Acharei Kiddush: Vilna

Join us as we learn about the recent discovery of a trove of Yiddish literary works, letters, documents that had been rescued during the war in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania) as well as the vibrant Jewish life there before the war.

These works, by the likes of  Sholom Aleichem, Chaim Grade and I. Peretz, had been rescued during the war by Yiddish poets assigned by the Nazis to cull the YIVO library for selections to be housed in a museum of the destroyed Jewish people.

Member Joseph Berger will recount the saga of how so many rare  books and manuscripts of the major archive of the Jews of Eastern Europe were daringly saved from the Germans.

Mira Jedwabnik Van Doren will talk about the counterintuitive Vilna she grew up in and its importance as a literary and cultural center--the Jerusalem of Eastern Europe.



Joseph Berger was a New York Times reporter, columnist, and editor for over 30 years. For the previous 14 years he had been a reporter for the New York Post and Newsday. He retired from The Times in December 2014 and is writing a biography of Elie Wiesel. He contributes periodic articles for The Times and teaches an urban affairs course at the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College. He is the author of four books including The Pious Ones; The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, The World in a City: Traveling the Globe through the Neighborhoods of the New New York and Displaced Persons: Growing Up American after the Holocaust. The last was chosen as a notable book of the year 2001 by The Times.


Mira Jedwabnik Van Doren is founder of The Vilna Project, dedicated to documenting, preserving and disseminating information about the pre-war Jewish culture of Vilna. In 2002, she produced a 16-minute documentary short film, Hidden Treasures, relating the discovery of a large collection of books and records that had been hidden from the Nazis in a former monastery in Vilna during the Holocaust.  In 2007, she produced the documentary The World Was Ours, depicting the remarkable Jewish community of Vilna before its destruction in World War II. This film has been shown internationally and broadcast nationally on American Public Television.  In 2006, the YIVO Institute awarded Van Doren the first Vilna Award for Distinguished Achievement. She has been honored by the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre and was the recipient of the Kent, Connecticut Film Festival’s Outstanding Achievement Award.


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