Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

Lithuania: Information on a Jewish "movement" led by Emanuil Zingeris

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 September 1993
Citation / Document Symbol LTU15338.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Lithuania: Information on a Jewish "movement" led by Emanuil Zingeris, 1 September 1993, LTU15338.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aaf334.html [accessed 14 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to the 1992 Country Reports, Jews and other non-Lithuanian ethnic groups constitute 20 per cent of the population (1993, 834). The same source states that minority nationalities have access to primary and secondary education in their own languages and that it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or ethnic background (Ibid.).

No one is prevented from practising the religion of their choice, and there is no state religion in Lithuania (Ibid., 833). In the capital, Vilnius, there is a Jewish cultural centre, and there are no reports of significant anti-Semitic activity at present. The government is reportedly opposed to any forms of anti-Semitism (Ibid.).

However, Lithuanian Jews have a different opinion on the issue of anti-Semitism. A BBC report of 27 February 1993 notes that the Jewish community took offence at comments by the editor of a Lithuanian weekly which accused Emanuelis Zingeris, the chairperson of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, of spreading the notion that Lithuanians were accomplices of the Nazis during the Second World War. According to the community's protest note, the editor was attempting to revive the Nazi stereotyping of Jews as Bolsheviks (Ibid.).

In another report on 2 April 1993, the BBC states that a press conference on Lithuanian-Jewish relations took place on 26 March 1993. According to the source, the Jewish community feels that while there are problems between Lithuanians and Jews, there are attempts to magnify these problems by trying to link Jews to the Soviet presence and activities in Lithuania (Ibid.).

According to Canadian Jewish News, the Jewish community is fast dwindling in Lithuania (3 Sept. 1992, 14). The source states that while Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) have been at the forefront of preserving traditional Judaism, the community's members are shrinking a great deal because of emigration (Ibid.). The source attributes this outflow to economic hardship, family reunification, search for Jewish roots, grassroots anti-Semitism and fear of the future.

The BBC names Emanuelis Zingeris as the chairperson of the parliamentary foreign relations committee. Zingeris is reportedly rather positive about the future of Jews in Lithuania, although he admits that Jews face problems in that country and believes that a thriving Jewish community in Lithuania is possible (Canadian Jewish News 3 Sept. 1992, 14).

In an interview, the author of the feature article on Lithuanian Jews in the 3 September 1992 issue of the Canadian Jewish News elaborates that Zingeris, by virtue of his position, is a leader of the Jewish community and speaks for Jewish interests in the Supreme Council (parliament) in Lithuania

(28 Sept. 1993). None of the sources consulted lists him as the leader of a Jewish movement. It may also be of interest to note that there are other individuals mentioned by Canadian Jewish News who could be considered as leaders of the Jewish community in Lithuania (3 Sept. 1992, 14). The source names Misha Jakobas as the director of the Vilnius Jewish National School, Gregory Kanovich as the chairperson of the Jewish community in Lithuania and Grigorijus Smoliakovas as editor of the Jerusalem of Lithuania (Ibid.).

                This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 2 April 1993. "Lithuania: Alarm Raised about `Anti-Semitic' Articles in Newspapers." (NEXIS)

. 27 February 1993. "Lithuania: Jewish Community Protests Against `Slander' in TV Broadcast."

Canadian Jewish News [Toronto]. 3 September 1992. "Lithuanian Jewry Hit by Tragedies."

Contributor to Canadian Jewish News, Toronto. 28 September 1993. Telephone interview.

                Country Reports on Human Rights for 1992 1993. US Department of State. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

Attachments

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 2 April 1993. "Lithuania: Alarm Raised about `Anti-Semitic' Articles in Newspapers." (NEXIS)

. 27 February 1993. "Lithuania: Jewish Community Protests Against `Slander' in TV Broadcast."

Canadian Jewish News [Toronto]. 3 September 1992. "Lithuanian Jewry Hit by Tragedies."

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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