Vilna: Capital of Yiddishland with Sam Kassow
Time & Location
About the Event
Vilna, “the Jerusalem of Lithuania,” was the most “Jewish” city in Eastern Europe. Other cities had greater wealth and more Jews. Warsaw boasted the largest Jewish community in Europe; Lodz was the proud center of Jewish industry. But it was Vilna that possessed a unique power to forge new Jewish identities on the bedrock of Jewish tradition. Its magic came from its history -- and also from its very buildings and streets. Vilna was a center of traditional religious culture, the home of the famous Vilna Gaon and the “Vilna Shas”, the Vilna edition of the Talmud. But it was also the birthplace of the Bund, the largest Jewish socialist party in Eastern Europe. A hotbed of the Jewish Enlightenment and Hebrew literature, Vilna also became the undisputed world center of Yiddish culture. Religion and worldliness, Hebrew and Yiddish, tradition and modernity, all came together in the compact, baroque jewel that was Vilna - the capital of Yiddishland.
Samuel Kassow is the Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College. He has an M.Sc from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D from Princeton University. He has published widely on the history of Tsarist Russia and on East European Jewish history. His book Who Will Write our History: Emanuel Ringelblum and the Warsaw Ghetto archive has been translated into eight languages and has been turned into a widely acclaimed film directed by Roberta Grossman and produced by Nancy Spielberg. A member of the American Academy of Jewish Research, Professor Kassow was a lead scholar on two galleries of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. A child of Holocaust survivors, Kassow spent the early years of his life in a DP camp in Germany.