New chief rabbis appointed for Vilna and Lithuania
By Yoni Kempinski
In an unanimous vote by the European Council of Rabbis, Rabbi Kalev Krelin and Rabbi Shimshon Daniel Isaacson have been selected as the new chief rabbis of Lithuania and Vilna. Following the appointment, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said that the organization would help he newly appointed Rabbis set up Torah classes and institutions throughout the Jewish communities in Lithuania.
The appointees will take office in two week's time. Rabbi Krelin the new Chief Rabbi of Lithuania said "I accept this appointment with humility and holy fear. I will take it upon myself to go to the cities wherein the lights of the earth once reigned and I will do everything in my power to build up the communities there by inaugurating Torah institutions and schools.
Head of the Lithuanian Jewish community Faina Kukliansky, and head of the Vilna Jewish community said that many of the applicants were worthy, but Rabbis Krelin and Isaacson were chosen due to their ability to work together as part of a team to build up the communities from the ashes.
Rabbi Krelin was born in Moscow and learned in Yeshivat Ateret Kohanim in Jerusalem. He later served as a Rabbi in a school in Copenhagen, Denmark, later he served as a Rabbi in Heidelberg, Germany, and for a Young Israel community in the United States. Four years ago he was asked to serve as the Rabbi of the community in Riga, Latvia, a position that he will maintain together with his new position over Lithuania. He also currently works as the Mashgiah of the European Council of Kashrut (EEK) in the Baltic states.
Rabbi Isaacson was born in Belarus and learned in Yeshivat Torat Haim in Moscow. For the past four years he has worked as the Rabbi for the Vitebsk community in Belarus.
Lithuania has one of the richest histories of Torah institutions and education in Eastern Europe. During the Second World War the Nazis killed off 94 percent of the Jewish population in the country which numbered close to a quarter of a million. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the majority of the Jewish community that was left immigrated to Israel. Today the Jewish community in Lithuania numbers over 4,000 people, and it has one of the lowest rates of anti-Semitism in Europe.