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Commemorating the Vilna Jewish Community
September 21, 2014


Peddlers under the arch on Jatkowa Street in the Jewish Quarter, Vilna, c. 1920s-30s. YIVO Archives.
Click here to watch the video in our Program Archive.

Admission: Free | Reception at to follow
RSVP Required: | (212) 294-8301 x5167

Join us in commemorating the Jewish community of Vilna, the Jerusalem of Lithuania, through poetry readings, music, and a special presentation about the Vilna Ghetto. In keeping with tradition, Ruth Baran-Gerold and Ellen Perecman recite poetry about Vilna, Yelena Shmulenson and Binyumen Schaechter perform music, and this year, guest speaker Menachem Kaiser discusses reVilna, a new digital mapping project which uses memoirs, original ghetto documents, and oral history accounts to reconstruct life in the Vilna Ghetto. This program is chaired by Elliott Palevsky.

This program is sponsored by Nusakh Vilne.

Interested in the Yiddish cultural history of Vilna? Take our Advanced Yiddish Seminar: "Yerusholayim d’lite: a kurs in kulturgeshikhte un literatur" in Yiddish this fall. For more information visit here.


Menachem Kaiser is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in such publications as Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, New York, and Tablet, among others. He is a recent recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Lithuania, where he studied post-Holocaust narrative and memory, and taught American Literature and Jewish Culture at Vilnius University. In 2013, Menachem launched reVilna, an interactive map of the Vilna ghetto. reVilna incorporates nearly 200 points of interest in the ghetto, including notable buildings and events, and more than 100 photographs. Menachem has presented reVilna in universities and conferences in New York, Princeton, Krakow, Lwow, Vilnius, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and elsewhere. Menachem is a graduate of Columbia University in New York, and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

Binyumen Schaechter is an award-winning composer and arranger, conductor and pianist, both in American musical theater as well as in Yiddish music. He is the conductor of the Jewish People's Philharmonic Chorus that performs exclusively in Yiddish. He is also the music director (and father) of Di Shekhter-Tekhter/The Schaechter Sisters, the teenaged Yiddish singing duo which has performed on several continents. Schaechter also leads workshops and lectures on Yiddish music and culture and growing up speaking Yiddish in contemporary America..

Yelena Shmulenson was born in Belarus, spent her early childhood in Siberia, her adolescence in Ukraine, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1993. She’s perhaps best known for her performance in the Coen brothers’ Oscar-nominated A Serious Man. Other film and TV credits include Boardwalk Empire, Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd, Romeo & Juliet in Yiddish, and Chinese Puzzle (w/ Audrey Tautou; upcoming); stage credits include five seasons Off-Broadway with the Folksbiene, two at the Ellis Island Theatre, The Golem of Havana, The Essence: A Yiddish Theater Dim Sum (Fringe/tour), Covers (New York and Moscow), and others. She’s won three Earphones Awards for her recorded books, and is fluent in five languages.
Venue: YIVO Institute at the Center for Jewish History  |  15 West 16th Street - NYC   view map

For directions and parking information, click here.

All public programs are wheelchair accessible. A limited number of assistive listening devices are available for deaf and hard of hearing individuals upon request.