Tomorrow’s Class

Tomorrow afternoon at 1pm Perth time and 8am Lithuanian time, I will enter a virtual classroom with Laima Ardaviciene and her students of English at Atzalynas Gymnasium in Kedainiai.

We will use Skype, which has proved effective on previous occasions.

Laima seeks ways to give her students the opportunity to communicate in English, great for improving their language skills.

What makes our meetings so special is that Laima uses Jewish history and culture as her subject.

Keidan was an important multicultural town before the Holocaust, with around 50% of the town Jewish. No Jews live there now.

Laima’s students are inquisitive about the Jews and what happened to them, which is in contrast to the blackout in Laima’s own schooling in Kedainiai in Soviet times.

So what happened to the Jews of Keidan? 2076 were shot on 28 August 1941 by local Lithuanians.


My connection to Keidan is via my third great grandfather, Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref. He was a follower of the Vilna Gaon, and left in 1811 for Jerusalem.


I have chosen 15 of my photos of Lithuania to discuss with the class tomorrow.

I have already emailed them beforehand to Laima and her students.

They are in four different themes.

Can you guess what the themes are?


Theme 1

aDSC_0478 aDSC_1330 aDSC_1349 aDSC_9959 aDSC_9978


Theme 2

bIMG_4082 bIMG_4101



Theme 3

cDSC_5666 cDSC_5745

cDSC_5836 cDSC_5850


Theme 4

dDSC_2921 dDSC_2928


Is Australia’s New Prime Minister Really Menachem Mendel Turnbull?

Is Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s new PM, Jewish?

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 1.05.09 pm

This Times of Israel article quotes from his 2013 interview with the Australian Jewish News:

Menachem Mendel Turnbull?

IT’S official. Malcolm Turnbull is Jewish … well, at least as far as his mother was concerned.

Speaking to The AJN this week, the shadow minister for communications and broadband recalled his mother, the author and academic Coral Magnolia Lansbury, discussing her heritage.

“My mother always used to say that her mother’s family was Jewish,” the member for Wentworth said.

However, he added, “I’ve never researched it. I honestly don’t know where or how I would do that,”

Asked if his mother’s revelation has shaped his views he said: “Yes, maybe.”

“I grew up in the Eastern Suburbs and as we all observe there were a lot of Jews in the Eastern Suburbs and I have always been very comfortable.

“There is no doubt that the strong traditions of family and the whole heimishe atmosphere of the Jewish community, which I’m sure some people don’t like, for me – as someone who is a good friend, but not part of it – I find very admirable.”

Reflecting on his mother, he noted, “She had a lot of Jewish friends in Sydney and a lot of Jewish friends in Philadelphia, where she was living when she died.”

Jewish genealogist Eli Rabinowitz, who calls himself a mishpachah-ologist because he likes to connect people with their past, recently returned from the International Jewish Genealogical Conference in Boston.

He told The AJN if Turnbull is interested, he could help trace his Jewish lineage.

“It’s very possible for Malcolm to trace his heritage if he wants to from clues that he may have from his parents and grandparents,” Rabinowitz said.“I’d happily offer to help him if he would let me.”


Malcolm Turnbull candidly chats to The AJN. Photo: Gareth Narunsky.

Lithuanian PM in Israel

Interesting development

Thanks to Herb Epstein for sharing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius and said to him the start of their meeting:

“Prime Minister, it’s good to see you in Jerusalem. Welcome. I think it’s safe to say that we have an extraordinary history together and I think a very bright future together.

The history of the relationship between the people of Lithuania and the Jewish people dates back a thousand years. My own family hails from Lithuania. My grandfather was born in Lithuania. The Jewish community in Lithuania and especially around Vilnius had remarkable achievements, spectacular intellectual achievements, but of course we also experienced the horrors of the Holocaust and I think it’s very important to preserve that memory and that heritage so that we may learn the lessons of the past and avoid repeating them in the future.

We have today a thriving relationship. We’re both thriving democracies, not without challenges but with great successes. We have exchanges between us that are in the field of economy, the field of technology, the field of culture. I think we can do a great deal more. We are forging new paths in many technological areas and most especially in cyber security.

Last year the global investments in cyber security in Israel were 10% of total worldwide investments. This year they’re 20%. It’s doubled in one year, and every day, this morning too, we learn about new investments. So Israel is a world leader in cyber security, and I believe you also have had some experience with that.

I believe that we have much to profit by cooperating with one another. I look forward to our conversations to that effect and I welcome you in a great spirit of friendship to Jerusalem. Welcome.”


LITH PM in Jerusalem