A unique facility was inaugurated in Kaunas, the Emmanuel Levinas Center at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU). The Center will host scientific, innovation and cultural events, as well as permanent, temporary, and virtual exhibitions.
The grand opening of the new establishment took place on December 6. The Center will promote social and cultural activities and contribute to the progress of the society, the state, and the entire region.
“I am honored to be able to open this Center together with all of you. Today we are talking about an enlightened person, a philosopher who was born here, went to Paris and left a significant mark on the history of mankind,” rejoiced the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the state of Israel to the Republic of Lithuania Mr. Yossef Levy.
According to the Ambassador, the opening of the new Center also opens a new page in history. The Ambassador believes that Jews and Lithuanians are mature enough to look at the common history, the stories that complement each other. “We are mature enough to see the progress of friendship, development, courage, science, philosophy, and culture. I wish for this institution to become the Center of Kaunas culture, where people meet, share experiences, respect, and love each other. Thank you for everything you do,” the Ambassador expressed his gratitude.
Professor Vytautas Landsbergis pointed out that the name of Emmanuel Levinas, a philosopher of Lithuanian origin, is important not only for France, but also for the entire Europe. “This is a phenomenon, I am just not sure how well it is understood in the world. Perhaps in Lithuania, we are also only partially aware of it. <…> Lithuania is greater, it was and still is in the memory of the whole of Europe thanks to the cultural phenomenon of Lithuanian Jews who form a certain entity. It can be said that the Litvaks are a great honor of Lithuania,” said Professor.
The Mayor of Kaunas, Visvaldas Matijošaitis, was pleased with the way the University quickly and thoroughly arranged the new Center and adapted it to cultural activities. “I walked in this building three years ago, and it is hard to believe what I see here today. I am glad that we can trust each other, that we listen and hear,” said the Mayor of the city and thanked the leaders of LSMU for creating the new Center.According to Rector of LSMU, Prof. Rimantas Benetis, the opening of the Emmanuel Levinas Center is an important event for the entire University. “This is the third social project of the University, the University that specializes in and is focused on health sciences. By opening this Center, we sought to return Emmanuel Levinas to Kaunas, where the philosopher’s roots are. I thank everyone who contributed to the creation of this Center, dedicated their time and other resources to this institution,” said Rector Prof. Rimantas Benetis.
The opening ceremony of the Center was also attended by a special guest, Emmanuel Levinas’s grandson Dr. David Hansel. Dr. Hansel reviewed the most important events of his grandfather’s life and thanked the representatives of the University and Kaunas City authorities. “Emmanuel Levinas, a French Jew and Litvak from Lithuania, was proud of his origin. The Center embodies the entire life and work of Emmanuel Levinas, the Kaunas Jewish community,” said Dr. Hansel.
Emmanuel Levinas, a prominent philosopher of Jewish origin who was born in Kaunas and later left for France; the Center was named after him in order to perpetuate historical memory and to preserve his heritage.The Center is located in the building constructed in 1926, designed by the patriarch of architecture Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis. In 1926–1932, it housed the French Embassy.