Litvaks On The Move!

Let us know your shtetls’ names

Litvish Cropped

(Map – my thanks to Dovid Katz)

We can then update you on the activities in those towns.

For example, there are numerous Jewish projects currently taking place in Seduva, Zagare, Birzai, Plunge, Kedainiai, Joniskis, Kupiskis, Kaunas and Vilnius.

We are also interested in the towns that your Litvak forefathers settled in, after leaving.

Please email your list together with your family names associated with the particular towns and shtetls to:

You can also visit our Facebook pages:

Litvak Portal on Facebook and

South African Shtetl on Facebook

If you wish, we can put you in touch with others with the same connections.

I look forward to hearing from you.

PS – If you are in Jo’burg tonight, I am giving a talk at the SA Jewish Genealogical Society at the HOD.

It would be great to see you there!

Best regards


12 Replies to “Litvaks On The Move!”

  1. Looking for info on my family who came from Shavil. My father’s family apparently came from there. Not sure what their name was. My father grew up in Boksburg. His surname was Shandler. His great grandfather I think came out, heard the name changed when they got to South Africa. My father’s mother I think also came from Shavil. Her maiden name was Rubin. They were also from the East Rand (I think Germiston).

  2. Family – Kropman from Vieksniai (Vekshna). Came to Cape Town 1903 ff., and settled there under the name Kaufman. Now most in Israel, some in US, one in UK and one branch in CT (name Karpas).

  3. My paternal grandparents came from Linkova and Dusetos, Chaim Dovid Harris, and settled in Oudtshoorn in 1902. My late father, Dr. Joe Harris practiced medicine in Uniondale which had a Ponevez congregation. My late uncle, Dr. Jacob Harris practiced as an ophthalmologist in Port Elizabeth. My maternal grandfather, Herman Silverman, came from Chweidan and settled in Johannesburg.

  4. My grandmother’s family was Sax in the US (possibly Sachs or Zachs in Lithuania) from Riteve. I got a copy of the yarzheit book from a publisher in South Africa, and there are several families with those names, so I’m not sure which one it is–maybe all of them!

  5. Grinkiskis and Mariampole – Norfolk, VA; Baltimore, MD and Newburgh, NY (Altschul, Harris, Ellis)
    Jonava – Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; New York, NY (Wender)
    Lygumai – Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Norfolk, VA (Balser)
    Shavli – North Carolina (Max)

    1. My paternal grandmother and her family were from Grinkiskis and possibly my paternal grandfather.
      Her family name was Safer-Saffer Shafer and my granddad was Harris when he immigrated to Leeds,England.
      I would love to hear from Jan Rabinowitz and compare possible family connections.

  6. My message to you bounced. It said:
    Hi Eli,
    I saw your kind note in Litvaksig. I’d love to know more about my ancestral
    shtetl, Vasilishki, which was in Southern Lithuania and is today in
    Varda Epstein
    Efrat, Israel

  7. My family’s name was NOIK (NOIKAS) and mutated to Noyek, Noyk, Noieck, etc., depending on which countries they migrated to. Our shtetlach were Siauliai, Siaulenai, Telsiai, Uzventis, Basalionai, Gargdzai, and the immediate surrounding areas. All in Northwest Lithuania.

    Davida Noyek Handler
    Henderson, Nevada, USA

  8. Shalom Eli,
    My maternal grandmother Bashe Bershansky was born in Jonava near Kovno.
    The original family name was Bortsionsky.
    My cousin,Steven Natelson from Knoxville US compiled a family book “Die Gantze Mishpoche with all the family branches.
    We visited Jonava, Kaunus and Vilna, the cemeteries, shuts and all the sites at Pesach 2014.
    My grandparents met and married in Leeds . All are buried in Leeds cemeteries.

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