My Talks at the Great Park & Gardens Shuls

 Traces and Memories of Jewish Life 

Connecting to our Litvak shtetls
The Great Park Synagogue RCHCC, Johannesburg
5 February 2017 at 7:30pm


The Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the Gardens Shul, Cape Town


Chaim Bargman has been a beloved guide and genealogist for international Jewish-interest tourists in the Kaunas (Kovno) area for decades, and was immortalized in the late Dan Jacobson’s Heshel’s Kingdom (1998).

With a previous speaker, Dr Samuel Kassow in Seattle WA

With Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Program Director of Polin, Warsaw

From Kaunas to Klaipeda

Chaim Bargman travelled with me to several places west of Kaunas, halfway to Klaipeda.

He is very knowledgeable, has many haimisher stories and sad ones too, of course.

He is extremely outgoing and will chat to anybody of any age, and they are charmed by him!

The view of Kaunas from the hill on the other side of the Neman river.



Jewish cemeteries of Kaunas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aleksotas Jewish cemetery

The Jewish cemeteries of Kaunas are the four Jewish cemeteries of the Lithuanian Jews living in Kaunas, known to them as KovneLithuania. Jewish people started settling in Kaunas in the second half of the 17th century. They were not allowed to live in the city, so most of them stayed in the Vilijampolė settlement on the opposite than Kaunas Castle right bank of theNeris River, near the its confluence with the Nemunas River. Since the second half of the 19th century, Kaunas became a major center of Jewish cultural and economic activity in Lithuania.

The oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilijampolė was destroyed by the Soviet authorities after World War II during the Soviet occupation and Lithuanian SSR times, and the fourth is still active.[1]

The second and the largest Jewish cemetery is situated in the residential Žaliakalnis elderate, near the Ąžuolynas park. Among others, the Rabbi of Kovno and the head of Kovno Kollel Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor was buried in the Jewish cemetery of Žaliakalnis. The cemetery is left neglected at the moment.[2]

The third cemetery is located in the Panemunė elderate on the left bank of the Nemunas River. Only 3 gravestones are visible in the Jewish cemetery of Panemunė.

The fourth and still active Jewish cemetery is located in Aleksotas elderate near the Nemunas River.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Babtai is located in Lithuania


Babtai is a small town 24 km (15 mi) north of Kaunas, in Kaunas County, in central Lithuania. It is situated on the left bank of the Nevėžis River. As of 2001 it had a population of 1,715.[1] Situated on the historic road from Kaunas to Riga, it played a role in the trade between Lithuania and Livonia. In 1792, the town received Magdeburg rights and coat of arms. The town declined after construction of railways.[2]


We visit the Babtai Holocaust Memorial which is well hidden away, out of town.

It takes a great sense of direction to find the beacon and quite a challenge to get there, but we made it!

Raseiniai (About this sound pronunciation ) is a city in Lithuania. It is located on the south eastern foothills of the Samogitianshighland, some 5 km (3.1 mi) north from the Kaunas–Klaipėda highway.

Lunch in Raseiniai. Chaim connects with everyone!


The Memorial Museum of Dionizas Poska, Bijotai

Run by the delightful Judita & Vaida

We visit Brone Jurgeliene, who saved a boy. Brone was recognised by Yad Vashem in 1998.

Righteous Among the Nations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 The term originates with the concept of “righteous gentiles“, a term used in rabbinical Judaism to refer to non-Jews, as ger toshav and ger zedek, who abide by the Seven Laws of Noah.

Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrewחסידי אומות העולם‎, khassidey umot ha-olam “righteous (plural) of the world’s nations”) is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis.

Video – together with the barking dog!

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I drove on to  Klaipeda, once known as Memel, Lithuania’s port. Chaim returned to Kaunas by getting a ride with someone yet to be decided!


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
City municipality
Skyline of Klaipėda
Flag of Klaipėda
Coat of arms of Klaipėda
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Uostamiestis (port city)
Location of Klaipėda
Location of Klaipėda
Coordinates: 55°42′40″N 21°07′50″ECoordinates55°42′40″N 21°07′50″E
Country  Lithuania
Ethnographic region Lithuania minor
County Klaipėda County
Municipality Klaipėda city municipality
Capital of Klaipėda County
Klaipėda city municipality
First mentioned 1252
Granted city rights 1254
Elderships Melnragė and Giruliai
 • Total 110 km2 (40 sq mi)
Elevation 21 m (69 ft)
Population (2014)
 • Total 157,350[1]
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 91100-96226
Area code(s) (+370) 46

Klaipėda (pronounced [ˈkɫɐɪˑpʲeːd̪ɐ] ( )GermanMemel) is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Danė Riverwhere it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County.

The city has a complex recorded history, partially due to the combined regional importance of the Port of Klaipėda, a usually ice-free port on the Baltic Sea, and the Akmena – Danė River. It has been controlled by the Teutonic Knights, theDuchy of Prussia, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Entente States immediately after World War I, Lithuania as a result of the 1923 Klaipėda Revolt, and the Third Reich following the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania. The city was incorporated into Lithuania during its tenure as a Soviet Socialist Republic and has remained within Lithuania following its re-establishment as an independent state.

The population shrank from 207,100 in 1992 to 157,350 in 2014. Popular seaside resorts found close to Klaipėda are Nida to the south on the Curonian Spit, and Palanga to the north.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Memel is the name for both a town and a river (the same river in the neighboring country has the name Nemunas/Neman River and Njemen in Belarus). Memel was derived from the CouronianLatvian language: memelis, mimelis, mēms and means mute, silent. It may refer to:

  • Memel, a city in East Prussia, Germany, now Klaipėda, part of Lithuania
    • Memelburg, the Ordensburg in Memel, a castle built in 1252 by Teutonic Knights which was the nucleus for the city
    • Memel Territory (Memelland), the area separated from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, later called Klaipėda Region
    • Battle of Memel, a siege of the city, from late 1944 to early 1945.
  • Neman River (German Memel), part of a river in East Prussia, Germany, mentioned in the Deutschlandlied (1841) as the eastern border of Germany
  • Nemunėlis River (German Memele, Latvian Mēmele)
  • Memel, Free State, a village in the Free State Province of South Africa, named after the city
  • SS Memel, a German cargo ship in service 1934–45
 The Old Town and Port area