Litvak culture receives attention in New York

Published: 29 September 2010 y., Wednesday

During his visit to New York, on 27 September at the City University of New York, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis, opened a photography exhibition dedicated to the Lithuanian Jewish cultural heritage and conferred an award of Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on former Executive Director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was founded in Vilnius.

At the opening of a photography exhibition entitled “The Sounds of Silence” by one of the best Lithuanian photographers Raimondas Paknys, Minister A.Ažubalis emphasized a considerable contribution of Litvaks to the Lithuanian culture and the development of culture, science and economy. The Minister regretted that the Holocaust had irreparably destroyed all of it.
“With the sole help of united effort and learning from other countries’ experience, Lithuania is more and more clearly aware of its losses. We are really proud that descendants of Litvaks become presidents, prime ministers and ministers in Israel, that many well-known politicians, economists, cultural professionals in the largest states are Litvaks,” Minister A.Ažubalis said.

According to the Minister, 2011 was declared as the Year of Remembrance of Holocaust Victims in Lithuania. The opening of this exhibition in New York is one of the introductory events that invites not only to remember the pain caused by the great tragedy, but also promotes understanding and hope.

Guests of the event were welcomed by President of the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York W.P.Kelly and Evan Zimroth, Professor at the Queens College of the same university.

The photograph exhibition covers more than five centuries of the Lithuanian Jewish history: synagogues, yeshivas, cemeteries and other photos of locations related to the life of Jews in Lithuania. The co-authors of this exhibition are: photographer Raimondas Paknys, book designer Isaac Zibuts, Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at Vilnius University Dovid Katz.

The exhibition is part of the development cooperation programme entitled “The Research on Synagogues in Lithuania, Belarus and Kaliningrad”. This programme has been implemented since 2008 by the Jewish Culture and Information Centre in Vilnius, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Belarusian State University and Immanuel Kant State University of Russia in Kaliningrad.

At the opening of the exhibition, the Minister conferred the honorary award of Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “The Star of Lithuania’s Millennium” on former Executive Director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Carl Rheins for the development of relations between Lithuania and the Litvak diaspora in the United States.

On 28 September, Minister A.Ažubalis is paying a visit to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which was founded in Vilnius in 1925 and moved to New York in 1940. At the Institute, the Minister will see the library and archives, and will hold a meeting with new Executive Director of the Institute Jonathan Brent. They will discuss possibilities of closer cooperation between the Institute and Lithuanian educational institutions, and the prospect to “return” the YIVO Institute by setting up a branch in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

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