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On 16 October 2005, Dr. Israel Lempert, a native of Mazheikiai (Yiddish: Mazheyk) in northwestern Lithuania, was honored on his 80th birthday at a large celebration at the Jewish Community of Lithuania. In World War II, Dr. Lempert served with the nearly all-Jewish 16th Lithuanian Division and was awarded numerous decorations for bravery in fighting the Nazis. After the war, he became a philosopher and historian and rose to the status of Dr. habil. at one of the major Soviet-era institutes in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.
With the fall of the iron curtain and the return of freedom, Dr. Lempert applied his energies to the extensive study of Lithuanian Jewish history. He became the academic advisor to the Jewish Community of Lithuania and in that capacity initiated many successful conferences. Among them was the landmark 1997 congress on the 200th anniversary of the death of the Gaon of Vilna, which resulted in dual volumes of proceedings, in English and Lithuanian.
Dr. Lempert has been closely associated with the VYI since its inception, as a visiting lecturer in Lithuanian Jewish history at Vilnius University and as a member of Prof. Dovid Katz's Advanced Yiddish reading circle. As a devotee of Yiddish language and literature, on alternate Sundays he leads a circle called Libhober fun yidish at the Jewish Community Center.
Dr. Lempert's new book was released at the 80th birthday celebration. Titled Litvakes, it is a condensed encyclopedia of Litvaks (Yiddish: litvakes), as Jews hailing from the Lithuanian lands (Lita or Yiddish: Líte) are called. Naturally, the birth and development of the VYI are included in the volume.
The VYI was represented in strength at the combined birthday celebration and book launch. Dr. Marija Krupoves, the VYI's Lecturer in Comparative Folklore, provided a short concert of beloved Lithuanian Yiddish folk songs. VYI librarian Fania Brantsovsky presented a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the Institute. One of the addresses in honor of Dr. Lempert was delivered (in pure Lithuanian Yiddish) by the VYI's director of research, Prof. Dovid Katz, who also presented a certificate of appreciation and good wishes on behalf of Vilnius University and the VYI.
The Institute's international community joins us in wishing Israel Lempert continued vigor and creativity, as the traditional Yiddish wish goes, biz hundert-tsvantsik yor!
|2005 VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE. Solution: Neosymmetria|