Lithuanian city renowned for its contribution to Jewish learning and piety and hence known as ‘the Jerusalem of Lithuania’. The Jewish community of Vilna flourished from the seventeenth century until its destruction in the Holocaust. Vilna was the home of many prominent Rabbis and preachers, the most notable being Elijah, Gaon of Vilna, who occupied no official Rabbinic post but whose influence extends to this day over all Orthodox Jews. The famous printinghouse of Romm in Vilna published works in every branch of Jewish learning. The splendid Romm editions of the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds are highly prized and are now the current editions in photocopy. Although Vilna in the eighteenth century did not tolerate the slightest deviation from the traditional view (there was even a pillory into which ‘heretics’ were exposed to public derision), eventually the city became a centre of the Haskalah movement in Lithuania. There was a Karaite community in and around Vilna but, as in Lithuania generally, the Reform movement never gained any hold there.
Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.