Vilnius, A Hub Of Torah Study Destroyed By Nazis, To Get New Yeshiva

The interior of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius, Lithuania (Wikimedia Commons)

Vilnius – A rabbi in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is opening there what he says is the city’s first yeshiva, or Jewish religious seminary, since World War II.

The Vilna Yeshiva will have about a dozen students when it opens this fall, Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s emissary to Vilnius, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Vilnius used to have many dozens of yeshivas and synagogues before the Holocaust, when it was a major hub of Jewish religious and cultural life. The Nazis and local collaborators, however, killed more than 90 percent of Lithuanian Jewry. Today, about 3,000 Jews live in Lithuania and Vilnius has one functioning synagogue, the Choral Synagogue, where Krinsky officiates.

“The Vilna Yeshiva will restore a semblance of that intensive Torah study, back to its roots,” Krinsky said.

Krinsky and other teachers will teach the teenagers attending the yeshiva, he said. They hail from Jewish religious Orthodox families from several countries and will study at the yeshiva on a full-time basis, he said.

The funding for the yeshiva came from private donors, Krinsky said. He declined to disclose the cost and budget of the yeshiva.

(JTA/Cnaan Liphshiz)

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  1. To: The Facebook commentator, Lazer Cohen: Regarding your remarks, about how non-religious, the Jews of Vilna were, do you really think that the Nazis gave a darn, whether or not the Jews kept Kosher, or kept Shabbos? In their demented minds, a Jew was a Jew, whether he/she was Ultra Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or none of those. It meant no difference to those beasts when they starved, beat, tortured, deported, and killed Jews.

      • Rabbi Avigdor Miller was one of those – who gave a reason why the Holocaust came about. All those that gave a “reason” were living as small minded people, using their own fantasy to pronounce – why Hashem brought this catastrophe on K’lal Yisroel. Ask them if it is true God-on-high actually came down and told them his reasons. Same stupidity as those among us who hate the state of Israel, the land of our forefathers, which is now a protection for all Jews. They seem to say if Hashem has a plan different than that which is in their small mind, they will reject it!
        If you will notice these two group go hand in hand.

    • Aside from that, it’s also wrong. Were there lots of non-religious Jews in Vilna before World War II? No doubt. But that’s a long way from pretending that there weren’t still great yeshivos and a tremendous amount of learning taking place there. It would be like denying that New York City in 2019 has yeshivos and frum communities.

    • Not only that, the Nazis killed people who didn’t even know they had a Jewish ancestor. There are stories of priests and nuns being dragged out of churches because the Nazis found out they had Jewish grandparents or even great-grandparents, who converted!

  2. Seems like yet another small Chabad-Lubavitch school, with imported students, Lubavitchers from elsewhere, to teach the Chabad religion, and spread Lubavitch. Part of general Lubavitch effort to take over communities. With Lubavitch PR at work again, of course.

  3. To Lazer Cohen – there was a general weakening in Europe and elsewhere in religion at that time, not limited to one place.

    Rav Miller learned in a yeshiva in Slabodka, a suburb of Kovno, not Vilna.

    The same weakening plagued Chabad in that era. When the sixth Chabad Lubavitch Rebbe was arrested by the communists, one or more of the agents arresting him was from a Chabad background, IIRC.

    Some other famous people with Chabad roots they don’t talk much about – Eliezer ben Yehuda, reviver of Hebrew as a spoken language, and Solomon Schechter (from JTS, whose Jewish name was Shneur Zalman).

  4. I do recall seeing the book years ago.

    The main point that needs to be made is that there was a general weakening at that time, among Chasidim as well. It was not limited to the city or country of this story, it was even in “holy” Hungary, Poland, Galicia, Romania, etc.


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