The World Jewish Congress views the revival of the Yiddish language and culture as an instrument in regenerating of Jewish life in Europe after the Holocaust.
The Yiddish culture is an integral part of the spiritual heritage of the Jewish people. For most of the last millennium, Yiddish was the spoken language of the majority of European Jews and Jewish immigrants from the Ashkenazic lands to other countries. Until World War II, Yiddish culture thrived, producing a vibrant and world-class literature (now translated into dozens of languages), in addition to considerable achievements in music, art, theater, film, media and other realms of cultural creativity. Vilnius was chosen as the location for the WJC Yiddish Center, because for centuries it was considered as the major center of Jewish culture in Europe that would have a lasting impact on world Jewry. For this reason Vilnius came to be known as Yerusholáyim d’Líta (the Jerusalem of Lithuania) or the Jerusalem of the North, a title that uniquely applied to both the deeply religious and the modernistic secular achievements of one and the same civilization that was nearly destroyed completely in the Holocaust.
The World Jewish Congress Yiddish Center was established in Vilnius at the end of 2014 and at present is the only one of the kind in the world. There are various summer courses in Yiddish language that are conducted around the world as well as courses offered at various universities, cultural and community centers, but the WJC Yiddish center is the only institution that aims to introduce the knowledge of Yiddish language, culture and heritage in formal and informal education systems around the world, and in this way preserving it for future generations.
Our students get acquainted with rich Yiddish culture not only by means of the lectures but also by means of concerts of Klezmer music and Yiddish songs, delivered by professionals of the field, as well as by means of excursions around Jewish sites of historical Vilnius and other cities, where our seminars have been carried out.
Leading academics, teachers and experts from around the world and from centers such as the Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Oxford University and the YIVO Institute of Jewish Research in New York and Buenos Aires, Indiana University at Bloomington are invited to teach at the center, together with renowned academicians from institutions in Lithuania, Poland, Russia and others.
The World Jewish Congress Yiddish center in Vilnius started its activity only over four years ago, and already over 11 000 students and listeners participated at the seminars of the center in Vilnius, the FSU countries, Europe, and Latin America. The lecturers of our Center are often invited by the organizers of different events in Jewish and non-Jewish world (seminars, conferences, trainings for JCCs professionals and teachers, etc.). We run our seminars in Buenos-Aires in Argentina, Sao Paolo in Brazil, Bucharest in Romania, Budva in Croatia, Montreal in Canada, Kiev and Odessa in Ukraine, Yekaterinburg in Ural, Novosibirsk in Siberia and many others.