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Reading Vilna in Jewish Writing and Urban History: A Collaborative Conference

Every great city deserves a Baedecker, and Wilno-Vilna-Vilnius has had several, none more capacious than Zalmen Szyk’s 1000 yor Vilne (1000-year Vilnius), published in 1939. In 520 densely-printed pages, it covers the major historical landmarks and urban habitats. Here, every site matters – to more than one people – for Szyk’s itinerary respects all populations native to the city: Jews, Poles, Belorussians, Lithuanians, Karaites and Tatars. Optimally, he recommends four days to do them justice.

On this, the 80th anniversary of the publication of Szyk’s monumental guide, we have chosen to follow in his footsteps and hold a three-day collaborative conference made up of lectures, discussions, a walking tour, and one exciting public program.

  • Like Szyk, our inquiry includes history, literature, politics, art, architecture, photography, and other media.
  • Like Szyk, we delight in the juxtaposition of sacred and secular, rich and poor, popular and highbrow, center and periphery, fact and fiction.
  • Like Szyk, our cut-off point is 1939. Bad things have happened in the past. But there is no apocalypse.
  • Like Szyk, we walk in a city where Yiddish matters. It is not only one language among equals. Yiddish is also the one language best suited to mediate the fiercely competing claims on the past, present and future of the city.
  • Like Szyk, we try to imagine a vital Jewish presence in Vilna on the threshold of a new millennium.

Please join us!

Chairman of the Conference Committee


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