On 10–11 October 2023, the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities are holding the international scholarly conference ‘The Intellectual Heritage of the Jews of Vilnius’.
In Lithuania, the year 2020 was the Year of Lithuanian Jewish History and of the Vilnius Gaon, Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of his birth. A conference of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Vilnius was part of the commemorative programme.
Unfortunately, this goal did not materialise because of the pandemic. As soon as it was over, both academies decided to revive the idea of the conference.
As part of the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of Vilnius and in view of the influence of the Jewish people and culture on the history of Vilnius, a decision was made to broaden the scope of the conference by exploring the rich intellectual heritage of the Jews of Vilnius from the eighteenth century onwards and the impact it has had on Vilnius and the wider world.
To achieve this goal, the conference will focus on the intellectual heritage of Vilnius Jews in the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries (the first day of the conference), the process of the intellectual modernisation of the Jews of Vilnius, and the spread of the Jews of Vilnius in the world (the second day of the conference).
Thanks to the support of the Research Council of Lithuania, we were able to invite such world-renowned experts in Jewish history and culture as Prof. Israel Bartal, Prof. David E. Fishman, Prof. David G. Roskies, Prof. Benjamin Brown, Prof. Alex Lubotzky, Prof. Marcin Wodzinski, Dr Jon Seligman, Prof. Avner Holtzman, Prof. Tsvia Walden, Prof. Mordechai (Motti) Zalkin, and others.
The conference will also feature presentations by prominent Lithuanian scholars: Prof. Giedrė Jankevičiūtė, Prof. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, Dr Lara Lempertienė, Prof. Jurgita Verbickienė, and the doctoral student Saulė Valiūnaitė.
Promotion of scholarly cooperation between the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities is one of the central goals of the conference.
The conference ‘The Intellectual heritage of the Jews of Vilnius’ is the first joint scholarly event organised by the two academies.