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Vilna Becomes ‘Vilnius’ and Lithuanian is Making Itself Heard

100 Years Ago

An entire family of Italians is in Beth Israel Hospital for circumcisions after converting to Judaism. Joseph Petrigliano and his three sons, who live on Orchard Street in Corona, part of Long Island, N.Y., decided to convert to Judaism after Petrigliano’s Jewish wife, an immigrant from Galicia, told him of her recurring dream in which her dead father came to her and said, “Estherke, don’t blacken my name in heaven — make your husband and children into honest Jews.” After Petrigliano’s wife told him, he agreed to convert with the boys. All of them changed their names: The husband, Joseph, is now Avrom; the eldest son, Arthur, is now Aron; 5-year-old Edward is now Yosef, and the youngest, 3-year-old William, is now Leyzer-Ber. Soon they will celebrate a new wedding according to Jewish law, and Estherke Petrigliano’s father can rest easy.

75 Years Ago

Up until recently, not much Lithuanian was spoken in Vilna. But now that the city is “Vilnius” and Lithuanians have administrative power in their hands, the language is making itself heard. Vilna’s Jews have also taken to the language and are beginning to speak it in large numbers. Many of them are not doing too badly with it. Vilna’s Poles however are not happy with the situation and are demonstrating against having to use Lithuanian. Outside of the linguistic realm, the situation for Jews in Vilna is not particularly good. On the one hand, Lithuanian police helped stop anti-Semitic attacks on Jews; and on the other, Lithuanian merchants are attacking and boycotting Jewish shops. Caught in the middle, the Jews can’t seem to catch a break.

50 Years Ago

“While the police are asleep, we smear,” said graffiti written in huge letters on a monument in the German city of Bamberg, which is located not far from Nuremburg. Connected to pitched battles that have been waged between Nazi vandals and regular citizens, the graffiti is related to a memorial plaque that was unveiled last week to commemorate murdered Jews. The memorial sits on a site that had been a synagogue before the war but was one of several that had been destroyed during the pogrom of November 8, 1938, now known as Kristallnacht. Midweek, the vandals also did a great deal of damage to the city’s Jewish cemetery, but the townspeople were quick to raise 10,000 Deutschmarks in order to pay for the damages.

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