VILNIUS—The Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, founded here in 1925, in historic Vilna (then Wilno, Poland; in Yiddish forever Vílne) as the world’s premier Yiddish-in-Yiddish academic institute, has, to the consternation of many of its life-long supporters and participating scholars, in recent years been (temporarily, to be sure) “hijacked” to serve as the prime unit (with the AJC a close second) for Jewish PR. Not “general” Jewish PR but specifically on behalf of certain circles in the Lithuanian government determined to revise Holocaust history (and “sell” the revisions to American Jews particularly), while covering for the use of major Jewish cemeteries for building projects, all the while projecting adulation of “Litvak and Yiddish culture.” Two of the best-known protests from Holocaust survivors in Vilnius came from Milan Chersonski, longtime editor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s quadrilingual newspaper, and Vilna-born physicist Professor Pinchos Fridberg. More pain was expressed in responses from the Leyzer Ran Family in New York, and the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel.
Nevertheless, Yivo’s position as the world’s premier Yiddish Studies library and archive remains unshaken, and continues to grow. Even critics are in full support of the major digitization projects underway to bring these treasures to scholars and students around the world gratis.