Vilnius Jewish library collection presented

Source: Baltic Reports, 6-10-10

Katz speaks at the unveiling ceremony with Brent seated to his right. Photo by Richard Schofield/Baltic Reports

The beginnings of the country’s first Jewish literature library was unveiled on Thursday, marking the culmination of six years work by American Wyman Brent.

Brent, a native of San Diego and a Christian, came to Vilnius in 1994 and said he fell in love with the country and with the Jewish history of Vilnius, which stretches back around 700 years.

The library currently has no permanent home, but it already has around 5,000 items, which will eventually increase to around 200,000. It is expected to open to the public by late July and will likely be based at Gedimino 24, the building that houses the Vilnius Small Theater.

“Jewish culture was and is a part of Lithuania’s past, present and future. I came here and I fell in love, but I did not know for what reason — then when I had the idea for the library, Vilnius was again the Jerusalem of the north. It is the greatest center of Jewish culture in Europe,” Brent said at the opening in the Lithuanian Culture Research Institute in Vilnius.

Culturologist and moderator of the panel of speeches at the opening Žilvinas Beliauskas said that to be a real citizen of Vilnius, called Vilna in Hebrew, was a challenge because the current generations of people entered the city after its large Jewish population was massacred during the Second World War.

He said that learning about the history, including the Jewish history would make Lithuanians true citizens of Vilnius.

Brent said the library will be open to all…. READ MORE

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