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A family from Israel Mr. Amos and Mrs. Ronit Ofir along with a group of close family friends, visited the Vilnius Yiddish Institute on October 9 as part of their Jewish heritage tour led by the well-known Vilnius Jewish guide Yulik Gurvitch. The institute arranged for them to meet with its librarian, Fania Brancovskaja, who was incarcerated in the Vilna Ghetto from its inception in September 1941 through to its last day, September 23 1943, when she fled to join the partisans in the forests, with whom she fought against the Nazis bravely, right up until Vilna was freed from Nazi rule in the summer of 1944.
Mrs Prizma, the late grandmother of the visiting family, had been born in 1923, and had studied at the Real-gimnázye, a famous Yiddish high school on Rudnítsker gas (now Rudninku gatve). On 6 September 1941, she was incarcerated in the Ghetto with her family. Later, Mrs Prizma escaped to the forest and joined the Jewish partisan detachment Nekóme (‘Avenger’, literally ‘Revenge!’) which was commanded by Abba Kovner.
Fania, the VYI librarian, was a combatant with the same partisan detachment, whose base, about 40 kilometers from Vilnius, is not preserved by the state and is rapidly disappearing. At present, Fania is still able to show visitors the “zemlánkes” — the dug-out earthen huts, situated underground with roofs disguise with grass and earth — where the partisans lived until the end of the war.
Although she didn’t personally know Mrs Prizma, Fania was able to identify many other people on the old photographs which the family brought.
In addition to Fania, the visitors met with the director of the American Culture Center, Dr. Ilya Levin, who was visiting the institute at the same time, and with director Prof. Sarunas Liekis, associate director Ruta Puisyte, and research director Prof. Dovid Katz.
|2005 VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE. Solution: Neosymmetria|