Lithuania: Jewish museum has opened in the former Telz Yeshiva as a branch of the local Alka Museum

Opening ceremony of the Telz Yeshiva permanent exhibition Photo: Alka museum

Opening ceremony of the Telz Yeshiva permanent exhibition Photo: Alka museum

Source:Jewish Heritage Europe

Posted in: Mikvehs / other buildings, Museums, Opening / Launch / Dedication
Tagged: Lithuania Posted on: November 2, 2023

A new Jewish museum opened recently in Lithuania, in the building in the town of Telšiai (Telz or Telshe in Yiddish) that once housed the famous pre-war Telz yeshiva.

The permanent exhibit on Jewish heritage and culture opened in late September as a branch of the Alka Samogitian Museum in Telšiai.

The yeshiva building itself forms part of the exhibit, bearing witness to the history and method of the yeshiva — which was founded in 1875. It was closed after the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania early in WW2, and during the war it was reestablished in Ohio, where it still operates. The yeshiva building in Telšiai survived.

The exhibition is based on the yizkor book Sefer Ṭelz compiled by Yitzhak Alperowitz and published in 1984 in Israel. The book was translated into Lithuanian and published in Lithuania in 2022 as “Telšiai. Atminties knyga” [Telz: Book of Memory].

“The exhibition talks about life. About what was going on in Telšiai at a time when the city had one of the most important [yeshivas],” Ingrida Vaitiekienė, deputy director of the Alka Museum, said on the museum’s web site.

It is about what traditions the Jewish community of Telšiai followed, how they interacted, how students and teachers communicated, what bright personalities walked the streets of Telšiai back then. The story is also about the life lived by the Jewish community: about loaders, about transporters, about ritual butchers, about those things that are united and important to every person,

In addition to the permanent exhibition, the restored yeshiva building is used for cultural and educational events, including Jewish study sessions. The facade bears a new, sculptural memorial honouring righteous gentiles who rescued Jews during the Shoah.

“The Telšiai yeshiva is not just an exhibition as a static object. It is a living monument of history,” Eva Stonkevičienė, director of the Alka Museum said on the museum’s web site. “Jewish culture is a very important part of the city of Telšiai and the way we live today is shaped by the period when a large percentage of Jewish community members lived here. The Telšiai yeshiva today is a story about who we are, what we were, and, I hope, who we will be.”