A small town in Southern Lithuania
Where the Jewish Community is no more

With the help of material from the magnificent article by Josef Rosin I am attemting in the following pages to give some small picture of Jewish communal life in Vilkaviskis before it was all tragically destroyed in the summer of 1941.
Shtetl Life -  Social Welfare
Postcards of the Jewish Old Age Home in Vilkaviskis with the kind permission of Hana Slutzki of Kibbutz Maoz Hiam.
Today what was the Jewish Old Age Home is the Vilkaviskis Regional Hospital
Remembering the Jewish Old Age Home

As part of Yossi Ankorion's Plaque Project Yossi produced a plaque commemorating the Jewish Old Age Home .
This pictures show the unveiling of the Plaque by Eli Rutstein who was born here also pictured with our friend Mr. Algis Vaskevicius
The original OZE (Obshchetsvo Zdravookhraneniya Yevreyiev, Organisation for the health protection of Jews), was created in 1912 in Saint Petersburg by doctors, to help needy members of the Jewish population. Branches were established in other countries. In 1923 the organization relocated in Berlin, under the presidency of Albert Einstein. In 1933, fleeing Nazism, it relocated again, this time to France where it became the Ĺ’uvre de Secours aux Enfants (Society for Rescuing Children), retaining a similar acronym.
The OSE in Vilkaviskis
Children at an Ose Summer Camp, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1927
Children at an Ose Summer Camp, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1928
Children in OSE Summer Camp, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1930
Dr. Shapira at an OSE Clinic. Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, c.1920
Sports class at the OSE school for boys, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1926
Children at the 'Kultur League' Day Care Center, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1924

The Jewish Old Age Home Bet Avraham 1909-1941
Laying the Foundation Stone 1909
Free meal for the city poor, Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1925
The Jewish Old Age Home from a picture in 1925

In the Bet Midrash at the old age home. Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, 1926.
In the garden of the Jewish Old Age Home
The old synagogue and the other prayer houses which existed before the war, continued to fulfill their mission after most of Vilkovishk Jews returned home. All the societies for learning Judaism were active again as was the "Chevrah-Kadisha".
Jewish funeral in Vilkaviskis  date unknown
Many welfare institutions were active in Vilkaviskis

                      "Gemiluth Chasadim" (ran a "Pinkas" from 1800);
                      "Maskil el Dal" (their "Pinkas" dates from1880) giving loans to the needy without interest and                              small payments for returning the money,
                      "Mathan BeSeter" which helped people whose economic situation had deteriorated and who
                      were embarrassed to ask for help;
                      "Maoth Chitim" provided the needy with necessities for "Pesach".
                       In 1910 all four institutions were united into one big institution "Tsedaka Gedolah".

                       "Hachnasath Kalah" helped poor brides;
                       "Linath haTsedek" supplied poor passers-by with food and accommodation;
                       "Bikur Cholim" helped needy patients and sent them doctors and medicines.
                        There were also Jewish public baths and several "Mikve".

After the disbanding of the community committee in the middle twenties, the welfare activities were transferred to the "Ezrah" society, which together with the "Adath Yisrael" society had about 120 members who donated about 500 Litas per year. These societies helped the poor, arranged fund raisings (as for "Maoth Chitim" for Pesach) and also initiated special welfare activities.

The pride of the community was its "Home for the Aged"   "Beit Avraham" constructed in 1909 which also had a nursing department. Its budget was covered by donations and by a regular allowance from the municipality (2,000 Lit. per year). It was also known for its beautiful garden

Thiis site was built by Ralph Salinger of Kfar Ruppin, Israel
It is built to the glory of the Jewish Community of Vilkkaviskis
You can contact me with any comments at,il