“During the Fall 2016 semester, Noah Lapidus, an International Affairs major and Jewish Studies minor who received the Ruderman Foundation scholarship in 2016, studied at Vilnius University in Lithuania. In addition to his studies, Lapidus also set out on a personal journey to visit the 21 towns where his ancestors had lived and to explore the remnants of Ashkenazi heritage in Eastern Europe. (To discover how Lapidus learned about his ancestors’ origins, click here.) Lapidus recounted his experiences in his daily blog, The Shtetl Shlepper: Noah Travels the Old Country, which provides a fascinating account of his exploration and those of so many other Jews whose families lived and died in that region” –Haverim Newsletter of the Jewish Studies Program at Northeastern University
Many thanks to all those whom without I would not have made it through this exhausting journey…
Amit Belaite (president of the Lithuanian Union of Jewish Students) who welcomed me with open arms into the historic Jewish community of Lithuania, which persists vibrantly despite centuries of oppression due to passionate efforts by locals like her.
Professor Dovid Katz (preeminent Yiddish scholar) who enriched my journey with his frequent lectures and Yiddish Literary Circles, who showed me that our Litvak heritage is salvageable if we indulge it.
Regina Kopilevich (Jewish heritage tour guide based in Vilnius) whose wealth of knowledge enhanced my travels in Lithuania beyond expectations. Not only did she serve as a faithful navigator through shtetls and archives, but also as a mentor, resource, and friend during my time abroad.
Darina Privalko (founder of jukraine.com), who organized unforgettable tours through Belarus and Ukraine.
Rabbi Grisha Abramovich (Chief Rabbi of Progressive Jewish Community of Belarus) who guided me through Belarus with our beloved driver Pasha. Grisha used his many connections throughout the country to make the most of my limited time in each shtetl.
Tanya Firman (Jewish heritage tour guide based in Drohobycz) whose assistance on my first day in Europe set the tone for my time abroad.
Samantha and Chase, my friends from America, whose company made me feel a little closer to home at times when I really needed it.
The young people of Nadvirna, Ukraine who fed us, housed us, and made us feel like locals while our car was being repaired. What we’d expected to be a disastrous weekend turned into one of the most memorable of my entire journey.
The many friends I made from around the world at Vilnius University, including the Dutch trio, Kristiaan, Daniel, and Robbin, who encouraged me to explore and experience modern Europe even when I was most entrenched in the past.
Northeastern University Department of Jewish Studies for generously awarding me their Ruderman Scholarship, which without, this life-changing trip would not have been possible.