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Documenting the Vilna Ghetto Library - a presentation by Judy Baston

  • Jewish Community Library 1835 Ellis Street San Francisco, CA, 94115 United States (map)

Free event at the Jewish Community Library / 1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco

Vilna—known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania—had a strong cultural tradition that endured even after the Vilna Ghetto was established by the Nazis in 1941. One of the most important cultural institutions in the Ghetto was the Vilna Ghetto Library, with thousands of readers. 

When Judy Baston discovered that her three young cousins in the Vilna Ghetto had been on the list of Ghetto Library patrons, she was stunned to realize that the grimness of their daily lives had been relieved by the stories in the books they read. Further research led her to uncover additional archival documentation: lists of readers, lists of workers at the library, and even a list of those who did not return books. And reports from two Ghetto librarians provide a detailed look at which authors and titles were read by Ghetto Library patrons.

Judy Baston has worked as volunteer staff at the Jewish Community Library for 24 years and coordinates the Library’s monthly genealogy clinic. She is vice president of the Litvak Special Interest Group (LitvakSIG) and is on the board of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland. In July, 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies.

The book unites us with the future; the book unites us with the world.”  --Yitzhak Rudashevski, “The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto”

Program made possible, in part, by Marc and Marci Dollinger. Co-presented by the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, theWorkmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring of Northern California, KlezCalifornia, and JFCS Holocaust Center.

The Jewish Community Library is located on the campus of the Jewish Community High School. Free parking in the building's private garage. Enter garage on Pierce Street, between Ellis and Eddy; buzz intercom for entrance. Pedestrians use gate at Ellis Street and buzz intercom for entrance.

Earlier Event: January 25
Tu B'Shvat
Later Event: January 31
Yoga for Grounding