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Holey Mission

An American Jew brings bagels back to Vilnius

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The Vilnius Bagel Project’s triumph. (Andrew Miksys)
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In the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, the demise of bagelism—the science, production, purveyance, appreciation, and consumption of the bagel—coincided, unsurprisingly, with the effective end of Lithuanian Jewry. But after 70 long years, bagels have returned to the city once known as Northern Jerusalem: Last weekend, in the largest bagel event in modern Lithuanian history, the Jewish-slash-American staple was reintroduced to 200 curious, hungry, and slightly mystified Vilniusites.

Welcome to the Vilnius Bagel Project.

It began quietly, almost accidentally. Three weeks ago, my roommate, Jake Levine, and I—the Jewish-American representation for this adventure—were loitering with some semi-employed local artists in a Vilnius parking lot. The overtired, drunken conversation careened from what we were doing in Lithuania (Fulbright-funded Jewishy stuff via poetry and prose, respectively) to the ongoing effacement of Litvak heritage. This prompted a string of proposed cultural nostrums, all prima facie preposterous, potentially insulting, and certainly less than feasible (e.g., Hug-a-Jew Day), until holy inspiration struck: “We should reestablish bagels in Vilnius.”

The empty invite and half-serious suggestion, those cornerstones of American hospitality, have no place here in Vilnius: The next day, the lot of us went shopping for poorly translated bagel ingredients. And so, despite our heretofore untested bagel-making skills—the only baking experience either of us had involved straightforward, yeastless cookies—the Vilnius Bagel Project was born. We found our recipe on Wikipedia (though we didn’t mention this to the Lithuanians); this wasn’t about Montreal vs. New York, big vs. small, soft vs. hard, or the controversies of newfangled bagel flavors—just bagels in Vilnius, a city where anything Jewish struggles to survive.

Vilnius Bagel Party poster

A local restaurateur offered free space in any of his three establishments. Artsy posters were printed and pasted on café walls and abandoned storefronts. Fliers were handed out at the university. Bagel buzz was building—we received inquiries and good wishes from Naples, Berlin, Toronto, and Jerusalem.

The event was hosted at Jalta, a hip restaurant outside Vilnius’ Old Town, where 100,000 Jews, 105 synagogues, and two ghettos used to be. The crowd was mostly young, but diverse—artists, students, professionals, and expats, with a few unwitting and increasingly bewildered patrons.

Darius Miksys, a Lithuanian artist, deejayed, and American-born photographer Andrew Miksys (no relation) recorded the entire process, from kneading onward. We had prepared the pre-boiled and -baked proto-bagels in our spectacularly unequipped and unsuitable kitchen: We had no measuring cups, and the bagels refused to rise for hours in our drafty apartment. Then we brought them to the restaurant for the final steps, so that a) they might be fresh, and b) the kitchen staff could witness the process up close, as they had requested. Everyone cheered when the first bagels floated in the beat-up industrial pot. And though we had had a minor salt mishap, and despite the lack of malt (which we could not find anywhere), and even if we couldn’t approach bakery-grade aesthetics, those bagels were beautiful and delicious—especially considering almost no one there had ever seen or tasted one before.

Jake and Menachem introduce the bagelsJake and Menachem introduce the bagels.
Andrew Miksys

At 9 that night, Darius faded the music out, and the program began. The squished crowd greeted the heaping platter of sesame, poppy, and plain bagels with an awed and confused silence, then—and this was the nachas-schepping apex—applause. Jake and I set the platter down at the table, in an actual spotlight, and introduced the bagels (further applause) and ourselves (some leftover applause). We opened with an inspired spiel discriminating between the bagel and its Lithuanian impostors—namely, the insultingly sweet and crunchy barankas, and the simply heretical riestainiai—because, despite some recent and nearby confusion, some dough with a hole a bagel does not make. We then conducted a bagel demonstration-cum-lesson. This isn’t as absurd as it might seem (OK: yes, it is), but we were serving a potentially overwhelming gastro-cultural experience—unsliced bagels, cream cheese (known here exclusively as “Philadelphia”), tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lox, and capers—to a tragically bagel-ignorant audience. I cut and unfolded the model bagel. I taught them how to construct and layer properly—densest on the bottom—and how you can schmear with imprudence, and to be gentle with the lox, as it is the sandwich’s soul. Jake, mindful of the insufficient supply, requested that everyone please refrain from being a khazer, then he read some of his poetry, with bagel replacing choice nouns: “a snow begins the bagel /monitors turn bagel …”

And then we let them loose, invited them to the promised food—and no one moved. Lithuanians aren’t accustomed to the smorgasbord, or even the buffet table, so it took some prodding. But then they ate. The five-or-so dozen shockingly good bagels were polished off, down to the sesame seeds; the cream cheese bowl was scraped clean.

Afterward at the bar, with the l’chaims/i sveikatas rising from the mostly kosher debauchery, there was a batch of excited questions. What’s with the hole? Is today a Jewish holiday? Is it an American holiday? Are you going to sell bagels? Why did bagels disappear in Lithuania? What’s more Jewish, matzos or bagels? Some didn’t believe that we had boiled the bagels. (I showed them the massive pot, now filled with filmy bagel broth.) The guests, not 10 minutes after finishing their sandwiches, were already nostalgic. Elena, an enchanting 25-year-old visual artist, compared her first bagel bite to being kissed for the first time.

The chef of the restaurant had somehow intuited that bagels are best enjoyed as breakfast—an encouraging evolutionary leap in local bagel culture—and put hers aside. I noticed a lot of chins smeared with cream cheese.

Judita, one of the few local Jews in attendance, gave her daughter, awake past her bedtime, her first bagel to nibble on. An older gentleman mentioned that he remembered two Jewish women who used to make bagels before the war—but those bagels, he said, weren’t nearly as good as these. Professors from the university came, as did several employees of the American embassy. My landlady’s daughter was there. An Estonian guy I had met the night before swung by. It was a heartening cross-section of the usually cliquey Vilnius. Many were prematurely negotiating yet another historical first—the bagel afterparty.

Dave, a pastor visiting from San Francisco, approached me. And though we hadn’t once mentioned, not even obliquely, local Jewish history, or the Holocaust, or the current political climate, or the intermittent anti-Semitism, or the biting apathy that’s infinitely more agonizing—Dave understood that none of this had to be mentioned. He was crying when he thanked me. “It’s a triumph,” he said. He hugged me and returned to his bagel.

Menachem Kaiser is a Fulbright Fellow studying contemporary Jewish issues in Lithuania and the surrounding region.

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shalom k says:

Awesome! Makes me want to go get a bagel!
In fact, I think I will.

Marvelous! But also bittersweet, that coals had to be shlepped to Newcastle in Lita.

In the light of all the terrible things happening to the small local Jewish community and the ongoing efforts of the Lithuanians to hide or minimize their extensive complicity in Holocaust crimes and their government-funded campaign to relativize the Holocaust by falsely equating it with the crimes of Communism, one would imagine that two obviously-intelligent Jewish Fulbright scholars in Lithuania to study contemporary Jewish issues would be able to come up with something more meaningful than reintroducing Lithuanians to bagels.

The question to previous commenter is: Who told you that they are being falsely equated? Any research? The idea is, to figure out if they’re equal and dogmatic denial of any research like that seems irrational.

I’m someone, whose both parents have been born is Syberia.

Joseph Hayes says:

Efriam, there is nothing more meaningful than breaking bread, boiled or baked, holey or unleavened. It breaks my heart to think about our cities left without our people and culture.

Efraim, obviously I am aware of contemporary Lithuanian political rhetoric and its obfuscation of the Holocaust, double-genocide theory, and the historical bleaching of Jewish history in this country, and am keenly interested in raising public awareness to this issue. Considering local Lithuanians have very little interaction with Jews from any part of the world, I would think that a popular Jewish cultural resurgence would be a positivist approach to making Jewish presence felt again in this city, and by proxy, would raise public interest in contemporary Jewish topics / politics. I am sorry that you don’t agree.

Joel Kangisser says:

Two years ago I traveled from Krakow and Warsaw to Vilna (Vilnius) on an extended ‘roots’ tour. I spent over a week in Vilna and Kleipeda, and traveled to the shtetles in north-western Lithuania. Aside from davening and meals at the Vilna Chabad house and a brunch at the shul in Kleipeda, I didn’t see a sign of kosher food or Jewish life there. I would have welcomed a chance to get a bit of Jewish gastronomic (and kosher, I hope!) culture at the time. Kok ha-kavod!

Jack Sprat says:

Hey Efraim, chill out.

A lot of good ideas in bringing a renewal of Yiddishkeit come from small beginnings.Maybe this could be one of them.

Donatas Januta says:

Ephraim,

You are absolutely right, we should not relativize or trivialize the Holocaust, but we should also not trivialize other tragedies, including under the Soviet communists. Each nation has a right to mourn their own. Jews mourn their own lost in the Holocaust. Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Armenians and others are equally entitled to mourn their own tragedies, totally separate from the losses of others. ****************************************************
What do you have against the eminent Israeli Jewish historian Dov Levin when he equates the Nazi atrocities with the Communist atrocities, even titling one of his noted books “The lesser of two evils”, I.e., he concedes there were not one but two evils, and he concludes that Communism was the lesser of the two. But read Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin”, and you will see why some people may legitimately feel Communism was the greater of the two. And that’s just an honest difference of opinion. You’re welcome, Ephraim.

Phillip Cohen says:

What a wonderful gesture.
Bagels.
Who knew?

Julius says:

Look, Efraim, it was just a fun, and a big fun at that! The guys who prepared all this bagel party were our bright guys and introduction was just great. I think, Efraim, you are mixing different issues: passing time all young people together, and historical injustice. If to think along your lines, one is forbidden forever to enjoy anything in Vilnius. But life goes on, every one is enjoying their lives, it is NORMAL! It is normal to live and to enjoy life, Efraim. And I join here, too.
Julius

SAMARA says:

How absolutely marvelous!
My roots go back to Lithuana as well, and when i visited there 2 years ago, I was filled with a sense of loss….
the reminants of a once so predominant Jewish life was hanging by a thread and kosher and traditional Jewish food left with the Jews when the exodus started over a century ago!
Well done guys! You can be really proud of yourselves for allowing a small inebriated idea become a successfull project! Wish I had been there to enjoy it as well!

And in Kashgar, China (Uighur country) street corner vendors were selling bagels stacked on dowels.

But the bagels really saved the day on a trip to Cali, Colombia. As the friends we were going to visit there had spent two years in the U.S., I thought it would be funny to take them a dozen bagels. The Avianca plane did not take off and we waited endlessly on the tarmac. Old people who were hungry did not feel well, hungry children began to cry. So I walked down the aisle distributing bagels to Colombians. And when I gave the two that remained to our friends in Cali, they said “What? No cream cheese?”

I’m glad this Fulbright funding is going to good use…..
These geniuses can join lots of other attention craving US Jewish “Leaders” leading the jewish people into sentimental oblivion.
It would be nice if all this creative and organizational talent and enthusiasm were directed at something that would actually be of benefit..to anyone.

Birute says:

Bagels may not have the general appeal of the ubiquitous dark rye bread to most Lithuanians, but the idea of bagels is not lost there. People most likely did not rush up to the trough out of polite forbearance than unfamiliarity with the product or the buffet style.
This event of reintroducing bagels reminded me of the well-meaning church ladies from Minnesota who in 1990’s collected rosaries to send to the very Catholic Lithuania.

Well done Menachem and Jake….there is both poetry and prose in bringing something new from something vanished. (and lighten up Efram and Max…)

Kerry Shawn Keys says:

Hi Jake and Menachem and brother Serge,

Yes, lighten up. Donatas is quite right in every respect….we should not be comparing things. There were several genocides going along, but it is useless to compare or call one an obfuscation of the other, or to fight over the ownership of the term. Who owns the word “victim” and look how many folks want to. I just want a bagel, and Right Now!

Jewel Levine says:

I am the proud aunt of Jake Levine…and what he did was honor his bubby, a 91 year old Litvak who fed everyone she met as long as she was able to cook. Everywhere my mother, Bubby Faye Levine, went she brought food. I watched as a young girl how she warmed people up by bringing a pound of corned beef and a loaf of rye bread, or bagels, cream cheese and lox by plane to visit Jake and his family in Arizona. She made her special apple cake for so many parties….my mother used food to reach out.
Jake is following his bubby’s foot steps, and although this may seem like a small gesture, it opened up conversation, and brought people together.

Klara Kovacs Benzicron says:

Hi Menachem, very interesting. The issue of people and the Holocaust especially in areas where it was quite extensive, the population is very uncomfortable with those issues. It may be from and an underlying guilt that they do not want to address or just the easier way out is to take the attitude of it was not me, but a generation long ago. I have heard remarks from that part of the region, “what do they want, why should we have to pay for the crimes of those who have gone before us?” or “they have been compensated”.
Why is it when we go to the Museum of Tolerance that we feel such discomfort. I don’t mean the sadness that comes with such horror, but a discomfort in ones own skin.
I think when we are reminded of what any of us could become, from one trusted decent human being, to one of a torturer, deceiver, murderer. Your neighbor who you trusted and loved from one day to your executioner the next. It is an uncomfortable subject for the descendants of the perpetrators. If a bagel could turn things around, or trying to open dialogue where dialogue did not exist, well than a bagel it is..

To ignorant “hm” who needs research to establish what was worse: Jewish life under Nazis or Lithuanian life under Lithuanians (Lithuanian communists, to be precise). You misspelled the word “Siberia”. Besides you were the lucky one: every year about 12 million babies are born in Siberia (just like you did), but no one will be born to 9 out of 10 Jewish parents who were murdered by their Lithuanian neighbors in cold blood in just few months.

Rachel says:

This is probably the best thing I have seen all week, if not more. I think what you two did was a fabulous celebration of Jewish culture, world peace, and noshing, and seem like two very nice Jewish boys.

G’day from Melbourne via Toronto via DC.

Bagels with bagels but people should know the truth. Some responses here convinced me that good part of respondents does not know it. Why such wide spread ignorance?
Communist policies in Lithuania were not different from the communist policies everywhere in the Soviet Union, including Russia itself, including Moscow and Leningrad. The victims of these policies were not specific ethnic groups (like Lithuanians, Ukrainians, etc)but rather specific classes of people (nationalists, clerics, entrepreneurs, etc).
(However, after the WWII certain ethnic groups like Chechens, Kamyks, etc were indeed persecuted by the Soviet government but Lithuanians were not among them)
Lithuanians are trying now to distort the history by implying that communist policies in Lithuania were directed exclusively against them and that the main perpetrators of these policies were Jews. In essence they are repeating Goebbels pre-war anti-semitic lies and propaganda, the one which actually led native Lithuanians to those horrible pogroms and mass murders that took place during the war.

Wyman Brent says:

The Vilnius Jewish Library is having an event on 22 October at 15:00 at Raugyklos gatve 25. The place where it will be held is “The House of National Communities.” In Lithuanian, “Tautinių Bendrijų Namai.”http://www.tbn.lt/en/?id=1 Feel free to bring bagels. :)

I doubt that this is the only thing these people are doing with their Fulbright money. It’s just one small event, but one that happened to be written about in Tablet. I’m quite certain that other “more important” work is also still being done, despite the distraction of bagels.

Actually, there have been bagels in Vilnius for a few years now. There is even one of those bagel machines at the place where they make them. The bagels are sold only to offices and hotels. They make the regular ones, and the bigger, crusty ones.

When we started out, much like the people in this article, we couldn’t find real malt to make good bagels (see how pale the pictured ones are) and actually had to have some small bags imported before we got a source in Vilnius.

Having given away more than 2000 bagels in three years, I don’t believe that a “bagel shop” like in the US is feasible. I have even found out that having a kosher restaurant (as well as “kosher style”) would be a money loser.

Donatas Januta says:

To Gene:
There are also a lot of bones buried in Siberia which will give birth to no children. Why is it necessary to disparage other people and other people’s tragedies when speaking of one’s own? Does that make your cause more noble? It certainly does not make it any more convincing or sympathetic.

Lilija G says:

When I was in 5th grade of Lithuanian Saturday school in Cleveland, Ohio our class made bagels. They were small and poppy seeds were mixed into the dough. This was not a Litvak community; but the role of Jews in Lithuanian history and their cultural heritage was an important part of the history and curriculum taught. Knowing the history, I am not surprised the Litvak community is not associated with the non-Jewish Lithuanian community abroad. I think it’s very sad and wish there was something I could do to reestablish a bond between all these Lithuanians. Bagels sound like a great start. Maybe this spring when my Chicago Lithuanian scouts prepare for Kaziuko Muge we can invite Litvaks to help us make some traditional bagel necklaces. Any volunteers?

david schneider says:

perhaps the hole in the bagel symbolizes
the hole left in the untold story of
Lithuanian Jewery history.

SAMARA says:

In response to Donatas Januta – I am not sure i agree with you. I have been in the travel business for many years and now that the Baltic countries have re-opened to the West, you will be amazed at the rate Jewish Heritage Tourism is growing. so many people want to travel back into history and find their roots and unfortunately due to the lack of Kosher foods and restaurants, many of them cannot make the journey.
Besides that, people simply love food and any restaurant that serves good food be it kosher or otherwise, will be a winner. Specially so as in Lithuania the food certainly is nothing to write home about….I think all the best recipes left with the Jews!

I understand the attitude of Lithuanians who want to blame somebody else for their own mistakes (these were Lithuanians and not Lithuanian Jews who brought Soviet regime and NKVD to Lithuania). However, I think some clueless Jewish participants on this forum, who think only about peace and brotherhood, ought to be ashamed of their ignorance. It is okay to have fun with bagels but such fun should be measured against tumultuous history between two people, against present attitude of Lithuanian officials who demand from Israel extradition of anti-Nazi fighters charging them with the war crimes but who at the same time only glorify Nazi collaborators, thieves and mass murderers because besides their crimes against Jews they also fought against communists (exactly like Nazis did). Right now Lithuania represents just one big Jewish graveyard and this should not be forgotten.

It’s always a good thing to gather fellow Jews together. Maybe next time you do the ‘hole’ bagel, you could add in something about the mitzvah of hafrashat challah, discuss the halachot of washing for bread, and sing some of birkat hamazon together.
Yasher Koach!

To Lilija G.
“I think it’s very sad and wish there was something I could do to reestablish a bond between all these Lithuanians”
Lilija – there has never been a bond between Jews and non-Jews in Lithuania. These were two completely different communities, although they shared for a while the same land.

Donatas Januta says:

Samara:

I cannot tell at all what it is on which you disagree with me. Neither of my two previous comments addressed food, so your disagreement with me, whatever it may be, remains a mystery.

But we can talk about food, if you like. I am all for kosher food. (And all other kinds of food.) I actually like Polish kielbasa as well, although a lot of Vilnius’ Poles also disagree with me on issues pertaining to some of Lithuanian & Polish history. As for your thoughts about Lithuanian food, there are a number of Jewish deli’s here in California, and I note that a lot of Jewish food is not that much different from Lithuanian food. Lithuanian, Jewish, Polish, Russian, German – it all has some of the same basics of that region, mostly of northern European country cooking, and in my view, though some of it is very good, none of it is intended for writing – home – or elsewhere, it is instead simply to be eaten. And I like a lot of it, regardless of its ethnic provenance. (Have I now given you something new to disagree with me about?)

Donatas Januta says:

To Lilija (cc: Gene):

Gene is right. Jews and Lithuanians lived for hundreds of years in Lithuania, but they lived together and yet apart. Their only contact with each other was in commerce.

Lithuanians were agrarian, they were farmers, peasants. Jews were urban, they were shopkeepers and small tradesmen. Each depended on the other for their livelihood, but they lived separate lives. Many Jews never even learned to speak or understand Lithuanian – they spoke Yiddish, and depending on which part of Lithuania they were in, also either Russian or German. Russia and Germany, of course, have been the historical enemies of Lithuania.

Jews were also generally better educated. In large part that was due to the Russian empire’s prohibition of publishing any books or newspapers in the Lithuanian language in the Latin alphabet. That lasted until 1904. As a result, literacy among Lithuanians peasants was very low. And as Jewish scholars have noted, Levin, the Schoenburgs, etc., there was little for the Jews to emulate from these backward peasants, the Jews looked down on them, and for that reason, of all European Jews, the Jews in Lithuania were the least assimilated with the local inhabitants. This allowed the Jews to preserve their culture, their language, their religion, and their identity – as separate from the local population – much more so in Lithuania than in any other country of Europe.

There were good people and bad people among both groups. By and large they were mostly good people on both sides. That is why in Lithuania during its independence 1918-1940 Jewish culture in Lithuania continued to thrive, while the Jewish economic situation, unfortunately for them, deteriorated when the rural/agrarian ethnic Lithuanians started getting educated and moving into towns and taking up professions and trades which previously had belonged almost exclusively to Jews. At that time, not just Lithuania, all of Europe was changing from agrarian to industrial.

Rhonda L says:

I am so proud to be the “aunt” of Jake and I am so thrilled that both of these fine men brought a little bit of home to the people of their newly adopted town. If their fulbright monies do nothing more than bring different peoples together in a peaceful environment and to break bread as well, then so be it.

Let me repeat this once more to all clueless Kumba-yah singers: Lithuania is a big Jewish graveyard. Less than 70 years ago thousands of Jews were tortured to death by Nazi collaborators – so called “freedom fighters”. When you deal with this country don’t forget its nameless victims.

allenby says:

this is a very interesting and promising jewish event in former cultural Jewish center of Europe.
I hope this event will encourage other international jewish events, to bring Jewish culture back to the former glorious Jewish Vilna.
From the political perspective, Europe is increasingly turning into a muslim majority. Not in the next 10-20 years, but the process is unstoppable. It’s a matter of time. By 2050 western europe will be controlled by Islam. No doubt about that.
Although, for many centuries Jews had no trouble to coexist in muslim countries, but they too had their share of persecutions.
We don’t know what the future holds.
Eastern europe is different. No muslim influences so far, and no mass emigration of muslims there.
There are some predictions on the future of World Jewry, shifting from US either to South America or Australia. But there are no predictions about the future of european Jewry.
Could very well be, that the time will come, when Jews will look again towards the East, namely Lithuania, Belarus. And towards the Caucasus region:Georgia, Azerbajan, Armenia, and maybe even towards Middle Asian states like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan.
Jews have never experienced persecutions in these 6 countries, and they had relatively good peaceful lives and coexistence with major population.
I can see it happening maybe in the next 20 years or even before, and the former glory of Jewish Vilna could be restored with an amazing influx of Jews escaping muslim controlled Paris or London…who knows…

allenby says:

Agree with Donatas Januta!
There were bad people on both sides. Also she(or he..) made a mistake about languages Jews spoke in Lithuania. German WAS NOT a common language at all. In Latvia it was.
In Lithuania Jews spoke mainly Yiddish, Russian and Polish.
Don’t forget the fact that Lithuania was never under germany. Poland and Russia had control in Lithuania, with a short period when Lithuania was “Great Lithuanian Kingdom” around 15th century, when it spread from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Could you believe that ???

About Jewish Lithuanian food….mmmm…one of the best!
Very similar to Polish food. One of my favorites is poppy seed roll. So so DELICIOUS!!!!
The real true poppy seed roll is 90% poppy seeds. That’s what you find in Israel, in every single bakery. I guess in Poland too.
Interestingly, in NYC these poppy seed rolls don’t exist, only some poor clones with 20% poppy seeds. Only in Brooklyn in some russian supermarkets and bakeries, and in Brighton Beach.
Another very Unique Lithuanian Jewish pastry: Teiglach.
This is absolute delight!
My mother was a Master of these. The process is very tedious but the result is delicious sparkling brown pastry gems, like nothing else! Absolute delicacy!
If somebody knows where to get these gems, please comment…

Judita G. says:

Mr. Zuroff, with due respect, one would imagine a person of your caliber would be able to come up with something more meaningful than scolding two young, smart, enthusiastic people for doing something they should really be complimented for. Being a Jewish Lithuanian I’m awfully happy that there are American Jews who actually do something to bring Jews and Lithuanians together and consider this important in the context of the 21st century. Way to go!

I can see that my words are falling through the deaf ears. Allenby, you have mentioned almost every country in the world besides Israel. Why is that? Why Jews cannot live safely in Israel? To your knowledge: Jews have never experienced persecution and coexisted pretty peacefully with local population in Lithuania as well. Up until 1941, when all of them were murdered by their neighbors. Did it ever cross your mind: why? Besides, nobody persecuted Jews in Upper Mongolia yet. Maybe we should all move there?

A.L. Bell says:

@BagelGuys: Great idea. Congratulations. Now: on to chopped liver!!!

@DonatasJanuta: I think society was a lot more segregated everywhere in the world before 1930 than it is today. It seems as if Lithuanians and Jews in Lithuania lived fairly separate lives, but, to me, it seems as if it’s a beautiful idea for the communities to try to come together now over good food and try to heal the wounds of the past. I think it’s important to preserve food, ideas, art, buildings, stories, etc.; I don’t think there’s any great reason to preserve cultural divides.

@Gene: We certainly should oppose the Lithuanian government’s policies, and we should oppose antisemitism in Lithuania. If you run into intentionally antisemitic Lithuanians, then, certainly, yank any bagels they are eating out of their evil, antisemitic mouths. But I think it’s unfair and counterproductive to shun ordinary people now living in Lithuania. Most of them have had nothing to do with the Holocaust.

The right way to show how angry we are about the Holocaust is to give money to charities that help Holocaust survivors, or to contribute to the American Jewish World Service, not to wall ourselves off from ordinary Lithuanians.

yekum purkan says:

Yes, I think it is wonderful that 2 drunken Jews came up with a wonderful idea to make everything right again. Who knows, maybe the people they served bagels to were the children of Lithuanian animals that not only helped the Nazis round up Jews,but assiisted by murdering thousands. Read this, you ignorant ones:

http://www.adl.org/ADL_Opinions/Anti_Semitism_Global/20090313-Jewish+Standard.htm

Reminds me of another American Jewish tradition: You bring the bagels and I will bring the Torah!
What a new concept in reaching the world by one bagel at a time with a little Torah commentary.

Ed Karesky says:

Jacksprat,
Whether you agree with any particular viewpoint this was a wonderful discussion between people. I want to thank you for the major contribution you mafe with your statement of “chill out.” I am sure this sentence reflecting American “lowbrow slang” will be the main point those who read the great article and mostly well thought comments will remember. You need to “get out” – you are apparently already well chilled. Read a book, attend a lecture, take a writing class, do something to improve your ability to engage in social discourse.

Fabulous! Mazel Tov!

Donatas Januta says:

To Gene and to yekum purat:

According to historians, about 3,000 Lithuanians participated in the German initiated and German organized Holocaust. Also, a similar number, over 3,000 Lithuanians have been identified as having saved Jews from the Holocaust, and who did so at the risk of their own lives and those of their families, since the Germans killed not only anyone who was found to have assisted Jews but also that person’s entire family.

I am not aware that there are any statistics of how many Jews saved Lithuanians from Soviet NKVD actions.

To Allenby: You are right, the languages that hews spoke in pre-
WWII Lithuania were almost enirely Yiddish, Russian or Polish. The exception was in the area around Klaipeda (Memel) were German was widely spoken, as well as in some parts of Lithuania near the Latvian border – that’s why I said that it depended on which geographic area of Lithuania one was in.

Joseph says:

Efraim for some reason seems to be constantly lying on numerous issues when it comes about Lithuania. I guess, the Russian interests are at stake. His friendships with the Putin’s Eagles;: are well publicised. Even on youtube.
The issues he tries to present as having relevance for the Jews has nothing to do with the Jewish people.

T-Baum says:

Well done my friend. Well done.

Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is magnificent, as well as the content!

great post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector don’t notice this. You should continue your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

I got what you mean, thanks for putting up. Woh I am happy to conclude this website finished google. Thanks For Share Holey Mission – by Menachem Kaiser – Tablet Magazine – A New Read on Jewish Life.

I’ve said that least 3243250 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

2000

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