Vilnius

Jewish Vilnius

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Litvaks—Lithuanian Jews—have been living in the Lithuanian capital for centuries. Once the world centre of traditional Talmudic learning and known before the Holocaust as the Jerusalem of the North, Vilnius (or Vilna/Vílne as it’s commonly often referred to in the Jewish world) was the birthplace of such world renowned figures as the legendary Gaon of Vilna (Eyliohu son of Shloyme-Zalmen, 1720-1797), the award-winning author Romain Gary (1914-1980) and arguably the greatest violist ever, Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987). The Nazi occupation of the city between 1941 and 1944 ensured that Jewish life and culture in today’s Vilnius is nothing more than a shadow of its former self, although a small Jewish community remains very much active in the city.

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