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The Genius$
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Eliyahu Stern

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300179309

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300179309.001.0001

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Elijah and Vilna in Historical Perspective

Elijah and Vilna in Historical Perspective

(p.13) 1 Elijah and Vilna in Historical Perspective
The Genius

Eliyahu Stern

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between Elijah “the Genius of Vilna” or “Gaon” ben Solomon and his city of Vilna, the “mother of eastern European Jewry.” It explains that during the nineteenth century, Vilna and Gaon became synonymous. Over the course of the Genius' life, Vilna was transformed from a poor town into an economic and intellectual center for the Jews. It argues that Elijah's genius singlehandedly turned what otherwise might have been simply a demographically and economically vibrant town into the center of the Jewish intellectual aristocracy. It adds that Vilna's Jewish population boom turned the city into a patron sage of modern Jewry.

Keywords:   Gaon, Vilna, Jewry, intellectual center, nineteenth century

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