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Jüdische Weisheit

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Litauens Judentum:

Although Lithuania's Jewish community comprised a relatively smallportion of world Jewry on the eve of the Holocaust, it has always held aunique place in Jewish history and been an important cultural centercarrying a weight far greater than its relative size. Lithuania had beenfamous for centuries as the cultural center for Jewish scholarship andrenowned as great center of Torah learning. 

Its many important yeshivot made it stand out in comparison to neighborinq Jewish communities inEastern and Central Europe. The Lithuanian Jews, nicknamed Litvaks, have been characterized by their rational, intellectual approach tolearning and spiritual matters as well as to day-to-day affairs.

During the Holocaust, the Lithuanian Jewish community sustained some ofthe highest losses among the Jewish communities in Europe (approximately95% destroyed), as a result of the enthusiastic cooperation of theLithuanians with the Germans. And yet, when faced with these challengingcircumstances, the Lithuanian Jews demonstrated an unusually strongspiritual and moral stance as well as an extraordinary level of community organization. 

It is no wonder that many Jews all over the world, descendants ofLithuanian emigrants, are extremely interested in their Litvakheritage, and are making tremendous efforts to reinforce this connectionthrough their search for roots. Numerous travelers are journeying to thetowns and villages that had been home to their ancestors, tracing thefootsteps of their loved ones who lived there, to their final restingplace - the local Jewish cemetery or a mass grave.

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For all of the above and for many others, Dov's new book may serve as a kindof textbook, and will explain many facts about Lithuanian Jews and theircharacteristic phenomena. The author, Prof. Dov Levin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem'sInstitute of Contemporary Jewry, is a well known historian and researcher. Prof. Levinis an expert in the field of Eastern European Jewry, and particularlythe history of the Jews of Lithuania. Yad Vashem has published severalof his books.

The theme and contents of this book serve as a short history of the Jews of Lithuania from the earliest settlements in the country until the destruction of the community in the Holocaust of the Second World War. 
The book's four main chronological sections describe the history ofLithuania and its Jewish residents:

  1. Lithuania from the Late Thirteenth to the Late Twentieth Centuries
  2. The Jews of Lithuania from the Middle Ages until the end of the FirstWorld War
  3. The Jews in Independent Lithuania During the InterWar Period
  4. W.W. 11 and the Holocaust: The Jewish Survivors

Some of the most important historical topics covered are:

  • Awarding of the certificates of civil privileges as early as thefourteenth century
  • The Lithuanian Jewish Council that existed for 138 years (1623-1761)that was, in effect, Jewish self-government
  • The flourishing of Jewish culture and religious studies, and theimportance of the ViIna Jewish community from the mid-eighteenth centuryonwards
  • The Gaon of ViIna, his life work, and its implications for the social-religious sphere
  • establishment of the great centers of Jewish learning ~ large yeshivot- in the nineteenth century, and the Jewish nationalistic movements suchas Hovevei Zion, Bund, the Mizrachi, and others
  • The establishment of a modern Hebrew Zionist Educational system withinthe framework of cultural autonomy in the period between the two worldwars
  • From glory to ruin: 1940-1945   

Special features included in THE LITVAKS are: 300 pages in Hardcover - 60 plates and 3 Maps - Bibliography in seven languages - lexicon of place names in both official modern description and the traditional spelling used by Jewish residents - statistical tables - Facsimiles of documents and unique photographs many of which appear in print for first time - special pre-publication price ( till April 2000).

TO: Rubin Mass Ltd., PO Box 990, Jerusalem 91009, Israel
or TO: Yad Vashem Publications P.O.Box 3477 Jerusalem 91034 Israel /

haGalil 04-02-2000

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