The government has approved a programme to mark 2020 as the Year of the Vilna Gaon and the History of the Jews of Lithuania, covering almost 70 different projects.
Deputy Government Chancellor Deividas Matulionis says the planned initiatives will help draw attention to Lithuania's “rich history which is inseparable from the history of Lithuania's Jews”.
“The programme will focus on perpetuating historical memory,” he told the Cabinet.
The programme will kick off in early 2020 with a series of Litvak literature events at the Vilnius Book Fair, events in Vilnius and Kaunas to mark the 120th birth anniversary of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust during the Second World War, and an exhibition of works by Lasar Segall, a twentieth-century modernist painter who was born in Vilnius.
It also features an exhibition highlighting the influence of Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, the great eighteenth-century Talmudist known as the Gaon of Vilna, on the Jewish culture in Lithuania.
The programme includes a commemoration in New York and an exhibition on the YIVO Vilnius collection in Frankfurt.
A series of concerts will be performed to commemorate composer Anatolijus Šenderovas (Anatoly Shenderov), violinist Jascha Heifetz, composer and violinist Joseph Achron, and composer and pianist George Gershwin.
Plans call for creating a musical guide covering seven Jewish sites in Kaunas, and offering a tour highlighting the historical and cultural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The programme also includes exhibitions featuring world-renown artists, such as Boris Schatz, Marc Chagall and Samuel Bak.
There are also plans to build new memorials and renovate existing ones.
For example, a memorial to rescuers of Jews is planned to be erected in a Vilnius street named after Ona Šimaitė, one of the Lithuanians named as the Righteous Among the Nations.
As part of the 2020 programme, Lithuania plans to host a World Litvak Congress and expects to borrow the so-called ‘Pinkas’, or register, of the Vilna Gaon's synagogue from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York.