Lithuanian Jews

Map showing percentage of Jews in the Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire c. 1905.
Portrait of Lithuanian yeshiva students
LITVISH. An Atlas of Northeastern Yiddish by Dovid Katz. Cartography by Giedre Beconyte

Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the territory of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania (covering present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, the northeastern Suwałki and Białystok regions of Poland, as well as adjacent areas of modern-day Russia and Ukraine).

- Lithuanian Jews

500 related topics



Traditional Jewish educational institution focused on the study of Rabbinic literature, primarily the Talmud and halacha (Jewish law), while Torah and Jewish philosophy are studied in parallel.

Mir Yeshiva (Jerusalem) – largest yeshiva in the world
A typical bet midrash – Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Baltimore
Chavrusas in study – Yeshiva Gedola of Carteret
Morning seder, Or-Yisrael - a yeshiva founded by the Chazon Ish
Shiur in memory of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein at Yeshivat Har Etzion, a Hesder yeshiva
Rabbinical students in shiur, Jerusalem
Shiur klali, Slabodka Yeshiva
A depiction of Sura (from Beit Hatefutsot)
Volozhin yeshiva, “mother of the yeshivas”
Mir yeshiva
Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, Israel
Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, now a national monument
The Breslov Yeshiva in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem.
Satmar Yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York.
Bobov Kollel in Jerusalem
Geula branch of Porat Yosef Yeshiva.
Kisse Rahamim yeshivah, Bnei Brak
JTS building in Manhattan
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Beth Medrash Govoha, Lakewood, New Jersey – largest yeshiva outside Israel.
Mercaz Harav, Jerusalem
Kollel Birkat Yitzhak, Moscow
Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn
Mincha, Yeshiva Centre, Melbourne
Talmud Torah, Russia, 1937
Yeshiva High School, Tel Aviv, 1938
"Cheder"-class in Talmud, Tel Aviv, 1946.
Bet Midrash, Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh
Gemara, the first page of tractate Rosh Hashanah
A full set of the Babylonian Talmud
Chavrusas learning beki'ut, recording their summary of each sugya alongside its Mishnah
Set of Mishneh Torah
Cover of the first edition of Mesillat Yesharim.
Chumash with Mikraot Gedolot
Chumash with Yiddish translation

Students of Lithuanian and Hasidic yeshivot gedolot (plural of yeshiva gedola) usually learn in yeshiva until they get married.


Religious movement among the Jews of Eastern Europe which resisted the rise of Hasidism in the 18th and 19th centuries.

An anathema against the Hasidim, signed by the Gaon of Vilna and other community officials. August 1781.
The Vilna Gaon
Litvishe yeshiva students in Israel

The Misnagdim were particularly concentrated in Lithuania, where Vilnius served as the bastion of the movement, but anti-Hasidic activity was undertaken by the establishment in many locales.

The Holocaust in Lithuania

Lithuanian Security Police members burning a Lithuanian synagogue in 1941
Map titled "Jewish Executions Carried Out by Einsatzgruppe A" from the Stahlecker's report. Marked "Secret Reich Matter", the map shows the number of Jews shot in Reichskommissariat Ostland. According to this map the estimated numbers of Jews killed in Lithuania is 136,421 by the date that his map was created.
Massacre of Jews by Lithuanians at Lietūkis garage on 27 June 1941 during the Kaunas pogrom. In the background German soldiers and Lithuanian civilians, including women and children, are spectators of the slaughter.
A member of the Lithuanian Security Police
marching Jewish men through Vilnius, 1941
German soldiers and Lithuanians watch the burning of a synagogue, 9 July 1941
Holocaust mass graves near city of Jonava.

The Holocaust in Lithuania resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian (Litvaks) and Polish Jews, living in Generalbezirk Litauen of Reichskommissariat Ostland within the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian SSR.

Haredi Judaism

Haredi Judaism (יהדות חֲרֵדִית , ; also spelled Charedi in English; plural Haredim or Charedim) consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism that are characterized by their strict adherence to halakha (Jewish law) and traditions, in opposition to modern values and practices.

Haredi Jewish men during a Torah reading.
Young Haredi Jews in Jerusalem, 2005
Hasidic boys in Łódź, 1910
Haredi Jews from Galicia at the in Vienna's second district, Leopoldstadt, 1915
Haredi Jewish women and girls in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, 2013
Styles of Haredi dress
Typical Haredi dress for men and women
Gender-separate beach in Israel. To accommodate Haredi and other Orthodox Jews, many coastal resorts in Israel have a designated area for sex-separate bathing.
The Bais Yaakov graduating class of 1934 in Łódź, Poland
Tziporah Heller, a weekly columnist for Hamodia
photograph of the Warsaw Ghetto
Members of Neturei Karta protest against Israel (Washington, 2005)
Haredi demonstration against the conscription of yeshiva pupils
Hasidim walk to the synagogue, Rehovot, Israel.
Haredi Rabbis and students writing a Torah scroll (Haredi settlement of Beitar Illit, Gush Etzion)
Hasidic family on the street in Borough Park, Brooklyn
Students of Telshe yeshiva, 1936

It was dominated by the Hasidic rebbes and Lithuanian rabbis and roshei yeshiva (deans).

Volozhin Yeshiva

Photograph of the Volozhin yeshiva
Volozhin yeshiva. Silver coin of Belarus, 10 rubles, 2010, 925, diam. 33 mm, revers
Tempera, Anatoly Nalivaev, 1964
Tempera, Anatoly Nalivaev, 1967

Yeshivas Etz Ḥayyim (ישיבת עץ חיים), commonly called the Volozhin Yeshiva (וואלאזשינער ישיבה), was a prestigious Lithuanian yeshiva located in the town of Volozhin, Russian Empire, (now Valozhyn, Belarus).

Vilna Gaon

Talmudist, halakhist, kabbalist, and the foremost leader of misnagdic (non-hasidic) Jewry of the past few centuries.

Vilna Gaon
Vilna Gaon (Zalkind, Ber)
Elijah Ben Solomon, the Vilna Gaon
The Vilna Gaon monument at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna
The Vilna Gaon synagogue in Sha'arei Hesed, Jerusalem

However, the teachings and traditions of the Vilna Gaon have been passed down most directly to the Litvaks in Israel.


Intellectual movement among the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, with certain influence on those in Western Europe and the Muslim world.

Top Row, proto-Maskilim: Raphael Levi Hannover • Solomon Dubno • Tobias Cohn • Marcus Elieser Bloch
2nd Row, Berlin Haskalah: Salomon Jacob Cohen • David Friedländer • Naphtali Hirz Wessely • Moses Mendelssohn
3rd Row, Austria and Galicia: Judah Löb Mieses • Solomon Judah Loeb Rapoport • Joseph Perl • Baruch Jeitteles
Bottom Row, Russia: Avrom Ber Gotlober • Abraham Mapu • Samuel Joseph Fuenn • Isaac Baer Levinsohn

Poland–Lithuania was the heartland of Rabbinic Judaism, with its two streams of Misnagdic Talmudism centred in Lithuania and other regions, and Hasidic mysticism popular in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Russia.


West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews.

The opening page of the 1828 Yiddish-written Jewish Holiday of Purim play Esther, oder die belohnte Tugend from Fürth (by Nürnberg), Bavaria
The calligraphic segment in the Worms Machzor. The Yiddish text is in red.
A page from the Shemot Devarim, a Yiddish–Hebrew–Latin–German dictionary and thesaurus, published by Elia Levita in 1542
American World War I-era poster in Yiddish. Translated caption: "Food will win the war – You came here seeking freedom, now you must help to preserve it – We must supply the Allies with wheat – Let nothing go to waste". Colour lithograph, 1917. Digitally restored.
1917. 100 karbovanets of the Ukrainian People's Republic. Revers. Three languages: Ukrainian, Polish and Yiddish.
Map of the Yiddish dialects between the 15th and the 19th centuries (Western dialects in orange / Eastern dialects in green)
An example of graffiti in Yiddish, Tel Aviv, Washington Avenue (און איר זאלט ליב האבן דעם פרעמדען, ווארום פרעמדע זייט איר געווען אין לאנד מצרים Un ir zolt lib hobn dem fremdn varum fremde seit ir geven in land mitsrayim). "You shall have love for the stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 10:19)
NEP-era Soviet Yiddish poster "Come to us at the Kolkhoz!"
State emblem of the Byelorussian SSR with the motto Workers of the world, unite! in Yiddish (lower left part of the ribbon): ״פראָלעטאריער פון אלע לענדער, פאראייניקט זיך!״, Proletarier fun ale lender, fareynikt zikh! The same slogan is written in Belarusian, Russian and Polish.
The Jewish Autonomous Oblast in Russia
Banner from the first issue of the Yidishe Folksshtime ("Yiddish People's Voice"), published in Stockholm, January 12, 1917
1917 multilingual poster in Yiddish, English, Italian, Hungarian, Slovene, and Polish, advertising English classes for new immigrants in Cleveland
Women surrounded by posters in English and Yiddish supporting Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert H. Lehman, and the American Labor Party teach other women how to vote, 1936.
A typical poster-hung wall in Jewish Brooklyn, New York
A road sign in Yiddish (except for the word "sidewalk") at an official construction site in the Monsey hamlet, a community with thousands of Yiddish speakers, in Ramapo, New York.

In religious circles, it is the Ashkenazi Haredi Jews, particularly the Hasidic Jews and the Lithuanian yeshiva world (see Lithuanian Jews), who continue to teach, speak and use Yiddish, making it a language used regularly by hundreds of thousands of Haredi Jews today.

Ponevezh Yeshiva

Yeshiva founded in 1908, and located in Bnei Brak, Israel since 1944.

Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, Israel
The yeshiva in 1949
The yeshiva
Yeshiva students studying
Students swimming in the yeshiva's pool, 1945
The main entrance to the yeshiva
The aron Kodesh (Torah scroll ark)
Shelves with prayer books
Hats and coats, as worn by students and teachers
Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, second rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ponevezh
Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, second rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ponevezh
Rabbi Steinman with students of Little Yeshiva Ponevezh on Purim, 1960
Header of official stationery of Yeshiva Ponevezh in Panevėžys, Lithuania, ca. 1920
Loan certificated for 100 Israeli shekels issued by Yeshiva Ponevezh, 1953
Plate in Bnei Brak with a description of Yeshiva Ponevezh's history
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt
Rabbi Meir Kessler
Rabbi Dov Landau, Mashgiach of Slabodka
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel
Rabbi Yoel Schwartz
Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Ulman

The yeshiva has over three thousand students, including those of affiliated institutions, and is considered one of the leading Litvish yeshivas in Israel.

Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin

September 2020
Rabbi Aaron Schechter (white beard) celebrating Purim in Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin during the late 1970s.

Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin or Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin (יְשִׁיבַת רַבֵּינוּ חַיִּים בֶּרלִין) is an American Haredi Lithuanian-type boys' and men's yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York.