Historical Jewish quarter in Širvintos

WORTH VISITING:

A small town of Širvintos is an ideal one-day escape from city lights and noises. The explorers of the town can find small signs from the past, which reminds about different communities that once lived under the same sky of Širvintos. One of these communities – the Jewish community that lived in this town for two centuries.

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BRIEF HISTORY:

At the beginning of the 18th century, there are first mentions in Širvintos of local Jews, who were innkeepers. However, these were only individual cases, and the Jewish community as such settled in only in the 19th century. At that time the new community built its first kloiz and religious schools. The Jewish community in the town grew so fast, that at the dawn of the First World War it constituted the majority of Širvintos population. The main space of the historical Jewish quarter in Širvintos belongs to Vilnius street, where most local Jews lived until the Second World War. Although due to economical reasons quite a large number of Jews from Širvintos emigrated to the USA or South Africa during the interwar period, the ones who stayed were very active members of society and the main traders in Širvintos. Tragically, the whole Jewish community of Širvintos was murdered during the Holocaust in 1941.

CURRENT SITUATION:

During the interwar period, the great mural synagogue stood on the intersection between the current Jaunimo and Upelio streets, and as a usual practice, next to the synagogue stood the house of the local Rabbi. During the Soviet occupation, these buildings were demolished and only our imagination can help us to recreate the spirit of this place a century ago. We will need less imagination to find another mural synagogue in Širvintos – it’s building from the beginning of the 20th century is still extant (Vilniaus str. 37). However, now it is not used as a prayer house, because there is no Jewish community left in Širvintos.

Old Jewish cemetery of Širvintos was destroyed during Soviet occupation (in 1948 and in 1961), and its previous territory was used for new residential houses. There are plausible guesses, that Jewish tombstones from the cemetery were used for the foundations of these houses. However, in 2004 previous place of Jewish cemetery was marked with memory stones.

LOOKING AROUND:

The building of a mural synagogue in Širvintos (Vilniaus str. 37)

Historical Jewish quarter in Ukmergė

Historical Jewish quarter in Kaišiadorys

Historical Jewish quarter in Žiežmariai

The inn in Žiežmariai

The wooden synagogue in Žiežmariai

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