WASHINGTON, D.C. – The newly established Jewish Lithuanian Heritage Project is proud to announce it will join with the Washington D.C. Lithuanian American Community to co-host author Ellen Cassedy – whose memoir, We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust, was published by the University of Nebraska Press this month – for a March 22 community book reading and meet-the-author reception at the Lithuanian Embassy.
The Nazis decimated Lithuania’s Jewish population from an estimated 240,000 people to 20,000. Stemming from this dark past, the Jewish Lithuanian Heritage Project, also known as the Sunflower Project, was recently established by Washingtonian Harley Felstein as a means to facilitate the Lithuanian government in a renewed commitment to reconnecting Lithuanian Jews and their descendants in the Diaspora to their Lithuanian roots, supporting a revival of Jewish history and culture in Lithuania, furthering awareness of these efforts, and fostering positive interest in Lithuanian Jews and Lithuania among American Jews. The Sunflower Project seeks to transform and positively influence the nature of Lithuanian-Jewish relations through such events as Cassedy’s book reading and other cultural and educational endeavors.
“Ellen’s book captures the intricacies of 20th-century Jewish Lithuania,” said Felstein, whose family also originated in Lithuania. “Though inspired by a personal cause to rediscover her family’s roots, she provides a detailed, yet readable, account of how both the Nazis and the Soviets have forever impacted today’s Jewish-Lithuanian relations. Her book is integral to the examination of the many complex issues we must consider through our work at the Sunflower Project.”
Cassedy set off into the Jewish heartland of Lithuania to study Yiddish and connect with her Jewish forebears. But old certainties soon began to dissolve, and what had begun as a personal journey of return expanded into a larger quest. Cassedy, who lives in the Washington area, immersed herself in the nearly vanished culture of Lithuania, known as the “Jerusalem of the North,” and conducted groundbreaking research, speaking with a brave cadre of Jews and non-Jews who are exhuming the complex truths of the Nazi and Soviet past, reaching out across age-old barriers, and attempting to build a more tolerant future. Cassedy’s journey changed her outlook on bystanders, victims, collaborators, rescuers – and herself. Probing the terrain of memory, massacre, and moral dilemmas, Cassedy asks: How do we honor our diverse heritages without perpetuating the fears and hatreds of the past? Her rich and deeply felt account offers important insights – and hope.
The reading is open to the public and the media, and coverage is encouraged. Details follow:
WHAT: Book reading by Ellen Cassedy, author of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust
WHERE: Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
2622 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, 2012
WHO: Leadership of:
Jewish Lithuanian Heritage Project – The Sunflower Project
D.C. Lithuanian American Community
WHY: The author breaks new ground by illuminating how some in Lithuania are confronting their past to move forward.
Due to security concerns, RSVP’s from press are encouraged. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if planning to attend. Additional information on the Sunflower Project is available by visiting http://tinyurl.com/6n7ajyw or calling (202) 265-3000.