Khaykl Lunski

Processed by Ezekiel Lipschutz, Chava Lapin and Rivka Schiller. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison. Finding Aid edited, encoded, and posted online, thanks to a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Ezekiel Lipschutz compiled and wrote a Yiddish finding aid for RG 3, Collection of Yiddish Literature and Language, ca. 1950. This finding aid was translated from Yiddish by Chava Lapin and edited by Rivka Schiller, 2007-2008 with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation. The Papers of Khaykl Lunski were extracted from RG 3 to form their own record group, RG 58.

Collection Overview

Title: Khaykl Lunski

Predominant Dates:bulk 1900-1935

ID: RG 58 FA

Extent: 1.25 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The collection was formerly part of Record Group 3, from which it was extracted to form a separate record group, RG 58. The folder arrangement was maintained. RG 3 is a segment of a larger block of the Vilna YIVO records within which all folders are numbered consecutively. Record Group 3 begins at folder 1701 and continues through folder 3402, within which the folders of RG 58 are numbered from 2311 to 2350B. The Lunski materials are arranged in one series.


The Papers of Khaykl Lunski are comprised of Lunski’s manuscripts and correspondence and documents from the administrative files of the Strashun Library and the S. Ansky Historical Ethnographic Society in Vilna. These materials were part of the YIVO Archives in Vilna before 1941, which were recovered by YIVO in New York in 1947. The papers were reassembled in the YIVO Archives in New York circa 1950.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The materials in this collection are composed of Khaykl Lunski’s written works, as well as materials he collected for the Strashun Library. These include biographical profiles of rabbinic figures such as the Vilna Gaon, articles on the history of the Jewish community of Slonim, materials pertaining to various religious, social welfare, and educational institutions, administrative notes, minutes, bulletins, salary records, and bibliographic notes of the Strashun Library, correspondence with writers, rabbinical figures, educators, historians, religious institutions in Palestine, personal and family correspondence, and newspaper articles regarding Lunski.

The collection is 1.3 linear feet and dates from 1885-1941, the bulk of which are from 1900-1935. The majority of the materials are in Yiddish and Hebrew, although there are some materials in Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, German, English, and French.

Khaykl Lunski’s papers were presumably mixed with other looted collections from the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg unit. In 1945, these and other Jewish materials from Eastern Europe were placed by the U.S. Army in the Offenbach archival depot, from which they were subsequently redistributed among archives and libraries. The Lunski papers, together with volumes from the Strashun Library, were recovered after the war and brought to YIVO in New York in 1947. They were originally part of the collection arranged as RG 3, Collection of Yiddish Literature and Language, by Ezekiel Lifschutz, ca. 1950, who also created a finding aid in Yiddish. RG 3 is arranged as a reference collection in which documents from various individual collections that refer to Yiddish writers are assembled in folders according to the writer’s name. In 2007-2008 the finding aid for RG 3 was translated into English by Chava Lapin and edited by Rivka Schiller.

Historical Note

Khaykl Lunski was born on June 29, 1881(?) in Slonim, Russia (now Belarus). His father was a melamed (religious schoolteacher) and was descended from a rabbinical family from Koenigsberg (Krolewiec). From a young age, Lunski received a traditional Jewish education, attending kheyder and then the yeshivas of Slonim and Lida. In 1892 he came to Vilna, where he spent two years as a shammes (beadle) in a small synagogue.

In 1895 Lunski began working for the Strashun Library, the Jewish library run by the Vilna kehilla (community), for which he collected books, rare manuscripts and historical documents. He remained there as a librarian until the liquidation of the library by the Nazis in 1941. In 1918, he assisted S. Ansky in establishing the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society in Vilna and collected thousands of documents, books, pictures, pinkasim (record books of Jewish communities), and folklore materials for the Society and for its publications. He became secretary of the Jewish Historical Ethnographic Society in 1919 and was also an active member of the Bibliographic Center of the YIVO in Vilna.

Lunski’s literary career began with some Zionist poetry, which he published in Luah Eretz-Yisrael (Calendar of Israel) in 1905. He began his Yiddish literary activities in 1917, publishing an essay in the Vilner Zamlbukh (Vilna Collection). In later years he published essays, articles, books on the history of Vilna Jews during World War I, biographies of rabbis and religious scholars, including the rabbi of Slonim and the Vilna Gaon, a memoir of S. Ansky, a catalogue of the Strashun Library, and several other works. He also collected thousands of books for the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Just prior to the Second World War, Lunski was in the process of writing a history of the Jewish community of Slonim. In all probability, this work was lost during the war.

During the Nazi occupation of Vilna, the Strashun Library and YIVO Library and Archives were liquidated. Lunski and other members of Vilna’s Jewish intelligentsia were forced, along with other Jews from the Vilna Ghetto, to work for the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, a Nazi unit involved in looting Jewish cultural property in the occupied countries. Lunski was made to sort, pack, and ship thousands of Jewish books and archival materials from the Strashun Library, mainly to the NSDAP Institut zur Erfoschung die Judenfrage in Frankfurt a/Main. He continued writing while in the Vilna Ghetto, writing about the gravestones in the old Jewish cemetery in Vilna and about Jewish publishing in Vilna. He also kept a ghetto diary. These works also appear to have been lost.

The information concerning Lunski’s death is contradictory. Shmerke Kaczerginski claimed that Lunski was deported to Treblinka together with his daughter Khana, while other accounts say that he was beaten to death in September 1942.

Profiles of a Lost World: Memoirs of East European Jewish Life before World War II. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 1999.

Jeshurin, Efim, ed. Vilne: A zamelbukh gevidmet der shtot Vilne. (Vilna: A Collection Dedicated to the City of Vilna). New York: Vilner 367 Brentsh, Arbayter Ring, 1935.

Kruk, Herman. The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2002.

Congress for Jewish Culture, ed. Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur. (Lexicon of the New Jewish Literature). New York: 1963.

Subject/Index Terms

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist.

Use Restrictions: Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives. For more information, contact: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 email:

Acquisition Method: Recovered by the YIVO Archives in New York in 1947.

Separated Materials: There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.

Related Materials: The Papers of Khaykl Lunski were originally part of RG 3, Yiddish Literature and Language Collection, with which they share a provenance. RG 55, Yiddish Writers and Journalists Union, was also originally part of RG 3, as was RG 57, Papers of Nahum Shtif. The YIVO Archives also has other archival and library materials from the Strashun Library, of which Lunski was the long-time librarian, as well as several books by Lunski.

Preferred Citation: Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of Khaykl Lunski; RG 58; folder number; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

Series1:]] Papers of Khaykl Lunski, 1885-1941,

Series 1: Papers of Khaykl Lunski, 1885-1941
Extent: 43
Folder 2311: Biography of Lunski's grandfather Rabbi Mordechai Weitzel, 1916
Chief of Bet-Din of Slonim, written by Lunski
Folder 2312: Yidishe gedoylim fun noentn over (Great Jewish Personalities in the Recent Past), undated
manuscript, by Lunski
Folder 2313: History of Slonim; Jews in Slonim, undated
manuscripts, by Lunski
Folder 2314: Materials about institutions, 1901-1920
documents about the Magidby-laws of the Shomrei Torah Societyresolutions at the meetings of the Valk-kloyz of Ha'azinumaterials about: Agudas AkhimYEKOPOHIASAgudas Marbitsey ToyreJewish Teachers' SeminaryOld Peoples’ HomeBurial Society “Bring Salvation”about needy persons who have asked for help
Folder 2315: Rebbes and Rabbis, undated
the Minsk "Godl" the first anniversary of the great Gaon, R. Raphael Gordon
Folder 2316: Magid of Kelm and the Gaon of Vilna and his followers, 1912, undated
miscellaneous sheets and notes, by Lunski
Folder 2317: The Gaon of Vilna, R. Eli, son of Shloyme Zalman, undated
proofsheets, by Lunski
Folder 2318: Outcry against the Russian Law of 1855 calling for the creation of Jewish schools, undated
copy of the edict
Folder 2319: Strashun Library, 1899-1941
bibliographical notesproposed rules for the administration of the libraryminutes of an administrative sessioncopy of a bulletin: To American Jewry, to American writers and Vilna Landslaytletters to the library administration and to M. Strashunnotes on the history of the librarynotes on books receivedsalary recordsdescription of the library, 3/18/1941
Folder 2320: Correspondence, 1898-1939
copies of letters to: AntokolskiShimon Hakohen, 1898Yosef Opatoshu, 1939letters from: Rabbi Yitshok Blaser to Yekusiel Mankevitch, 1905A. M. Bernstein, 1925-1930
Folder 2321: Correspondence, 1903-1912
letters from: Khaya, Lifshe and Abraham Yankev Brock (Bruk)to: Khaya Brock (Lunski's future wife)Refoel Nathan KuliszewskiFanny Abramowitz
Folder 2322: Correspondence, 1902-1940
letters from: Benjamin Lunianski, 1910 Chaim Liberman, 1936-1940 (also copy of a reply by Lunski) Hayim Libovits, 1911 Yom Tov Lewinski J. A. Daynovski, 1936-1937from Mordkhe Note Wigodski, 1902 Rabbi Nisn Waksman Mordkhe Vaytsl, 1910 Yitshok Broydes, 1933 Rabbi Shmuel Yehoshua Vaytsl K. Likhtenshteyn, 1933 Yankev ben Yankev
Folder 2323: Correspondence, 1894-1938
letters from: L. Etinger to S. Dubnow, 1894 Gershon Pludermacher Rabbi S. FriedHillel Zeitlin, 1923, 1936Pinkhas Kon, 1926-1927Rabbi Shimon Kaniak, 1934-1936Yosef Kaplan, 1914Pesakh Kaplan, 1928-1935 Yitskhok Rivkind, 1938 Sara Reisin letters by Lunski and copies of letters to: Pupko, 1937 Z. Reisen Khana Shapiro, 1926 (a few words at the Shloyshim)
Folder 2324: Correspondence, 1887-1938
letters from: Pinye Abramowitz A. Z. Baron Mendl Buski Eliezer Bukstein Shloyme Berman Sheyne and M. Garfinkl Itke Dworetzki Hirsh Harbowski Rivke Heilpern Roza Hirsh Rabbi M. HalinskiNathaniel Woliwelieki A. Volfson Yitskhok Volfson David Hakoen Triviush Hayim Libovits Shamay Lisvitski F. Margolin Salutski Yitskhok Stotland Tsvi Moyshe Skidl Yosef Poretski J. Palatnik Friedman J. Frenkel David Yidl Kafion Sholem Mordkhe Katzenellenbogen Hayim Klein Rabbi Eliezer Lipa Klepfish Mordkhe Raduminski Kh. Shapiro Tsvi Sharubin (?) Yitskhok Yankev Shvartzberg Berl Schumache Yitskhok ShtatlikhStrashun A. L. Sheynhoyz
Folder 2325: Correspondence, 1885-1933
letters to Lunski, sender unknown
Folder 2326: Family correspondence, 1905-1913
from Rabbi A. J. Bruk, Lunski's father-in-law and his sisters-in-law, Lifshe and Sore
Folder 2327: Family correspondence, 1900-1926
from brothers Abraham and Aaron, mother Dina, sisters Zlate and Eydl, wife Khaya, father Shmuel Osher Haleyvi
Folder 2328: Family correspondence, 1928-1935
from his daughter Khana
Folder 2329: Family correspondence, 1901-1906
letters from Mordkhe Note and Yisroel Simkhe Haleyvi Lunski
Folder 2330: Family correspondence, 1911-1934
from his son Moyshe
Folder 2331: Family correspondence, 1899-1913
from his brothers Shloyme and Shmuel Osher
Folder 2332: Family correspondence, 1904-1934
from family members
Folder 2333: Family correspondence, 1900-1934
from close relatives without signatures
Folder 2334: Family correspondence, 1900-1912
to his wife Khaya
Folder 2335: Family correspondence, 1898-1936
copies of letters to his mother, mother-in-law, sisters, brothers and children
Folder 2336: Correspondence, 1902-1939
copies of letters to: Reb AaronA. AysenshtatYosef BergerH. BermanYitshok BroydesS. GinzburgNathan GenshRabbi Khayim Oyzer GrodzienskiShmuel HurwitzIsrael HeilprinRabbi Shmuel Yehoshua VaytslMoyshe ZabalskiYankev ben YankevA. LitwinHayim LibovitsNakhmen MayzelA. MorewskiS. NigerEliyohu SoyferDr. EliasohnS. PoznanskiJ. PupkoShoshana PersitsHillel ZeitlinFranz KablerYefim JeshurunH. KamenieckiRabbi Shimen KaniakH. RubinowDr. Yitskhok RivkindYitskhok RubinsteinDr. Emanuel RingelblumRingelbaumHirsh SharubskiDr. Yankev SchatzkiRivke SchenkmanM. Strashun
Folder 2337: Correspondence, 1919-1926
letters to: the Writers Union, 1919-1926Library of the Hebrew University (copy)to the trustees of the Vilna Burial Societysome of the letters to his landlord
Folder 2338: Private documents, 1916-1924
medical recordsofficial reports and certificates
Folder 2339: Bibliographical notes, 1903-1935
about books in the Strashun Libraryabout Lunski's own booksnotes about the students of the Gaon of Vilna, personalities of Slonim and notes about authorscopies of letters to: Refoel RabinowiczHayim Jeshurun greetings in honor of Prof. Moshe Schorr's 60th birthday
Folder 2340: Khumesh (Pentateuch) dictionary, 1900-1935
dictionary, 1900-1909accountssynagoguecare of sickdebts, 1926address book
Folder 2341A: Bibliographical notes on Jewish books, 1911-1915
Folder 2341B: Documents about various communal matters, undated
Folder 2342: Notes on books, 1929
Lunski's letters about his difficulties in the Strashun Library
Folder 2343: Transcription of musar (secular) books, undated
Folder 2344: Letters and announcements from various social institutions, 1905-1936
Jewish National and University LibraryJewish Historical Ethnographic SocietyHevrah Mefitsei Haskalah (Society for the Promotion of Culture)Friends of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
Folder 2345: Minutes and correspondence of the S. Ansky Society, 1918-1936
Folder 2346: Correspondence from Palestine institutions, 1903-1914
copy of a letter by Lunski to Koylel Khabad in Jerusalem about his late fatherother correspondence
Folder 2347: Private documents, 1919-1930
draft of a willepitaph for Lunski's mother's gravestoneprotest against Soviet requisition of flour in Vilna, 1919
Folder 2348: Correspondence, 1903-1923
letters from Jacob Waisbord at Hotel Amdurski to Mankiewicz, 1903from Zvi Kriviski to his fatherfrom the Teachers' Seminary, Vilna, 1923
Folder 2349: Notes by Enokh Weinstein, 1930-1931
about the Kovl Khalutz
Folder 2350: Notes by Lunski, 1917-1919
memoirs concerning RatnerPesakh 1919 (about A. Veiter)memoirs of the year 1917
Folder 2350A: Newspaper journal articles by and pertaining to Lunski, 1914-1939
Folder 2350B: Miscellaneous fragments, 1905-1934
notes, copies, parts of letters, a list of the yeshiva students and teachers in Vilna, 1915-1917

Browse by Series:

Series1:]] Papers of Khaykl Lunski, 1885-1941,

Archive powered by Archon Version 3.14
Copyright © 2011 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign