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!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • 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.