Shenot Eliyahu/Elijah’s Years: The impact of Vilna Gaon on Lithuanina Jewish Culture

20.10.2020 – 28.02.2021

The Torah herself spoke: I am the wisdom that has found refuge in the soul of Elijah, and through him I have become known throughout the world,” — this fragment of the epitaph, carved in the tombstone of Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, perfectly reveals the significance of this sage, better known as the Vilna Gaon, not only to the Jewish culture of Lithuania, but also to the whole world. Therefore, commemorating the year of Vilna Gaon and Lithuanian Jewish history, announced by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania prepared an exhibition, “Shenot Eliyahu/Elijah’s Years: The impact of Vilna Gaon on Lithuanina Jewish Culture” consisting of publications and documents.

The exhibition presents the personality of Vilna Gaon, his intellectual and pedagogical activities, his influence on the mentality and culture of Vilnius Jews, exhibits documents reflecting the life of the sage, Gaon's and his student’s works. One of the most important exhibits of the exhibition is the “pinkas” (chronicle) of the Vilna Gaon's synagogue, kept at the YIVO Jewish Research Institute in New York. This special manuscript is displayed using a holographic projection. The exposition, based on the Judaica collection kept in the National Library, illustrates its abundance and diversity.

The exhibition opens on October 20th (Tuesday) at 5:30 pm in the atrium of the 3rd floor. During the opening event, the premiere of the composition, "Elijah's Sounding Triangle" (composer Arkadijus Gotesmanas, installation author Grigorijus Zundelovičius) will take place. It uses modern video and audio technology to turn an ancient text into a narrative that introduces you to Gaon’s unique thinking. The combination of sung ancient text, musical triangles, live performance, lasers and lights is a completely innovative interpretation of Gaon’s heritage.

The event will also feature a €10 silver collector coin, dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the birth of Vilna Gaon. It will be issued on the same day (October 20th) by the Bank of Lithuania (graphic design of the coin was created by artists Viktorija Sideraitė-Alon, Jūratė Juozėnienė and Albinas Šimanauskas).

  • Exhibition curator Lara Lempertienė.
  • Exhibition architect: Gediminas Akstinas.
  • Exhibition coordinator: Gerda Paliušytė.
  • Exhibition designer: Vaida Gasiūnaitė.

Partners: Lithuanian State History Archive, Lithuanian Central State Archive, Vilnius Gaon Museum of Jewish History, M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum and YIVO Jewish Research Institute in New York.

Information partner - Lithuanian National Radio and Television.

Sponsors: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and Lithuanian Council for Culture.

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