Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a city steeped in rich history and cultural heritage. Among its many historical landmarks, the Jewish community has played a significant role in shaping the city’s identity. From centuries-old synagogues to poignant memorials, a Jewish tour of Vilnius offers a unique opportunity to delve into the past and explore the present-day Jewish community sites. Join us on a journey through time as we uncover the captivating history of Vilnius and its Jewish heritage.

The Jewish Community in Vilnius: A Brief Overview

Vilnius, also known as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania,” was once home to one of the most vibrant and influential Jewish communities in Europe. Dating back to the 14th century, Jews settled in Vilnius and contributed significantly to the city’s cultural, intellectual, and economic development. At its peak, the Jewish population accounted for almost half of the city’s inhabitants.

Tragically, the Holocaust during World War II decimated the Jewish population in Vilnius. However, efforts have been made to preserve and commemorate the rich Jewish heritage that once thrived in the city.

Exploring Historical Jewish Sites

A Jewish tour of Vilnius would be incomplete without a visit to the historical Jewish sites that have withstood the test of time. Here are some must-visit locations:

1. The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum

Located in the heart of the old Jewish quarter, the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum is a treasure trove of Jewish history and culture. The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs that showcase the life and traditions of the Jewish community in Vilnius.

2. The Great Synagogue of Vilna

Once the spiritual center of the Jewish community, the Great Synagogue of Vilna was one of the most magnificent synagogues in Eastern Europe. Sadly, it was destroyed during World War II. Today, visitors can explore the ruins and pay their respects at the adjacent Jewish cemetery.

3. The Jewish Ghetto Memorial

Located in the former Jewish ghetto area, the Jewish Ghetto Memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. The memorial features a powerful sculpture depicting a group of victims, paying tribute to the lives lost and the resilience of the Jewish community.

Present-Day Jewish Community Sites

While Vilnius may have lost a significant portion of its Jewish population, the Jewish community continues to thrive and contribute to the city’s cultural fabric. Here are some present-day Jewish community sites worth exploring:

1. Choral Synagogue

The Choral Synagogue, also known as the Vilnius Synagogue, is the only functioning synagogue in Vilnius today. Built in the 20th century, it stands as a symbol of the resilience and revival of the Jewish community in Vilnius.

2. Jewish Cultural and Information Center

The Jewish Cultural and Information Center serves as a hub for cultural events, exhibitions, and educational programs related to Jewish heritage. Visitors can learn about the vibrant Jewish community’s present-day initiatives and engage in meaningful dialogue.

3. Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium

The Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium is a Jewish school that provides education in both Jewish and secular subjects. It reflects the commitment of the Jewish community to preserve their cultural and educational traditions for future generations.


A Jewish tour of Vilnius offers a captivating journey through time, allowing visitors to explore the city’s rich Jewish history and experience the vibrancy of the present-day Jewish community. From historical landmarks to present-day community sites, Vilnius stands as a testament to the resilience, cultural heritage, and contributions of the Jewish people. Embark on this enlightening tour and discover the fascinating story of Vilnius and its Jewish past and present.