Lecture to explore how ghetto inmates saved works of art from Nazis

Feb. 9, 2021

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David E. Fishman will deliver Emory’s annual Tenenbaum Lecture on Monday, Feb. 22. He will explore “The Book Smugglers of the Vilna Ghetto: A Story of Spiritual Resistance.”

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Guest scholar David E. Fishman of the Jewish Theological Seminary will deliver Emory’s annual Tenenbaum Lecture on Monday, Feb. 22. His presentation will explore “The Book Smugglers of the Vilna Ghetto: A Story of Spiritual Resistance.”

The lecture, sponsored by the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, will take place at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

In Vilna, the city Jews called “The Jerusalem of Lithuania,” a group of ghetto inmates risked their lives to rescue thousands of rare books, documents and works of art from the Nazis. In an operation that lasted 18 months, they smuggled the materials past guards and buried them in bunkers.

Members of the group who survived World War II returned to Vilna after the city’s liberation and dug up the materials. They eventually smuggled the books across Europe until they reached the United States and Israel. What did they rescue and why did they do it?

Fishman is a professor of Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also serves as director of Project Judaica, which publishes guides to Jewish archival materials in the former Soviet Union. Fishman is the author of numerous books and articles on the history and culture of East European Jewry. His most recent book, “The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis,” received a 2017 National Jewish Book Award.

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the Tenenbaum Family Lecture in Judaic Studies, which salutes the family of the late Meyer W. Tenenbaum, a graduate of Emory School of Law. The lectureship was established in 1997 by Meyer’s son, Samuel Tenenbaum, and honors the entire Tenenbaum family and its ethos of citizenship and public service, which is expressed through its support of religious, educational, social service and arts institutions across the United States.

For more information and to register, visit the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies.