YIVO Institute to Receive Major Gift to Create New Gallery

Mar 07, 2011, 11:11 ET from YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

NEW YORK, March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is proud to announce a major gift to be received from Leon Wagner and Harry Wagner to create a gallery to honor the memory of their parents, as well as the lost Jewish community of Vilna where their  parents were born. "The Sima and Rubin Wagner Vilna Gallery" will feature new exhibition spaces and a multimedia area highlighting the 85-year history of YIVO and its contemporary relevance.

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A special highlight of "The Sima and Rubin Wagner Vilna Gallery," once it is completed, will be audio clips of the eyewitness accounts of Vilna survivors and musical clips of Vilna ghetto songs that are still sung today.

"This gift to YIVO will serve to remind each visitor of the central importance of family, and particularly those family members who survived the Holocaust to build new lives in America," noted Ella Levine, Director of Development & External Affairs at YIVO. "It will simultaneously tell the story of one extended family, the pre-war Jewish community of Vilna, and how YIVO is intertwined in the personal and world history. As children of Holocaust survivors, we are keepers of our parents' legacy. It is our responsibility to bring this legacy to current and future generations."

"The Sima and Rubin Wagner Vilna Gallery" will celebrate several generations of the Wagner family and the connections to their East European roots.  Many Wagner family images and other items will be incorporated into exhibitions supplemented by materials from the YIVO Archives and Library.

Harry Wagner and Leon Wagner have been longtime friends of YIVO. They and their extended families were honored at the 9th Annual YIVO Heritage Dinner in 2010, where Sima and Rubin were also remembered and saluted. The family received YIVO's Vilna Award. At this dinner, Rabbi Howard Buechler, who knew Sima and Ruby, traced their history and spoke about their connection to the broader history of Vilna Jewry in America. Harry Wagner, born just after the war in the Heidenheim DP Camp, came to America with Sima and Ruby in 1949. Leon Wagner was the first American-born member of the family.

For information on creating a tribute naming opportunity at YIVO, please contact Ella Levine at 212-294-6128 or elevine@yivo.cjh.org.

YIVO, founded in 1925, in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), is devoted to the study of East European Jewish life, the Yiddish language, and the American Jewish immigrant experience.  The YIVO Library holds more than 385,000 books and other printed material in twelve major languages; the Archives have 23,000,000 artifacts on East European and American Jewish subjects.  YIVO is an unprecedented repository of Jewish life and culture, preserving the primary artifacts of the Ashkenazic cultural legacy, and teaching it to new generations. YIVO offers a wide range of cultural programs, Yiddish language classes, scholarly publications, and research and graduate fellowships.

SOURCE YIVO Institute for Jewish Research