JERUSALEM (JNS) – Lithuanian Ambassador to Israel Lina Antanaviciene on Tuesday presented Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a new Lithuanian coin bearing the name of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman. The ambassador also presented Netanyahu with a special Lithuanian stamp issued by the Lithuanian postal authority within the framework of the “Year of the Vilna Gaon.”
Netanyahu asked Ambassador Antanaviciene to convey his gratitude to outgoing Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and the chairman of the board of the Bank of Lithuania, as well as his greetings to incoming Prime Minister Ingrid Šimonytė.
The gift, said the Israeli premier, was doubly moving.
“One, I think it’s the first European coin that has Hebrew letters on it—[the Hebrew acronym] ‘HaGra’—and [second] I have a personal connection to it. My family came from Lithuania and my family has links to the Gaon of Vilna. So it’s both for us a national connection, but also a personal connection, and I’m very grateful to you. This will be on my desk,” he said.Ambassador Antanaviciene said that she was honored to give the special coin to the prime minister of Israel on behalf of the Lithuanian government and added that the Vilna Gaon was important to both peoples.