Polish Group Vocal Varshe Performs at Sacred Site in Vilnius

Vocal Varshe, a group of musicians from Poland, performed songs in Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino at the site of the former Great Synagogue in Vilnius, destroyed after World War II, on the evening of June 6, 2018. The event was organized by the Polish Institute in Vilnius and the Lithuanian Jewish Community. The Polish musicians from Warsaw performed songs from the Warsaw and Vilnius ghettos.

LJC executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas began the event with the poem Vilne by Moshe Kulbak.

Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius greeted the audience and said the concert venue reminded the public, Polish and Lithuanian residents of Vilnius, that more could have been done to save Jews from the Holocaust. He also called for an appropriate commemoration at the site, whether that be partial reconstruction of the synagogue or some other form, to remind future generations of what happened. He said this would serve to unite the different ethnic communities in Vilnius.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky thanked the musicians for coming and performing and the Vilnius mayor who granted permission for the concert at the site infused with the spirit of the teachings of the Vilna Gaon.

Polish Institute director Marcin Łapczyński said the concert by Vocal Varshe was very symbolic because it took place at a site where several decades ago one could hear people speaking Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and German. “This was the center of the Jewish world, a very important location on the map of Vilnius and Europe. Today we have succeeded in bringing one of the most talented vocal ensembles from Warsaw to Lithuania, Vocal Varshe, who will perform in Vilnius, Kėdainiai and Kalvarija. The Polish Institute is very happy to be able to contribute to the rebirth of this site. There was a thriving Jewish life in Warsaw as in Vilnius before the war, and now Jewish Warsaw is being reborn, there are many concerts and festivals being held. We hope this site in Vilnius is also revived.”

Photographs: Milda Rūkaitė

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