||A one-time issue of a newspaper which appeared in Kislev, 5695 [December 1934]. The price is listed as 10 groshen. The newspaper was put out by the chief committee of Agudas Israel in Wilno. The editor was S.Tchederovski. The headline on the first page reads: "To all religious Jews." Authors of the various articles include: Moshe Gershon Rosenberg of Pinsk, Moshe Lezovnik (Lomza), H. Kronzshek (Brisk), M. Rappaport (Brisk), A.H. Goldberg (Skidel), Reuven Cohen, and others. One article is a digest from the talks of the Chofetz Haim (R. Israel Meir HaKohen Kagen).
From February 1922 until September 1939, Vilna remained part of Poland. This period was marked by incessant tension between Poles and Jews, including the boycotting of Jewish stores, prohibitions on kosher slaughter, deliberate discrimination against Jewish students at the local university (from 1931 on), and physical attacks that frequently escalated into pogroms. The economic status of the city’s Jews also deteriorated. Overcrowding, increasing unemployment, and stiff competition resulting in the closing of workshops and factories all contributed to a rise in the number of those requiring assistance from welfare institutions.
During this period, the communal administration operated under extremely difficult conditions resulting from the hostile attitude of Polish authorities, the precarious economic situation, and internal tensions within the Jewish community. Given this situation, in 1935 the representative bodies of the community were disbanded and replaced by a special executive that was appointed for a period of two years. In a parallel development, Jewish representatives were elected to the Vilna city council. Following the annexation of Vilna by Poland, a number of the city’s Jews were elected to the Polish Sejm and senate, including Jakub Wygodski and Yitshak Rubinstein. Nonetheless, as a result of widespread antisemitism in many segments of Polish society, the 1930s witnessed a gradual decline in the involvement as well as the degree of influence of Vilna’s Jews in these bodies.
Though still under Polish rule, Vilna remained the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” (that is, the city of Litvaks, not a Polish Jewish city). Indeed, the city’s cultural importance far exceeded its size. In 1915, a Hebrew gymnasium was established, and after the war a variety of educational institutions (kindergartens, schools, gymnasia) affiliated with various movements were also founded, including Tarbut (Hebrew); Tsentraler Bildungs Komitet (Yiddish), Shul Kult (Yiddish), Tahkemoni (National Religious), and Yavneh (Ḥaredi).
Diverse political opinions found expression in a variety of newspapers and magazines, among them Di tsayt, Der verker, Dos yidishe folk, Der tog, Yidishe tsaytung, Tog, and Unzer fraynd. The lively cultural scene included painting (Mosheh Leibovski, Ber Zalkind), theater (Vilna Troupe, Yidisher Populerer Teater, Ha-Studia ha-Dramatit, Habimah ha-‘Ivrit), opera and music groups (Makhon le-Musikah, Agudah Filharmonit), and sports clubs (Maccabi). Historical and ethnographic research (Society for History and Ethnography) could be conducted in several libraries (the Strashun Library and the library of the Society for the Dissemination of the Haskalah and YIVO).
Zionist activity led to an increase in immigration to Palestine. For example, 1933 saw 2,800 Jewish immigrants from Vilna, representing roughly 35 percent of the total number of immigrants from all of Poland. The organizational and political frameworks of Orthodox circles were provided by the local branch of Agudas Yisroel, founded by Hayim Ozer Grodzinski in late 1919. This group was active in both local communal and municipal affairs. A significant part of its activity was educational, leading to the establishment of a council of yeshivas in 1924. Its official organ was the newspaper Dos vort.