The river of Švėtė divides the town of Žagarė into two historical areas: the Old Žagarė on the left and the New Žagarė on the right bank of the river. Since the 16th century both Žagarės were developing as autonomous towns and they were joined together only in the beginning of the 20th century. Due to this division local Jews also had two separate communities, which stayed that way even after both Žagarės were administratively declared as one town. Žagarė was home to large Jewish community. In the interwar years, there were 3000 Jews here – 57% of the total population. The Jews of Old and New Žagarė had separate kahals, synagogues and rabbinates. The existence of such two communities is also evidenced by the separate Jewish cemeteries of Old Žagarė and New Žagarė, which have survived until the destruction of these communities in the World War II.
In 1712, Jews living in Old Žagarė were granted the right to build the first prayer house. The Jewish cemetery of Old Žagarė is in the northern part of the city. About 100 pink, grey, black granite, concrete tombstones of various shapes have been preserved, mostly with engraved memorial inscriptions in Hebrew. The oldest record dates back to 1830, the latest record to 1934. In the period of 2018–2022, the organization “Maceva” organized the documentation of the remaining tombstones and inscriptions in this cemetery, group of volunteers from Lithuania, Spain and Israel contributed to this heritage preservation project.