The University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies is celebrating the opening of its new museum exhibit, Vilna: The Jerusalem of Lithuania, on Monday, October 30, at 8:30 p.m. in the University’s Museum of Jewish Civilization located inside the Harrison Libraries. The museum displays will include artifacts, photos, video clips, and virtual reality technology to detail the eight projects the University has lead in Lithuania from 2015-17 including:

• The 2016 discovery of the Holocaust Escape Tunnel in Ponar, which made international headlines and was the subject of a NOVA documentary
• Excavation of Vilna’s Great Synagogue and surrounding bathhouse
• Location of mass burials and hiding places at the HKP labor camp outside Vilna
• Discovery of mass burial sites at medieval forts in Kaunas, and a Jewish cemetery
• Research at the site of a former Nazi POW camp for the remains of missing American airmen

University students were members of the excavation team and helped create the exhibit’s virtual reality displays to give visitors the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be on the University’s archaeology team. “The exhibit tells the story of Lithuanian Judaism and the Holocaust and will be inspiring for all visitors,” said University of Hartford Professor of Jewish History and Archaeologist Richard Freund. “One of the greatest challenges in doing Holocaust archaeology is to help people understand what was lost.”

The museum opening will be preceded by a 7 p.m. lecture by Samuel Kassow, the Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College. Titled Vilna and Jewish Culture Before, During, and After the Holocaust, the lecture is in the Harry Jack Gray Center’s Wilde Auditorium. There will be a 6 p.m. musical performance by Heavy Shtetl Klezmer, and a welcome by Julius Pranevicius, consulate general of the Republic of Lithuania in New York. The event is free and open to the public.

Source: Hartford Courant