Sammy Marks & Heiny Ellert

Two men who came from the same town of Neishtot-Tavrig  in Lithuania

Sammy Marks square in Pretoria is one of the best known landmarks in South Africa’s capital city, but how many people actually know who Sammy Marks was?

The interesting history of Sammy Marks on Simcha TV (South Africa SABC) with Prof Richard Mendelsohn (ret) UCT History Dept.

Simcha TV

Simcha is SABC 2’s Jewish Magazine programme aimed at allowing Jews to celebrate their life of faith and culture and offering others an opportunity to learn about Judaism.

Naumiestis, Lithuania


This town in Lithuania has over time been known as eleven different names!
Heiny Ellert
Another son of this town is Heiny Ellert, who lives in Perth Australia
Heiny’s  story is also on the above KehilaLink
Heiny Ellert’s Testimony

Heiny Ellert’s Testimony

Heiny Ellert, a Lithuanian Holocaust survivor, tells his story to Eli Rabinowitz. Accompanying him is his wife Toby, also from Lithuania, but who escaped to …


His photebook is also on the KehilaLink:
Photo book


TEC News From Lithuania

TEC – Tolerance Educational Centres in Schools.


Established by the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania.
The Commission was established upon the Lithuanian independence, and has been under the chairmanship of Emmanuel Zingeris, the long-serving Jewish Member of the Seimas.

In 2004 the Tolerance Centre principle was approved. The Tolerance Centre in Plunge was the 8th such centre established. There are now in excess of 100. The co-ordinator of the T C in each school, or museum, has autonomy.

The emphasis on the Tolerance Centre in Plunge is on the Jewish tragedy rather than the Russian brutality. Naturally, we are more concerned with the crimes against the Jews. Programs also include a study of Jewish life before WWll.
There are a number of Jews who are against the “Commission” because they are there also to teach about the Soviet regime.









Visit the KehilaLinks for many of these towns

New Jewish Websites & Shemot


In honour of the Jewish Pedlar or Smous – see Graaf Reinet KehilaLink


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My article about the Shanghai KehilaLink has been published in the April 2016 edition of Shemot, the publication of the JGS of Great Britain.

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My interest in family history started in 1992, after my cousin wrote seven ancestors’ names down on a scrap piece of paper.

I have had many genealogical success stories since then. This is due to my often unorthodox, multi focused approach, described by my daughter in law as “tangential”!

In 2011 I visited Eastern Europe for the first time. My heritage travels have taken me back four additional times. I have visited Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Hungary, Germany, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

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I started writing KehilaLinks in 2011, the first being for Orla, near Bialystok in Poland in 2011.

What is a KehilaLink:

JewishGen KehilaLinks (formerly “ShtetLinks”) is a project facilitating web pages commemorating the places where Jews have lived.  KehilaLinks provides the opportunity for anyone with an interest in a place to create web pages about that community.  These web pages may contain information, pictures, databases, and links to other sources providing data about that place.

Kehila קהילה [Hebrew] n. (pl. kehilot קהילות): Jewish Community.  It is used to refer to a Jewish community, anywhere in the world.

Sites are hosted by JewishGen, the world’s largest Jewish genealogical organisation, an affiliate of the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York City. JewishGen provides amateur and professional genealogists with the tools to research their Jewish family history and heritage.

People are invited to send in their own stories, photos and memoirs. There is no cost in participating in a KehilaLink and it is a great way to share one’s family history


My list has grown to 63 websites with 3 more in the pipeline.

The full list and links are available at

The Shanghai KehilaLink

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Ironically, the one place I have not been to is Shanghai! Yet, I have been drawn to it by its connection to the Jewish people and especially because of the story of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Kovno, the capital of Lithuania during WWII. Against his government’s wishes, Sugihara issued transit visas to Jews, enabling them to get to Shanghai, and therefore saved many lives. The story only surfaced in the 1970s. See  Rabbi Levi Wolff of Sydney Central Synagogue:

The video:

Sugihara also appears on several of  my other KehilaLinks: Mir in Belarus, Kedainiai in Lithuania, and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia.

See also:

Four New South African KehilaLinks

This week we went live with:


Graaff Reinet



Please visit the sites. If you have connections to these towns or cities, please contact me.

There are already some interesting contributions:

Read about the tribute to the Jewish pedlar (smous) from Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft


Photos of the Wertheim family from Amanda Katz Jermyn: Read Amanda’s story:


Amanda’s grandfather’s uncle, Hermann Wertheim, his wife Mathilde, and children Julius, Max, Fanny and Fritz who lived in Graaff-Reinett. It was taken in about 1892


The general store, Wille & Wertheim, formerly Baumann Bros., where Amanda’s grandfather, August Katz came to work for his uncle Hermann Wertheim.

August Katz, Boer War

August Katz, Amanda’s grandfather, in his British Boer War uniform


Grave of Fritz Wertheim, son of Mathilde and Hermann Wertheim. Hermann was a brother of Amanda’s great-grandmother, Mathilde Wertheim.

Kol Tuv



Five New KehilaLinks


I am pleased to advise that I am now working on five new KehilaLinks.

I compile and manage these Jewish websites as a volunteer for, the world’s largest Jewish genealogical organisation.

JewishGen should be the first stop in the journey of discovery of your family history.

If you have roots in these towns, please contact me at

I hope you are able to share your family’s story and photos of Jewish life in these places.


Ziezmariai (Zhezhmir)

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Ukmerge (Vilkomir)

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Jelgava (Mitau)

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South Africa


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Graaff Reinet

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Have a look at the list of KehilaLinks I manage:



Sydney Talk & New KehilaLinks

Please note that my Sydney talk now starts at 8pm on Thursday 5 November 2015:

Sydney Central Flyer

The Melbourne talk is as before on Sunday 1 November at 8pm


Please look at the new Sydney and Melbourne KehilaLinks / Jewish websites.


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Please email your family photos and stories to

Talk in Israel & New KehilaLinks

If you are in the Herzlia, Israel area on Sunday night, 5 July, don’t miss this presentation at Beth Protea at 7:30pm:

Exploring our Roots: Back to the Shtetl


A virtual heritage tour and contemporary photographic journey to unlock the mysteries of Jewish life in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

Discover how to share your family stories and cultural yiddishkeit.

For more details, visit:

Telfed 1

Telfed 2


From JewishGen

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We are pleased to welcome the following webpages to JewishGen KehilaLinks

We thank the owners and webmasters of these webpages for creating fitting
memorials to these Kehilot (Jewish Communities) and for providing a
valuable resource for future generations of their descendants:

Druskininkai (Drosknik, Druskiniki), Lithuania
Created by Eli Rabinowitz

GOOD NEWS!  The following webpages were adopted:

Created by Joseph Rosin z”l (webmaster: Joel Alpert)
Adopted by Eli Rabinowitz

I have updated Birzh

Birzai (Birzh)

The others will follow:

Alytus (Olita)

Kaisiadorys (Koshedar)

Kapciamiestis (Kopcheve)

Klaipeda (Memel)

Kybartai (Kibart)

Marijampole (Mariampol)

Kudirkos Naumiestis (Naishtot)

Panevezys (Ponavesh)

Varena (Aran)

This is the full list of the 25 sites adopted: