The Cape Board hosted a meeting with Faina Kukliansky, President of Jewish Community of Lithuania.
Like most of their 5000-strong community, Faina, a prosecutor, is the child of Holocaust survivors, living in a country in which their memories of the Holocaust are still very real, but these are being increasingly denied by the wider community which is turning murderers into national heroes with monuments and schools named after them.
No state Holocaust Museum exists, but a Genocide Museum commemorates the killing of Lithuanians by the Soviets and a monument to a Jewish hero has been trashed. They do not discuss this with the Government.
“If you speak out about everything, it does not help, it is better to keep silent. Why spend your life fighting?” Faina confesses.
Only 30% of the value of the Jewish communal property has been restituted, and that money has enabled them to build a school but was not sufficient for a nursery school. They are a poor community with many old people struggling to manage on inadequate pensions.
Although the community retains a strong identity as Jews, few are religious. There is an interest in Jewish culture with a Hebrew class attracting 100 people — none Jewish. The community has good links with minorities and supports Roma and LGBTI communities so that they would respect the Jewish community in return.
Faina hoped that they would be able to develop relationships with the South African Jewish community in possible joint projects.
‘Together we can do more”, said Fainia.