Lithuania's lost Jewish archives come to life online

One of thousands of Yiddish and Hebrew manuscripts being processed at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research at the Lithuanian Central State Archive in VilniusAfter seven decades holed up in a Catholic church basement in the Lithuanian capital, thousands of Yiddish manuscripts that survived the Holocaust and Stalin’s anti-Jewish onslaught are finally seeing the light of day. “‘Mirele Efros’ was a very popular Yiddish play, and a theatre sent the copy (to the Tsarist censor) to get permission to stage it,” said historian Lara Lempertiene, showing off several manuscripts, some in Yiddish, others in Hebrew. Thanks to a daring librarian, the 15-page copy of “Mirele Efros”, often dubbed the “Jewish King Lear”, and the numerous other documents — whose contents are still largely unknown — were spared destruction. Thousands more ended up in the United States after the Holocaust nearly wiped out the once vibrant Jewish community in the Baltic state.

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