A memorial plaque was unveiled in A. Vivulskio Street to commemorate the Jewish research institute JIVO
The memorial plaque for the Jewish Institute YIVO was unveiled at A. Vivulskio Street 18. Here the most important Eastern European Jewish Cultural and Historical Research Center – the adornment of the history of the entire Litvak community of Lithuania and the history of Lithuania itself, where intelligentsia, – functioned since 1933. During the World War II, when working in Lithuania became possible, a US branch became YIVO’s centre. The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York is still operating as one of the most important research centres of Yiddish culture.
The Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) community, foreign ambassadors, ministers, Irene Pletka, Vice-Chair of the YIVO Board of Directors, and Jonathan Brent, YIVO Director, attended the ceremony. The Mayor of the capital Remigijus Šimašius welcomed the attendees.
“If we were to live in an alternative, a better world, today we would be preparing for the centenary of the strongest and the most prestigious humanitarian institution in Vilnius. Unfortunately, we are much more modest today – we are unveiling a tablet, which reminds us of what might have been and what should be – reminiscing of the fostering of the Yiddish culture in Vilnius and certain indebtedness of our nation to the Jewish people. The opening of the YIVO memorial plaque is a small but extremely important historical moment”, the Mayor of Vilnius said.
The Jewish Research Institute founded in Vilnius in 1925 had a library with more than 40 000 book, and its press archives had collected about 10 thousand of annual collections of magazines published in various countries. The Institute had several archives, a theatre, a pedagogical museum and a folklore collection (with about 10 000 copies). There were 4 research panels in the Institute, including those of philology, history, economics and statistics, psychology and pedagogy. Most famous scientists, who lived in Vilnius, Warsaw, Berlin, Riga, Paris and New York, worked there.
Irene Pletka, Vice-Chair of the YIVO Board of Directors, shared her memories of her Yiddish teacher A. Železnikov, who was one of the founders and teachers of the Institute, a partisan, sincerely hoping to return to Vilnius with his friends after the war and to revive prosperous Jewish life there. He believed that one day the YIVO Institute would be able to continue its activities. According to I. Pletka, we are all witnesses to this, because we have preserved wonderful archives in New York and discoveries made in Vilnius. This building with a memorial plaque commemorates YIVO, when the building and the Institution was closed in Lithuania in 1940, but it now continues its activities.
The most prominent scientists and public figures of the time, including the Jews Albert Einstein, Zigmund Freud, Edward Bernstein and Simon Dubnov, were members of the Honorary Presidency of the YIVO Institute.