Doornfontein Shtetl Walking Tour


Again on this weekend, Sunday the 3rd July 2016

Check with Ishvara for details!

You will walk through the old Jewish neighbourhood of Doornfontein Johannesburg.

Some of the highlights include :
* the Lion Shul : 1906
* Yiddishe Arbeiter Klub : the Jewish Workers Club : 1928
* the Alhambra Theatre
* the Yiddishe Altesheim : Jewish Old Age Home
* Beit Hamedrash Hagodel : the Sherwell St Shul
* the first Greek Orthodox Church in Joburg : 1913
* the Beit St shops – Wachenheimers , Nussbaums etc
* the Ottoman Embassy : home of Henri Bettelheim
* the University of Johannesburg Campus
* the Jewish Govt School : IH Harris Primary
* the Hebrew High School : Talmud Torah
* the old Victorian homes on Sivewright St
* the Great Synagogue on Wolmarans St : 1914


If you wish to attend, please confirm that there is available space by sending an email to : for banking details and further instructions

Space is limited – so confirmation is essential

Please note : men please bring a yarmulke for entering the synagogues and women please dress modestly.

To see my previous posts on the Doornfontein Walking Tour, visit:

Doornfontein Walking Tour – Part 1

There are 4 parts! Use this search engine to access all 4:

Also visit the Lion’s Shul on the Johannesburg KehilaLink



Seta – Jonava – Vandziogala – Kedainiai

I travelled with my friend, Laima Ardaviciene, the English teacher at Kedainiai High School, to Seta, Jonava, Vandizogala and back to Kedainiai




Quick facts

Šėta is a small town in Kaunas County in central Lithuania. In 2001 it had a population of 1025.Wikipedia
  • Population:
    • 1,025 (2001)

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Quick facts

Jonava is the ninth largest city in Lithuania with a population of ca 30,000. It is located in Kaunas County in central Lithuania, 30 km north east of Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania. It is served by Kaunas International Airport.Wikipedia
  • Municipality:
    • Jonava District Municipality
  • Area:
    • 13.67 km²


Jewish buildings, including the former synagogue. Information posters on the buildings.


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The Jewish Cemetery

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The amphitheatre and holiday entertainment

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Quick facts

Vandžiogala is a small town in Kaunas County, Kaunas district municipality in central Lithuania. It is located 29 km north of Kaunas next to Urka brook. A Holy Trinity church was built in Vandžiogala in 1830.Wikipedia
  • Population:
    • 946 (2001)

The Holocaust site on the outskirts of the town.

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Quick facts

Kėdainiai is one of the oldest cities in Lithuania. It is located 51 km north of Kaunas on the banks of the Nevėžis River. First mentioned in the 1372 Livonian Chronicle of Hermann de Wartberge, its population as of 2008 was 30,214.Wikipedia
  • Municipality:
    • Kėdainiai District Municipality
  • Population:
    • 26,080 (2013)
  • Area:
    • 4.4 km²

A cultural festival and concert hosted by Rimantas Zirgulis

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A walk around Kedainiai

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Limmud Oz in Melbourne

Monday, June 27 • 12:15 – 13:15

Protecting our heritage: a call for action 

Eli’s entertaining and informative presentation takes us on a pictorial journey of his research activities and his numerous visits to Poland and the Baltics. This leads to a discussion of the demographic changes in the Australian Jewish community. Eli calls for a re-evaluation in the way Australians connect to our shtetls and educate about Jewish family and cultural history. Eli proposes some ideas on how to do this. It’s about the legacy we can leave!


avatar for Eli Rabinowitz

Eli Rabinowitz

Eli is involved in many Jewish community activities. He films, photographs, researches and lectures internationally on Jewish heritage and cultural history. He brought the memories of Muizenberg exhibition to Australia, manages 60 websites for and arranges Litvak heritage tours.

Pakruojis & Siaulenai


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I visited Pakruojis to see the wooden synagogue in the city.

As you can see from the images, it is currently being restored. We previously saw that the wooden synagogue in Ziezmariai is also under restoration.


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Other views of the town

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My visit to my wife’s family town of Shavlan or Siaulenai was not so successful.

Her maternal grandfather’s family name was Saevitzon, in Israel, Shavei Zion.

I searched for the Jewish cemetery, asked at the Christian cemetery and was told by locals that there was a Jewish cemetery on the other side of town. I couldn’t find it and I ran out of time.

I later emailed Sandra Petrukonyte of Maceva, who kindly replied:

Dear Eli,

It is so pity that you could not find. I tried to search for exact location. The map is attached (for your future journey!).
It is seems that the way to the cemetery is not marked by any sign, the path is not paved and the cemetery itself is in a small distant forest. Not surprising that you got lost.

MACEVA does not have own photos, therefore I am adding links to another websites with general view of the cemetery:



So, I will a revisit next time.

Here are some images of the town:

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I’m still on the long flight home to Perth. Great to have access to the Internet!




My second visit to Seduva.

The first was in May 2015 when the cemetery and two Holocaust memorials were dedicated and opened

Click on the image to see the post:

Seduva Jewish Ceremonies


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The new Lost Shtetl memorial in the town square

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The cemetery revisited

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My Airbnb host, Ieva and her family – by far the most hospitable on my trip


Written and uploaded on Emirates flight EK420 from Dubai to Perth




My friend, Owen Ogince, was born in Johannesburg, but lived in Theunissen in the Orange Free State in South Africa. He went to boarding school in a larger city, such as Bloemfontein, typical of the many first generation of South African born Jews who lived in the country areas. Their parents often spoke only Yiddish and Afrikaans, creating an interesting sub culture which in many ways reflected their previous lives in the shtetls of Lithuania. They were often referred to as boerejode. For more information on boerejode, see the end of this post.

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I took the opportunity to visit the shtetl of Vabalninkis in Lithuania, where Owen’s family came from.

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The Jewish Cemetery and the memorial to the Resistance.

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The Former Synagogue

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The Boerejode of the Boland

Linkuva – Joniskelis – Pasvalys


Before I get onto this post, to those technologically challenged, here is another one to get your head around:

this post has been written and uploaded aboard an Emirates flight from Warsaw to Dubai en route to my home city of Perth.
I am not daunted by the tyranny of distance and having to spend almost a day in the air getting home. So this is another meaning of “staying connected”

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Now onto the post!

On my way to Vabalninkas from Joniskis, I stopped off in Linkuva, Joniskelis and Pasvalys

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Linkuva town

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A Holocaust memorial a few km out of town
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The Jewish Cemetery

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Poswohl and Johannesburg

Digging Up Old Jewish Johannesburg



The Ten Commandments have just been added – thanks to Cliff Marks for providing the update and 2 photos.



My original photo


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The complex of the two synagogues

I was let into the buildings by a caretaker and revisited an hour later when I was fortunate to meet Linas Vinickas from the local museum. Linas gave me a tour of Jewish Joniskis.

The Raudonoji Synagogue

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A short video of Linas Vinickas

The Baltoji Synagogue

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Students’ tour of the synagogues

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The third synagogue building

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The Mural which includes the actor Laurence Harvey

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Skyline of Joniškis
Flag of Joniškis
Coat of arms of Joniškis
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 56°14′0″N 23°36′0″ECoordinates56°14′0″N 23°36′0″E
Country  Lithuania
Ethnographic region Aukštaitija
County Šiauliai County
Municipality Joniškis district municipality
Eldership Joniškis eldership
Capital of Joniškis district municipality
Joniškis eldership
First mentioned 1526
Granted city rights 1616
 • Mayor Gediminas Čepulis
Population (2011)
 • Total 9,900
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)


Joniškis church

Joniškis (About this sound pronunciation ) is a city in northern Lithuania with a population of about 11,150. It is located 40 kilometers north of Šiauliai and 14 kilometers south of the Lithuania–Latvia border. Joniškis is the municipal and administrative center of Joniškis district municipality.

With the Church of the Accession of the Holy Virgin Mary (founded in 1901) and a complex of two Jewish synagogues – Red (built in 1897) and White (built in 1823) at its centre, the town has the status of an urban architectural heritage site.[citation needed]

Joniškis has a Culture Centre, a local venue for music and theatre events.

railway line connecting Riga and Šiauliai runs along the western boundary of the city. West of the railway, the city’s allotment gardens and the Lutheran and Victims of World War II cemeteries are located. Joniškis hosts the Jonas Avyžius Public Library of Joniškis District Municipality


Joniškis is the Lithuanian name of the city. Versions of the name in other languages include PolishJaniszkiRussian: Янишки YanishkiBelarusian: Яні́шкі YanishkiYiddish: יאנישאק YanishokGermanJonischkenLatvianJonišķi


Joniškis was established in the beginning of the 16th century. It was mentioned in written sources on 23 February 1536 when Bishops of Vilnius and Samogitia visited the area and found that people still practiced the old pagan faith. People were worshiping the God of Thunder (Perkūnas), fire, snakes and other pagan deities. The bishop of Vilnius, John of the Lithuanian Dukes baptized the locals and established the new parish on 23 February 1536. A wooden church was built and the town of Joniškis was built around it. Bishop of Vilnius named the town Joniškis after his own name Jonas. Joniškis was on the crossroad of important trade roads.[1]

In late 1941, 148 Jewish men were shot near Joniškis in the nearby forest. The remaining Jews (men, women and children) were murdered in the forest in September 1941. 493 people were murdered in total by an Einsatzgruppen of Joniškis policemen and Lituanian nationalists supervised by the Germans.[2]

Notable people



I had visited Zagare a couple years ago, but it was late at night, the main street was being dug up,  so I didn’t see much.

This time, I was given an excellent tour thanks to Cliff Marks of Seattle introducing me to Sarah Mitrike.

Sarah was out of town but made sure I got to meet Alma Kancelskiene, the Geography teacher and Toma Kiminiene,  the English teacher at the Zagare High School.

Alma does projects with her students documenting Jewish graves together with Valdas Balciunas. Valdas was instrumental in getting the memorial plaque installed and organizing the Jewish Heritage Days last autumn. Valdas was also out of town.

The two teachers were very hospitable and showed me around town. Here are some images:

At the school with Alma and Toma


At the two cemeteries 


The Holocaust MemorialDSC_4648DSC_4648DSC_4649DSC_4651


Around the town


The Town Square