Jewish History Tours in Vilnius
Vilnius was once known as a hub for Jewish learning and culture, with a thriving community of Talmudic scholars, rabbis, intellectuals, artists, and educators. And, though the city’s Jewish community was decimated during World War II, evidence of its rich Jewish heritage remains. See below to discover more about Vilnius’ Jewish history.
Jewish History in Vilnius
For more than 600 years, the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius was a major Jewish intellectual center. Prior to World War II, the city was home to between 60,000 and 100,000 Jewish residents and 100 synagogues. During the war, however, the Nazis all but obliterated its Jewish population, instantly extinguishing a once rich and vibrant culture.
Ways to Learn About Jewish History in Vilnius
Take a walking tour of Old Town and learn about key Jewish figures from Vilnius’ history, such as Gaon of Vilna, a famous Talmudic scholar.
Explore the former Jewish ghettos of Vilnius —Big and Little ghettos—where the city’s Jewish population were kept prior to the Nazi’s “liquidation” of the area.
See the still-functioning Choral Synagogue of Vilnius, the only synagogue in the city to have survived World War II and Soviet rule.
Spot vestiges of the once-thriving Jewish community of Vilnius, such as Yiddish shop signs.
Visit sites where important Jewish institutions once stood, such as the Great Synagogue of Vilna, which was damaged in World War II and was later demolished by the Soviets.
Browse exhibits detailing the art and culture of Lithuanian Jews at the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.
Take a moment of silence at the Flame of Hope monument, situated in the courtyard of the old Vilnius Ghetto Council, which memorializes the Lithuanian Jews killed in the Holocaust.