Jewish Vilnius Tour with our best guides
There was a period when Jews were almost half of Vilnius population. It was a world with Jewish community institutions, over 100 synagogues, and rabbi’s council. That is why there is so much to show and tell you about Lithuanian Jewish life on a Jewish Vilnius tour.
A little detour. People think that the best time to visit the Baltic States is summer. Yes, I agree and disagree at the same time. Winter is cold but can be very impressive for those who did not see snow in their lives. Spring is just gorgeous with the blossoming and nature awakening. While autumn is famous for what you call “Indian summer”. The colors of leaves are so diverse, real magic.
Now, back to our theme.
We will commence a walking tour by visiting Vilnius Choral Synagogue, built in 1903 in Moorish- Romanesque style. It is the only Jewish temple in Lithuania where are daily religious services. They welcome guests after the morning prayer and are open until the early afternoon.
During your stay in Vilnius, we recommend visiting the Jewish State Museum or at least its brunch Tolerance Center. Museum visitors outline that, there is an interesting historical exhibition. It describes a Jewish world which is still famous among Jews in many countries.
I find that Art and Culture is the main attraction of this museum. Above all, there is a newly opened exhibition of Samuel Back paintings, on which he shows his beloved city, turned into a ghetto during World War 2.
In the Ghetto
From the Museum or a Synagogue, we just cross the street and find ourselves walking in the Big Ghetto. Will concentrate on the story of suffering, resistance, and partisans. Continue to the Judenrat office courtyard to listen to the story of “choiceless choices”. Will go into the created hiding place in the cellar, where Jews were hiding after the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto.
You will be able to see inscriptions on the walls form the interwar period. Next stop will be by the place where Aba Kovner was hiding, the place where his comrade Itzik Wittenberg established FPO. Ghetto theatre was the center of Spiritual resistance, will speak about the interesting phenomena of a desire for cultural activities even in the most critical situations. After finishing with the sad part of the tour will refer to the medieval Jewish History.
Once upon a time in Vilna – Jerusalem of Lithuania
Will walk in the pre-war Jewish Quarter of Vilnius – Jerusalem of Lithuania. Music school where Jasha Heifetz did his first steps in a music career, the building of the famous ORT school, the building of the famous Tarbut Gimnazia and nowadays JCC.
Will pass through the town hall square towards a former Yiddish theatre, rabbis’ council and the place of Theodor Herzl’s visit to Vilnius. Benedictine convent and the story of saving 12 Jewish souls by Lithuanian Righteous Among the Nations. Vilnius Ghetto streets and Vilna Gaon’s house; the spot of the Great Synagogue.
Outside the old city
The driven part of the Jewish Vilnius Tour will include the Cemeteries. And of course, the grave of the Vilna Gaon. The Cheap houses – the dwellings built for the poor Jews at the end of the nineteenth century.
During WWII the place was used as a labor camp. Here your guide will tell you the heroic story of one Nazi officer, named Karl Plage. He saved over a hundred of Jewish prisoners by showing them the way and time to run away. This happened just before the liquidation of the labor camp.
Afterward, we will drive to Ponar or in Lithuanian – Paneriai forest. The sight of the extermination of 100 thousand people among which 70 thousand were Jews. Today there is the Holocaust memorial in the forest. You will see a few “pits” in which Jews were exterminated.
This tour is for a full day and despite the fact that the above descriptions are of Jewish related sites, it will be a combination of general sites form a tour Vilnius from Dukes to the President. Vilnius is a vivid example of the intersection of two different cultures. Jews and Lithuanians lived next to each other for centuries and according to many shreds of evidence, were quite good neighbors.
You can tell that it is nonsense in light of the Holocaust events. Do not forget that history is full of paradoxes and mismatches, and do not look too much for logic and justice.
Outside the city
After this Jewish Vilnius tour, you might want to go outside the city and just relax. We highly recommend highking around Vilnius. You will say – impossible, as there are no mountains. You are right. But we do know to take you the most beautiful natural sights around Vilnius.
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