(JTA) — Lithuania’s parliament passed a law this week to set aside over 37 million euros ($38 million) as restitution for Holocaust survivors and their heirs.
Ingrida Šimonytė, Lithuania’s prime minister, introduced the bill in the Seimas, Lithuania’s national legislature in Vilnius, on Nov. 15, proposing to nearly double the money the government had already set aside for restitution claims in a country where 90% of its Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Today only 5,000 Jews remain in the country.
The World Jewish Restitution Organization called it “an important step to providing a measure of justice to Lithuanian Holocaust survivors and their families for the horrors they suffered during World War II and its aftermath.”
The bill passed last week with an overwhelming majority, with 72 parliamentarians in favor, six against and two abstaining.
“No one can bring the lost lives back and revive the communities once we had. However, the approach the government shows in terms of restitution for the Lithuanian Jewish community devastated during the Holocaust is proper and is welcomed by our community,” said Fania Kukliansky, president of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, according to the Baltic News Network.
Over a decade ago, the parliament passed legislation to allocate 36 million euros, then worth about $72 million, for a “Good Will Foundation” that funds projects to benefit the country’s Jewish population. The money was considered restitution for communal property seized from Lithuania’s Jewish community under the Nazi occupation.
The present bill would allow survivors and their heirs to apply for restitution for personal property as well, while continuing to fund the Good Will Foundation.
“This is also a moral debt that should be acknowledged and, as far as possible, not 100%, resolved,” Šimonytė said.
Lithuania has a checkered history when it comes to Holocaust remembrance. The Nazi’s Lithuanian collaborators under German occupation were involved in many atrocities, including the massacres at Paneriai, a present-day suburb of Vilnius, where 70,000 Jews were killed between 1941 and 1944. Lithuanian battalions performed guard duty and organized deportations at the Majdanek death camp in Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto.
Jewish leaders objected when, in 2020, Lithuanian lawmakers considered a law that would have declared that neither Lithuania nor its leaders could be blamed for participating in the Holocaust because the country was occupied. Amid the rise in nationalism across Eastern Europe, streets, schools and monuments have been named for Lithuanian collaborators.
Despite the overwhelming vote in the Seimas, not everyone supported the bill.
“Our faction did not support it. We believe that the issue is resolved. Neither the motives nor the real reasons for it are understood,” said former Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who is now chairman of the Democratic Union For Lithuania Party and voted against the bill.
“If we’d apply the same approach, then the story of compensation would be endless” he added, pointing to non-Jewish Lithuanians who lost property during both the Nazi and Soviet occupations.
“If every government starts believing it has an exclusive right to pass decisions on restitution, then, to follow the logic, every new government can start thinking that it has a right to compensate also all the Lithuanian nationals who lost their property in the 1940s and who haven’t seen any compensation,” Skvernelis said.
The bill’s passage was welcomed by the United States embassy in Lithuania.
“The passing of this legislation is an important step in recognizing the tragedy of the Holocaust in Lithuania,” Robert Gilchrist, the U.S. ambassador to Lithuania, said in a statement. “The United States Government strongly welcomes and endorses the Lithuanian government’s proposal to address longstanding issues of restitution for the Lithuanian Jewish community devastated during the Holocaust.”
The post Lithuania passes law allocating nearly $40 million for Holocaust survivors appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.