Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Rest in Peace Liba Augenfeld

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Rest in Peace Liba Augenfeld. Liba fought bravely as a partisan in Vilna during the second World War. You may read an excerpt of her story here.

Below reads some Funeral information for Liba Augenfeld. You may view the entire obituary here.

Funeral Service: Monday, March 12, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Paperman & Sons
Shiva: Monday, March 12, 2018 to
Friday, March 16, 20186800 Macdonald Ave., Côte Saint-Luc, H3X 3Z2
Shiva Details: Shiva hours: 1:00 to 4:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. ending Friday.
Cemetery: Baron De Hirsch
Donations: Jewish Public Library, (514) 345-2627, ext.:3332.

Forays into Yiddish: A Freylekhn Purim! / A Happy Purim!

Friday, March 10th, 2017

March 12th is approaching and the Jewish holiday of Purim is upon us. Marked on the 15th of Adar in the Hewbrew Calendar, it commemorates the defeat of Haman’s plot to massacre the Jews as recorded in the book of Esther.

Here is a collection of various songs, images and recipes in honor of the holiday from Yiddish translator and blogger Rivka Schiller. Most items have a direct link to the Yiddish and Yiddish speaking world dating back before World War II.

We wish you all a א פריילעכן פורים – Freylekhn Purim – Happy Purim!


Jewish DP children perform in a Purim play in the Cremona displaced persons camp. Cremona, Italy (DP Camp), c. 1947. (Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, accessed 3-6-17).


לחיים פון דער מגילה/Lekhaim fun der Megile/L’chaim from the Megillah (courtesy of YouTube, accessed 3-6-17).

דער ניגון פון דער מגילה/Der nign fun der Megile/The Melody of the Megillah (courtesy of YouTube, accessed 3-6-17).

המןטאשן/Homentashn/Hamantashen (traditional three-cornered Purim pastry with a filling) sung by Theodore Bikel (courtesy of YouTube, accessed 3-6-17). 

Jewish DP children perform in a Purim play in the Cremona displaced persons camp. Cremona, Italy (DP Camp), c. 1947. (Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, accessed 3-6-17).

Poster announcing “A Great Purim Ball Dance” to include a “wind orchestra” and scheduled for 8:00 pm in Vilna, on Friday the 18th of March [1927]. (Courtesy of the YIVO Institute, accessed 3-5-17).

My Mother’s (Miriam Schiller’s) Homentash Recipe

1 stick butter

1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Filling of choice (e.g., poppy seed, prune, apricot, strawberry, etc.)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

2. Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until dough comes together. Place dough in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to ¼ inch in thickness. Cut into circles using cookie cutter or round-edged drinking glass. Place cookies on greased cookie sheets. Fill with desired filling and pinch edges of cookies to form three corners.

3. Bake for 12-15 minutes in preheated oven or until lightly browned.

The finished result should look something like this:

(Courtesy of Tori Avey, accessed 3-6-17).

French Underground Railroad, Moving African Migrants

Friday, November 11th, 2016


Photo courtesy of Pierre Terdjman (The New York Times)

Flashes of the past aren’t hard to see if you don’t close your eyes. Many French see past injustices repeat in the quaint train stations of rural southern France as African migrants are rounded up and sent back to Italy where they will most likely be again deported. The scene was too much for some as “smartly dressed passengers averted their gaze.” Part of the local French population see it as their civic responsibility to turn in any migrants to the authorities while others disobey their government and fight for those who have no money, no common language and simply want to escape whatever misfortune lies behind them. Sadly, it seems misfortune is just as universal as man’s desperate battle to stop it.
“Either I close my eyes, or I don’t,” says one French migrant smuggler, an echo of Desmond Tutu’s reflection, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Read the New York Times story here.


PARTISANS OF VILNA to screen at the Washington Jewish Film Festival

Monday, April 11th, 2016

We are excited to announce that Partisans of Vilna will be screening at the Washington Jewish Film Festival on April 25th! The producer, Aviva Kempner, will be in attendance for a Q&A.

PARTISANS OF VILNA to screen at the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin, October 1st through November 9th

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

The Ciesla Foundation is proud to announce that the new digitized version of Partisans of Vilna will be shown at the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art Collection in Berlin, among a series dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of National Socialism. I will be going to Berlin, where I was born, to present the film. Almost 30 years ago director Josh Waletzky and I premiered the film at the Berlin Film Festival.


Below is more information about the event:


(directed by Josh Waletzky, USA 1986)

October 31
Potsdamer Straße 2, 10785 Berlin, Germany
7:00PM Cinema 1

Special Guest: Producer Aviva Kempner, in a discussion with Ulrich Gregor

The film is an account of armed resistance and internal struggles in the Vilna ghetto. Many of the Jewish partisans were students, who were young, well-educated and independent, and banded together with Russian, Polish and Lithuanian groups in the surrounding woods. Here too though, they experienced anti-Semitism and resentment. The film contains 40 interviews with former resistance fighters, as well as archive material from 1933–1944. Traditional songs and Yiddish interpretations of well-known partisan songs play an important role in the film.

Click here for more information.

Director Aviva Kempner scheduled to speak at Book Talk

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

On Sunday February 8th at 1:00pm, notable filmmaker and founder of the Washington Jewish Film Festival will speak alongside authors Menachem Z. Rosensaft and Michael Brenner. They will have a discussion about the book God, Faith and Identity from the Ashes, an anthology of testaments from 88 children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors by written by Rosensaft. This year marks 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Panelists will talk about the legacy’s impact on their personal lives.

The Book Talk will take place at the Politics and Prose Bookstore (5015 Connecticut Ave N.W., Washington DC).

Erica Marshall, Winter Intern

Armenian genocide came before the Holocaust

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Next year, 2015, will mark the 100th anniversary of the Turkish genocide in Armenia. Vilnius, the cultural and financial capital of Lithuania, known as Vilna in Yiddish, was run by the Russian tsars until 1914. During the First World War, Vilna was occupied by Germans. At the close of the War, it became the capital of the new free country of Lithuania.

The White House will display a controversial historical artifact known as the Armenian Orphan Rug. The rug was woven by Armenian orphans in the 1920s and presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1925, in gratitude to the U.S. for aiding Armenians the 1915 genocide, in which 1 million to 1.5 million lost their lives. Armenian groups hope that the display of the artifact, will be accompanied by the official U.S. usage of the term “genocide” in discussion of the atrocities. To date, sensitive relations with modern Turkey have prevented such a designation. The rug was to have been exhibited at a Smithsonian Institution event in December, which was canceled when White House decided against releasing it.

Partisans of Vilna chronicles the 20,000 to 30,000 Lithuanian and Polish Jews who fought in resistance to the holocaust that threatened their city in the early 1940’s. As ethnic cleansing is unfortunately still with us, it is hoped the conversation surrounding this cultural acquisition by the White House, will serve as a reminder that no genocide, whether suffered by Armenians, Native Americans, or Eastern European Jews, should be brushed under the proverbial rug.

“We Are Here” sings for those without a voice

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

In her recent Washington Post op-ed regarding Jews’ place in Poland’s history, Anne Applebaum notes that Jewish partisans during the Second World War often sang a song that ended with the words Mir senen do!, meaning “We are here!” The song became the anthem of their resistance. In August we blogged about author Ellen Cassedy’s book about Lithuanian resistance, We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust (University of Nebraska Press).

Applebaum writes:

Certainly the insistent declaration “we are here” isn’t part of any big nation’s national anthem. Americans sing about “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” The British sing “God save the Queen.” The French sing, “The day of glory has arrived.” None of them sing in order to prove that they haven’t been wiped out. But those who live in geographically insecure nations can perhaps empathize with one another somewhat better.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Helen Bamber, anti-torture activist, passes away

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

From The Washington Post:

Helen Bamber, who at 19 traveled alone to post-World War II Germany to care for former inmates of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and became one of the world’s most relentless advocates for the victims of war, genocide and torture, died Aug. 21 in London. She was 89.

She was a courageous woman. It’s too bad there were not more like her. Read more of Adam Bernstein’s obituary of Bamber at The Washington Post.

Links roundup August 2014

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

In The Washington Post, a D.C. judge who fled the Holocaust with his family as a child passes away at 82.

In The New York Times, Deborah E. Lipstadt talks about why we should be worried about rising anti-Semitism in Europe.