The Year of the Vilna Gaon & Jewish History in Lithuania

As we celebrate the 300th birth anniversary of Vilna Gaon Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, we look back and see this outstanding personality as a historical figure representing the unique identity and strength of the tradition of Litvak Judaism. The efforts of the great rabbi of Lithuania embody a meaningful preservation of the tradition building on its rethinking. It remains equally relevant in today’s fast evolving world as it was back in the 18th century.

The multicultural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later of the first independent Republic of Lithuania during the interwar period stands both as a sign of respect for the past as well as a clear promise of the modern Lithuania’s dedication to keep up and take further the relations with all the Lithuanian diasporas.

Learning from the communal Jewish tradition of living in a society that preserves the individuality of thought, and thinking about society and positive changes in it - is particularly relevant for a young democratic state as Lithuania.

The year of the Vilna Gaon and of the history of the Jews of Lithuania represents a step in a long road of cooperation, thereby aiming not only to bring back the element of the Litvak history into the field of the policy of the Lithuanian history but also to establish a continuous dialogue between the Litvak communities around the world inviting them to visit the birth place of their ancestry and of the world-renowned culture and also have a first-hand experience of what Lithuania is now.