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Yad Vashem The Jerusalem of Lithuania: The Story of the Jewish Community of Vilna

The Interwar Period

Educational Institutions

Societies for non-Zionist Jewish Culture in Vilna

In 1927, the Yiddish Scouts Movement, known as "Bin" (Bee), was founded in Vilna. Its aim was to "develop the character of the young Jew, and to bring him closer to the ideal of the working Jewish person and secular Yiddish culture." In one year, the movement had over 100 members, and it set up branches in Swienciany and Siedliszcze. Three years later, the movement had 300 members, who busied themselves in camping, hikes, sports, summer and winter camps, and even agricultural training in which some of the members worked and made a living. The "Bin" began to teach socialism and support Jewish settlement in Birobidzhan. In the early 1930s, the "Bin" was split between Communism and Territorialism. By 1936, the "Bin" had branches in 18 towns surrounding Vilna.

Landkentenish, the Jewish society that promoted touring the countryside, was founded in Vilna in 1930. The society organized hikes to historical sites and institutions in Vilna and its surroundings, held lectures, collected material, organized groups for getting acquainted with the country, and opened exhibitions. The exhibition "Vilna in Literature and Art" that opened in 1935 was visited by many people, including non-Jews, who bought pictures. The Society's chairman, Zalman Szyk, brought out the first volume of a series of guidebooks entitled 1000 Yor Vilna (One Thousand Years of Vilna), for use by tourists in the city. He never managed to bring out a second volume.

The Society of Esperanto Supporters, "Universo," was also active in Vilna. It opened classes to learn the language, and even put on The Dybbuk by S. Ansky in Esperanto.

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Mr. Nehemia Burgin in memory of his dear and beloved parents, Holocaust survivors Zlata (Zehava) Burgin and Yehiel Burgin of blessed memory.