My friend, Owen Ogince, was born in Johannesburg, but lived in Theunissen in the Orange Free State in South Africa. He went to boarding school in a larger city, such as Bloemfontein, typical of the many first generation of South African born Jews who lived in the country areas. Their parents often spoke only Yiddish and Afrikaans, creating an interesting sub culture which in many ways reflected their previous lives in the shtetls of Lithuania. They were often referred to as boerejode. For more information on boerejode, see the end of this post.

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I took the opportunity to visit the shtetl of Vabalninkis in Lithuania, where Owen’s family came from.

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The Jewish Cemetery and the memorial to the Resistance.

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The Former Synagogue

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The Boerejode of the Boland