Nechama Dina Krinsky, Vilna
Yes, a criminal case has been lodged against me. Many people have asked me about the criminal charges I’m facing; what caused them and what they can do to help. Allow me to share a little behind-the-scenes insight into our almost 29 years of our Shlichus in Lithuania, perhaps you will get a fuller picture.
A Brief History
My husband and I first visited Vilna for Purim 1994. A tiny advert in the local paper brought over 600 people to the Shul for a lively Purim celebration. That sealed our decision to become the Shluchim here.
We were ready to work hard. Vilna had been a bastion of Yiddishkeit for generations but by this time the local community had been decimated by communism – which had all but finished off what was left after the destruction of World War II.
We were ready for challenges. Intermarriage and ignorance were rampant and many local Jews didn’t even know they were Jewish. But we weren’t ready to have to handle the corruption and deceitfulness inherited from 50 years of Soviet occupation.
At first, we were in for the shock of our lives! To this day, as we think we’ve seen the worst of it, we discover how much lower people can fall. Especially when there is money on the line.
Since moving here later in 1994, just after Gimmel Tammuz, our activities faced abuse and attacks. In 1995 our kindergarten was shut down forcefully for one month; in 1996 a prosecutor hauled my husband in for questioning to try to intimidate us not to start a school. The health department was weaponized against us, resulting in us being forced to pay $10,000 to destroy 2 containers of perfectly good food. And these are just a few of the more significant of the insidious and devious tactics we encountered.
We were admittedly a little naive; we had expected hard work, but we hadn’t expected mob tactics and criminal behavior to be directed against us. It was a harsh introduction to the culture in the former Soviet Union, where perceived competition is destroyed, using any possible underhanded method.
Who was behind it all? We realized almost immediately that something wasn’t right. Soon after moving to Vilna the formal organization known as the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), the entity who had initially asked Lubavitch HQ for a rabbi, asked my husband to help them take over the Shul. This raised red flags; the Shul was an independent organization. They were a secular, cultural organization – for what purpose did they want to control the shul? Well, as they say, follow the money.
We soon discovered that their effort to subvert and take control of another local independent Jewish organization, the Shul, was so that they could gain control of the soon to be restituted pre-World War II Jewish property that the Shul was about to receive from the Lithuanian government. They were very disappointed to learn that we came to Lithuania for one purpose only: To rebuild Yiddishkeit. And certainly not to get embroiled in their fight.
Instead we started a summer camp; we founded a kindergarten and soon after, a school. We built a Chabad House, a Mikvah, a soup kitchen and established ongoing programming in smaller cities. Their fight for control never interested us and we focused on our work. BH, we performed many brissen.
In 2001, our school had the very first 12th grade graduating class of a Jewish school in this country since the Holocaust. A number of our school graduates are making an impact in Jewish communities around the globe as Shluchos.
In 2004, there was an expectation that the Lithuanian government was going to imminently create a restitution fund to distribute millions of Euros in lieu of returning communal religious property (such as Shuls, schools, etc.).
Due to our ongoing impactful work in the local Jewish community, which was impossible for them to hide, the LJC leadership became terrified that we were going to end up with the restitution money they so desperately wanted.
Their logic made sense; after all, we were the only ones spreading Yiddishkeit around Lithuania. However, instead of working with us, the LJC began to do everything in their power to try to shut us down. This even led to their perpetrating violent attacks against us.
In one instance, my husband was accosted and physically thrown out of the Shul, which the LJC had since managed to take over. The “Good Will” Foundation It took longer than expected to receive the restitution money. In 2014, the “Good Will Foundation” (GWF) restitution fund was finally established, headed by the new LJC leader, Faina Kukliansky and Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
At that point, the attempts to undermine all of our activities skyrocketed. Every request to the GWF for funding for Chabad or our School, or any other funding request, was summarily denied. They did their best to ignore our requests and when they couldn’t they would employ subversive Soviet style tactics to undermine and try to force the closure of the school and cause an end to all Chabad work in Lithuania.
Criminal Case with Huge red flags from the onset
This just about brings us to where we are today. In August of 2021, twenty or so investigators, police and firemen descended on our school looking to take me in for questioning, sawing through a bullet proof door to force their way inside (I was not there).
A few days later as I was in a government office filing some paperwork, I was arrested and taken to prison for 30 hours. At this point, I still had no idea what this was about, but from the many years of experience, I was quite sure who was behind it… At a hastily arranged court case the prosecutor asked that I be jailed for two months – over Tishrei! The judge rejected the prosecutor’s request, but instead subjected me to partial house arrest (6 PM to 7 AM) and forced me to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet for three months. After the three months ended, this prosecutor (who is also the prosecutor in my criminal case) asked that these degrading restrictions be continued, but Baruch Hashem they were not.
What was the accusation? In 2017 financial struggles threatened the school’s continued existence. We tried valiantly to raise emergency funds which is not easy due to the lack of wealthy donors in Lithuania. The GWF was again approached with requests for urgent funding, which were again denied and ignored, forcing the school’s closure. As the director of the school, they are now accusing me personally of intentionally causing its closure in 2017. While there is no crime in closing the school, the allegation is that it was done intentionally. This is considered a criminal offense, which carries a possible prison term. Corruption! Why was I being treated like a violent criminal – for doing nothing wrong! The allegations are completely unfounded. Yet, the judge in the criminal case has continued to plow forward with the case, seemingly ignoring this evidence. In fact, her aggressive attitude towards me has now led to her denying me the possibility to travel to the Kinus HaShluchos! This entire case has been prosecuted as if I was guilty until proven innocent, while I am simply a Shlucha trying to do the Rebbe’s work under increasingly challenging circumstances! In fact, the current criminal case began a few months after an unsuccessful attempt to open other bogus criminal cases against my husband and I in connection with three young children that we’ve adopted. Boruch Hashem that case was closed before it reached court. But it still cost us a lot of time, gezunt, money, and most importantly took away from our Shlichus and our family! I hope this helps you understand the circumstances that we’re facing. It is certainly the most painful and difficult period of our shlichus. And while we don’t know how it will all play out, we’re confident that the Rebbe’s brochos which have kept us going until this point will continue to protect and guide us going forward. Appreciation I’ll conclude on a positive note. The outpouring of love, donations, Tehillim and support we have received since this has gone public are a huge comfort to me. To know that you care so much, is beyond words. It is so deeply appreciated! Thank you so much to each of you for whatever you have done and are doing; I feel the strength of your tefillos, your love and your support, which with the Rebbe’s brochos – and Chassidim ayn mishpocha – will see us through to victory! Thank you so much, Nechama Dina Krinsky P.S. If you are interested in more details about what I wrote, here is a link to my husband’s blog: rabbikrinsky.blogspot.com
When she is free. The lubavitch will make another Yom tov along with rubashkin and the rest of the rebbes, they love this kind of thing
This is a one sided Chabad version of things.
“we were the only ones spreading Yiddishkeit around Lithuania”
There have been non Lubavitch rabbonim and others spreading Yiddishkeit there for years in Vilna, Kovna, etc.
As has occurred in multiple places around the world, Chabad tries to take over (especially weak ones) Shuls and communities and convert them to Chabad-Lubavitch. A few years ago in Vilna, they changed the nusach of the Shul to their nusach, nusach Ari.
The people in Vilna that grew up under communism may not know much about Yiddishkeit, but one thing they do seem to know well, to their credit, is that Chabad is not mainstream Torah Judaism. So they are resisting its attempts to get restitution funds to fund it.
Get-r-dun, you’re an idiot
The Lithuanian government needs to be contacted by other governments and obviously, Chabad has the political pull to get this done. It is the biggest Jewish organization in the world which is run by her father-in-law. I would like to thank YWN for spreading this important story. Chabad is doing great work there and we don’t have the right to turn a blind eye to this situation. Never! If there are people we should contact to end this persecution please let the readers know. I hope this will be resolved soon in a good way for all parties involved.
I do not know who is right and whether we can figure it out, so I am not reading details, and hope that there will sholom in Yerushalaim deLita. But just noting that there is nothing new about tensions between chasidim and local communities in Vilno with both appealing to the government, leading to arrests. I believe it started in 1790s after Russia occupied the area.
Regardless of the narrative of what you believe is right, there is someone who might be going to jail over there and we must help her. No Yiddishe Mama deserves that. Why is it that there are so many panhandlers on the street that get our monies and we don’t even know if they are Jewish but when someone obviously “frum” needs our help, we give questions to it?