22–23 May: Opening of the Judaica Research Centre

The Judaica Research Centre was established in the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania (NLL) on 3 May 2017; its official opening will take place on 22 May.

The main tasks of the Centre are research of Jewish documentary heritage, organization of educational and information projects and dissemination of comprehensive information about their results.

The speakers at the opening events of the Judaica Research Centre will be the Director General of the National Library Prof. Dr. Renaldas Gudauskas, Director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Jonathan Brent, Director of the the YIVO library and archives Liudmila Sholochova, Director of the National Library Documentary Heritage Research Department Jolanta Budriūnienė, Head of the Judaica Research Centre at the National Library Lara Lempertienė, author of the monograph about the Strashun library Frida Shor, and other honourable guests.

The reading room of the Judaica Research Centre will be given the name of Khaykl Lunski, a librarian, the keeper of the Strashun Library collections and promoter of Jewish spiritual values. His portrait with will hang on the reading room's wall. Next to it, there will be a memorial plague to Antanas Ulpis in honour of his merits to the Jewish culture. Antanas Ulpis was a Lithuanian bibliographer who had in all hardship preserved the Judaica documental treasure, which is now stored in the National Library.

During the opening of the Judaica Research Centre, the exhibition The People and Books of the Strashun Library will be presented. The exhibition is dedicated to a unique cultural phenomenon of Vilnius – the first Jewish public library, which operated in 1902–1940, and the 200th birth anniversary of Mattityahu Strashun (1817–1885), the founder of the library, a bibliophile and a philanthropist who bequeathed his collection of rare books and funds to the library. It presents the books from M. Strashun's collection, the documents related to foundation and operation of the library and its role in the cultural life of the Jews of Vilnius.

A musical interlude is scheduled before the opening of the exhibition: Cantus in memoriam Jascha Heifetz, a piece by Anatolij Shenderov will be played by Saulė Buikaitė, student of M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art and violinist of the Klezmer Klangen ensemble.

On 23 May, Samuel Kassow, one of the most famous researchers of Jewish history and history professor of Trinity College (USA) will give a lecture The Uniqueness of Jewish Vilnius The academic community, teachers, specialists of museums, libraries and other organizations interested in the Jewish culture will have the opportunity to learn more about the Vilnius rich Jewish culture.

On the same day The Vilna Project which is implementing by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research together with the National Library and Lithuanian Central State Archives. Its purpose is restoring the content of the collections of pre-war YIVO Institute and other Jewish institutions of Vilnius and ensuring their preservation and accessibility to the public. In the course of the project, the surviving documents and printed editions of the Lithuanian Jewish community are being identified, restored, digitised and presented to the interested audience. The aim of the project is to restore the information recorded in the documents not yet known about an exceptional historical and cultural phenomenon – the Eastern European Jewish community within which the communities of Vilnius and Lithuania played a key role. The Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences will join the project this autumn.

We are pleased to invite you to the opening events of the Judaica Research Centre in the National Library of Lithuania.

Entrance is free.

Event information

22 May
1.00 p.m. – Opening of the Judaica Research Centre (4th floor, lobby)
2.00 p.m. – Opening of the exhibition People and Books of the Strashun Library (Strašuno Bibliotekos žmonės ir knygos) (2nd floor, Exhibition Hall)

23 May
1.00 p.m. – Lecture The Uniqueness of Jewish Vilnius by Samuel Kassow (4th floor, Conference Hall)
2.30 p.m. – Presentation of the YIVO Vilnius Project (4th floor, Conference Hall)