On May 21-24, 2018, the International Yiddish Center at the World Jewish Congress held a special seminar for employees of the Moscow branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
18 experienced JDC employees arrived in Vilnius in order to expand and/or gain knowledge on Yiddish culture and Ashkenazi spiritual heritage.
Alongside with WJC YC academic director Dr. Mordechay Yushkovsky, two local lecturers – Dr. Vilma Gradinskaitė (researcher and curator at Vilnius Gaon State Jewish Museum and lecturer at Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Vilnius University) and Dr. Lara Lempert (lecturer at Vilnius University and senior bibliographer of Jewish books in the National Library of Lithuania) provided the classes.
Dr. Gradinskaitė - аn expert of Eastern European Jewish art -prepared a lecture about the image of shtetl and its inhabitants in visual art.
The subject of Dr. Lempert's lecture was Jewish intellectual & artistic life in Lithuania and Vilnius between two world wars.
On May 21, the group went on a study tour round Jewish Vilnius with a guide Stepan Lushchevich.The trip started near the building of the former music school, where the world-wide known violinist Jasha Heifetz began his musical career.
The second tour, by bus, provided the participants with general sightseeing of Vilnius and took them to the Holocaust memorial site in Ponary.
The audience reacted enthusiastically. For instance, Inessa Feldkofen wrote us:
"I would like to express my gratitude for the program of the seminar and its organisation. All the lectures were very informative, captivating and quite to the point. I learned a lot; there was a place where to laugh, where to think and even where to cry. To my mind, such seminars are absolutely must for Jewish organisations, for youth ones in particular".