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Lithuania was the cradle of the yeshiva movement, and the Yeshiva of Volozhin was the first and most influential of the Lithuanian yeshivot. Under the influence of its founder, Rabbi Haim of Volozhin, the Yeshiva took over the teaching method of the beloved Rabbi Elijah, Gaon of Vilna, who had been Rabbi Haim’s rabbi and teacher. The method, briefly, consisted of intensifying and broadening, while at the same time simplifying, the study of the Talmud. The heads of the Yeshiva, including Rabbi Naphtali Zvi Berlin, Rabbi Joseph Baer Soloveichik, and his son Rabbi Hayim Soloveichik of Brest-Litovsk, were among the most revered Talmudists of their time. Their students later founded yeshivot patterned after the Yeshiva of Volozhin throughout Lithuania.

The history of the Yeshiva of Volozin was a stormy one. Founded in 1803, it was closed by Russian edict in 1824, to be reopened later. In 1858, its doors were once again barred, but again it was reopened for study. In 1892, it was closed for the last time; there was no appealing the decision. But “illegal” study continued until World War I. Volozhin left its mark on all the great yeshivot of Lithuania and has strongly influenced the development of present systems of study in the U.S. and Israel.

Scientist, educator, author. Born in Ukraine, Waksman came to the U.S. in 1910. By 1938, he was recognized as one of the world’s authorities on soil microbiology. With the outbreak of World War II, Waksman’s interest shifted from soil study to disease causes in humans and animals, and began intensive work on the development of antibiotics, substances which destroy or arrest the growth of certain disease-causing microbes. In 1952, Waksman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his work in antibiotics and for the development of streptomycin, an invaluable antibiotic for fighting tuberculosis. He donated all royalties from his discoveries to Rutgers University for the creation of the Institute of Microbiology, of which he was director. He was the holder of a number of honorary degrees. In 1952, Waksman traveled to Israel on the invitation of the government, to advise upon the construction of a new antibiotic center there.

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