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Vilna, the “Jerusalem of Lithuania,” was the most influential center of modern Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. In this series, we will explore the Jewish culture of Vilna through its leading figures and unique film footage. The leading figures include: Elijah, the Gaon (“Sage”) of Vilna and the Lithuanian Talmud tradition; the Lithuanian Mussar school of character development; and Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad- Lubavitch Hasidism. The documentary and dramatic films include: Days of Memory, a 1999 documentary on the destruction of the Vilna Ghetto; Jewish Life in Vilna, a 1939 documentary of pre-Holocaust Vilna; Overture to Glory, a 1940 drama about a Vilna cantor seduced by the opera; and Partisans of Vilna, a documentary on the Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis in Vilna during the Holocaust. In partnership with Hebrew College.
David Ariel is President of Ariel Learning, a global Jewish learning organization. He has served as President of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford (UK) and as President of Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts where he teaches in the Me’ah and Open Circle programs sponsored by Hebrew College and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. He also teaches for the American Joint Distribution Committee in eastern Europe; for Kivunim, a gap-year program in Israel; and for Hillel. David Ariel graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Jewish Thought and received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis University in Jewish Studies. He is the author of four books including Kabbalah; What Do Jews Believe? and Spiritual Judaism.
In partnership with Hebrew College.