Yeshiva in Volozhin

Yeshiva in Volozhin


Architecture, Industrial buildings

A Yeshiva in Volozhin is a prime example in the history of the Jewish spiritual education and training of rabbis, known far beyond the borders of Eastern Europe.

Officially, the day of "open doors" is considered to be 1806, but this place has begun to operate three years earlier. Many times it was forcibly closed by the authorities, but the learning process continued despite the temporary difficulties. According to historical data, the reason for that was disobedience of Yeshiva leadership in making the study of Russian language as compulsory at the appropriate level for such Jewish institutions as well as a number of secular sciences and reducing training time. Self-learning process was continuous, and paramount in tough self-study of the Talmud and self-control was the fundamental success grade for boys, because examinations weren’t given to students.


Yeshiva - "Etz-a-Hayim " that means "Tree of Life".

Students felt like one family in spiritual institutions, helped each other in training and logistics. The number of students had increased every year, coming from all over the world.

The American Jewish community provided the weightiest financial support. However, many such communities in several countries were involved in that process.

Despite the closure of the first places by the local authorities in 1824, Yeshiva continued to function. And in 1843, p. Isaac (head of the Volozhin Yeshiva after his father's death, p. Hayyim) participated in the first Rabbinical Commission. By that time, the rosh yeshiva (head of the Yeshiva) legalized the existence of the institution (not without the knowledge of the authorities) in St. Petersburg.

As a result, Naftali Berlin took over the reins after the death of p. Hayyim. And then the hard pressure from the government began, unfriendly relating to such institutions, in particular to the Volozhin Yeshiva.


That is how the government has responded (not without the participation of the Jews themselves) to anti-enlightened spiritual development training of rabbis. As a result, Yeshiva was officially closed on 6 April 1858, citing "adverse direction" of the institution.

P. Berlin explained in an open letter, published in the edition of the well-known St. Petersburg Jewish newspaper, that with the innovation of a number of secular sciences authority of the Volozhin Yeshiva (known as "Em Kha Eshivot" Hebrew. "Yeshiva’s mother") clearly paled. And it, in turn, affected on the financial donations, thanks to which the institution existed as a bastion of true Talmudic.

Soon, the Minister of Education I. Delianov obligated Yeshiva henceforth learn Russian, approved the "Rules of the Volozhin Yeshiva." However, p. Berlin refused to accept those 'rules', then, on 22 January 1892, Volozhin spiritual depository of enlightenment again was closed by the government order.

Fanatical p. Berlin was going through difficult closing of Yeshiva and ill even while staying in Warsaw, after the expulsion from Volozhin. He died in 1893.

Only that "hotbed of fanatical rabbis" was closed, but changes didn’t concern training programme in a number of other similar establishments.

As a result, the Volozhin Yeshiva was reopened without innovations and corrections of a training plan for future rabbis a few years later.

Back to the list