This year marked my third Pesach in Lithuania . . .
The truth was I had planned out a detailed post, but after pushing it off time and again, I frankly can't find the excitement in the ideas I had planned to write . . .
Instead I'll leave it with only a few points.
- Poles still stand up the second the plane lands, well before the 'fasten seatbelt' sign goes off. I discovered, however, that Lithuanians not only do not stand up right away . . . they don't stand up at all. When the plane landed, no one stood up for a good minute or two after the doors opened
- According to Wikipedia, before the war Poles and Jews made up a majority of the population of Vilna, with a small Lithuanian minority of only 0.8%.
- I first conceived the idea of making this blog in Vilna, Pesach two years ago.
This year we were put to work peeling potatoes.
Across from me sits "The Flying Dutch Jew" of Warsaw fame.
In the middle is Abes -the Potato in his mouth means he'll be Bar Mitzvah on Isru Chag Shevuos.
Robert does hagbah.
The Afternoon before Pesach we were placed in a van full of goods and shipped off to Šiauliai, known to Jews as Shavel . . .
Mendel Krinsky, the Rabbi's son and our translator -he'll be Bar Mitzvah on Pesach Sheni.
The roads of Lithuania.
In Panevėžys (Ponevezh) we were pulled over by the cops . . . our driver had been speeding.
Panevėžys is famed as the area whose "inhabitants were among the last Pagans to be baptized in Europe. Holy fires were continued to be burned, and people made sacrifices to the old gods (see Lithuanian mythology), in what is now called the Old River Bed, long after Christianity was introduced." and as the home city of the Ponevezh Yishivah.
The Seder went well -the community is very small with only 200 hundred or so Jews . . .
18 total came to our Seder, ten each night, two returning the second night.
The second night an individual named named Mendel, perhaps Moishe, known in Russian as Misha, complained briefly that our seder was not like the secular community's one given the first night -they had had Vodka and dancing . . .
By the end however, we all held hands and danced singing нет нет неКого (Nyet Nyet Nikavo -there is nobody besides Him (G-d)) Misha-Moishe-Mendel became very excited and pointed to the other guests:
"You see!" he said in Russian, "There is nobody besides G-d!"
The other guests laughed -one of them replied in mock jest,
"You were a Soviet general, since when did Soviets believe in G-d?"
I left Vilnius early Thursday morning . . . My return tripped had been enjoyable . . . going back to a place where everyone knew me . . . In general I am a nostalgic person -being back brought out a particularly strong sense of nostalgia. The sun rose over the tarmac, casting a warm red glow which pierced the frigid black of Lithuanian pre-dawn.
I stopped over in Warsaw for five hours . . . Simcha, who went with me to Biłgoraj last year came to pick me up at the airport. We went to the Chabad.
On the road he told me,
"Warsaw, no change. Chabad, no change. People, no change. Everyone still here. Nothing change."
The Pałac Kultury looms over Warsaw.
Mottel, Simcha, Benyomin, and Sholom Ber.
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