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Esteemed Panel to Discuss Lithuanian-Jewish Relations at the YIVO Institute

PRESS NEWS: For immediate release

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Contact: Helena Gindi, Public Program Director

NEW YORK, NY — On Thursday, February 13 the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research presents Unresolved History: Jews and Lithuanians After the Holocaust with European Union Parliament Member, Dr. Leonidas Donskis, and award-winning writer and political dissident, Tomas Venclova, to address Lithuania’s controversial treatment of the Holocaust, and Lithuanian-Jewish relations today. Donskis and Venclova will be joined by Faina Kukliansky, Chair and advocate for the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Saulius Sužiedėlis, historian of Millersville University, and Mikhail Iossel of Concordia University.

Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States, Žygimantas Pavilionis, and former U.S. Ambassdor to Lithuania, Anne E. Derse, will offer introductory remarks.

Prior to WWII Lithuania was home to 250,000 Jews. During the Holocaust, more than 90% of Lithuanian Jewry was killed and today it is home to only 5,000. Since its independence in 1991, Lithuania has struggled with how to address its Jewish past domestically and how to acknowledge it internationally.

This roundtable will cover a wide range of issues including: the history and thriving culture of Jews in Lithuania before WWII; the history of relations between Lithuanian Jews and non-Jews before, during, and after the Holocaust as well as during the Soviet occupation; the problematic equation of Soviet crimes to crimes of the Holocaust in Lithuania; the false blaming of the Jewish community for Soviet crimes; the particular issues facing the Lithuanian Jewish community today; the nature of the reparations awarded to Holocaust survivors in 2013 by the Lithuanian government; the progress made in Lithuanian-Jewish relations over the last few years, in particular: scholarly exchange, Holocaust education, commemoration of the Ponary killing site, and the $50 million fund established by the Lithuanian government to support the “religious, cultural and social” needs of Lithuania’s Jewish community; the state of Jewish life and culture in Lithuania today; and the changing perceptions of these issues by the younger Lithuanian and Jewish generations.

“As painful as it is, the issue of Lithuanian-Jewish relations is a subject that must be examined. It is as crucial to rebuilding Lithuania as a liberal democratic state as it is to rebuilding the post-Holocaust Litvak Jewish community. Given YIVO’s institutional history and commitment to examining Jewish life in Eastern Europe today, we believe that the YIVO Institute is the place for this discussion. We are very pleased to welcome this remarkable panel to YIVO,” says Jonathan Brent, Executive Director of the YIVO Institute. TheYIVO Institute For Jewish Research was founded in Vilna, Poland, now Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1925 and permanently relocated to New York City in 1940 as a result of WWII.

This program is made possible with support of the Lithuanian Consulate General in New York, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, and additional support by Michael Traison. It is co-sponsored by Tablet Magazine and SLS/Summer Literary Seminars.

Event and Venue Info:
YIVO Institute For Jewish Research
15 W. 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

February 13, 2014, 7:00pm
Tickets: General Admission - $12; YIVO members, seniors and students - $7
Box Office:; 212.868.4444

Click here for panelist biographies.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was founded in Vilna, Poland, in 1925 and relocated to New York City in 1940. Our mission is to preserve, study and teach the cultural history of Jewish life throughout Eastern Europe, Germany and Russia. Our educational and public outreach programs concentrate on all aspects of this 1000-year history and its continuing influence in America. YIVO’s archival collections and library constitute the single greatest resource for such study in the world, including approximately 24 million letters, manuscripts, photographs, films, sound recordings, art works, and artifacts; as well as the largest collection of Yiddish-language materials in the world.

Tablet Magazine
Tablet Magazine is a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture.

Summer Literary Seminars (SLS)
Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) is the world's foremost, entirely one-of-a-kind international literary study and cultural organization, founded in 1998 and currently operating on three continents: North America (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Europe (Vilnius, Lithuania), and Africa (Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya). Over the years, SLS has played, and continues to play, a pivotal role in bringing together the North American and international literary and cultural communities, fostering the artistic cooperation between the two and serving to increase mutual understanding across the cultural and geographic divides. SLS sees it as the crucial part of its mission to increase the literary and cultural visibility of every locale of its presence. Each summer SLS brings the most prominent writers from North America, Europe and Africa and emerging writers from all walks of life together with their local counterparts for a richly variegated array of literary and cultural offerings.