On Monday evening, Lithuanian, Israeli and Jewish influences met, in a unique blend of the classical and the contemporary. Lithuania’s National Day is February 16th, and a diverse group of diplomats and Israeli and Lithuanian guests joined to mark this occasion, and 25 years of diplomatic relations with Israel, with a special musical program at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
The program, which celebrated the 1918 Restoration of the State of Lithuania, brought the special “Window to Lithuania” collaborative music performance to Israel. “Window to Lithuania” brought together some of Lithuania’s greatest chamber music from the last 100 years in a masterful collaborative performance on piano, cello and violin by Dalia Dedinskaite, Gleb Pysniak, and Gintara Janusevious. It was held in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s Asia Auditorium, adjacent to the modern art wing. Unique to the occasion, images from the groundbreaking Lithuanian expatriate art collection were projected onto the backdrop of the stage.
Lithuanian Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr. Edminas Bagdonas, opened the evening with a speech that highlighted the historical Jewish influence on Lithuanian culture, politics and society, and contemporary Israeli-Lithuanian relations. He mentioned Simonas Rozenbaumas, Lithuania’s first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Nachmanas Rachmilevicius, Vice-Minister of Trade and Economy, both Lithuanian Jews buried in Israel, as well as the late Maks Soloveichik, former Minister for Jewish Affairs in Lithuania and later Director of the Tel Aviv bank.
Ambassador Bagdonas also noted the more recent Lithuania-Israel partnerships, and the celebration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the shared values, accomplishments, and academic, commercial and scientific programs binding the two countries. Mr. Bagdonas closed his remarks by connecting the past to the future, recalling the tragic effects of the Holocaust on Lithuanian Jewry, and ending with the call to action “We must never forget.”
Following the ambassador, Mr. David Azulai, the Israeli Minister of Religious Services, addressed the crowd. Mr. Azulai discussed the influence of the Lithuanian Jewish community and its important place in Jewish history. He also mentioned the Lithuanian-Israeli relationship, and the recent statement by presidents Dalia Grybauskaite and Reuven Rivlin on shared values and accomplishments of the Israeli and Lithuanian people.
Nika Zundelovitch, herself the granddaughter of a Jewish Lithuanian artist, performed the national anthems of both nations, before the actual concert opened. The concert included compilations combining the best of Lithuanian classical and contemporary chamber music, from four of the greatest composers. The most emotional part of the evening was when the trio performed “A Chant and a Dance” by Anatolijus Senderovas, and following their masterful rendition, the composer himself joined the group on stage for a warm ovation from the audience.
After the concert, guests enjoyed desserts and drinks in the museum hall. Among the guests were leading members of the Israel-Lithuania Chamber of Commerce, including its chairman, and Director of the Israel Lithuania Technology Hub, Mr. Lennie Judes, and Felix Kipper, the director; Amos Eiran, Honorary Consul of Lithuania; Nitza Raz-Silbiger, Director of the Protocol Department and Rodica Radian-Gordon, Deputy Director General of European Affairs from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassadors and other diplomats, and business, commercial and cultural leaders of both countries. All of the guests were left with a newfound appreciation for the unique cultural mix of Israeli, Jewish and Lithuanian artists, and the influence of the historical on the modern.
Steven Aiello is the founder and Director of the Debate for Peace MUN program
Photos Silvia G. Golan