80th Anniversary of the Keidan Massacre

By Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov
Dear friends,

Since a few of our Keidaners, who do not speak Hebrew, asked me to write this report, I’m writing it this time in English. I apologize in advance to my Hebrew readers. 

This year, a number of Keidan descendants – both from Israel and the USA – intended to come to Lithuania for the 80th anniversary (August 28, 1941) of the mass slaughter of our families and the whole Jewish community of Kėdainiai. For most of them, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this appeared to be too complicated. Nevertheless, the commemoration meeting by the mass grave in Daukšiai village is already a tradition in Kėdainiai, so it took place as usual in recent years. Like back in 1941, this year also, the day of August 28 fell on Saturday. For this reason, the commemoration meeting was moved to August 29.

The last time I was standing in this Valley of Slaughter[1], on this particular commemoration day, was August 29, 1971, exactly 50 years ago, a few months before leaving Lithuania to Israel. It was also Sunday – as our parents were coming to this place once a year, on the first Sunday following August 28 (in the Soviet Union you couldn’t take a day off on any other day). At that time, we were sure that if we ever manage to leave Lithuania, we will never come back to this place. But time passed, the world map and our minds have changed, and we came to Kėdainiai again.

Thanks to the efforts of Rimantas Žirgulis, a director of the Kėdainiai Regional Museum, who actually became our spokesman and representative versus Kėdainiai district municipality, and readiness of the municipality mayor, Valentinas Tamulis, to cooperate, a few changes were made at this mass murder site and the old Jewish cemetery of Kėdainiai:

  • the memorial erected in 1957 by the generation of our parents, Holocaust survivors, was renewed
  • a new memorial plaque was installed (the controversial number of victims was removed. It was added there by the local authorities at the end of the 70s, and was based on the infamous K. Jaeger’s report, disclosed by Soviets in 1963. Since there are other testimonies, and the actual number is difficult to prove now, 80 years after the massacre, it was decided to remove the number at all). The plaque was funded by the Association of the Keidan Jews in Israel
  • the whole site was cleared, a small area around the memorial was paved and a staircase leading to the memorial was constructed
  • the fallen and inclined tombstones at the old Jewish cemetery were raised to the upright position. So, the cemetery, cleaned from weeds and wild vegetation (and freshly mowed before the commemoration day) looks now completely different

Almost 50 people participated in the commemoration.  Among them:

  • a group of people from the Kėdainiai municipality, including the vice mayor Paulius Aukštikalnis
  • a group of fellow workers from the Kėdainiai Regional museum, including its director, Rimantas Žirgulis, and a head of its Multicultural Center, Audronė Pečiulytė
  • a group of teachers and students from the Kėdainiai Atžalynas gymnasium, among them the teachers, Laima Ardavičienė and Aušra Aksomaitytė-Ščiukienė 
  • I‘m sorry not to mention all those whom I do not know yet personally, but must note, that not only people connected to the museum or municipality came to the meeting, but apparently not related people arrived as well. Thus, a young couple, Loreta and Linas Pankūnai with their teenage sons arrived with two national flags of Israel.
  • because of COVID, the Jewish representation at the commemoration was more limited: David Kagan with his daughter Talia arrived from New York, another representative of the Kagan family, Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov with his wife Mila, came from Israel, Sender Girshovich came from Klaipeda and two representatives of Shneider family – Vitaly David and his son Igor came from Vilnius. Last, but most important, a leading singer of the Lithuanian National Opera, Rafailas Karpis, arrived from Vilnius to take part in the meeting.
photo_250 photo_210 photo_130 photo_120 photo_90 photo_20 photo_120 photo_140 photo_60 photo_160 photo_180 photo_190 photo_10 photo_90

As the vast majority of participants were Lithuanians, the meeting was held – except for the prayers recited in Hebrew – in the Lithuanian language. 

Because of this, I try to translate (not literally, but so as to preserve the essence of the talks) and present here a summary of things being said.

The commemoration meeting was opened at 15:00 by Rimantas Žirgulis. He told that Kėdainiai had seen many tragedies in its history, but this mass murder which happened here 80 years ago, was undoubtedly the most horrible, bloody and brutal event in its history – when a few dozens of Kėdainiai townsmen murdered from two to more than three thousands of Kėdainiai, Šėta and Žeimiai Jews only because they were Jews. „Those people, who lived in our town for more than three hundred years, who were our neighbors, who created this town with us, built it, traded in it, bought in the same shops, who were an integral part ofKėdainiai, Šėta, and Žeimiai communities and their economic life. Because of a crazy idea of some madmen that these people have no right to live, on one single day in the course of a few hours, a few dozen of our Lithuanian fellow citizens guided by several German Nazis drove all those people to this pit – 100 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2.5 meters deep.“ 

To honor the martyrs, Rimantas declared a few minutes of silence. We knew that at that moment, other Keidaners joined us in different parts of the world.

Flowers were put on the memorial and candles were lit. 

Rimantas continued by telling that 10 years ago, on the 70th anniversary of this tragedy, when the memorial iron boards holding the names of the murdered, were erected here, a Jewish Keidan descendant, prof. Mira Sklarew from the USA participated in the commemoration.  A singer Vilma Merkytė performed then „The Songs of Orphans“. Hearing the song, Rimantas felt, that Kėdainiai became orphaned after the war. “Fortunately, out of thousands murdered, a handful of Kėdainiai Jews survived the Holocaust. Therefore today we have a possibility to be with our guests, their descendants, who came from Israel and the USA[2]. Their visit and relations we keep with them are very important for us” – said Rimantas. “Despite all the horrible things that happened here – following which some people totally cut off their ties with Lithuania and Kėdainiai – they came to participate in this commemoration together with us. Moreover, the Israel Association of Keidan Jews brought a present – a new memorial plaque, funded by them and now installed on the memorial. This memorial was erected here by Kėdainiai Holocaust survivors in 1957. It was recently renewed by the Kėdainiai municipality and the whole place around the memorial was ordered and reorganized, looking today completely different, more decent and civilized than it looked for dozens of years, and I want to thank the municipality for this.” 

 On behalf of the Israel Association of Keidaners, I tried to talk in Lithuanian, which I didn’t use for the last 50 years. Because of this and because I didn’t want to repeat things that were already said, I changed my introduction, so the talk went stumbling, but it can be approximately summarized as follows. I told that I’m glad to see that so many people gathered here. “When I came to Lithuania for the first time, 15 years ago, I saw that nothing changed here from the time I left. Nobody took care of Jewish heritage, there were almost no signs that Jews ever lived in Kėdainiai. But about 10 years ago, I’ve discovered two new friends here – Rimantas and Laima, and today, looking at the people who gathered here, I see that we have many more friends in Kėdainiai.  And this is exciting.”

“Each time, when this day approaches (and in recent years we commemorate it simultaneously in Israel and Lithuania), I recall the Hebrew saying of Passover: ‘On this day each of us must see himself as if he came out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom’. On such a day as this, on the contrary, I see myself standing among my family members and other Keidan Jews in this death pit, and with time this feeling becomes more painful. Sometimes people wonder – why to be occupied with these old memories, with those people who are dead for so many years, and nobody can help them today? Then I always recall a book, which I received as a present on my 10th birthday. The book was named ‘The Legend about Till Ulenspiegel and his Adventures’ [3]. It was written in an easy-going manner, as if for the children, and published in the children’s publishing house. But it talked also about hard things, and among others, about Till’s father, who was burnt at stake following a false denunciation by his neighbor. At night, Till sneaked to the execution place, picked up a handful of ashes of his father, and filled with it a small bag, which from that time he always carried on his chest, like a medallion. Whenever anybody started talking to him, Till’s first words were: ‘My father’s ashes are pounding on my heart’, irrelevant of the circumstances and the topic of the conversation. And this is exactly what I want to say here: ‘All these years the ashes of the murdered are pounding on my heart’, and I‘m unable to forget them.”

“I want to add that in all those years after the war, Jewish pain was totally denied by Soviet authorities. It wasdiscarded to such an extent, that the word ‘Jew’ wasn’t allowed to be written on memorials at the mass graves all over Lithuania and the Soviet Union. The same happened in Kėdainiai – ‘To the Victims of Fascist Terror’ was written there for many years. Only by the end of the 70s, a new inscription appeared, saying that Jews were murdered here.”

“Two things are important to us: acknowledgment of the Jewish suffering and pain, and preservation of Jewish memory in Kėdainiai.

Coming in recent years to Kėdainiai, I see more signs of the former Jewish presence in the city, and I want to thank all Kėdainiai people who are responsible for this. First of all – Rimantas Žirgulis from the Kėdainiai Regional Museum, then – Valentinas Tamulis, the Kėdainiai district mayor, Audrone Pečiulytė from theKėdainiai Regional Museum and Laima Ardavičienė from the Kėdainiai Atžalynas gymnasium for their most important educational activity – so that the young Kėdainiai generation knew that other people also lived once in this town, that they were innocently murdered, and that such atrocities should never happen again in the future.“

Finally, according to the old Jewish tradition, I recited psalms and El Male Rachamim to those lying in the common grave.  

The vice mayor of Kėdainai, Paulius Aukštikalnis, greeted all those who came for the commemoration. He told that it is very difficult to talk on such occasions, to find proper words for such tragedy. “This is mainly done by historians. The birch tree by the memorial with an iron rod of the fence passing through its trunk symbolizes brothers and sisters who fell into this pit when lead bullets pierced their hearts. Such tragedy is like a severe burn for a human being. We must always remember this. The second tragedy would be to forget such events. So, we must thank people like Rimantas, Audrone, and other members of this community who do not allow us to forget, who each year remind us of what had happened here, and who organize such commemorations. We will not have proper knowledge of how to create a future without remembering the painful events that burnt us. Forgetting history can lead us to great errors. Although 80 years passed and the blood is soaked deep in this ground, remembering this event is very important to all of us. Politicians should be brought to such places and shown that such things should not happen. Such gatherings and sincere discussions will only strengthen us as a society and allow us to proceed further into the future. You, Rimantas, don’t have to thank the municipality for upgrading this place, but we must thank you for telling us what should be done – so that the history will not disappear. I wish all of us to leave this place remembering what had happened here and reminding the young generation what shouldn’t be done. Only in this way, we will not destroy ourselves.”

Rafailas Karpis concluded the meeting with a breathtaking performance of Kaddish.  


An hour later, being accompanied by Darius Mažintas (piano), he gave a beautiful concert of Yiddish songs in the Town Hall of Kėdainiai. This was one of the best performances of Yiddish songs (in clear Lithuanian Yiddish) I ever heard. 

To get an impression of the event, here’s a link to a set of photographs:


The following report was broadcast the same day during the evening news on Balticum TV – the cable channel covering the whole Kėdainiai district:


It includes excerpts of short interviews, given separately by Rimantas and me before the event. Although, for those who do not speak Lithuanian, there is a problem…

As a continuation of this memorable day, on September 17, 2021, another event took place in Kėdainiai: “The Road of the Memory 1941-2021”. It was a part of the similar commemoration events in several other small and large towns of Lithuania – marking the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania in 1941, when almost the whole Lithuanian Jewish population was brutally annihilated in the course of a few summer and autumn months.

It included a memory march, starting in the park (the former estate, where Jews were kept for almost two weeks before their bitter end) and walking to the slaughter place at Daukšiai village, where the commemoration meeting took place.

In addition to our Kėdainiai friends, who already participated in the commemoration of August 29, Tomas Bičiūnas a member of the Lithuanian parliament from Kėdainiai, Ronaldas Račinskas, from Vilnius, a chairman of the international commission for evaluation of crimes of the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes in Lithuania, Gercas Žakas, a chairman of the Kaunas Jewish community, and several new other people joined the march. Children from the six Kėdainiai schools (one class from each school) were invited as well. The weather was cold and very windy. It was raining the night before, so part of the road was muddy and slippery. Still nobody complaint. Somebody said: “our inconvenience because of the weather is nothing compared to what suffered Jews walking their last road”. One of the large posters had the following text: “We love the Jewish people. We are in pain because of the Holocaust”.

The commemoration meeting took place by the mass grave. Borisas Kiržneris played violin. Israel ambassador to Lithuania, Yossi Levy, and a cultural attaché of the Federal Republic of Germany, Anja Luther, came from Vilnius to take part in the event:



A few days ago we received a new present from Laima Ardavičienė and her students.  

In recent years, the Lithuanian Radio and Television (LRT) authority created a series of documentaries about Lithuanian towns and shtetls and their lost Jewish communities.  

The layout of all these documentaries is similar – two young people are walking around the town, discussing various aspects of its Jewish history. 

One of these documentaries was about Kėdainiai.  Unfortunately, there were no English subtitles. In the last months, Laima and her students worked hard to dub this documentary into English. Here you have a result of their work: 


With best regards,
Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov
a secretary of the Association of the Keidan Jews in Israel

[1] Jeremiah 7:32 

[2] In fact, a few descendants from Lithuania participated in the meeting as well, but we didn’t know that at that moment. 

[3] More precisely: “The Legend about Till Ulespiegel and Lamme Goedzak and their Adventures Heroical, Joyous and Glorious in the Land of Flanders and Elsewhere” was authored by a Flemish writer, Charles de Coster in 1867. Published in Russian in 1956, the book described the Flemish struggle against Spanish oppressors in the 16th century. The atmosphere in the country (Holland) strikingly resembled the one in the Soviet Union under the iron fist of the KGB. It’s a miracle that the book was published there at that time.  



By Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov

The Salomon Family

Article from 1995 – Just sent to me by David Caddack
Mandelbaum copy
Extract from Mandelbaum’s article

Simcha Mandelbaum’s Book
From my 2014 blog:
203 Years Ago Today Zalman Tzoref Arrived In Israel

203 Years Ago Today Zalman Tzoref Arrived In Israel

Today, on Hoshana Raba in 1811, my 3rd great grandfather, Avraham Shlomo Zalman Zoref arrived in Israel from Keidan in Lithuania. Zoref, a student of the Vilna Gaon, was the leader of the pioneers …

Source: elirab.me/203-years-ago-today-zalman-tzoref-arrived-in-israel/

In the Footsteps of Zalman Tzoref: A film by Orna Bird and Omri Lior.

In the Footsteps of Zalman Tzoref: A film by Orna Bird and Omri Lior.

This video is about Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref. It is a trailer for the full length documentary film made by Orna Bird and Omri Lior!

Source: youtu.be/_oRwIM796A0

Keidan Commemoration 28 August 2020

Greetings to all our Keidaner community and friends!   

from Aryeh (Leonard) Shcherbakov
secretary of the Association of Keidaners in Israel

Israel July 2019

For those of you who are not members of the “Roots in Keidan” group on Facebook, and couldn’t attend the commemoration meeting, we send the following note. 

As you know, yesterday, Friday, August 28, 2020, we commemorated the 79th anniversary of extermination of our families, who were brutally slaughtered together with all Jewish community of Kėdainiai (Keidan) in one single day – on August 28, 1941. 

Two simultaneous commemoration ceremonies were held at 11:00, one – in Israel, by the memorial dedicated to the lost communities of Kėdainiai, Ariogala, Dotnuva, Krakės, and Šėta, at the old cemetery in Holon, another – in Lithuania, by the mass grave in Kėdainiai. 

The first one was conducted by a number of descendants of the Keidan Jewish community living in Israel, the second – by our Lithuanian friends in Kėdainiai, who are faithfully devoted to the preservation of memory of our community.  

Israel 28 August 2020

Kedainiai, Lithuania 28 August 2020

We thank all those who attended – both in Lithuania and Israel – as well as those who were with us at this sad hour. 

Our special thanks to Mrs.Laima Ardavičienė, who prepared a touching presentation commemorating the tragic fate of our community – “Every single man has a name”: 




With best regards,
Aryeh (Leonard) Shcherbakov
secretary of the Association of Keidaners in Israel

Kedainiai June 2019

In memory of Simon Davidovich z”l

Israel Jul 2019

With Ben-Tsion and Batya
With Len
With Aryeh

They Are Returning – A Year On!

Atzalynas Gimnazija, Kedainiai Lithuania

Reflecting back to  June 2019

Rabbi Dan Fink

Bobbie Lamont

Eli Rabinowitz 

13 June 2019


They Are Returning


For video, click here:

Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZXBEuPfeFc

Rabbi Dan Fink handing out gifts to students
With Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon
Photos of our group – descendants of Keidaners

At the school

At the cemetery

At the Holocaust site

Vale Simonas Dovidavicius. 

Standing between Laima Ardaviciene and me in Kėdainiai, Lithuania on 15 June this year. Simon passed away last week and was laid to rest on the 18th December 2019. 

With Rimantas Zirgulis


Birzh Commemoration – A Reflection In The Stone!



On 16 June 2019, a new memorial for the victims of the massacre that took place near Birzai, Lithuania, was unveiled. Located in the Astravas Grove in the Pakamponys forest four kilometres outside the town, it is the third memorial in Lithuania to bear the names of the victims at the massacre site.

Source: www.sajbd.org/media/the-birzai-birzh-memorial-project-lithuania

Ben Rabinowitz

Look at the reflection on the memorial stone in his photo taken (by someone else) of Ben Rabinowitz in the above article! Eerie!

Birzai Commemoration

My 16 June 2019 post

Birzai Commemoration

Sunday 16 June 2019 Birzai, Lithuania Photos of the event The Castle Tree planting Walk to the Holocaust Site The Ceremony Back to the Castle

Source: elirab.me/birzai-commemoration/

Ben Rabinowitz
Eli Rabinowitz & Ben Rabinowitz
With Veronica Belling
With other Litvak activists!

Birzai, Lithuania – Website  Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/birzai/Home.html

The Lost Names of Lithuania Final TX

The Lost Names of Lithuania Final TX

This is “The Lost Names of Lithuania Final TX” by MDK Associates on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

Source: vimeo.com/392266976

Other Commemorations in the European Summer:
Shabbat in Keidan
They Are Returning

They Are Returning

Atzalynas Gimnazija, Kedainiai Lithuania 13 June 2019 VIDEO OF OUR EVENT IN LITHUANIA They Are Returning ‘’TILTAI-BRIDGES-בריקן’’ For video, click here: Source: www.youtube.co…

Source: elirab.me/they-are-returning/

Kedainiai, Lithuania Website:

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/kedainiai/Home.html

Bielski Reunion in Belarus

Bielski Reunion in Forest Jerusalem 2019

Bielski Reunion in Forest Jerusalem 2019

    9 July 2019, Naliboki Forest A Day with the Bielskis 9:00 – All the guests are brought to the village of Naliboki by minivans.  11.00  – meeting Alexander Pilinkievich…

Source: elirab.me/bielski-reunion-in-forest-jerusalem-2/

Novogrudok, Belarus – Website

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/navahrudak/Home.html

Naliboki Belarus – Website



They Are Returning

Atzalynas Gimnazija, Kedainiai Lithuania

13 June 2019


They Are Returning


For video, click here:

Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZXBEuPfeFc

Rabbi Dan Fink handing out gifts to students
With Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon
Photos of our group – descendants of Keidaners

At the school

At the cemetery

At the Holocaust site


In August of this year, an article appeared on the website of the Lithuanian municipality of Kėdainiai, under the headline: “With a minute of silence, Kėdainiai met Tel Aviv.” The text described an annual event, begun only a few years ago, commemorating the extermination of Kedainiai’s Jewish community on August 28, 1941, during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania.

At precisely 18:30, local leaders and others observed a minute of silence – while at that same moment, in Israel, descendants of that vanished Jewish community, who called their home Keidan, were doing the same thing.

Two simultaneous ceremonies – one at the hall of the association of the Vilna Jews in Tel Aviv, the other by the mass grave where more than 2,000 Keidan Jews were murdered 77 years earlier.

Such commemorations are a longstanding tradition in Israel, home to thousands of Jews who trace their families to Lithuania. But in Lithuania itself this is relatively new, and still uncommon, tradition. Kėdainiai’s annual observance began several years ago, and has grown each year. This year it was led by Saulius Grinkevičius, mayor of the municipality, and Rimantas Žirgulis, director of the regional museum. The participants included two mayor’s deputies, the heads of local cultural and educational institutions, members of the administration and museum workers, school teachers and other Kėdainiai citizens. A local television station broadcast the ceremony.

The event reflects an important recent change in public consciousness and attitude. To a significant degree, Lithuanians are confronting their country’s painful past. This is reflected in the  media, in increased research into local Jewish history and culture, and in the restoration of sites related to Lithuania’s former Jewish communities. In Kėdainiai, the regional museum and its director have played an important role, as have teachers such as Laima Ardavičieneof the Kėdainiai Atžalynas gymnasium, or secondary school. As it was often in the past, Kėdainiai is providing leadership and serving as a role model for other communities in Lithuania.

Supporting those efforts going forward is a recently published English translation of the Keidan yizkor book – a volume of memoirs, historical accounts and other material gathered from survivors and descendants of the Jewish community after World War II. Originally published mostly in Hebrew and Yiddish in 1977, the book offers a multi-faceted view of Jewish life in Keidan – its history, its religious, educational, social and cultural institutions, youth organizations, portraits of its prominent people, recollections of witnesses and survivors before, during and after the Holocaust.

Cover of the Keidan Memorial (Yizkor) Book, recently translated into English. Edited by Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov aryeh.shcherbakov@gmail.comand Andrew Cassel awcassel@gmail.com of the Keidan Associations of Israel and the U.S.; published by David Solly Sandler sedsand@iinet.net.auin Perth, Australia.  The book is obtainable from any of the three above mentioned

Photos of Commemoration in Kedainiai – 28 August 2018

A section of the memorial erected in 2011 at the site of the Jews’ massacre near Kedainiai. Names of the victims were recorded as cutouts in the metal sheet.

At the site of the 28 August 1941 massacre of Kedainiai’s Jews. Mayor Saulius Grinkevičius lays flowers, while Rimantas Žirgulis (in white shirt) observes.

Local students and media participated in the commemoration.

Laima Ardavičiene, a teacher at the Kėdainiai Atžalynas gymnasium, records the event.

Article and photos by :Aryeh Leonard Shcherbakov aryeh.shcherbakov@gmail.com and Andrew Cassel awcassel@gmail.com of the Keidan Associations of Israel and the U.S and David Solly Sandler sedsand@iinet.net.au of Perth, Australia.

Other Compilations of David Solly Sandler 


Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/Johannesburg/Solly.html

Kedainiai Kehilalink

Kedainiai, Lithuania

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/kedainiai/

Kedainiai 2018

Rooted in Keidan

Rooted in Keidan

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…

Source: allequalalldifferent.weebly.com/rooted-in-keidan.html

Preserving Jewish memory – Bringing history to …- Mind Map

Preserving Jewish memory – Bringing history to …- Mind Map

Educational projects, Academic process, Meeting Keidaners 

Source: www.mindomo.com/mindmap/preserving-jewish-memory-bringing-history-to-life-349664be0856419193573b426f451039

Dan Fink – Rooted in Kedainiai


Dan Fink

Source: youtu.be/UWwTFIiMGg8

Kedainiø „Atþalyno“ gimnazija

K�dainiø „Atþalyno“ gimnazija

Source: atzalynas.kedainiai.lm.lt

Springtime – arriving at school
Keidaner Family Tree on Laima’s class room wall
New artwork
Virtual Meeting – Atzalynas Gimnazija, Kedainiai and Jerusalem Efrata College

Dr Ben-tsion Klibansky

Short Video

One of the MA students


The Video taken from the Israeli side

Virtual Meeting – Kėdainių „Atžalyno“ Gimnazija and Jerusalem Efrata College

A virtual meeting between students of the English teacher Laima Ardaviciene.at Atzalynas Gimnazija, Kedainiai and students of the lecturer Dr. Ben-Tsiyon Klib…

Source: youtu.be/menN7r4qsmM

An interview with Simonas


Morning Tea
Tea with the Director of the school, Gintaras Petrulis, teachers and students
Urte sings a Lithuanian folk song

about a soldier and a girl


Atzalynas Gimnazija song

Source: youtu.be/5GQHA4ZYYpY


Tour of the school

With Mantas and Arnas

The Atzalynas students with Laima at the Museum groundbreaking ceremony in Seduva

With Laima and Edwin Glasenberg  – framed sketch featuring a joint project between Atzalynas School and the Seduva High School
With Laima and student Giedrius
Tour of Old Kedainiai with Algirdas Juknevicius and two students, Mantas and Arnas, to help translate.

The complex of the two former synagogues

With Laima and Algirdas





Rebuilding the old bridge

Thank you, Algirdas

With Arnas, Mantas and Laima


Restoration of synagogue under way

Kedainiai. Past & Present

Video by Laima Ardaviciene

Kedainiai. Past & Present

Kedainiai. Past & Present

Source: youtu.be/R-CKRm7uxy0

Recital in the former synagogue

Featuring Rachel Elezi – New York


The Holocaust Mass Grave and Memorial 

The Jewish Cemetery
An aerial photo of the Kedainiai Jewish cemetery. Laima’s students have been cleaning and documenting the matsevot.
Oak Trees Planted for Keidaners

 Memorial in Josvainiai near Kedainiai    



Josvainiai – Wikipedia

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.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josvainiai

From Keidan to Ra’anana to Orlando

 Kedainiai June 2017

Class-2s Class-3s Class-5s Draw-1s Draw-2s Draw-3s Class-1s
Original article in Lithuanian


Google Translated

with a little help from me!

Gimnazistai – kėdainietiškų Jewish Roots Lecture

Akvilė KUPČINSKAITĖ – 19:00 June 13th. 2017

“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!