From Lukashenko’s Belarus to the EU: Polotsk, Breslau, Daugavpils, and Lithuanian Shtetls

We have been crossing borders for the past three days, since my last posting. As I wrote this we are on the road from Daugavpils (the name in Latvian, Dvinsk in Russian, Dineburg in Yiddish) to Vilnius (known as Vilna in Yiddish and Wilno in Polish) and are crossing the Latvian/Lithuanian border. Both states have… Read More From Lukashenko’s Belarus to the EU: Polotsk, Breslau, Daugavpils, and Lithuanian Shtetls

Vilna Says Its Final Goodbye to Its Nearly 50 Year Soviet Past

On our first evening in Vilnius (Vilna, Wilno, ווילנע), we heard reports from our tour guide that the city’s newly elected mayor had finally decided to remove the four statues adoring the Green Bridge, one of the most important crossings of the Neris River, which runs through the city. The four statues–one with two hetero… Read More Vilna Says Its Final Goodbye to Its Nearly 50 Year Soviet Past

Vilnius, Vilna, Wilno, ווילנע: Once the Jerusalem of Lithuania

Once upon a time, Rabbi Eliyohu Ben Shloyme roamed the streets of this beautiful medieval city, which has had a continuous Jewish population since the mid 14th century. This 18th century rabbi, who earned the name “the Vilna Gaon” or ” genius” (one translation of the Hebrew word “gaon”) fought fierce battles with the Hasidim,… Read More Vilnius, Vilna, Wilno, ווילנע: Once the Jerusalem of Lithuania