Mikvah in Kaunas-Lithuania
“For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour My spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44,3)
A mikvah is very essential to every Jewish community.
Every community wants to make it possible to maintain the purity of the family – the possibility that children come into the world in holiness and purity. The closest mikvah to Kaunas is in the city of Vilna, a distance of 110 kilometers and an hour and a half drive. This is not an easy undertaking, especially during the cold and snowy winter or in the summer, when nightfall is close to midnight.
Couples who are medical students, practicing doctors and other families who live in Kaunas would like very much to observe family purity but the long drive deters them.
A mikvah in the city of Kaunas, would be a critical link in the development of the community and for its spiritual awakening.
In addition – recently, Kaunas has found itself on the religious tourism map. Groups and individuals are conducting heritage trips to Kaunas and the Jewish sites are an attraction for many. A mikva in Kaunas would be significant for these groups.
Kaunas is home to a large and a famous University Medical School (general medicine, dentistry and pharmacy). Over one hundred Jewish students study there, with the majority being Israelis. Others come from different European countries, such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Medical studies last approximately six years. Six years of study in Lithuania without a Jewish foothold, pose a significant risk to their spiritual future. The greatest danger is that of assimilation, which unfortunately continues to strike, especially in foreign lands.
During the summer of 2010 a Jewish center was established in the center of Kaunas. The center is known as “The Jewish Club – Kaunas”.
The center serves strictly kosher lunches daily at a nominal cost. Every evening, numerous students participate in classes and lectures on Torah and Judaism. The classes are given within the framework of the world organization for deepening Jewish identity among students – “Nefesh Yehudi”.
The Jewish Center is open during the entire school year, including weekends and Jewish holidays – Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Chanukah and Purim. Both during week and Saturdays and holidays, the center is a magnet for the student community, running at full capacity as it conducts a vibrant and productive Jewish community life.
Every Friday night, after a lecture on Judaism, scores of students remain for kiddush and a Shabbat meal and to connect to the atmosphere of the Sabbath.
There is a synagogue with minyanim at the Jewish Center.
At the beginning of the winter of 2014, the Jewish Center – Kaunas, expanded in size. Comfortable classrooms were added for the benefit of the students. There they are able to concentrate on their demanding medical studies. The Center – which is open all week at all hours of the day – houses a Jewish library, a medical library, books on Jewish thought, and offers kosher Israeli food and hot drinks.
For the Jewish students and Jewish families living in the Kovno, the Jewish Center serves as their second home. Beyond the formal activity – this is where they sit, discuss and clarify issues, study, participate in recreational activities – and connect to Jewish society and Jewish identity.
Thank God, the spiritual activity of the center is expanding and developing at an exciting pace. We try to provide Jewish community services according to the growing demand.
Rabbi Moshe Sheinfeld
Rabbi Moshe Sheinfeld was born in Israel in 1983.
He studied at ultra-orthodox Lithuanian Yeshivot in Israel.
After his marriage, he moved to Migdal Haemek, where he was involved in an extensive range of activities for disseminating Judaism in northern Israel. He founded the Center for Jewish Identity and Awareness among students.
Since 2008, he deals with Jewish public relations, and delivers lectures and classes to a variety of audiences, including the students associated with “Nefesh Yehudi” – a global organization dealing with deepening Jewish identity among students and other frameworks such as “Hidabrut” and more.
In 2012, he moved to Kaunas – Lithuania, to manage the activities of the Fund for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Lithuania. Presently he heads the new community that has developed over the years.
Most of the extensive activity taking place at the Jewish Center- Kaunas, is run by Rabbi Moshe Sheinfeld.
Rabbi Moshe Sheinfeld has written and published two books on the weekly Torah portions. The articles in his books deal with current events and the relevance of Torah to practical life.
He writes weekly columns for the weekly Torah portions. The columns are published in different forums, on mailing lists and many online sites including “Nefesh Yehudi”,“Hidabrut” “Arachim” etc. with some of them translated into English.
Rabbi Moshe Sheinfeld is married to Rachel, who is a full partner in all activities at the center. They have three children.