Old signs in Yiddish in Žemaitijos street, Vilnius

WORTH VISITING:

Before the Second World War, there were many shop signs in Yiddish in Vilnius Old Town, but nowadays only a few of them are still visible in the city landscape. Do not hesitate to visit this unique Jewish heritage on Žemaitijos street (previously – M. Strašūnas street), and do not stop there – in the nearby street (Šv. Stepono str. 7) You can find few more signs in Yiddish and Polish, which reminds about a history of the small confectionery factory “Minjon”.

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BRIEF HISTORY:

During the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century Jews constituted about one-third of the Vilnius population. So the Yiddish language was daily used and seen in various forms in the streets of the city. A couple of restored Yiddish signs of Jewish shops can still be seen on the arched entrances to the courtyards on Žemaitijos street. These signs are the reminders of exotic colonial goods shop owned by Jankel and Gidla Gordons and a more practical shop of salt and burning oil owned by Chaja Link.

CURRENT SITUATION:

Today due to unfamiliar Hebrew characters, restored Yiddish shop signs on the houses at Žemaitijos str. 7 and Žemaitijos str. 9, could look to a passer-by only as exotic remnants from the past, but they can tell us much more about the history of Vilnius if we will be willing to stop for a moment. It enables us to recreate a historical image of Vilnius daily life. Let`s try. It is the 1930s in Vilnius and a worker rushes back home from his night shift, he makes a quick stop at Chaja Link`s shop to buy burning oil for his talented son, who paints in the evenings, and from around the corner steps in Regina Weinreich, daughter of Cemach Šabad and wife of Max Weinreich, who came all the way from Pohulanka to Gordons` – her neighbor told her that this morning Gordons will have that miraculous coffee that all Vilnius is talking about.

LOOKING AROUND:

Historical Jewish quarter, 54.679532, 25.285090

Jewish street, 54.679532, 25.285090

The place of the Great Synagogue and shulhof (jid. shulhoyf) (Žydų g. 3), 54.679901, 25.284511

The mausoleum of Vilna Gaon and his family (Jewish cemetery, Sudervė road, 28), 54.712898, 25.234477

A sculpture of Vilna Gaon (Žydų g. 3), 54.680137, 25.285079

Choral synagogue Taharat ha–Kodesh (Pylimo g. 39), 54.676070, 25.281575

Užupis synagogue (Užupio g. 36), 54.681471, 25.298633

A sculpture of doctor Cemachas Šabadas  (sculpt. Romualdas Kvintas), 54.677248, 25.284342

Pohulanka (now. J. Basanavičius street), 54.680145, 25.276134

The place of YIVO institute and its memorial plague (Vivulskio g. 18), 54.678840, 25.265085;

The place of old Jewish cemetery in Šnipiškės (Olimpiečių g. 1a), 54.690243, 25.291117

Jewish cemetery in Užupis (Olandų g. 22), 54.688106, 25.307748

The printing house of widow Rom and Rom brothers (A. Strazdelio g. 3), 54.675534, 25.292128

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