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March 1, 2015 / 10 Adar , 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Lithuania’

Wiesenthal Center: Lithuanian Government Emboldens Neo-Nazis

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

The Simon Wiesenthal Center accused the Lithuanian government of facilitating the glorification of Holocaust-era war criminals.

The accusation followed a march earlier this month by nationalists in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, also known as Kovno. The marchers carried portraits of the pro-Nazi former ruler Juozas Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis. His government helped German troops send 30,000 Jews to their deaths. The marchers on Feb. 16 also carried signs reading: “Lithuania for Lithuanians.”

Efraim Zuroff of the center’s Israel office told JTA that attendance at the annual Feb. 16 ultra-nationalist march increased dramatically after Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis’ reburial in Kaunas in 2012, which was financed by the Lithuanian government. His remains were previously interred in Putnam, Conn., in the United States.

“Last year there were 600 participants in this march. This year there were 1,000,” Zuroff said. “This is a direct consequence of the government’s complicity in his glorification.”

Zuroff was in Kaunas to protest the rally with Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based American Jewish academic who is part of the Lithuanian Holocaust remembrance Defending History group. Several dozen anti-fascist demonstrators also came to protest the march.

Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis moved to the United States after the war and died there in 1974. He won recognition in Lithuania in 2009 when then-President Valdas Adamkus awarded him with the highest state award, the Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great, for his government’s efforts to restore Lithuanian statehood after Soviet occupation.

Between 1941 and 1944, up to 95 percent of Lithuania’s 200,000-strong Jewish community died at the hands of the Nazis and local collaborators.

Lithuania’s Support of Ritual Slaughter May Turn the Tide

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

The Lithuanian parliament has taken the first steps to legal ritual slaughter in what could be move that turns the tide against the wave of initiatives in Europe to defend the “rights of animals” as a higher priority that freedom of religious practices.

“The fact that Lithuania currently holds the Presidency of the European Union means that this law will have an extremely strong symbolic significance for the rest of Europe,” said Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor.

The bill passed its first reading in the parliament by a lopsided margin of 51-2.

Religious slaughter was banned in Poland on January 1 after its Constitutional Court deemed it incompatible with animal rights legislation, and there have been other attempts in Europe to ban religious traditions like circumcision.

“We face significant opposition to our traditions in Europe, but we are glad to be winning some significant victories for freedom of religion on our continent,” Kantor said. “Freedom of religion is one of the EU’s founding pillars and those who fight against it are compromising the principles of tolerance and mutual respect which the new Europe is supposed to be built upon.”

Peres Flying to Lithuania, Will Thank Blacklisting Hezbollah

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

President Shimon Peres is flying  on Sunday to Latvia and Lithuania, temporary president of the European Union whom he will thank the European Union for blacklisting the Hezbollah military wing as a terrorist organization. The EU decision does not affect the Hezbollah political party, which gives orders to the branch.

He will return just in time to celebrate the English date for his 90th birthday in Friday. His Hebrew birthday was on Shabbat.

President Peres will attend memorial ceremonies in Ponar, Lithuania, where nearly 100,000 Jews were killed during the  Holocaust, and in Riga, Latvia, where Nazi soldiers slaughtered 25,000 Jews.

 

 

Anti-Semitic Slogans Found near Nazi Work Camp in Lithuania

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Lithuanian police said they discovered Nazi slogans drawn on a former concentration camp after Adolf Hitler’s birth date.

The slogans “Heil Hitler,” “Jews out” in German and a swastika were scrawled on the pavement near the HKP 562 labor camp in Vilnius, Evelina Pagounis of the Vilnius police told the French news agency AFP.

The graffiti was discovered on Tuesday, two days after Hitler’s 124th birthday.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius stated, “It is especially horrific that these anti-Semitic slogans appeared near two historically sensitive sites for the Jewish nation.”

The work camp also is situated near an area where Nazis selected which Jews would be sent to work and which to death.

Miriam Ben-Porat: A Woman of ‘Firsts’

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Miriam Scheinsohn was born on April 26, 1918, in Vitebsk (Belorussia), the youngest of eight children (she had three sisters and four brothers). Soon after Miriam’s birth the family moved to Kovno (Kaunas) in Lithuania, where her parents owned a textile factory.

After finishing high school in Kovno in 1936, she immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine by herself; siblings Binyamin, Reuven and Bella soon followed her. Her brother Shimon managed to escape to Russia and her sister Rachel, to South Africa. Her parents, Chayah and Eliezer Scheinsohn and her brother Pinchas were murdered by the Germans in Lithuania in 1941.

A year after arriving in Palestine, the determined young girl from Lithuania enrolled at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem – “the first female law student at the university.” By February 1945 Miriam Scheinsohn had completed her internship and received her lawyer’s license becoming “the first woman lawyer in the Eretz Yisrael.”

A year later she met and married a fellow Eatern European immigrant, a Polish-born manufacturer, Yosef Rubinstein. They later changed their name to Ben-Porat.

In 1955 Deputy State Attorney Ben-Porat – “the first woman in this position”- became a mother — to daughter Ronit, now a mother of three.

In 1959 Ben-Porat was appointed as a judge in the Jerusalem District Court – another first. In 1975, she became the President of the Jerusalem District Court. From 1964 through 1978, she was also a professor at the Hebrew University, specializing in contracts and commercial notes. She was the only faculty member without a doctorate.

In 1977, she became “the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court.” In 1988, upon reaching the retirement age for judges, she was elected by the Knesset to be the State Comptroller. She was the first woman to serve in this position as well. After five years, she was reelected.

Upon her retirement from the Supreme Court in 1988, Ben-Porat was appointed State Comptroller and Ombudsman for Public Complaints—a position in which she was again the first woman—and she filled this role in a dynamic and innovative manner. She significantly changed the office’s modus operandi replacing scrutiny of government action after the event with preemptive reports and measures intended to prevent improper governmental behavior before it occurred. One example of such action was her report during the Gulf War (1991) about gas masks not fitting the faces of many inhabitants. As a result, they were replaced.

On July 4, 1998, she retired from her position as State Comptroller, although she stayed involved in public activity and writing. She is the author of a variety of articles published in legal journals, of a book on state comptrol (An Interpretation of the Basic Law: State Comptroller, 1998 [2005]), and a commentary on the law of assignment. She remained active in public causes, such as the battle against the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount. In 1991 Ben-Porat received the Israel Prize, the country’s most distinguished award, for her special contribution to the State.

On July 27, 2012, Miriam Scheinsohn Ben-Porat, a woman who paved the way, a woman of milestones – of firsts — died at the age of 94.

Lithuania Passes $50 Million Holocaust Compensation Package

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

This April, 70 years since the Nazi invasion on Lithuania destroyed the 800-year connection of the country with the Jewish people, a $50 million package was passed to compensate Jewish families whose property was stolen during the Holocaust, according to a report by JTA.

Though Jewish groups call the move a milestone for Lithuanian-Jewish relations, some say Lithuania has never taken responsibility for its role in the Holocaust.

Before World War II, the Lithuanian Jewish population was approximately 160,000, about 7% of the total population with Vilna’s population of nearly 100,000, comprising about 45% of the city’s total population.

Today, only about 3,000 Jews live in Lithuania.

Title: For the Love of Torah – Stories and Insights of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Title: For the Love of Torah – Stories and Insights of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel
Author: Rabbi Hanoch Teller

Publisher: Feldheim

This book is very riveting. It is a comprehensive biography of the Mirrer Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt’l. It starts out telling us about the Mirrer Yeshiva escaping to Shanghai from Lithuania during World War II because of the invading Germans. It then describes Rabbi Finkel’s family, and then Rabbi Finkel himself. It is important for young adults to see our gedolim as role models, and Rabbi Teller’s biography provides just that. Also, Rabbi Finkel is a relatable role model, because he grew up as a typical American Jewish kid.

Rabbi Finkel was born in Adar 1943 in Chicago. At that time, Chicago’s Jews were greatly exposed to the secular world. Rabbi Finkel even followed baseball as a kid. He was also very popular amongst his friends. His great-uncle, Rabbi Lazer Yudel Finkel, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim at that time, made sure he would learn there. Many of Nosson Tzvi’s relatives worked in the school’s administration. He learned with many prestigious chavrusos, one of them being Rav Chaim Kamil. During his years at the Mir, Nosson Tzvi always went to Rav Lazer Yudel for advice. He married Rav Lazer Yudel’s granddaughter when he was 20 years old. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel worked hard, and eventually became the rosh yeshiva of Mir, influencing thousands of students, including two of my uncles.

The book is filled with anecdotes about Rabbi Finkel’s life. Many of the stories show Rabbi Finkel’s amazing displays of ahavas yisroel. One such story took place during an air raid warning in the first Gulf War, when students were in a sealed room in the yeshiva. Rabbi Finkel braved the dangerous streets to be with them. I also enjoyed reading about his fundraising skills.

We can see from this book how talented of a writer Rabbi Teller is. He often makes comments within parentheses that add humor to the stories. If you were wondering how Rabbi Teller was able to author such a detailed biography so soon after Rabbi Finkel’s petira, it was because he was a close talmid of Rabbi Finkel, and he knew many people who could provide first-hand stories and information.

I would recommend For the Love of Torah to adults and older children who like biographies of gedolim.

Shmuel Holczer is a seventh grader. He is an avid reader of interesting books. He can be reached at magazine@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-for-the-love-of-torah-stories-and-insights-of-rabbi-nosson-tzvi-finkel/2012/04/06/

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