This post covers this year’s visit to my ancestral town of Kedainiai – Keidan in Lithuania and the activities of Laima Ardaviciene, English teacher at the Atzalynas High School. Each time I visit, there are so many new surprises in store for me! Thank you Laima!
70 Years After Destruction, Memory of Lithuanian Community Lives in Diaspora Descendents of Jews From Keidan Proudly Recall Roots People from my grandfather’s hometown in Lithuania were known to be…
Josvainiai is a small town in Kėdainiai district, central Lithuania. It is located on the Šušvė River 10 km southwest from Kėdainiai. In the town there is a Catholic church, secondary school, post office and public library.
Drawings by Julija Chomenko featured in the video below.
Julio completed her schooling at Atzalyno High School last year.
From Laima Ardaviciene, teacher:
Kedainiai Atžalynas gymnasium students continue the Project: TILTAI-BRIDGES-בריקן . From the bottom of our heart we thank Valentinas Tamulis, the headman of Kedainiai, and Rimantas Žirgulis for organising cleaning activities in the old Jewish cemetery. Not a single tombstone is covered by a growing tree or a bush now. All the headstones remind us about the Jewish community that lived in Keidan. We are presenting the recent view of the Old Jewish Cemetery of Keidan.
The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania
Extract from the newsletter
Kėdainiai “Atžalynas” gymnasium Tolerance education Centre administrates an international project on Jewish festivals
Since 2012 Kėdainiai “Atžalynas” gymnasium Tolerance Education Centre has been administrating a project aimed at educating students about the Jewish community history in Kėdainiai region. A special guest from Australia Eli Rabinowitz visits the gymnasium every year to share his knowledge and insights. The project is conducted in English, thus the students not only broaden their outlook, but use the foreign language and develop their English skills.
This year the project focused on Jewish festivals. In winter Eli Rabinowitz held a virtual conference to introduce a festival for the students and in summer, during the visit to Lithuania, the guest continued with stories about other traditional Jewish celebrations.
Atzalynas Gimnazija Kedainiai Visit 2017
Atzalynas Gimnazija Kedainiai Visit 2017
The Keidaner Family tree on Laima’s classroom wall – an unique work of art! The complex of two synagogues and the tree featuring the names of Keidaners, including my 3rd great grandfat…
“Atžalyno Gymnasium was visited by a Jewish guest from Australia, who has kėdainietiškų roots. Eli Rabinowitz met with the academic staff at the high school, attended project activities and visited the Kėdainiai Regional Museum.
The guest to Kėdainiai was invited by Atžalyno High School English teacher Laima Ardavičienė. Since 2012, Laima has been working on a project in which high school students learn in more detail about the history of the Jewish community in our country. Every year, the high school is visited by Eli Rabinowitz and they share their experiences and insights. The project is carried out in English, so that students not only broaden their minds, but also enhance their English language skills.
This year the theme was Jewish holidays. When we celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate the Chanukah festival. Eli Rabinowitz arranged a virtual conference and introduced the festival. Guests who come to Lithuania continue the story of the other traditional Jewish holidays.
The Modern generation does not have time to read long stories. Eli Rabinowitz
Not for the first time
Eli Rabinowitz has visited Kėdainiai each year since 2012. The first time was to to search for his ancestors. In his opinion, Jews should actively search their roots. According to Eli, 95 percent of South African Jews came from Lithuania. Eli has travelled extensively throughout Central and Eastern Europe and has recorded traces of Jewish culture here, taking many pictures and videos. Since 2011, he has taken 18000 photos, using these images in slideshows, which is a good format to convey his experience to the younger generation.
“Young people do not have time to read or hear long stories. Students all over the world prefer stories in short video clips, and other multimedia material “, – said Eli Rabinowitz.
Partisan Song – Vilna ghetto
Earlier this year Eli Rabinowitz was invited to present his project to a large South African high school. There, the students sang the Partisan Song in Yiddish, but did not understand the meaning of this song and the inspiration behind it.
“The song was written in 1943 in the Vilna ghetto by a 20-year-old Jew, Hirsh Glik, who was later killed. It has since then become the anthem of the Holocaust Survivors and is sung regularly. I want this song to spread to young people, so that they recite, sing and understand the meaning”- says Eli Rabinowitz.
The song has also been translated into Lithuanian. A student at Atzalyno recites it as a poem, with a viola playing in the background and images of old Kedainiai.
“To know one’s history is important for us all, because if you do not know where you come from, you do not know where you are headed”, – says Eli Rabinowitz wisely.
12 June 2017
Litvak Roots Lecture in Ra’anana
On June 12th, Eli Rabinowitz spoke in Ra’anana on “In the Footsteps of Zalman Tzoref: Tracing 200 Years of Litvak Family History and Legacy”. The presentation followed Zalman Tzoref’s life. He left Keidan, Lithuania and traveled to Jerusalem where his mission was to rebuild the Ashkenazi community in the Old City. In 2012, Eli returned to the town and re-established his family connections with Tzoref’s birthplace.
Eli Rabinowitz is involved in a wide range of Jewish community activities, including filming events, research, education, arranging exhibitions and lecturing on Jewish cultural heritage and family history.
Orlando Florida 26 July 2017 5pm – 6:15pm
In the Footsteps of Zalman Tzoref: Tracing 200 Years of Litvak Family History and Legacy
Venue: Walt Disney World Swan Resort
Room: Swan 2
At the last two IAJGS conferences a movie about Tzoref was shown. This presentation follows in the movie’s and Tzoref’s footsteps and goes beyond! In 1811, Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref, inspired by the Vilna Gaon, left Keidan, Lithuania for Jerusalem where his mission was to rebuild the Ashkenazi community in the Old City. Tzoref was murdered in 1851, but the story certainly does not end there. We reflect on Tzoref’s life and achievements through his 20,000 strong Salomon descendants, who for 200 years have made their mark as part of his enduring legacy. In 2011, exactly 200 years after Tzoref left Keidan, I return to the town, now called Kedainiai, and re-establish my family connections with his birthplace. Within a few years, I have become active in building bridges in this town in a most unusual way!