A new Museum of Culture and Identity of Lithuanian Jews, also known as the Litvak Museum, is opening its doors to the public on Thursday.
The branch of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History is located in the former building of the Jewish Gymnasium Tarbut on Pylimo Street in Vilnius.
The Litvak Museum invites visitors to explore the broader cultural heritage of Lithuanian Jews, not only the history of the Holocaust.
“If you take any history textbook, Jews are usually presented through tragedy, the Holocaust, whereas this museum tells a completely different story,” Simonas Strelcovas, director of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History, said while presenting the new branch.
“The museum presents what is not in the textbooks – culture, traditions, religion, script, cuisine, games, customs, famous people,” he said.
The museum’s exhibitions will showcase the past and present life of Litvaks, focusing on Jewish everyday life and cultural movements and featuring not only historical figures but also individuals actively contributing to society today.
The branch houses a museum dedicated to Rafael Chwoles, one of the most prominent 20th-century Litvak artists.
Other world-famous Litvaks who were born, lived in or are connected to Lithuania are also featured. Among them are Nobel laureates Aaron Klug and Bernard Lown, artists Mark Antokolski, Jacques Lipchitz and Arbit Blatas, Hollywood stars Ruth Roman, Al Jolson and Laurence Harvey, singer and poet Leonard Cohen, writers Abraham Sutzkever, Icchokas Meras and Grigory Kanovich, violinist Jascha Heifetz, and others.
It cost over 7 million euros to set up the museum.
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