Is He Beacon for the Jews of Lithuania?

Activist Harley Felstein Leaves Trail of Critics and Questions

Cleaning Up: Reve. Mindaugas Diksaitis, right, a volunteer associated with Harley Felstein, leads a group cleaning up a Jewish cemetery in Lithuania.
courtesy of harley felstein
Cleaning Up: Reve. Mindaugas Diksaitis, right, a volunteer associated with Harley Felstein, leads a group cleaning up a Jewish cemetery in Lithuania.

By Paul Berger

Published July 30, 2012, issue of August 03, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 7)

Pavilionis, Lithuania’s envoy in Washington D.C., said that since his appointment to D.C. two years ago, he has been trying to find people, like Felstein, to bring together Litvaks and Lithuanians. “We feel the Litvak community as part of our own heritage,” Pavilionis told the Forward.

But in reaching out to Felstein, Pavilionis has only exacerbated already simmering tensions with Litvaks. Mistrustful of Felstein’s expertise, they are particularly incensed at a couple of opinion pieces Felstein has published in the Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post, calling on Jews to improve ties with Lithuania.

“Starting today, let’s commend the American-Lithuanian-Israeli bond,” Felstein wrote in the Jerusalem Post article, referring to a recent United Nations vote in which Lithuania opposed a Palestinian request to join UNESCO.

Grant Gochin, a Litvak in Los Angeles, said he found Felstein’s opinion pieces in this vein highly skewed. He and other Litvaks pointed to recent controversies over the Lithuanian government’s reckoning with its own history, such as its recent decision to reinter with full honors a Nazi puppet leader who died in the United States, Juozas Ambrazevičius.

“The information that he presents is one-sided,” Gochin said.

The prominence that the ambassador’s support has given Felstein in these circles also comes against a backdrop of suits filed against Felstein for nonpayment of debts.

One of several vendors who complained about being stiffed by Felstein was a Washington-area kosher caterer who has yet to receive payment for food his firm provided for a Felstein event last year.

“What bugs the heck out of you is he tells you: ‘I’m coming right now to pay for it. I’ll be here this afternoon,’” said Shaukat Karimi, of Signature Caterers, in Maryland. “And each time you talk, it’s always the next time.”

During his interview at the Forward, Felstein said he had spoken to Karimi that day and that Karimi is “going to have his funds next week.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.