Meeting with Madam Jolanta Urbanovič, Vice-Minister of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania

May 11, 2020

Yesterday, on 16 January 2020, the European Jewish Association and our partners from the Action and Protection Foundation /Hungary/ and the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania have joined together to further advance the ongoing Europe-wide initiative on the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism. The meeting has thus taken place in the wonderful Lithuanian capital of Vilnius – once known as the Jerusalem of the North.

With the EJA having been represented by Mihails Vorobeičiks-Mellers (Political Affairs Adviser), the APF by Kálmán Szalai (Secretary) and the International Commission by Ingrida Vilkienė (Deputy Director), we have had the pleasure of meeting with Jolanta Urbanovič, Vice-Minister of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania, and members of her team.

During the meeting, the European dimension of the project has been described and discussed, along with the ongoing dialogues with the educational authorities in several other countries, where meetings have already taken place earlier. Then the initiative’s realization in Hungary has been touched upon – its roots, planning, development, the negotiations involved, gradual implementation and results, and the effect it has had and continues to have on the national curriculum and those undergoing as well as teaching it. 

Afterwards, the Lithuanian system of education has been discussed, particularly the various aspects of Jewish studies already covered within the curriculum as well as the corresponding topics where the International Commission has achieved significant progress. In case of the latter, numerous teacher seminars, symposiums and events devoted to providing extensive information on the pre-war Jewish life in Lithuania, contributions to society and country as a whole, as well as Holocaust remembrance – just to name a few.

A consensus has been reached that a much stronger emphasis has to be made not only on the Holocaust remembrance – which is undoubtedly important – but also coexistence, cooperation and long-time friendship between the Jews and their compatriots inhabiting Lithuania in the many centuries preceding the Second World War, not to mention the after-war and contemporary periods as well. 

With the above in mind, and considering the Ministry’s plans to renew the curriculum (not just in history, but also other subjects, e.g., social studies, languages etc.), it has been, in particular, agreed that a project proposal containing a number of suggestions shall be prepared, covering the various aspects of the topics mentioned above and others, which shall then be discussed and further evaluated by a prospectively set up expert group, whose composition shall be also discussed soon. Interest and willingness for further close dialogue and possible cooperation has been expressed by all sides involved in the meeting.

We are most grateful to Madam Vice-Minister Urbanovič and her colleagues at the Ministry for their much welcome interest, time and the possibility to have this discussion yesterday, not to mention for being such wonderful and gracious hosts. We very much look forward to further communication with the Ministry and our partners on the present initiative and, of course, other topics of common interest and concern.

Additional Articles

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Jewish group urges halt to Nazi memorabilia auction featuring Hitler's wristwatch

In an open letter co-signed by 34 Jewish leaders, the Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA) called for Maryland-based Alexander Historical Auctions to abandon its sale of a slew of Nazi objects.

The items auctioned by the broker include a gold watch and candy bowl belonging to Adolf Hitler, and items belonging to his partner, Eva Braun, including a dress and dog collar for her terrier.

Also on sale are Wehrmacht toilet paper and the cutlery and champagne glasses of senior Nazi figures.

The highest valued item — the watch belonging to Hitler — was expected to fetch between $2 million (€1.97 million) and $4 million. The sale was taking place over two days from Thursday to Friday.

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#LightingEurope Fourth and Fifth Day of Chanukah13-12-2020

As a part of our #LightingEurope canpaign we are happy and honored to have EMIH Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation Executive Rabbi Slomó Köves for the fourth candle and Dr Leah Floh, Chairperson of the Mönchengladbach Jewish Community for the Fifth candle with some special words for Chanikah
You can read the translation of Dr Floh here:
My dear Jewish friends in the entire world but especially in Israel!
Dear friends and supporters!
The Jewish Community of Möchengladbach [Northrhein-Westphalia, Germany] and all Jews from throughout Germany want to wish all of you a Happy Chanukah – a festival of lights, of love, of hope and of solidarity.
Please stay healthy or return quickly to good health. Remain optimistic and always remember to support each other.
Dear Shoah survivors, dear Child Survivors: you have great capacity for resilience and with it you could infect others with your positive outlook on life.
I’m convinced that we will be able to celebrate together next year.
Am Israel Chai עם ישראל חי [the people of Israel live!], l’shana haba’ah b’Yerushalayim לשנה הבאה בירושלים‎ [next year in Jerusalem!].
Chag Chanukah Sameach חג חנוכה שמח [Happy Chanukah Holiday!]
Amen!

Short video from the EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION Annual Policy Conference Budapest: 20-21 June

Eastern Europe less affected by the coronavirus pandemic

One of the lessons so far from the coronavirus pandemic in Europe is that the eastern half of the continent is less affected than the western half.  
The combined death toll to date across more than a dozen eastern countries is less than the number of fatalities on any given recent day in Italy. The highest numbers of infections are in the Czech Republic and Poland, with around 4,500 cases in each country, still a fraction of the numbers in most western European countries.
Partly this could be down to lockdown measures introduced at an early stage in the outbreak. The Czech Republic imposed a strict lockdown three weeks ago, while at the same time Poland cancelled almost all flights in and out of the country. Polish authorities were also quick to close bars, restaurants, cinemas and schools. Police vehicles with mounted loudspeakers blare recorded messages urging people to stay at home.
‘’As far as I know there are no Jews among the people who died from the coronavirus in Poland,’’ said Edward Odener, a leading member of the TSKŻ Board, the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, in a zoom conversation with the European Jewish Association. ,
TSKZ is the most important organization representing the interests of the Jewish community of the country, with 16 branches and nearly 2,000 active members, out of some 5000 affiliated Jews in the country.
TSKŻ aims to organize and to promote cultural events and Jewish art exhibitions, to consolidate and preserve the cultural heritage of Polish Jews, the Jewish culture among Jews and Poles, Yiddish language courses and publishing projects. It is is very active to preserve the memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and of the Shoah.
‘’Most of the elderly Jewish people prefer to rely on their relatives if they need help during this period and are quite reluctant to ask for outside help,’’ Odoner explained.
The Synagogues have volunteers to deliver basic packages of kosher products and matsot for Pessach to the homes of those who will request it. However, there are not so many requests and Odoner presumes that they have other concerns than to keep a strictly kosher Pessach holiday.
In the country, there is no shortage of masks since they started to produce them in Poland.  ‘’Everyone can buy online any quantity of masks, also reusable ones, at an affordable price and they got it the day after their order.
Poles are for the last three weeks in strict lockdown, and Poland closed its borders for non Polish citizens and for non permanent residents since three weeks, Odoner said as he explained the fact that the country was able to contain the coronavirus.
Odoner noted that he didn’t recorded any antisemitic incident blaming the Jews for the crisis like it happened in other countries in Europe.
The article was published on the EJP

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