can become a symbol of empathy that Lithuanians have
for Litvaks. Such a symbol has enormous spiritual capital for healing
the trauma of the past and for opening up a new future. It represents
the will of the Lithuanian people and visibly trumps any provocations by
antisemites. It manifests a mutual commitment by Lithuanians and Litvaks
for genuine friendship. It shows that Litvaks are ever appreciated in
Lithuania, and also, that Litvaks have an eternal link to Lithuania. It
has gigantic spiritual and tangible value.
As Dovid Katz ever reminds us, we should have a restored Jewish cemetery
and a fabulous new Congress center somewhere else, rather than have one
horribly compromised combination of the two. Why is this obvious point
Here is the key that unlocks the door: We need to “love our enemy”,
which means, identify our opponents, look at everything from their point
of view, and thus express your position in the way that they would find
Our opponents are:
A) Unknown profitmakers
B) The City, and the State property bank (Turto Bankas), who seek
“development” and “eliminating an eyesore”
C) The Lithuanian Jewish Community, which enables the State, and seeks
“influence” as compensation
D) The nationalists, who set the tone for the nation, with the attitude
that Jews do not merit Lithuanian empathy
A) We need to investigate, who is so adamantly pushing this project and
why? And whoever they may be, we want them to realize that there is no
profit to be made here.
B) We want the City and the State to understand that they have all to
gain by having sound foundations for the best of relations with
Litvaks. That means addressing not just the Cemetery but also all
pertinent issues of Litvak self-respect (respecting Jewish partisans,
not honoring Lithuanian perpetrators, treasuring Dovid Katz, Rūta
Bloshtein and other righteous Litvaks). It also means they should
realize that it must listen to you and Lithuania’s rabbis on religious
matters. The Lithuanian Jewish Community cannot speak on religious
matters, nor does it represent all Litvaks.
C) We want the Lithuanian Jewish Community to understand that it plays
many important functions but it is wrong for it to overreach.
D) We want Lithuanian nationalists to understand that Lithuanian
self-respect is bolstered by Litvak self-respect and by respect for each
other. “National self-respect” is a driving rationale for the
false-hero-worship (“Nobody can choose our heroes for us; Nobody can
write our history for us”).
Consequently, I propose
A & B) Here in Lithuania, we should continue to gather once a month by
the Vilnius Sports Palace, and write related articles in the press, to
show that this spiritual eyesore is much more problematic than any
A & B) We should try to contact those who care about the economics of
these issues, one way or the other, and try to explore with them
alternatives, where else a Congress Center might be built.
B & C) You should organize in Lithuania and the diaspora a group that
speaks with authority on religious issues in Lithuania but especially
B & C & D) I suggest that your group commit to work with the Lithuanian
government, the Lithuanian Jewish Community, other Litvak groups, and
the broader Lithuanian society, to imagine and establish a genuine basis
for friendship – that which cannot be achieved by subservience
(Lithuanian Jewish Community), by outside pressure (Efraim Zuroff), or
by overlapping interests (Israeli Foreign Ministry). What is it that
Litvak and Lithuanian friendship could look like?
C & D) I suggest that you participate in the Lithuanian media, including
the nationalist (Alkas), Catholic progressive (Bernardinai), Catholic
conservative (XXI Amžius), cultural (Kultūros barai, 7 meno dienos),
mainstream (Delfi, 15min), television (LRT), as well as the Lithuanian
Jewish Community website, with your own personal expositions of what
Lithuania, Litvak identity, Jewish religion, and the Vilnius cemetery
mean to you, and what is your vision for the Lithuanian and Litvak
friendship that you seek?
D) I suggest that your group engage the Catholic hierarchy and set up a
joint committee for Lithuanian Catholic and Jewish relations.
B & D) We will work to organize and encourage Lithuanian historians, and
with your help, international historians, to develop a fact based
approach for an Architecture of Memory that will help Lithuanians and
Litvaks develop a shared history.
B & D) We continue to attract more Lithuanian and Litvak participants,
both in Lithuania and around the world.
B) We seek champions in the Lithuanian state and the City of Vilnius who
would take up this issue and solve it.
In conclusion, I think, as you are doing, you should establish a
comprehensively representative Litvak religious group that can speak on
Lithuanian Jewish religious issues but also express a commitment to the
vitality of Litvak identity, heritage and culture in Lithuania, the
former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and around the world.
1) Treasuring Dovid Katz and the righteous Litvaks and Lithuanians.
A most important step is for your group to express appreciation for
Dovid Katz http://www.dovidkatz.net https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
as the axis around which revolves a vast portion of the Litvak universe,
but especially as concerns efforts to protect and restore the Cemetery.
* Litvak culture is based on Litvak Yiddish. For many decades, Dovid is
the leading scholar of Litvak Yiddish, first at Oxford and at Yale, and
then in 1999-2010 at Vilnius University, where he founded the Vilnius
Yiddish Institute, teaching almost 500 students.
* He published the most beautiful album, “Lithuanian Jewish Culture”, a
moving tribute to the magnificence of Litvak culture in Lithuania.
* He taped hundreds of hours of interviews with Litvak Yiddish speakers
in Lithuania and Belarus, practically all of whom insisted on revealing
to him their traumatic memories of the first days of the Holocaust.
* He researched and published a map of Litvak Yiddish, the boundaries of
which are quite similar to those of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
* He is a writer of short stories in Yiddish, and the publisher of his
father’s poetry in Yiddish.
* He defended the honor of Lithuania’s Jewish partisans, for which he
lost his job, was blacklisted and became a Lithuanian dissident.
* He founded DefendingHistory.com as the central hub for speaking out
against Holocaust revisionism in Lithuania, but other countries as well,
the premier source of information for journalists, both international
* He developed a critique of the pseudotheory of “Double Genocide”.
* He hosted numerous social gatherings and intellectual parties to
congeal in Vilnius an international network of contacts and small team
of volunteers who are the principal activists in speaking out against
false history but also against the desecration of the Cemetery, see:
* He leads the small team that monitors the nationalist marches, and as
such, has become a well known figure in Lithuania. At the most recent
march, leader Vytautas Sinica singled him out in his speech, pointing to
his presence. Dovid Katz’s unauthorized image is on postcards for sale
in Lithuania’s souvenir district. He is, in fact, a large and lovely,
big hearted character in the spirit of the Vilnius denizens immortalized
by Litvak Yiddish literature. Which is to say, even the nationalists
respect him, deep down, involuntarily.
* He speaks up for the democratic Vilnius Jewish Community and its
allies against the state sponsored, undemocratic Lithuanian Jewish
* He commutes by bus to Riga, Latvia, every week, to earn his living,
but comes every Wednesday evening to Vilnius to teach, for free, his
class in Litvak Yiddish, which Chaimas drives from Kaunas to attend.
He’s taught this class for many, many years.
* He has a museum of Litvak books, documents and treasures, including an
* He has an online dictionary of 21st century Litvak Yiddish.
* He is active at the Vilnius Synagogue and has even brought into it a
few non Jewish adherents, even a convert.
* He is translating the Tanakh into a slightly archaic form of Litvak
Which is to say, He is the Seed of Litvak culture, from which it can all
flourish. He is the Vilna Gaon of our time, but completely
disrespected, except by G-d.
All of this is to say, from my point of view, that the credibility of
any efforts for genuine Litvak and Lithuanian friendship starts with an
appreciation of his life’s work. Some day he should be recognized by
the Lithuanian state as a national treasure and awarded accordingly.
But we should not hesitate in organizing moral and financial support for
A natural, simple and immediate solution would be to award him a Prize
(say, 5,000 euros) for his translations so far:
and then try to organize an Award for him to continue further, which
would be part or all of his needs, 50,000 euros gross (before taxes) per
It is important for our integrity – amongst ourselves, our opponents,
and G-d – that we treasure the man. And this is something that your
group can take prompt action regarding and shows your seriousness.
It should also be of concern to your group that it speak up to offending
parties and to the Lithuanian government when you see Dovid Katz, Rūta
Bloshtein and other righteous Litvaks abused by word or deed.
Furthemore, the integrity of your group is multiplied if you take up all
of the issues necessary for sound Lithuanian and Litvak relationships,
which all express Litvak self-respect (not desecrating the Vilnius
Cemetery, honoring Jewish partisans, not honoring Lithuanian
perpetrators, treasuring righteous Litvaks).
Thus it is simple for you to endow your group with all of his
accumulated integrity, to normalize him and his allies and legitimize
their many efforts, and thus put to question the Lithuanian Jewish
Certainly, he is my touchstone, and I always hope to listen to him, and
I can only urge you likewise benefit from his perspective.
2) Organize yourselves and make your case that you are the religious
You see the purported logic up until now:
* Lithuania’s rabbis can’t agree with each other on anything.
* The Lithuanian Jewish Community has to speak for Lithuania’s Jews.
* The Lithuanian Jewish Community can trade concessions on the Vilnius
Cemetery for state attention to other Lithuanian cemeteries.
* The Lithuanian Jewish Community can claim that “there is nothing
anybody can do”.
* The London based rabbis can then say they will supervise the
* The Lithuanian government can say that they negotiated an agreement
that respects the rabbis and the Lithuanian Jewish Community.
I believe that you need to organize yourselves with Lithuania’s rabbis
and assert that you are the authorities, that the Lithuanian Jewish
Community and its London rabbis have no say in these matters, and that
the state needs to listen to you.
You should be known as the ones standing up for Lithuanian Jews on
matters of religion and moral integrity and the foundations for
friendship, rather than the Lithuanian Jewish Community (they have no
moral integrity) or Efraim Zuroff (he does not seek friendship).
3) Personally engage the Lithuanian community.
I hope that you would be friends of Lithuania.
You are beautifully moving people and your love of Lithuania is very
inspiring. It’s very important that you all write a variety of short
articles that would express your connection to Lithuania, past and
future, and what the Vilnius Cemetery means for you. I would try to
help you address themes that Lithuanians, especially the nationalists,
care about. They want to see the world as a federation of nations, so
that national identity is not lost, but languages and cultures
flourish. Surely you do, too. And they believe in national
self-respect, although they haven’t thought that out very well. Surely
you can explain what that means to you, how Lithuanian self-respect and
Litvak self-respect are related. We can find a way to have your
articles translated into elegant Lithuanian prose. It’s important that
Lithuanians learn about you, personally.
Of course, this makes a commitment of a chunk of your lives. But this
is what it has to be about, whether you bring pilgrims to Kaunas, or
care about the Cemetery. So it would be great if you thought, what of
your life and spirit might most naturally mesh with Lithuania and thrive
4) Help us develop themes for our gatherings.
We’re committed to gathering once a month at the Vilnius Sports Palace.
This month’s theme was Lithuanian Jewish warriors in the Wars of
Independence. Next month we’ll gather on March 11, our Independence Day
in 1990, when we broke away from the Soviet Union. I am thinking that
it might be best to talk about national self-respect, especially with
members of the Russian opposition, but also with Litvaks, and also with
people from other nations, including stateless nations or nonfree
nations – Tibetans, Uighurs, Chechens, Kurds, Palestinians, etc.
One possibility would be to try to have video bridges with you using
Skype or Whats App.
You might also take symbolic actions on your end for these topics. Or
write related articles.
In the particular case of the Palestinians, it would be very wonderful
if you might conceive of a peacemaking action, for example, a discussion
on the topic of national self-respect, what that means. I have some
contacts among Palestinians and liberal Israelis and surely you may,
too. The point is that we have the integrity to take some actions, that
this would be truly marvelous, that this counters antisemitic
stereotypes, that this manifests the spiritual capital of the Cemetery
that brings us together and makes miracles possible, and that this opens
slack for G-d.
We might develop with you many themes, perhaps some Jewish religious
ones. On April 25-26 there will be a Vilnius Open House throughout the
city, including at the Vilnius Sports Center, so we may hold a gathering
then, and perhaps point out the inhumanity and brutality of the
architecture, as compared to the humanity and organicity of the
Cemetery. On May 17-20 there will be a Jewish cultural trip to Vilnius
which we might perhaps coordinate with. On July 23 is the Lithuanian
anti-Soviet rebellion and the start of the Holocaust. On July 23-24 we
might remember the coup against Lithuania’s Provisional Government,
which accelerated the Holocaust. It would be very good if you might
suggest themes or concepts that you care about.
5) Organizing historians.
Here in Lithuania, in March, we’ll be reaching out to a few historians
and try to start encouraging collaboration on a fact based approach to
sensitive history. It would be good to work with Jewish historians who
might help us include Litvak testimonies and documents. Also, it would
be good to have some modest funds, say, 1,000 euros, to support archival
research by Evaldas Balčiūnas and recording of testimony by Chaimas
Bargmanas and his colleagues.
These are steps that we can take now. They all help us work together to
attract more Lithuanians and Litvaks to our cause, and to find those in
the state who might be our champions.