Photo taken by Ted Margulis in Svencionys
They do remember! A Lithuanian lady walks past the Jewish Memorial to the Jews Murdered in the Holocaust. This statue is located in the "Jewish Ghetto Park"
Lithuania (Liutuviskai, Lietuvi, Litovskiy, Litewski, Litauische)
Situated along the Baltic Sea, the main seaport is Memel (under German rule) and today it is known as Klaipeda. Lithuania is an independent country that was formerly occupied by Russia. Jews from central Europe first settled in the country during the second half of the 14th century. Jews, in this country, enjoyed tremendous political and cultural influence that reverberated throughout the entire Diaspora.What's a Litvak?
The borders of modern Lithuanian have nothing to do with being a Litvak. In fact, in Yiddish a Lithuanian (non-Jew) is called a "Litviner," not a Litvak. I'm not exactly sure, but the term Litvak means anyone who lived under Lithuanian rule in the 16th to 17th century, which includes a vast area to the east, south, and west of Lithuania today. This would include Bialystok in Poland, Minsk in Belarus and beyond. Moreover, in the 19th century, Litvaks moved all over, into what is Poland today - to Lodz where they set up the textile industry. It is also estimate that about 1/3 of Warsaw's Jewry in the late 19th century was Litvak, even though Warsaw was not part of the traditional Litvak homeland. Warsaw, like Lodz, was a town of immigration, and Litvak streamed there to find work and set up businesses. From a posting by Harold Rhode on LitvakSig
Litvak comes from the word 'Lite' which is Lithuania in Yiddish. It applies to Jews in the ill-defined borders of the Dukedom of Lithuania in the 17 and 18th centuries, which included parts of Belorussian and Poland, but not most of Latvia (Courland). It also refers to Yiddish speakers with a Litvak accent, a version of Yiddish that extended through the Lomza-Suwalki and Vitebsk Guberniyas, a least. From a posting by Zvi Griliches
Censuses from as early as 1670 have been located in the Lithuanian State Archives proving that Jews have lived in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Further proof can be found in my Lithuanian Shtetls page under Vilnius. The Duchy constituted the entire northern half of what became the Pale of Settlement including the Guberniyas of Grodno, Kovno, Minsk, Mogilev, Vilna and Vitebsk.
Brest-Litovsk and Grodno, today both are located in Belarus, were originally part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Duke Vitold gave the Jews from Poland charters to establish themselves in these two communities, similar to those granted by Bolislav the Pious to the Jews of Great Poland. Some of those Jews originally came from Oriental countries, including a few of them from Khazar stock.
The border between Lithuania and Kourland was always a subject of disputes and disagreements. Documents for 1473, 1505, 1535, 1541, to 1545 are published by K. Gadebush. "Livlaendische Bibliothek nach Alphabetischer Ordnung". Riga, 1777. Th. 1. Ab. 2 ## 71, 101, 128, 134, 138.
Documents for 1566 and 1585 are published in the same place Th. 2. Ab. 1. ## 51, 179.
These borders repeatedly changed. The Russian Imperial Government changed borders between Kovno province and Kourland province. Borders changed also after the First world war. Submitted by Anatolij Chayesh. St. Petersburg. Russia.
"Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus were part of Poland or rather Poland-Lithuanian commonwealth from 1384 till the end of 18 century."
"In its greatest extend Commonwealth included what became known as East Prussia, Latvia, Estonia, virtually all land from the Baltic to the Black Sea, including Kiev, and at the some time, also Moscow and the surroundings"
"What we know as Ukrainian or Russian Jews, they have actually originated from Polish Jewry, who have been settled in those enormous territories by Polish magnates in order to colonize them." From a posting by Alexander Sharon.
Of the 220,000 Jews who lived in Lithuania under the Nazi occupation, 212,000 were murdered during the Holocaust, many, if not most, by local Nazi collaborators. That's about 95% of the prewar Jewish population! This is one of the highest rates of killings in Nazi-occupied Europe - the largest percentage of all European countries.
Not one known collaborator has ever been prosecuted for their crime in Lithuania to date. In 1939, after some territorial adjustments, the population of Lithuania was just under 3,000,000 of which about 9% (270,000) were Jews. Only 6,000 survived the Holocaust. There is still a Jewish community in Lithuania numbering 5,000 and most living in Vilnius. Most are pensioners.
Many Jewish records from four formerly (Southern) Lithuanian districts are known to be in the State Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno; other Jewish records for the same towns are in Vilnius.
Vilnius (Vilna) once had a population that was 55 percent Jewish and at the turn of the century was called the 'Jerusalem of Lithuania'. That ended with a genocide beginning in the summer of 1941 that was finished, for most part, by November of the same year.
My wife Shirley and I traveled the road from Vilnius (Vilna in Yiddish) to Memel (Klaipeda today), with a short detour to Plunge where we had the opportunity to meet the only Jew left in that small town -Yossel Bunka. You may (or perhaps will) hear of Yossel if you ever travel Lithuania, for he is a world renown wood sculpture. Most of what he hand carves deals with either a Jewish or Holocaust theme. I have several of his wood carvings on my desk top to remind me of our meeting. This will be a story that I must tell you, while I've got your attention. It's worth sharing.
Shirley and I used an interpreter while traveling Lithuania and he was explaining something to Yossel, who would then reply in Lithuanian when both of us detected a Yiddish word coming from Yossel. My wife speaks Yiddish, so she asked Yossel if he too spoke Yiddish and he answered with a rather surprised yes! Then Shirley apologized for her rather crude use of Yiddish and stated that she hadn't really had the opportunity to speak Yiddish for more than 50 years. Yossel looked at both of us, and we could see a tear roll down his cheek, as he said to us in Yiddish "neither have I!" That moment will always be treasured by the three of us as we had found a common ground.
My maternal grandmother's family had lived in both Plunge and Telsai, which is only a few miles further down the road, and that explains why we were there visiting the area. Our travels also took us to Klaipeda where my great grand grandparents (Cohen) had lived until their deaths in the late 1800s. We spent a night in Klaipeda. We also did a day trips to Plunge and Svencionys, a small shtetl near the border of Belarus where my maternal family had also lived.
We received from Galina Baranova, the Chief Archivist of the State Historical Archives in Vilnius, a number of documents that she had found relating to my ancestors including Revision Lists. By the way, Galina was born in Russia and has lived in Lithuania for many years.
Grand Duchy of Lithuania Project
The Grand Duchy Research Project identifies documents relating to the lives of Jewish families who live in Poland-Lithuania during the 17th and 18th centuries and translates and publishes them on the Jewish Family History Foundation Website. Poll-Tax/census lists made in 1784 and 1765 are the primary documents included in this phase of the project.
"After analyzing more than 600 responses to our survey of ex-South African Litvaks living in Australia and New Zealand, we are writing a book about this unique migration.
In the chapter on the Lithuania from which our ancestors departed, we are trying to understand the numbers. According to the census data we have found for 1897, there were 697,800 Jews in Lithuania, plus another 57,200 in Suwalki Guberniya, giving a total of 755,000.
According to Dov Levin, there were 150,000 in Lithuania when the Germans invaded in 1941. That means that roughly 600,000 had emigrated between 1897 and 1941 (of course, some died in Lithuania during those four decades).
Can anyone tell us roughly how many went to the USA, Britain, South America, South Africa, Canada and other immigrant host countries? We understand that 15,000 families went to South Africa.
If you can help with a reference to the source of information, we would really appreciate it.
From a posting by Dr Peter Arnold with Prof Colin Tatz and Prof Gillian Heller '2nd Litvak Diaspora' Study Edgecliff (Sydney) NSW 2027 AUSTRALIA
Books published by the Jewish State Museum of Lithuania can be purchased from:
Jewish State Museum of Lithuania
2001 Vilnius, Lithuania
"Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man"
Authored by Howard Pollack. This biography reveals his Litvak roots. Copland's father, Harris Kaplan was from Shavli. His mother was Sarah Mittenthan from Vishtinetz.
"Accessible Vital Records For Jews, Germans, Ukrainians and Poles in Galicia, Volhynia, Lithuania and Latvia A Second Zabuzanski Collection"
Available at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library. Other Libraries may also have a copy. Brian Lenius is Chairperson and Editor of East European Genealogist.
"Afrikaner Yidishe Tzeitung"
Just one of many articles available at this site
"A Jewish Life Under The Tsars: The autobiography of Chaim Asonson, 1825-1888"
Authored by Ira Leibowitz. To read the review of the gook, which gives some insight into life in that period in Serednik, Russia (now Seredzius, Lithuania) as well as in Shadova (Seduva), Kurtovian (Kurtuvenai), Mitau (Jelgava, Latvia) and Telz (Telsai) Published in Totowa, N.J. by Allanheld, Osmun & Co., 1983. Translated from the Hebrew by Norman Marsden. 287 pages,
"AJHS Manuscript Catalog"
"Annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry"
Author Rabbi Ephraim Oshry and published by the Judaica Press in 1995. It has a long list of names in the index, pictures and short histories of several of the larger towns in Lithuania.
"The Children of the Vilna Gaon"
Authored by Chaim Freedman. One of the important books published by Avotaynu was "Eliyahu's Branches: The Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family." It documents more than 20,000 descendants of this great Jewish scholar. Equally important, its author, Freedman, theorized on the genealogy of the immediate descendants of the Gaon -- his children and grandchildren--from the scant documentation available when the book was published. Freedman recently stated that one of his theories, that the Goan's son Avraham Vilner was born in 1765, has been confirmed. A 1795 Vilna census/tax list includes Abraham and records his age as 30. Information about the book can be found at
"The Complete Bibliography of the Works of Professor Dov Levin, 1945 -2000"
"Crossing the River"
Authored by Shalom Eilati. Against the backdrop of Lithuania's occupation - first by the Red Army, next by the Germans, and then again by the Russians - it is a story reflected through the prism of a sharp-eyed child. His story starts in the occupied Kovno Ghetto and ends with his flight across the Soviet border, through Poland and Germany, and finally, his arrival in Israel. "When such testimony is combined with talent as brilliant as that revealed by Shalom Eilati, and when that talent is guided by an artistic sensibility capable of navigating such a complex story, we are able to see it plainly." [A. B. Yehoshua] (2008)
ISBN: 0-8173-1631-0, Cat. No. 6310
"Eliyahu's Branches: The Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and his Family"
Authored by Chaim Freedman and published by Avotaynu in 1997. It includes 20,000 names and a host of biographical and historic details.
"Experiences with Jewish Genealogical Requests and a Review of the Records Stored in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives"
Authored by Galina Baranova, Chief Archivist of the State Historical Archives in Vilnius LITVAKSIG online Journal
"Expulsion and Extermination: Holocaust Testimonials from Provincial Lithuania"
Authored by David Bankier - In June 22, 1941 German troops entered Lithuania, and it was the beginning of the end of the glorious heritage of Lithuanian Jewry. This book describes the annihilation of the Jews in the provincial townlets and villages of Lithuania, based on the testimonies of the survivors. Prof. Bankier selected excerpts from Leyb Koniuchovsky's collection of postwar testimonies in an attempt to describe the process of mass extermination in the various Lithuanian communities. The horror that comes through the testimonies reflects the disbelief that friends and neighbors could become enemies, plunderers and mass murderers. (2011) ISBN: 965-308-396-7, Cat. No. 788
"The Expulsion of the Jews from Lithuania in the Spring of 1915"
A description of political events preceding and accompanying the expulsion of Jews from the western part of Kovno Guberniya, based on the periodical press of 1914-1915, the stenographic minutes of the State Duma, and publications primarily from the interwar period - authored by Anatolij Chayes and published in the February, 2000 issue of LITVAKSIG Journal. You can also find week-to-week reports in English-language Jewish newspapers of the era, such as the Chronicle of London.
The story of Jewish soldiers in the Lithuanian Division of the Red Army during the years 1941-1945. The second, revised edition, was published in 1997 by Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc. 160 Broadway, East Building 9th Floor, New York City. Phone: 1 (212) 374 0100 1 (212) 374 0100. Professor Dov Levin was the author and he indicated that he has hundreds of files of interviews he conducted to create this book. firstname.lastname@example.org
"First Telsai Martyrs 1914-1918"
"From Here to Kovno"
"From Yerushalayim d' Lita"
Authored by Debbie Berliner and published in the July, 2000 issue of LITVAKSIG Journal
Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Lithuania
Authored by Sam Aaron
HaMagid has information on this subject. Jeff indicated that he expects to have a full index to shtetl names which appear in the donor lists of HaMagid for all issues between 1856 and 1900. Though each issue is entirely in Hebrew, the year, volume, month and day are printed in English letters on the front page of each weekly issue. Pages are also numbered. City and town names appear in slightly larger fonts and are often in bold face. Usually they appear under the Hebrew word "nedavot" (donations), and are, more often than not, found in the supplement section to the weekly issue.
The first weekly Hebrew newspaper appearing from 1856 to 1903. Jeff Marx
Jeffrey Maynard mentioned that there are 70 lists from 57 locations - almost 5,500 names.
For the most part, all that is available in HaMagid, according to Jeff Marx, is a name on a list. These lists may enable one to ascertain that a specific family member was actually living at a given date and was residing in a particular city or shtetl as of that date (give or take a few months' lag between the time the donation was made and the donor's name was published in HaMagid) Now and then, the donor may be identified as coming from a smaller town outside the city where the collection took place. Now and then, in HaMagid, the donor is listed with other family members and their relationship is spelled out ("son-in-law of so and so" or "son of so and so")
Finally, when donors are listed in descending order of contributions, it provides a slight clue as to the family member's economic status in the community. While, for the most part, the donor lists in HaMagid do not yield any other significant pieces of information, other than the name, they are worthwhile checking for those rarer times when a 'gem' may be found.
Microfilms of HaMagid are found at the following repositories: Brown University; Columbia University; Cornell University; Harvard University; Hebrew College, Boston; Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati and Los Angeles; Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem; Jewish Theological Seminary, New York; Library of Congress; New York Public Library; Northwestern University, Chicago; Stanford University; University of Ann Arbor; University of California, Berkeley; Washington University, St Louis; Yale University
"Heroism and Bravery in Lithuania, 1941-1945"
Authored by Alex Faitelson in 1996
"Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto"
Published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1997 and can be viewed on the Museum's web site.
"Holocaust in Lithuania 1941-1945, The: A book of Remembrance."
A four volume set records and documents over 50,000 Lithuanian Jewish Holocaust victims and edited and compiled by Rose Lerer Cohen and Saul Issroff.
"In Jewish Autonomy in Poland and Lithuania until 1648 (5408)"
Authored by Professor Shmuel Cygielman and published in Jerusalem, 1997.
"In the Shadow of Death"
Authored by Joseph Foxman | Foreword by Abraham Foxman. Joseph's memoir is brief yet poignant. The fear and trembling in the ghettos in occupied Lithuania, the brutality of work brigades, the determination to save his newborn son Abraham, given to a Catholic woman who baptized him, the thousand ways of avoiding death. Will the reader tomorrow understand what it meant for Jewish parents to be separated from their child?
[Elie Wiesel] (2011, 198 pp.)
ISBN: 0-9814686-5-5, Cat. No. 779
"Jewish Cities, Towns and Villages in Lithuania Until 1918"
Authored by Berl Kagan. A copy is at the YIVO Library in New York. The original printer was Simcha Graphic Associates, 4311 15th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11219 Telephone: 718 854 4830 - 718 854 4830. The book is out of print.
"Jewish Craftsmen in Kaunas Guberniya"
The Jewish Family History Foundation
Dedicated to the preservation, acquisition and dissemination of Jewish records from archives and other repositories in Eastern Europe
"The Jewish State Museum of Lithuania"
Authored by Rachel Kostani - available at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. It provides a condensed history (with photographs) of the Jewish State Museum and of Lithuanian Jewry and includes a summary of ongoing publication projects.
"Jewish Vital Records, Revision Lists and other Holdings in the Lithuanian Archives" (English)
Authored by Harold Rhode and Sallyanne Sack and published by Avotaynu, Inc. in Teaneck, NJ in 1996 A Revision List is a census. A Metrical Book contains vital records.
"The Jews of Lithuania"
Authored by Masha Greenbaum is a history of a remarkable community from 1316 to 1945 and published in Jerusalem in 1955/5755 by Gefen Publishing House Ltd.
"Kaisadorys and Zasliai Cemeteries"
"Kaunas Archive Resources"
"The Kovno Ghetto: A Buried History"
A video produced by A&E TV Channel is available on-line. The catalogue number is 40276 Phone: 1 800-652-9000
"Landscape and Memory"
Authored by Simon Schama - has a large section devoted to Lithuania
"The Last Days of Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944"
In English. A translation of Yiddish diaries of Herman Kruk, a Bundist activist from Warsaw, who fled to Vilna at the beginning of WW II. The book is published jointly by YIVO and Yale University Press with assistance from the Nusach Vilna Society and was edited by Professor Benjamin Harshav, Blaustein Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at Yale, and translated by Barbara Harshav. Available from JewishGen Mall
"Light One Candle"
Authored by Solly Ganor in 1995 deals with the Kovno, Lithuania Ghetto.
"Lite" (Volumes 1 and 2)
At the end of October 2001, Lite (Lithuania) Volumes 1
Yizkor Books were added to the Yizkor Book Translation Donation Fund.
Contact Max Heffler email@example.com if you have a particular town/name you wish translated, and he can determine the amount it will cost to have it translated A translator should run about $25 per page. The Yizkor Book web pages contains translated tables of contents and lists names appearing in each 1000+ page book.
"Lithuanian Archives in the Past and at Present"
Authored by Laima Taulvaisaite, Director of the State Historical Archives - LITVAKSIG Online Journal
"Lithuanian Jewish Communities"
Authored by Nancy and Stuart Schoenberg is an excellent descriptive book of the many shtetls of Lithuania. A good resource.
"Lithuanian Jewish Culture"
Authored by Dovid Katz. Probably the most comprehensive work ever to appear in English on the cultural, linguistic and spiritual worlds of he Litvaks - the Jews hailing from the lands of the medieval Grand Duchy of Lithuania and its successor modern states, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, and parts of northern Ukraine and north-eastern Poland.
Lithuanian Names, City Directories and Census, Military Records, Death Records
A host of other Lithuanian information using the Zemaitis Genealogy and Family History web site. Type in a surname in the search box. If you type in the name Zemaitis, you'll find a lot of interesting information.
"Lituanie Juive 1918-1940"
A book review by Joost van Beek and published in the March, 2000 issue of LITVAKSIG
Authored by Dov Levin, a professor at Hebrew University and the author of a number of books on the Jews of Lithuania, including "Pinkas Hakehillot - Lita" (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) and "Fighting Back: Lithuanian Jewry's Armed Resistance to the Nazis". "The Litvaks" provides an English language history of Lithuanian Jewry since the 13th century and includes a lexicon of Lithuanian towns showing their Yiddish and modern spellings, statistical tables, sample documents and photographs of Jewish life in Lithuania. The Table of Contents is available
"Litvaks and the Founding of Brandeis University"
Authored by Steven Weiss and published in the July, 2000 issue of LITVAKSIG Journal
"Litvaks and Their Calendars or How to Navigate Between the Torah Portion and the Hebrew, Gregorian, and Julian Calendars"
Authored by Jacob Bleadon and published in the April, 2000 issue of the LITVAKSIG Journal
LITVAKSIG "The LITVAKSIG Poetry Page"
"The Lords' Jews, Magnate-Jewish Relations in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the 18th Century"
Authored by M. J. Rosman. It an informative work of research on the "Arrendator" or lessee system.
"The Lost Wooden Synagogues of Eastern Europe"
Features a journey by filmmaker Albert Barry to Lithuania to try to find the few remaining wooden synagogue buildings still standing. Information about the film and how to order a copy
Authored by Czeslaw Milosz and also the author of "The Issa Valley"
"Never Judge an Archival collection by Its Description or, Never Judge a Book by Its Cover"
The contents of YIVO' s Lithuanian Communities of the Interwar Period Collection and authored by Deena A. Berton as published in the April, 1998 issue of LITVAKSIG Journal
"New Sources of Genealogical Information in the Kaunas Regional Archives"
Authored by Vitalija Gircyte, Chief Archivist of the Kaunas Regional Archives LITVAKSIG Online Journal
"On Foreign Soil"
An autobiographical novel authored by Falk Zolf and written in English. It is a rich story first-hand, in the author's own words. More about it at
"On the Front Line in Lithuania, 1915"
Stories of Jewish Eyewitnesses, by Anatolii Chayesh, translated by Gordon McDaniel and appearing in the August, 2001 issue of the LITVAKSIG Journal
"Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities from their foundation till after the Holocaust: Lithuania"
"Revisiting Roots in Lithuania"
Authored by Hedy Pagremanski Page and published in the October, 2000 issue of LITVAKSIG Journal
"The Rosen Legacy"
Authored by Claire L. Datnow. The Rosen Legacy waves a complex tapestry that ranges across time and space, chronicling the fate of nine generations of Rosens and the Torah they inherit. Through the lives of its custodians the Torah becomes entangled in astonishing and brutal events shaping the fate of a family, a people, and a nation. At the heart of the novel is an intriguing question: how does a family's sacred legacy shape the identify of those who inherit it? Excerpts from this book are available
"Scrolls of Testimony"
Authored by Abba Kovner in 2001 relates to the Kovno Ghetto.
"The Shtetl and I" e_index.html
Authored by Dvora Rogovin Helberg ""On Sunday, Elul 17th , 5702, (8/30/1942), the Vishnive ghetto was annihilated. The church bells began ringing early in the morning, announcing to the gentiles of the surrounding villages about the slaughter. By the thousands, they poured into town, filled its streets and gathered near the synagogue. They watched the victims burning, some still alive." (From the Vishnive Memorial Book, Published in Israel, 1972).
"The Tale of a Litvak"
Authored by Morris S. Schulzinger and published in 1985 by Philosophical Library, New York. Contains references of Balbarishok, Grodno, Halinke, Kovno, Lazde, Mariyampole, Serei, Vilna and Yagustov.
The book mentions these families:
Dunsky, Frankel, Golden, Goldin, Gootman, Gurvitz, Horwitz, Krutzel, Leemon, Lucas, Marmet, Prebell (Pribulsky) Ravad, Rutshtein, Schulzinger, Sereisky and Slavaticki. The author was born in Serei in 1900 and later lived in Cincinnati until his death.
"There Once Was A World"
Authored by Masha Greenbaum and Professor D. Yaffa Eliach at Brooklyn College. Story is about Jews of Lithuania. And she also states that in relation to the early Jewish settlement of Eishykok, "whether the original Jewish settlers were Karaites or Rabbinates, no one really knows." "Some remnants of distinctly Karaites practices survived into the twentieth century in several families, but they hardly constitute proof of any kind."
Authored by Jeanne Ran Tcharnyi who was born in Russia in 1920 and now living in Israel. She wrote about her growing up in Jonava, life in the Vilnius ghetto, working for Nazi headquarters in Minsk posing as a non-Jew, spying for the partisans, and ending up in the Russian Gulag. Originally published in Russian and Lithuanian it is also now in English. Contact Howard Margol firstname.lastname@example.org
"Unmarked Lives" http://www.jewishgen.org/Litvak/journal.htm
Mount an exhibition of textile artistry inspired by doing Litvak genealogical research
"Using Litvak Naming Patterns to Derive Names of Unknown Ancestors" http://www.avotaynu.com/
An article written by Harold Rhode and published in the Fall 1995 issue of Avotaynu
Videos by Alexanders Feigmanishttp://jewishgen.org/
The well-known genealogist video is available at the JewishGen "mall".
"The Vievis Jewish Cemetery"
"Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum"
"We Are Here: Memories Of The Lithuanian Holocaust"
Authored by Ellen Cassedy who had the desire to recover the Yiddish she'd lost with her mother's death and eventually led her to Lithuania and her learning of her Uncle's wartime experience in the country during WW II.
"What Does a Litvak Look Like?"
An article by Judith Shulamith Langer-Surnamer Caplan asking "How many of you have ever wondered what a Litvak looks like '?" and published in the July, 1999 issue of LITVAKSIG
"What Rite or Ritual for Prayer Was in General Use Among the Jews in Lithuania?
Authored by Shalom Bronstein and published in the June, 2000 issue of LITVAKSIG Journal
"Yidishe Shtetl un Shtetlach in Lita" http://www.jewishgen.org/Litvak/journal.htm
Authored by Berl Kagan.
"Yidishe Shtet, Shtethlekh un Dorfishe Yishuvim in Lite: biz 1918: Historish -Biografishe Skitses" http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/translations.html
(Jewish Cities, Towns and Villages in Lithuania until 1918)
Yizkor Book Project and the web site
Martin Kessel is the Project Manager email@example.com
Very few Lithuanian towns have individual Yizkor books, but there are other
similar sources including Yehudit Lita; Lithuanian Jewish Communities; Lita: Yidishe Shtetl; Pinkas ha
"Zeimelis Jewish Cemetery" http://www.jewishgen.org/Litvak/journal.htm
Display photographs of Jewish memorial Matzevot in Lithuanian shtetls
"Zemaiciu Naumiestis Cemetery Visit" http://www.jewishgen.org/Litvak/journal.htm
To read, view, and enjoy the many articles available to you on the web via the LitvakSIG Online Journal, please consult the Table of Contents. The website includes a FAQ; searchable Lithuanian databases; information from Litvak shtetl research groups and surname research groups; listings of research resources; city and country maps; travel guide; photo gallery; historical information; announcements; status of various project; archived digests. The SIG offers more than 1 million records translated, predominantly by the District Research Groups http://www.jewishgen.org/Litvak/HTML/OnlineJournals/Journal.htm
Yossel Bunka's workshop in Plunge, Lithuania. The statute in front row of the Jewish man with a hat is now gracing my office. Yossel hand carved huge living pines into "totem pole" size statues relating to the Holocaust. He is the only Jew still living in Plunge as of our last visit. Photo taken by Ted Margulis
I would suggest to the researcher of the following sites, to also check the other two Baltic Country sites, including Estonia and Latvia, as well as Poland and Belarus and Russia as there may very well be some cross references as the country borders changed many times between wars.
Sites of Pre-war Jewish Residences in Lithuania
A map is located on the LITVAKSIG Welcome Page
An excellent site to find information about most European countries is at
and type in the name of the country you wish to research in the search field. This site is a great source to find information for almost every European country. Another valuable site to help find a person, maps, etc. - just type in the name of any country you wish to research. This service is free.
A great web site. It is a directory of 2,880,532 of the world's cities and towns, sorted by country and linked to a map for each town. A tab separated list is available for each country
Abbreviations - Explanation of
Abbreviations used in the Catalog of Jewish Holdings of the Kaunas Regional Archives and the link to the Kaunas Archives and "Description of Documents in the Catalog".
All Lithuanian Database (ALD)
A great searchable database created by the efforts of the LITVAKSIG membership
Family History Library has nearly finished their filming of Jewish vital records in the State Archives of Lithuania. To determine if records of interest to you are available, check the on-line catalog
The "Jewish Vital Records"
Book can also be purchased from Avotaynu
For information on obtaining genealogical records from the various Lithuanian archives, consult the LitvakSIG FAQ's
You can search for records which have already been entered into the All Lithuania Database by name and by town from that same website.
"Jewish Genealogical Resources at the Kaunas regional Archives"
A presentation made at the 18th Annual Seminar on Jewish Genealogy on July 13th, 1998 by Vitalija Gircyte and published in the December, 1998 issue of LITVAKSIG Journal
Kaunas Regional Archives
Kauno Apskrities Archyvas
Ms. Vitalija Gircyte
Ms. Vitalija Gircyte is the Head Archivist of the Kaunas Regional Archives. The archive requires a $100 research fee. There is a "Catalog of the Jewish Holdings of the Kaunas Archive" which summarizes the great variety of types of documents and records in the archives, for each town and every year
Lithuanian Central Civil Register Archives
(Lietuvos Centrinis Metriku Archyvas)
Located in Vilnius, contains Metrical Books, which is totally different and is not a list. Metrical books are registry books where births, marriages, deaths and divorces were recorded. All of the vital records obtained from the Lithuanian archives are recorded in metrical books and are called metrical records. Usually there are multiple metrical records on one page, as opposed to a single birth, death or marriage record like those in the United States.
Lithuanian Central State Archives
O. Milasiaus 21
Vilnius 2016 Lithuania
Laima Tautvaisaite is the Director of the Vilnius Lithuanian State Historical Archives.
Galina Baranova is the Head Archivist
Lithuanian State Archives
Gerosios Vilties 10
The archive requires a $100 research fee.
Main Archival Administration
232600 Vilnius, Lithuania
Central State Archive of Lithuania (Siauliai)
Vilniaus Gatve 160
23 Siauliai, Lithuania
Central State Archive of Lithuania (Vilnius)
Generolo Obuchovo Gatve
232016 Vilnius, Lithuania
Centrinis Valstybinis Civilinis Metrikacijos Archyvas
State Historical Archive of Lithuania
Lietuvos Valstybinis Istoriyos Archyvas
Gerosios Vilties Gatve 10
LT-2015 Vilnius, Lithuania
Association of the Lithuanian Jews in Israel
Publishes the GACHELET, a Newsletter of the association.
They list their address and telephone number as:
1 David Hamelech Blvd.
Tel. 6964812, FAX 6954821
Bal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name; Besht)
Opposing the perceive over - intellectual and under-emotional Talmud Judaism of the early 16th century, Hasidism ('pietism') stressed simple faith and a joyous expression of piety. The movement's founder, Bal Shem Tov, taught that even Jews unable to read the prayer book could pray meaningfully to HaShem
As Hasidism spread rapidly through Eastern Europe, many of its practices engaged rabbinical authorities. "They associate among themselves and their ways are different," complained the rabbis." ...they belittle the study of Torah, and repeatedly claim that one should not study much, nor deeply regret one's transgressions ..." In April 1772, the Jewish communities of Vilna and Brody tried to halt the spread of Hasidism by casting its adherents out of the faith. Led by renowned rabbinical scholar Elijah ben Shlomo of Vilna, the edict ruled that "All leaders of our people must wear the mantel of zealotry ... to destroy and expunge and to sound to them the voice of excommunication and banishment.
However, this ban and similar ones that followed failed. Today, Hasidism continues to attract thousands of Jews in Europe, America and Israel and its Chabad movement is active on many college campuses. The Vilna Baal Shem Tov information was obtained from an article written in "This Month in Jewish history" by Alexis Rubin - a Jewish history teacher, writer, researcher and syndicated columnist.
Balt-L - The Lithuanian Z-Line
An excellent discussion list, finds people and places and is a good source for Balts to learn more about themselves.
The Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture
Immigration History and Genealogy Department
6500 South Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60629
Phone: (773) 582-6500
Phone (Jessie Daraska): (773) 586-6500
Basketball was first played by women at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts on March 22, 1893, where it was introduced by Senda Berenson Abbot, a native of Lithuania ... and one of three women enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. She was considered the 'Mother of Women's Basketball'. She was born in Vilnius in 1868 and came to the U.S. in 1875. She also wrote the first women's guide to basketball in 1901. My mother, Bessie Soloski Margulis, played basketball at Duluth City College in the early 1900s.
Box Tax and Houses
"In researching Box taxes throughout the Pale of Settlement for a paper presented at the International Seminar in London in Summer 2001, Vitalija Gircyte and I concluded that during most of the 19th century, most of the small towns, such as Rumsiskes, consisted entirely of wooden houses. But some, like Kedainiai, could boast of having quite a few stone houses already by the 1840s. There must have been a considerable difference in financial status of the owner of a wooden house and a stone one."
"It may not seem to make sense to repeat 'wooden' if there were no stone houses in the town but the clerk was following a form that required him to state what it was that was being taxed. Many tax lists also included 'inns,' 'taverns,' 'mills' and son on (and of course, many of the mills were built of stone). The amount of the tax indicates the value of the property which was 'owned' but it does not necessarily mean that your ancestor lived in that house, or in that town. Put another way, the owners (not renters) paid the tax and it is possible that the owners did not live in the house, although usually they did or they had in the past."
"Some mid-19th century tax lists were specifically called property owners' lists. A valuable thing about hem is that they often gave the number of the property. If you are fortunate enough to find a matching map for the town, you will be able to see the exact house that your ancestors lived in. We have an 1869 plat (map) showing every numbered house and all of the Jewish community buildings for Ariogala and the corresponding property owners' list, and many members of our research group have been able to find their ancestors' homes. While after several fires and wars repeatedly destroyed the town, none of the same buildings exist today, when you walk the streets of the shtetl you get the feeling that homes were rebuild on the same foundations over the years." From a posting to LitvakSIG by David Hoffman DBH12345@aol.com
The Box Tax was a government sponsored community tax on meat, payable by all the community purchasers of meat. Every year in the Beit Kenesseth, an auction was held and the few wealthier men auctioned off the right to collect the tax. The highest bidder got to collect the tax. If the auctioned price was lower than the tax collected, the tax owner and collector made money, sometimes substantial sums.
On the other hand, if the tax collected was less than the "Auction Amount" the Box Tax Holder could also loose. It could be a risky business but it was usually profitable. (Otherwise, there would have been no bidders or the bids would have been lower). From a posting by Joe Fibel
Byelorussians in Lithuania
There are approximately 63,000 Byelorussians in Lithuania as of 1993.
Bruce Kahn has a searchable photographic database of this and many other cemeteries. Follow the links and you will find around 2,000 photos of Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania and Belarus.
As a Free Service, Aleksandrs Feigmanis firstname.lastname@example.org offers a free copy of the All Lithuania Jewish Cemetery Lists. He will send you a photo of any grave marker you select for EURO 25 each. Click on the link below to download the sorted list as a PDF file.
Sorted by Family Name
Sorted by First Name
Sorted by Town
Central Metrical Archives
Lietuvos Centrinis Metriku Archyvas http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ilwinneb/lithuani.htm
Contains the Vital Records for Lithuania for the period after 1915.
Consolidated Jewish Surname Index
Includes the Jewish Records Indexing - Poland; All-Lithuania Database; All-Belarus Database; All-Latvia Database and JewishGen Family Finder
Courland Research Group
Documentation of the Mass Murder of Lithuanian Jewry
A copy of a secret Reich letter by the SS Einsatzgruppen dated 1 December 1941 in Kaunas (Kovno, Kauen). This site lists the date of extermination, the town location and the totals of Males and Females and Communists killed
Business 2 business company directory and business in Europe, yellow pages access, international and European business directory (professional services, addresses and business classifieds
A former Soviet prison where more than 30,000 Jews were shot. You can still see the bullet-riddled wall where Jewish prisoners were lined up and murdered.
Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia
The Holocaust in Lithuania
Reflections on the Holocaust in Lithuania"
An article published in the Winter 2001 issue of Lituanus
"The Shadow of Death: The Holocaust in Lithuania"
Authored by Harry Gordon
Jewish Community of Lithuania
Dr. Simonas Apleravicius is the Chairman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. Vilnius 2600, Lithuania His email address is: email@example.com
Jewish Peddler in Vilnius
"In a statistical studies of Jewish demographics in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth during the 18th century, it shows that early teen marriages were the norm among one-quarter of the Jewish population, ostensibly the more affluent class, i.e. it was in those families best able to support grandchildren while they still had children to support that the mother's age at first birth tended to be lowest."
"The traditional ages for Jewish marriages were 18-20 for boys, 16-18 for girls. The couple was billeted in their parental home, usually the bride's, at least until the husband was old enough to support his family on his own." From a posting by Norman H. Carp-Gordon
Jewish Family History Foundation
It's current major project: The Grand Duchy of Lithuania/Kingdom of Poland 18th century censuses and 19th century "bridge record" revision list project.
A searchable "Heads of Household" Index of 1816 revision lists for the following 28 towns:
Batakai, Cekiske, Dotnuva, Davkinlava, Erzvilkas, Gaure, Girkalnis, Grinkiskis, Josvainiai, Jurbarkas, Kvedarna, Nemaksciai, Siline, Pajuris, Raseiniai, Rietavas, Seredzius, Silale, Skaudville, Sveksna, Taurage, Upyna, Vainutis, Veliuona, Vidukle, Veivirzenai, Vilkija, Zeimaiciu Naumiestis.
You can use the search engine to determine if your ancestor is in the database before making a tax deductible contribution to help complete the translations for our online database.
Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain
The JGSUK has a searchable database of more than 20,000 Jews who were living in Great Britain in 1851 among other databases. Contact: Rosemary Wenzerul Dandr@wenzeds.freeserve.co.uk
Locate your town (shtetl)
Jewish History in Lithuania
The Virtual Jewish History Tour by Shtetl
Jewish History of Lithuania - The All-Lithuania Database
Jews in Lithuania
"The Jews of Lithuania: A History of a Remarkable Community 1316-1945"
Authored by Masha Greenbaum
"Jews In Lithuania Jacob's Cane: A Jewish Family's Journey from the Four Lands of Lithuania"
"Light One Candle: A Survivor's Tale from Lithuania to Jerusalem"
Authored by Solly Ganor
Jewish Vital Records
There are more than 20,000 Jewish Vital Records that are searchable on the ALD (All Lithuanian Database)
LITVAKSIG volunteers have created an indexing project that includes thousands of records within fond 728. To learn how to become part of this group contact Jeff Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
To get copies of records write to Galina Baranova at the Archives in Vilnius to initiate a search for the particular surname you are interested in. (When I used Galena's services in 1994, she charged $50, but I understand that the services are more like $70 per name search and about $20 for a copy of a record found with an English translation)
Lietuvos Valstybinis Istorijos Archyvas
Gerosios Vilties 10
Vilnius 2015 Lithuania (Lietuva)
Standard Fees for Non-Lithuanian Nations:
$70.00 for initial research
$ 5.00 per Photocopy
$ 13.00 per page
Translating Services - Language Page
Just in case you didn't think of it, contact a nearby university or college's foreign language department. They may offer to write letters and translate letters into English. A nominal fee is usually charged.
The Chief Archivist of the Kaunas Archives is Vitalija Gircyte. Vitalija is a female name.
Internal Passport applications
Following up on Howard Margol's response to the question (s) regarding copies of Internal Passport applications, etc., I thought it might be helpful to all to post the response I just received (in Lithuanian) and thanks to the translation efforts of Aharon Starovolski, the English version:
LITHUANIAN CENTRAL STATE ARCHIVES
O. Milasiaus g. 21, LT-10102 Vilnius. LITHUANIA. Tel.: + 370 5 247 7830 + 370 5 247 7830
Fax.: + 370 5 276 5318.
Email: El.p: email@example.com
With regard to payment for Document search
The Archives office services are to be paid for. For document search please transfer to the Lithuanian Central State Archives account #
LT597300010035325812 AB "Hansabankas" (bank code 7300, SWIFT: HABA LT 22) - 8 EURO (request processing within 1 month) or 10 EURO (request processing within 10 work days). If paid by cheque, add 10 more EURO.
Returning your request, please sign it and send over to the office with the payment verification enclosed.
From a posting by Bonnie Frederics firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard Margol's original posting:
"One of the many questions I receive regarding the Lithuania Internal Passport Project.
You have to write a letter (email will not be acceptable) to the Central archive in Vilnius. Send them the information from the database and it is o.k. to tell them you found it in the database. Because of the 100 year privacy law, be sure and tell them your relationship to the Trapido person(s). If not a relative, they may not send you the information.
Mention that you would like to receive a copy of all documents that may be in the file for that person rather than ask for one specific file. The file may contain documents you are not aware of. They will respond and tell you the cost for the documents. Their response will be written in Lithuanian. They speak English but, by law, their letter has to be in Lithuanian.
Is it possible to order a copy of the application, and if so how?
If you go to the Introduction to the Internal Passport Database, you will find the answers to your questions, both visually and in text. A copy of an internal passport application and a copy of an internal passport are displayed as well as 15 other types of documents contained in some, but not all, files. A written explanation of each document is included.
Though not geared to Jewish information, if you want to learn more about the country - it's culture; heritage, surname information; ancient Lithuanian map; immigration to US from 1776-1940 and much more including more links to basic Lithuanian Phrases and pronunciations and the Vilnius Telephone Book
"I have obtained a copy of the 1938 telephone book for Lithuania. This does not include Vilnius. I am working to construct a database for LitvakSIG which will include all the Jewish names I can recognize, and I would welcome some help.
The data entry is simple. The fields will be surname, name, address, telephone number, town, district. I have experimented with scanning some pages and the results are good. Some towns have no names which I can recognize as Jewish and of course, telephones were not common. Please contact me privately if you can help. From a posting by Dorothy Leivers Dorfleiv@Aol.com
You can also use LeafSeek: A free, Open Source genealogical search engine to find phone numbers, addresses and more.
Pinkas Hakehillot; Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities from their foundation till after the Holocaust: Lithuania The complete bibliography of the Works of Professor Dov Levin, 1945-2000 - Yidishe Shtetl, Shtetlach un Dorfishe Yishuvim in Lite: biz 1918; Historish-Biografishe Skitses (Jewish Cities, Towns and Villages in Lithuania until 1918)
Lithuanian e-zine - LABAS
THE LITHUANIAN E-ZINE an internet magazine primarily for those of Lithuanian heritage or anyone interested in Lithuania. A good site for every person interested in Lithuania, its history and culture. Contains articles about Lithuania, folklore, mythology, genealogy, not-for profit organization activities in Lithuania, Lithuanian businesses, Lithuanian publications. The site also has an archive of previous discussions
Ten facts about the Lithuanian Holocaust
Lithuanian Jewish community
Looking at the Jewish Communities of the World is also an interesting site that offers an insight into the Lithuanian Jewish community, its culture and history
Lithuanian Jewish Community
Pylimo Street 4, 2600 Vilnius.
Phone 370 2 613 003
Fax 370 2 227 915
This building also houses the
Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum of Lithuania
2001 Vilnius, Lithuania
Attention: Jevgenija Sedova
Email: : email@example.com
Lithuanian Jews in South Africa
Lithuanian Language (see also
Words and meanings. Up until 1840, the court records in Lithuania were written in Polish. After that date, Russian became the official language for court records. Some clerks, used to writing in Polish, did not use Russian exclusively for the first several yeas after 1840. Consequently, many court records during the 1841-43 period contained some Polish words along with the Russian.
An assistant director of a synagogue
The title of an official with the synagogue or Kahal - a position we would call today 'an Executive Director'.
The term 'shkolnik' is sometimes used in the records pertaining to synagogues, prayer houses or schools. For some years and some Uyezds there are lists of 'houses of worship' with the board of each house of prayer, consisting of three men, enumerated. Thus, there are such lists of approximately 1868-1869 for all the Uyezds of Kaunas Guberniya, but each Uyezd made the list in a different form.
In Raseiniai Uyezd
Most of the boards of each prayer house consisted of a Rabbi, Gabi and Shkolnik; the prayer house of the small town of Batakai in this list, is said to be administered by shkolnik who substitutes for a rabbi, a chairman and a treasurer; in Erzvikas, for some reason, there was shkolnik - the board consisted of a rabbi, a chairman 'otherwise-Gabbai' and a treasurer.
For Panevezys Uyezd
It is said that the boards of all the prayer houses consisted of "elected by the community Gabi, Neyman and Scholar or the assistant of the Uyezd Rabbi''. Thus it seems that 'Neyman' in Panevezys Uyezd corresponds to shkolnik in Raseiniai.
In 'There Once Was A world' by Yaffa Eliach, there is noted 'Neeman - Ha-Kahal' - Trustee, head of the Jewish community. From a posting on JewishGen Discussion page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuanian_languageAlphabet and Pronunciation
Lithuanian Names Project
This is a large project begun in November 1997, with the purpose to collect as many names as possible of victims of the Lithuanian Holocaust from 1941 to 1945. The full text of this project, compiling the names of possible victims of the Lithuanian Holocaust (1941-1945), and publishing a Memorial book; preserving the memory of the names of the martyrs for generations to come
Lithuanian Partisan Lists
Portrait of a Jewish partisan group operating in the Lithuanian forests
Jews resisted the genocidal policies of the Nazis in many ways. They could count on little support from local populations due to anti-Semitism and the fear to be harmed themselves. Also, the rest of the world, including the United States, lacked the motivation to intervene in the mass killings of the Jews. But for the Jews themselves, resistance was a matter of life or death, or at least dying in dignity.
May be available by contacting
Igud Yotzei Lita
1David Hamelekh Blvd.
Tel Aviv, Israel.
A goldmine of Lithuanian information, including '25,000 surname listings, Meaning of Lithuanian First Names, Obituaries from Draugas and Naujienos, List of Town Name Changes in Lithuania in Lithuanian, Russian and Polish, Contacting The Vilnius Archives, Other Links;
Lithuanian Shtetl (See also Lithuanian Shtetls)
Authored by J. Lestschinksy and translated by Rae Meltzer is an insight into how the Lithuanian shtetl had poverty and need. You can read this story
The LitvakSIG Online Journal strives to provide you with a wide range of articles. Some articles, such as "Joniskis Area Jewry" by Jurgita Matuliene, a teacher in Joniskis, who was interested in information about "Zydai Joniskio rajone," the Jews in the Joniskis regional administrative division unit (which included Zagare, Kriukai, and a number of other villages) give you a unique perspective and insight into Lithuanian Jewish History.
Other articles, such as the talks given by Vitalija Gircyte, Head Archivist of the Kaunas Regional Archives, Laima Tautvaisaite, Director of the Vilnius Lithuanian State Historical Archives, and Galina Baranova, will offer valuable insight into doing Lithuanian genealogical research. Some pieces, such as "Visiting The Jewish Cemeteries in Kaisadorys and Zasliai" by Aleksandrs Feigmanis display lists and photographs of Jewish memorial Matzevot in Lithuanian shtetls while others such as the Lithuanian Jews on Postage Stamps Series by Vitaly Charny give us insight into both the artist and his work, and the two paired Surinamer articles trace the worldwide movements of one family from Lithuania.
The LitvakSIG Online Journal also has a special place for creative writing, including memoirs, fiction, as well as a poetry page with poems by Judy Baston, Barbara F. Lefcowitz, and Shulamith Surnamer.
The SIG offers more than 1 million records translated, predominantly by the District Research Groups
To read, view, and enjoy the many additional articles available to you on the web via the LitvakSIG Online Journal, please consult the Table of Contents at http://www.jewishgen.org/Litvak/HTML/OnlineJournals/Journal.htm
Lithuanian State Historical Archives
Charges $70 per surname per town to do research plus $18.00 for each document that they find (includes translation). See above for address and further information.
An exhibit and a booklet has color photographs of the remaining wooden synagogues in Lithuania is available for purchase by contacting the
Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum
2001, Vilnius, Lithuania
Email: at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Lost Wooden Synagogues"
Lithuania, WW II, Jews, Population, Cemetery etc.
Litvak Vital Records Indexing
The Project Manager is Jeff Miller SingingTM@aol.com
The towns that are filmed and will be added to the Locality Index
Kaunas District Towns
The 1892-94 Family Lists in the All Lithuanian Database for the towns in the Kaunas district (also for the Ukmerge district). As opposed to the 1874, 1887 and other Kaunas Uyezd family lists (notably 1898 Vilijampole), the documents specifically referred to as the 1892-94 family lists are NOT a listing of all the Jewish families in the town at that time. As explained by KRA Chief Archivist Vitalija Gircyte, these are lists of town dwellers living in the towns of the Kaunas and Ukmerge districts who did not belong to the communities they lived in. After these lists were made, they had to be legally transferred to these communities. In other words, the 1892-94 family lists would more aptly be described as 'newcomers lists.'
The town field in the ALD contains the name of the town in which the family was living at the time the list was compiled in 1892-94. The comments field gives the town where they came from and how long they were living in the new town. From a posting by Ada Green in the LITVAKSIG
Lida District Towns
Panevezys District Towns
Telsai District Towns
Trakai District Towns
Vilnius District Towns
Zarasai District Towns
Lithuanian Youth Fraternity, Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions
Lithuanian Word Meanings and Names (See Also Languages Page)
Words That Have A Meaning to Genealogists
Bookbinder, with the root 'knyg' meaning book.
Means Jews in Lithuanian
The primary internet source connecting researchers of Lithuanian- Jewish Genealogy worldwide. Our purpose is to discover, present, and preserve information about our ancestors' lives in Lithuania, and to better understand the lives they led, before the destruction of 95% of Lithuanian Jews in the Shoah. To read, view and enjoy the plethora of articles available to you on the web via the LitvakSig Online Journal, consult the Table of Contents
Judi Langer-Surnamer Caplan is the Editor Judith27@aol.com
LITVAKSIG Given Names Project
A database of given names for Jews born in Eastern Europe - covering the period of 1795 - 1925 for Lithuania and Latvia and available at the LITVAKSIG web site
For further details contact Prof. G. L. Esterson, Ra'anana, Israel
Start your research at
"Apparently, the country had an intensely feudal character for hundreds of years, the effects of which have not completely worn off. Polish landed gentry (often absentee landlords) from the joint Poland/Lithuania Commonwealth, which ruled the area for hundreds of years (1550-795ish)actually *owned* whole towns, cities, and manorial estates; had private armies; and often offered protective charters for Jews whom they contracted with to run distilleries, inns, collect taxes from the Belarusian peasants, provide services like shoemaking, etc., and basically act as middlemen between the Poles and the natives.
The landed gentry were called "magnates" and were often princes and counts and other kinds of lesser nobility. After the Czar took over this region (1795-ish), many Jews performed the same services for the Russian nobility who had simply exchanged places with their Polish peers. Interestingly, there was an unusual urban-rural split in Belarus: towns and cities were populated almost entirely by the landed gentry and Jews (the only groups allowed to travel in the region), while the countryside was populated almost exclusively by the native Belarusians who spoke their own language (Belarusian, rather than Polish or Russian) and had a different religion (Greek Orthodox, rather than Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox, or Jewish), and were mostly involved in agricultural activities."
"According to a Google search, the term "Korchma" is currently a kind of restaurant. Perhaps your relative ran an inn or a distillery for the prince for whom he may have worked. I hope this helps. If I'm wrong about any of the info above, I hope that someone will correct me." From a posting by Laura Moss Gottlieb
Baltic Provinces including all of Vilna Guberniya
Guberniya District Maps
Showing each Uyezd boundary for Grodno, Kiev, Minsk, Vitebsk and Volhynia Guberniyas are available at the bottom of
"Les Provinces Baltiques De La Russie" (The Baltic Republics of Russia)
Portions of a 1915 map by G. Peltier and copyright held by Michael Steinore
Detailed maps of Lithuania
This site displays all of the known villages in Lithuania but unfortunately it is shown only with the Lithuanian forms of place names. It is a free and interactive map site.
covering the Lithuania Region including The Baltics - East Russian Empire 1882
Map of major towns in Lithuania
Maps of Russia and the FSU (Former Soviet Union) Republics - be prepared to stay online for quite some time, if you want to see one of the largest collections of different types of maps. This site is fabulous and offers a huge variety of maps that include such titles as Bucovina Maps; Ukraine Maps and Distances; Ex-USSR map; Maps of Europe in different eras; Russian Far East Maps; Belarus Maps; Ukraine Maps; Kazakhstan Maps: Georgia Maps; Tajikistan Maps; Crimea Maps; Uzbekistan Maps; Azerbaijan Maps; Kyrgyzstan Maps; Moldova Maps; Turkmenistan Maps; Armenia Maps; Caucuses Region Maps; Baltic States Maps including Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia; and more at
Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps. I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine. Almost every country is available as is most towns
ShtetlSeeker U S Government Maps of Lithuania
This site gives variant spellings of towns and villages, as well as map co-ordinates
Metrical books are registry books where births, marriages, deaths and divorces were recorded. All of the vital records obtained from the Lithuanian archives are recorded in metrical books and are called metrical records. Usually there are multiple metrical records on one page, as opposed to a single birth, death or marriage record like those in the United States.
Metrics of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Names of Jewish Soldiers Database
This list includes names of all Jewish servicemen from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. http://russiananzacs.narod.ru/Jews.htm
Newspapers - Hamelitz (searchable database)
Paneriai (Ponary) Forest
Located about ten miles from Vilnius. About 70,000 to 100,000 Jews were killed and thrown into eleven pits after digging their own graves. The pits were actually dug by the Russians before WW II for storing oil. The Nazis simply used these for their Holocaust.
Polish-Lithuanian State at Europe 18th Century Map
Thousands of property records exist proving that Jews in Lithuania did, indeed, own property. In some cases, a Polish Duke gave a Jew land in appreciation for his services. In the Russian Empire, Jews were, or were not, allowed to own land depending on the whim of the Tsar in power at the time.
Our ancestors moved for purposes of marriage, education, employment, avoiding conscription, etc. When daughters married they became members of their husband's households, and were subsequently listed on revision lists. This information, and other information are included in a Revision Lists.
"Revision List records" 1816 Revision Lists
For the PRUZ(H)AN family from Vilnius which all have the same LVIA number i.e. LVIA/515/26/180. Does this mean they are from the same address?"
"LVIA stands for the Historical Archive in Vilnius, the Fond # is 515, the Apyrus is 26, and the Byla is 180. This is the archival numbering system used in Lithuania. A revision list for the city of Vilnius could contain thousands of names but they would not all live at the same address. Those living together would have the same Family number, which should also appear on the revision list, even if the surnames were different."
"One of the records shows two surnames for the male head of household and his family with the comment "double name". Any ideas please on what this might indicate?"
"We may never know the real reason for having two surnames. One surname could be the one he was born with and the other surname could be one he changed to at a later date. Why the change? He could have been the 2nd of two sons and his surname changed to avoid conscription into the Russian army. He could have adopted the surname of his wealthy father-in-law if his father-in-law had only daughters and no sons. He could have lost both parents at an early age and, later on, added the surname of his adoptive parents. I am sure others can come up with other explanations as well." From a posting by Howard Margol email@example.com
Revision List for 1904
Shtetls of Lithuania ( Lithuanian Shtetls )
A list of Lithuanian shtetls
Administrative District (Uyezd) for your shtetl
Sites of Pre-war Jewish Residence in Lithuania
A comprehensive guide to Internet resources on Russia and Central/Eastern Europe
See my 'Language' page for links to translation pages and commercial sites offering many language translating programs
See also 'Vilna' below and
The Vilna Gaon as well as 333 geonim who knew the entire Torah by heart lived here.
List of ascendants of Charles-Salomon Riveline
A descendant of the Vilna Gaon, of the Rivlin and Jaffe families Authored by Micheline Guttmann, with the help of Chaim Freedmann and Yehuda Klausner in "Abstract of GenAmi number 22"
Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum
Pamenkalnio 12, 2001, Vilnius,
Lithuania or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Museum displays ritual items salvaged from the Great Synagogue that was destroyed by the Soviets. These include parts of the original ark and the reader's desk.
"The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum 10th Anniversary"
A thank you letter from Deputy Director, Rachel Kostanian and published in the December, 1999 issue of the LITVAKSIG Journal
There have been several recent questions about the Voter Lists that were recently added to the ALD (All Lithuanian Database). These lists were obtained from the state archives in Vilnius but there was initially no explanation as to exactly what type of voter lists they were. We subsequently found that they are municipal electors' lists (see excerpt following). Unfortunately, we neglected to change the Type of Record from Voters to Municipal Electors when they were added to the ALD. Following is a partial translation of the introductory paragraphs to one of these "Voter Lists"
The Voter List of the Shtetl Radviliskis for February 29, 1884
The Swear List I, named below, promise and swear with The name of Our God (Adonai in Jewish text), The God of Israel, from the bottom of my heart but not because of some other hidden sense, after those, who result me in the oath, that I want to and must, during the present elections of the established Civil officials, who will serve as executives, judges and other officers, according to my faultless conscience and honour, with no predilection and own profit, ignoring any enmity or blood and friendly relations, elect those of my co-brothers, whom I consider the most talented and worthy according to their mental abilities and conscience, and who, I expect, to be able to fulfill their obligations with a zeal in favor of His Imperial Majesty and also with great care to the public prosperity. If I do it in another way, so, as ignoring of the public favor, which is my own favor also, I should be blamed by my co-brothers and in my future life I shall respond to the God and to His Last Judgment. Amen. This oath has been given by: [names].
The voter list was certified with official seal and signatures of the foreman of the Radviliskis town hall and the member of the community board. The lists are all written in Cyrillic. I hope this helps explain the "illiterate" comments. From a posting by Carol Coplin Baker District Research Groups Coordinator email@example.com
YIVO (Yiddisher Visnshaftlekher Institut)
Lithuanian Jewish Communities Collection written by Deana A. Berton. An important site to visit.
YIVO is located at the
Center for Jewish History,
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Phone 212 246 6080 - 212 246 6080 Fax: 212 292 1892.
The street entrance to the Center for Jewish History and YIVO is
20 West 17th St. (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
Travel (See Traveling Roots )
A Jewish guide and can be contacted as:
P. Luksio Str. 37 - 22, 3042
Kaunas Lietuva (Lithuania)
Local Phone number in Lithuania is 779948
From the US, 011-370-7-779948
Green Castle Agency
Consultations are free of charge. The company offers their services, which include genealogical researches in various archives, photographs and or videos and CDs of the village of interest as well as providing excursions. They have excellent contacts with genealogists in Belarus, Russian and Ukraine.
Genealogical Agency Green Castle
P.O. Box 3434
Vilnius apskities centrinis pastas, LT - 2000 Lithuania
In Your Pocket Guide
A wonderful, detailed commercial travel site that offers much information about the history and current traveling conditions in the country, along with city map information
A 30 something year old Jewish guide with many years of experience in helping Litvaks find the shtetls of their ancestors. According to one of her clients, she knows her Lithuania, and she knows the Jewish community in every town. She knows Lithuania, English, Hebrew and Yiddish. Contact Regina at
Lithuanian Travel Guide Information
(I make no guarantees of any kind, nor is there any recommendation offered, other than by the JewishGenners who submitted the following:
Litinterp, Attn: Arunas Rokas.
LT 2001, Vilnius.
Fax number is (370-2) 22 29 82.
Phone numbers are (370-2) 22 38 50 and (370-2) 22 32 91.
The driver's name was Arturas Vysniauskas.
His address was
Zaliu Zu Ezeru 1-72
2021 Vilnius Lithuania.
Phone number was 73 00 37
Routes To Roots
Miriam Wiener's site offers travel advice and also visits to your shtetl on your behalf at
and a searchable database by town name at
Offers his experience as a guide for touring Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and neighboring countries. Yulik speaks fluent Hebrew, Yiddish and English.
Contact Yulik at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vilnius Jewish Institute
more to come ...