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CHATZKELS, HELENE (1882-1973), pedagogue, writer, and translator.
Born in Kovno she attended the pedagogical institute at St. Petersburg.  From
1905 to 1908, she was a member of the illegal Bund.  In the period
1916-1918, she was one of the founders of the Yiddish school network in
Lithuania, remaining one of its leaders throughout its existence.  The
author of numerous works on education, Yiddish textbooks, children's
stories, and travelogues, she also compiled the first curriculum for the
study of natural sciences and geography in Yiddish schools (1918).  In
1925, when the Yiddish Kultur-Lige ("culture league") was disbanded by
the Lithuanian authorities, Chatzkels, together with Samuel Levin, set
up an illegal leadership for the educational institutions affiliated to
the league, thereby saving them from extinction.  Although she supported
the Soviet Union, she was also on friendly terms with Siegfried Lehmann
and acted as adviser to the educational institutions he directed at
Kovno and Ben Shemen (Erez Israel), visiting the latter institution in
1929.  In 1931 she published a pamphlet entitled _Araber_, in which she
expressed great admiration for the Zionist pioneers and denounced the
Arabs for the murderous riots against the yishuv.  After World War II
she struggled for the reestablishment of the Jewish school system in
Soviet Lithuania, and headed the last Jewish children's home and
elementary school in Kovno, until it was finally closed down by the
Soviets in 1949/50.  During the anti-Jewish "struggle against
cosmopolitanism" she wrote letters to the press and to Stalin himself,
protesting against Soviet anti-Semitism.  She was given the honorary
title of "meritorious teacher" in 1947, and awarded the Order of the Red
Flag in 1955.  Until 1966 she was a teacher of Russian literature at a
Lithuanian secondary school in Kovno.  [Esther Rosenthal
[from _Encyclopaedia Judaica_ (Jerusalem: Keter, 1971)].


Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Ferber

Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Ferber the leader of the West End Talmud Torah, was born in Kovno, Lithuania, and came to England as a young man. He was known as a rabbi of the old school, a scholar and writer of commentaries. Taking advantage of his location in the West End, he visited the Oriental Room of the British Museum every day. Reverend Saul Amias served as hazan (cantor).
"Preaching his sermons in Yiddish, Rabbi Ferber could bring his congregation to tears of nostalgia. Then he would turn to English and joke, and get everyone laughing within the space of two sentences."
"All my contemporaries - hundreds of boys and girls from both sides of Oxford Street - attended the cheder at the tiny Manette Street Synagogue. Our respective Bar Mitzvahs took place on the small bimah, flanked by the wardens, Mr Cohen and Mr Raphael, and facing the saintly Rabbi Ferber, whose gentle, high-pitched voice I can hear in my mind today."
"He was one of the best Jewish orators of the day. When he left his seat, everyone stood up and bowed towards him as a sign of respect."
"Anything that went wrong, my grandmother would go to Rabbi Ferber. She used to think that he was God. Any money she could collect she would pass on to him to give to the poor."
"Reverend Amias had a neat beard, flowing hair and a wide-brimmed black hat. He was known as the 'Bishop of the West End' and was very popular. Every year he led the overflow services for High Holydays at the Scala Theatre in Charlotte Street."
For the rest go to http://www.movinghere.org.uk/stories/story365/story365.htm?identifier=stories/story365/story365.htm

LIBBY FLUM of Florida wants information about her husband's great-uncle Zvi Hirsh Farber, a rabbi in Manchester and London.
Rabbi Farber was born in Kovno, Lithuania on September 18, 1878 and died in London on February 11, 1966. Libby would particularly like to know where he is buried.
Write to 7886 Trent Drive, Tamarac, Fl 33321, America or email libflum@mindspring.com


Abraham Malnik
Born 1927
Kovno, Lithuania

Describes massacre in Kovno's Ninth Fort, near the Kovno ghetto
And they...they they took the people on the Ninth Fort. They were...they put in bunkers, a hundred at a time...told [they were going to] be stripped in their...to their underwear, and they walked out a hundred at a time and they were machine gunned. For three days...and then they covered them up with dirt. For three days, the graves were moving up and down. They took tractors and ran over the graves in order to squeeze out the last breath. And when the front came closer and the Germans did not want to leave no evidence, they undug the graves and they found mother with children hugged together, by dying, and with parents, with grandmothers. They saw people together. And they burned them all up. We could see from the ghetto. Wasn't far from the ghetto. We could see the flames all the way to the sky.  


Shalom (nee Kaplan) Eilati was born in Kovna, Lithuania in 1933, to a mother who was a nurse and a poet and a father who was a teacher and a writer. In 1941, he and his family were incarcerated in the ghetto. He survived the various Aktions  . In 1944, at his mother's initiative, he escaped alone and survived. Of his entire family, only he and his father survived.
He immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1946 and was educated in Tel Aviv and Tel Yosef, where he became a kibbutz member and a shepherd. He was an officer in the IDF, a volunteer in the group that prepared the settlement in Ein Gedi, an agronomer, and held a doctorate in agricultural sciences. He coordinated the Ben-Zvi Institute's quarterly, Cathedra  , which deals with the history and settlement of the land of Israel (1981-1994), and serves a guide and a editor of various publications. He is married and has three children. Vayis'u VayachanuIn those days, train cars--in England as well--were divided into small compartments with a few passengers in each, unlike today when there is a large open car that can seat sixty. Each of these compartments had a door and on this particular train there were four people in each compartment.Above the two facing pairs of seats, two opposite the other two, were two bunks. They consisted of thick boards of wood supported by two very large braces and covered with mattresses. Two passengers would sleep on the seats below, one on each side, and two on the bunks above. I slept on one of the upper bunks.HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel was accompanied by his fiancee who was a citizen of Lithuania, so they could marry in Canada. But in order to secure an exit visa for her as the spouse of a British subject, he had to do kiddushin back in Kovna so that he could receive a marriage certificate from the local rabbinate. Upon boarding the train they were given a private compartment, and HaRav Nosson kept the door open the whole time, because he had not yet done nissuin.During the entire eleven days of traversing Russia, the people in charge prohibited us from getting off the train at any of the few stops it made, declaring they would not take responsibility for anyone who got off, if the local Russian authorities would not allow him to re-board.One of the stops was at the well-known commune of Birobidzhan, located near Siberia and often called a Jewish state inside Russia. It was founded by Stalin. All of the signs in the area were written in Yiddish. They had their own unique spelling, but the words themselves were all regular Yiddish. Because of the warning we had been given, for the duration of the stop we stood at the opening of the train to survey the "Jewish state," keeping one hand on the side of the train in case it began to roll out all of a sudden.The Siberian air was so cold that almost an inch of ice formed on the window on the inside of the train. It was so cold all along the way. Glass absorbs cold, so the entire window was covered on the inside with one big sheet of ice, whereas the wooden walls were free of ice.[Since there was no kosher food available during the journey,] each of us took along six long chunks of dried salami, which kept for several weeks. And although we kept them on the bunks, where the warmth would have spoiled normal salami very quickly, this salami was covered with just a thin layer of greenish mold and, after cutting it off with a knife, it could be eaten to the heart's content. We also took matzoh, which we ate primarily on Shabbos. We could eat the bread baked on the train too, because back then they baked bread without adding any fat at all. The oven was built of brick and the floor was covered only with bricks, so there was no reason to avoid eating the bread.The food was provided by the Russians, just as today on every train there is a dining car to serve the passengers. But we Jews ate in our private compartments rather than with everybody else. We took drinking water from a large container set there [in the dining car]. We could also drink their tea. They also gave us cans of sardines, which we opened and ate in the compartment. For the most part we did not lack food.Throughout the journey we did not break off from Torah learning. We had a regular chaburah at least two hours a day on maseches Makkos, and everyone had a gemora of his own.To Brisbane, AustraliaWhen we arrived in Vladivostok the authorities notified us we would be unable to continue onward for the time being due to the thick ice on the water. They said in order to open a sea route the ice would have to be broken by an icebreaker boat since the ship chartered for us was quite small, just 3,000 tons.Meanwhile they took Rav Nosson "One day my mother didn't come back from work (the forced labour she had been forced to do) "Immediately I took my sister and we went looking for her" we felt like two fledgings whose mother, who had allways protected and shielded us, had suddenly disappeared and left us to the relentless sun and to threatening dangers. We had never before felt so abandoned, so alone."
Source: Eilati Shalom, Crossing the River, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1999, p. 110.


Visas for life: UNEXPECTED RESCUE, 1940-1941
From the internet

Chiune Sugihara
In the history of the Holocaust, one of the most fascinating -- and largely unknown -- stories of the Righteous Gentiles is that of a Japanese diplomat named Chiune Sugihara. Consul-General Sugihara was stationed in Kaunas, Lithunania in March, 1939. In July, 1940, as the Germans advanced on Lithuania, all diplomats were instructed to leave their embassies in Kaunas. Only a Dutch consul and Chiune Sugihara remained behind. The Jews of Kaunas and the surrounding areas were desperate for passports to leave the country, but obtaining visas proved almost impossible. Eventually, they sought help from Sugihara. Seeing their desperate situation, Sugihara had to probe his conscience. At the end of July, 1940, against the rules from his commanders in Tokyo, Sugihara and his wife spent four long weeks writing visas by hand. Of the almost 6,000 Jews with Sugihara visas, most ended up in Kobe, Japan until after the war. His humility prevented Sugihara from discussing his herioc actions after the war. As a result, many Jews have not known the story of Sugihara, one of the foremost saviors of the Holocaust. And of the thousands of Sugihara survivors, many did not know the name of the man who had written their passports. The information for this database was obtained by David Eagleman from Hiroki Sugihara, one of the sons of Chiune Sugihara. Data entry was done mostly by Malinda Dillman, and partially by Susan King and David Eagleman. We also thank the Holocaust Museum Houston, where Malinda Dillman volunteers, for the use of their facilities and volunteer time. If you are or know of someone who received one of these visas, please let the Visas for Life Foundation hear from you. FAX: 415-776-6775.
Database contents
This database consists of 2,139 records, each consisting of four fields: Surname, Given Name, Nationality, and Visa Date. The Nationality is given in German (e.g. "Polnisch" is "Polish"). The vast majority (91%) of the records are for those of Polish nationality; 5% were Lithuanian; 2% German; 1% Czech; 1% others. The visa dates are all July and August, 1940.

http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/sugihara.htmThe Mirrer Yeshiva's Escape From Europe By Chaim Shapiro
OF THE YESHIVOS (rabbinical academies) that escaped Nazi destruction, some made it on a grand scale -- namely to Japan. Some went to Siberia. Others were dispersed. Yeshivas Mir was saved by three people, one Jewish and two Gentiles. Thinking back, one becomes amazed at the series of acts -- minor and major -- the speed of the operation, the efficiency of activities. The puzzle-pieces fell into place, fitting with precision, as though the result of perfect planning. A series of miracles seems to emerge -- nissim gluyim (revealed miracles). Miracle Number One: Open Borders In 1918, when Poland and Lithuania became independent, a bitter dispute erupted between the two countries over the city of Vilna (Vilnius in Lithuanian). The Lithuanians claimed the city as their ancient capital, while the Poles also claimed the city. The League of Nations awarded the city to Lithuania. In 1920, the Polish army marched in and annexed the city to Poland. The Lithuanians then declared Kovno (Kaunas, in their tongue) as the temporary capital, and a state of war lasted between the two countries until 1938. In September 1939, Poland was divided between Hitler and Stalin, granting the Eastern part of Poland, including Vilna, to the Soviets. They offered the Lithuanians the return of their ancient capital as part of a "mutual defense treaty," which permitted Soviet military bases inside Lithuania. The Lithuanian politicians were on the spot. No Lithuanian could resist regaining the ancient capital; on the other hand, they knew the implications of giving the Russian bear a foot in their country. Finally (on October 10, 1939), the Russians forced them to sign the treaty. And so the borders changed and were temporarily opened, and Vilna returned to Lithuania. This miracle was utilized by all Yeshivos. Most of the Yeshivos in Eastern Poland faced a choice between physical destruction by the Germans and spiritual annihilation by the Russians. The Soviets, as sworn enemies of religion, would never permit the existence of Yeshivos. Until then there was no escape: No one could leave the Soviet Union and there was no other place to go. Suddenly the Soviet-Lithuanian border was opened and Vilna was transferred to Lithuania. All Yeshivos plus thousands of refugees immediately flooded the city. The Lithuanian authorities ordered all Yeshivos to move into Lithuania proper, to avoid overcrowding the city. Thus the Yeshiva of Mir moved to Kajdani; Kamenitz to Raseinai; Kletsk to Janovo, and so on. Then, just as quickly, the "safety hatch" closed, and the Soviet-Lithuanian border, like any other Soviet border, was sealed for good. The Lithuanian haven was not meant to last. The Russian bear's paw gained entry -- a military bases plus a well-financed Communist Party -- and before long the bear would swallow the pigeon. So everyone concentrated on emigration, but where to? Palestine's doors were locked by the British, and only a handful of applicants received British entry certificates. The United States was shut tight, while American Jewry naively trusted their "friend" President Roosevelt, and Roosevelt's intimate Jewish friends lulled American Jewry while precious time ran out. Rumors were spread that President Roosevelt promised five thousand visas for rabbis and rabbinical students. We waited for them. And we waited. But they never arrived. A person must have three items to travel: (a) a passport, without which one does not even exist legally; (b) an entry visa to the country of his ultimate designation; and c) a transit visa, to pass through other countries en route to the ultimate goal. Most of the roshei Yeshivos (deans) had passports, for they had traveled abroad on behalf of their Yeshivos. But the students and the faculty had none. Since Poland was occupied by Germany, the only place one could get a Polish passport was at a Polish Embassy, and because of old enmities, there was no embassy in Lithuania. The late ga'on, Rabbi Avrohom Kalmanowitz, the "father" of the Mirrer Yeshiva, had been carrying the yeshiva on his shoulders since World War I. A seasoned world-traveler, he had no difficulty reaching America, from where he dispatched passports for his entire yeshiva. It had cost him a fortune, for the Polish embassies tripled the price of passports. And so the Mirrer Yeshiva people were equipped with passports, but had no visas. Miracle Number Two: Transit Through Russia No Jew was permitted to travel through Germany. A Jew could only travel through Russia. If one had a visa to America, the route was through the USSR and Japan, if he was headed for Palestine, his itinerary was the USSR and Turkey or Iran. However, Poland was in a state of war with the USSR, so logically no Polish citizen would be permitted transit via the USSR. Yet to everyone's surprise, the Russians did permit Poles to cross their country, and the Soviet consul would stamp his transit visa on a Polish passport. (They had apparently recognized a grand opportunity to dispatch spies all over the world in the flood of refugees.) However, the Soviet consul feared that some "transit passengers" might get stranded inside the USSR, and he insisted on a visa from another country before he would stamp any transit visa. A secret printing shop began to operate in Vilna, producing British entry certificates to Palestine. It was organized by the Jabotinsky's Zionist Revisionists (later known as the Irgun, later constituting the Heirut Party in Israel -- part of Likud). They would supply false British certificates to their party members and to chalutzim (pioneers). There was also another "visa factory" which would falsify any visa for a high prices in American dollars, provided one had a passport. Miracle Number Three: Japan Comes to Kovno Most foreign countries maintained their diplomatic and consular offices to the three Baltic republics (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) in Riga, Latvia's capital. Travel to Latvia was prohibited, making it impossible to get the Japanese consul. Suddenly Japan opened a consulate in Kovno. Anyone who had a passport and an ultimate visa was issued transit through Japan without difficulty. When presented with a Japanese transit, the Soviet consul gladly gave him transit. The Mirrer students had passports, but no visas, and the rest of us did not even have passports! Then a number of "minor" changes took place in the little republic. On June 14, 1940, the Soviet government accused the Lithuanian government of unfriendly acts against the Red Army bases. It demanded the establishment of a new government "more friendly" to the USSR. The next day an ultimatum was issued to include Communists in the new government. While the government accepted the ultimatum, the Red Army began to take over the country. On June 17, President Smetonas fled by plane to Germany, while Justas Paleckis, a Communist journalist, formed a new government. He immediately ordered new elections fixed to insure a Communist majority. Then on July 21, Lithuania requested admission "to the happy family of Socialist Nations under the guidance to the father of all proletarians, Comrade Stalin." On August 3, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR accepted and approved the request, proclaiming Lithuania as the sixteenth Soviet Republic. (A similar fate befell Latvia and Estonia). Miracle Number Four: Destination Curaçao Under Soviet rule again, we lost all hope for emigration, for no one leaves the "Soviet heaven." Yet, the Soviets still continued to issue visas; they were no longer "transit visas" but "exit visas". Apparently they had not sent out enough spies, or they had simply wanted to get rid of an undesirable element. A rumor spread that the consul of the Netherlands was issuing visas to Curaçao, a Dutch-governed island in the West Indies. The entire Mirrer group, in possession of passports, received those "Curaçao visas." But when they came to get the Japanese transit "en route to Curaçao," they found the consulate closed, for when Lithuania became an integral part of the USSR, all diplomatic and consular activities were moved to Moscow. In fact, Holland had issued the Curaçao visas hours before closing. Several days later a Mirrer student chanced upon an Oriental. Presuming him to be the Japanese consul, he asked him as a special favor for a transit visa through Japan on his way to Curaçao. The Japanese gentleman replied that he had been ordered to close the consulate and had already dismissed his secretary. The student then pleaded, volunteering to serve as his secretary, and to help in filling out the necessary papers. He agreed, and two boys from the Mirrer Yeshiva sat all day stamping visas for whoever presented a passport. (Some claimed later that many visas were stamped upside down, but they were honored anyway.) The Soviets continued to issue exit visas. This spurred the printers of counterfeit visas into more feverish activity than ever, for they could reproduce any visa in Latin letters, but when it came to Japanese, they were at a loss. The British became suspicious over an increase in entries to Palestine via Syria from Vilna, and they informed the Soviets. They became furious over the prospect of a visa factory operating under their very noses. Furthermore, they themselves had issued visas on fake documents. A search began, but the "Zionist Conspiracy" could not be found. Instead they arrested my roommate from the Yeshiva of Kamenitz, Yitzchak Gelbach (Lukover). Yitzchak had illicitly published a ten-year calendar, reasoning that since we were destined to live under a Bolshevik regime, we would need a long-range luach to know when the Jewish holidays would occur. He was sentenced to ten years in a Siberian prison camp. (He was freed after the war. A Breslover chassid, he immediately ran to the kever (gravesite) of the Rebbe. He met the daughter of the only Jewish family there. He now lives in Jerusalem with children and grandchildren.) Those from the Mirrer Yeshiva had passports to Curaçao with Japanese and Soviet visas, and were ready to leave. When they came to the Intourist office for travel arrangements, the official Soviet travel ministry at the time and the only permissible way to travel through Russia, they were told that first, the price had gone up; second, payment must be made in American dollars. Possessing even one American dollar is illegal in the Soviet Union and one can earn ten years' prison for this crime. The officials of the Intourist "promised" not to prosecute for bringing dollars (a hollow assurance); or, they insisted, "have your relatives in America cable the four hundred dollars per person." And in those days four hundred dollars was a fortune. Mir was desperate! One yeshiva fellow who possessed a German passport with a "J" for "Jude" on it (which means second-class citizenship) mustered the audacity to complain to the German consul who was in the process of closing. The Nazi consul found it amusing to tease the Soviets on behalf of a Jew. He called up: "Don't you accept your own currency?" That Jew was the only individual to travel for rubles; all the others were forced to pay in dollars. Within three months and with the help of the Va'ad Hatzalah -- the Orthodox-led lobbying group that attempted to twist FDR's arm in saving Jews during WWII -- Rabbi Kalmanowitz raised money for the travel expenses. Thus between January and March 1942, the students and faculty were transferred in small groups via the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Vladivostok, the Siberian port on the Pacific, where they embarked by boat to Kobe-Ku, the port of Japan. Once in Japan, they waited, hoping for entry to the United States. But on December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States declared war on Japan. Thus, the Mirrer Yeshiva and individuals  possessing Polish passports became enemies of Japan overnight. Japan's only ally was Germany, and they feared that the pathological hatred for the Jews would transfer from Berlin to Tokyo. Remarkably, the Japanese behaved correctly under the circumstances. Rabbi Kalmanowitz had the delicate task of supplying money to the yeshiva in time of war. The anti-Japanese hysteria in America made sending funds to the enemy unthinkable, even for sustaining the yeshiva and other refugees. The need was imperative, for while the Japanese were correct and even cordial in their treatment of the Jews, they certainly would not feed them. Rabbi Kalmanowitz managed with the silent approval of the United States government to maintain the yeshiva in Japan, and then in Japanese-held Shanghai, by sending funds through Switzerland. After the war, in September of 1946, he finally welcomed the entire yeshiva in San Francisco. Miracle Number Five: A fervently religious Jew in Stockholm, and no Dutchman in Chita Those of us from the Yeshiva of Kamenitz (located then in Raseinai), like all other yeshiva students, had given up any hope for emigration. The Soviets announced a deadline for accepting emigration applications. We could not even apply, for first one needed a passport and a visa, and we had neither. And even if we ever obtained passports, we could no longer get Curaçao nor Japanese visas without traveling to Moscow, and who could travel to Moscow? How we envied Mir! And how bitter we were. Then suddenly, passports arrived from the Polish Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, mailed to us by an American Kamenitz student, with the help of the Va'ad Hatzalah. But we were still without visas, and the remaining days of registration were few. We then received letters from Stockholm, Sweden, granting us Curaçao visas. We later learned that they were sent by a rabbinic student, a refugee from Germany, who on the verge of starvation, spent his food money on the Curaçao visas, issued by the Dutch embassy in Stockholm. (He is well known today as Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, of Jerusalem, one of this generation's greatest living Jewish thinkers.) Now that we had "proof" of intention to emigrate, we all registered with the Soviet office, presenting all documents, including the three personal photographs required. To receive the Soviet exit visa, however, we first needed the Japanese transits.. So we mailed out visas and passports to the Japanese Embassy in Moscow requesting a transit. They all came back -- refused. We were dismayed. Some attributed the refusal to the form of the Curaçao visa, an independent letter, instead of a stamp in our passports. Apparently the Japanese consul in Moscow consulted the Dutch consul who explained the defect to him -- all Curaçao "visas" were only "annotations" and not legally acceptable, thus the rejection. We reasoned that we would have to find a Japanese consul who could not consult his Dutch counterpart. Someone discovered that in the city of Chita, confident that no Dutchman would be there to "open his eyes.." The consul was a gentleman, indeed, immediately mailing back a visa to everyone. Some people who received Chita visas (thanks to Rabbi Wolbe) had relatives in America who paid Intourist for their transportation, and made it to Japan. Others, myself included, were victims of the slowness of the Soviet mail, and lack of money for Intourist. When we finally were about to receive the Soviet exit visa, they closed the office. We missed the deadline. Miracle Number Six: Safe in Siberia Anyone who applied for emigration from the USSR was automatically an enemy of the Soviet regime, for only a fascist will leave the Communist heaven for the capitalistic hell of the outside world. And such a person is treated accordingly: Relocation to Siberia, for re-education into Soviet reality. This dreadful prospect of Siberia was hanging over our heads like a nightmare. The nine long, cold months of winter, the taiga with average temperatures of twenty-below-zero, the hard labor, prison life -- and what would become of Shabbes and kashrus? There was no way of escape, for the regime had the addresses and three photographs of each applicant. Little did we realize that this would be the biggest miracle of all. Only one week later, on a Shabbes and Sunday, June 14 and 15, all visa applicants -- bnei Torah all -- were rounded up, packed into boxcars and shipped to Siberia. Then, the following Sunday morning (June 22) the German Army attacked the Soviet Union. The Nazi war-machine pushed into Russia with full deliberate speed, all the way to Moscow. And with the same speed, only seven days ahead of the Nazi juggernaut, the boxcars with their precious cargo traveled to various prison camps in Siberia, to safety. As anticipated, the conditions were oppressive and climate unforgiving, especially for bnei Torah who were not accustomed to physical labor, the taiga, the starvation. Yet eighty to ninety percent returned safely, saved from Auschwitz. As I record my memories, whenever I chance across a first or second-generation Mirrer talmid (student) or a Siberian alumnus, I am reminded of the zechus (merit) of Rabbi Kalmanowitz and Rabbi Wolbe (by grace of his Curaçao visas, hundreds escaped the Nazi onslaught, finding refuge in either Siberia or Japan), and the consuls of Japan and Holland in Kovno. I have attempted to track down these two consuls. I have not succeeded in the case of the Japanese consul, but I have discovered that the Dutchman is Mr. J. Zwartendijk, who lives now in retirement in Rotterdam. While serving as temporary consul in Kovno, he once asked permission from Her Majesty's Ambassador to Riga, Dr. I.P.J. de Decker, to issue a visa to Curaçao for a friend. When the Japanese and Soviet consul accepted his annotation, he then issued fourteen hundred more, thus saving many Jewish lives. (One visa can cover an entire family of people.) He did this totally on his own, defying orders to close shop, wholly from humane considerations. Mr. Zwartendijk will go down in our history as a noble saver of lives. May G-d bless him with long life, health and joy. Baltimore-based historian Rabbi Chaim Shapiro has spent a lifetime chronicling the vanished world of pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe, particularly its Torah sages and their disciples. Writing from the vantage point of an eyewitness to history, he is the author of several non-fiction works on the subject. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0298/mirrer1.html Festival of Hope in the Kovno Ghetto

by Rabbi Eli Hecht

.....Among the beneficiaries of the rescue was the entire Mirrer Yeshiva.. Rabbi Moshe Zupnick, then a student at the Mirrer Yeshiva, collected the relevant documents and went to Sugihara to request a visa for himself. When Sugihara granted it, Zupnick, with all the audacity he could muster, requested 300 more for the whole yeshiva. Sugihara was willing to comply but said he had neither the time nor manpower to write the visas. Zupnick returned with several friends, and copied over the visas by hand. There was only one problem -- they did not speak Japanese and so they copied the visas lock, stock and barrel! All 300 Mirrer Yeshiva students were thus named Rabinovitz as far as the visas were concerned. Yet, inexplicably, the Japanese border guards let the visas pass -- a "strange conspiracy of goodness."

.....It happened during W.W.II. The German army captured the areas of Kovna, over-running Lithuania. Hundreds and thousands of Jewish families were locked in the Kovna ghetto. Jews everywhere became victims of unbridled hatred.
With all the bombing and mass destruction taking place, the Kovna ghetto refugees had ample wood to build the Suka. Trees had been uprooted by the bombing and continued carnage. Lumber was everywhere. However, the most pressing problem of the day was to find the beloved four species. The search for the species tortured the souls of the people.
Then the following unexplainable event took place:
The merciless Germans knew that the cities of Vilna and Kovna had industrial machinery that could produce material for the war effort. So they installed a slave work policy.
The Germans would send soldiers and business people to observe the manufacturing companies found in the cities. There they would work the poor Jews to death, forcing them to produce weapons of warfare.
When the machinery broke down the Jewish mechanics were to fix it. As the imprisoned Jews ran these factories they were escorted to the cities in order to repair the machinery.
So our story begins during the days preceding the holiday of Sukot in 1943. The Jews of Kovna were very worried; not about the immediate annihilation nor the brutality practiced by the Germans; they were worried about the four species. This practice, so great and time-honored. Nothing mattered to the Jews of Kovna except the need for the four species. For them the reciting of the blessing, Shehecheyanu, the prayer of life, was of paramount importance.
Jewish law states that on any Sabbath that falls during the seven-day festival, one does not recite the blessing on the four species. The commandment is performed the following day after the Sabbath.
The suffering people in the Kovna ghetto were exposed to a question of monumental proportions. Some Vilna Jews sent a message to the Kovna Rabbi, Avraham Dov Ber Kahane Shapiro, stating that there was a lulav and etrog available in Vilna. On Friday the Jewish Vilna engineers would be traveling to Kovna to repair the machinery that had broken down and they would be able to bring the four species but only for one day.
"Is it permitted to make a blessing on a lulav and etrog on the Sabbath since the lulav and etrog would be returned to Vilna that very same Saturday afternoon?" Such an extraordinary question could only be asked during the nightmarish days of the Holocaust. Rabbi Shapiro did not reply due to his illness..
Rabbi Ephraim Oshry was one of the few rabbinical authorities to survive the ghetto of Kovna. Finding no precedent to answer the question, he came up with the following compromise, "Yes, there may be some way in blessing the four species on the first day of Sukot even though it was Shabbat." But, as the acting Rabbi, he could not and would not give an explicit answer. The people needed to keep their spirits alive. But can a Rabbi rule against the Torah. Come to think of it, are there different laws for such times, thought the Rabbi? The decision was solely theirs.
Thousands of Jewish people rushed to the building where the four species were hidden. With tears running down in their eyes they called out the blessings of the mitzva of the lulav and etrog. They recited the "Shehecheyanu" blessing, the prayer of life. With bursting hearts they fulfilled this mitzva.
The bittersweet tears tasted better than the sweet apple dipped in honey during the holiday from past happier times. They knew full well this was the last lulav and etrog that they would ever see. They were grateful for being given this opportunity.
When Sukot comes around I still wonder what the law is. No one seems to know the answer. Maybe there is no answer. One thing I do know is that I am in awe of the faith of those who would not surrender their spirits.
So this Sukot find the four species, hold them to your heart and say the blessing of the prayer of life and thank the Alm-ghty for these better times when Jews are free to practice their religion wherever they are found.

  The outbreak of war in Poland in September 1939 trapped nearly three and a half million Jews in German- and Soviet-occupied territories. In late 1940 and early 1941, just months before the Germans began to implement the mass killings of Jews, one group of about 2,100 Polish Jews found a safe haven. Few of these refugees could have reached safety without the tireless efforts of many individuals. Several Jewish organizations and Jewish communities along the way provided funds and other help.  
  The most critical assistance came from unexpected sources: representatives of the Dutch government-in-exile and of Nazi Germany's Axis ally, Japan. Their humanitarian activity in 1940 was the pivotal act of rescue for hundreds of Polish Jewish refugees temporarily residing in Lithuania. After the Soviet takeover of Lithuania, Polish Jewish refugees who had sought a safe haven in neutral Lithuania once more felt trapped. Germany's invasion of western Europe a few weeks earlier and the fall of the Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg) and France shattered any illusions of a quick end to war in the west. Options for escape were few, and all required diplomatic permits–visas–to cross international borders. When the Soviets ordered all diplomatic consulates closed by August 25, 1940, time began to run out. Without visas, the refugees would be stuck in Communist-controlled Lithuania.  
  The refugees' preferred destinations were the United States and British-controlled Palestine, but rigorous laws and policies restricted entrance to both places. The 1924 U.S. immigration law was still in effect in 1940. It set strict numerical quotas for immigrants to the United States. Consuls abroad could issue only 6,524 visas to Polish nationals, and in 1940 there was a two-year waiting list for these "quota" visas. Emigration to Palestine was also very difficult. A British White Paper issued on May 17, 1939, limited the number of Jews allowed to enter the British-controlled Mandate of Palestine from all countries to 15,000 annually.  
  The only hope was to bypass standard immigration procedures with the help of organizations abroad. Even with the sponsorship of an American organization, however, time ran out when consulates in Lithuania closed. The American consul was able to issue only 55 visas. The British envoy released 700 Palestine certificates to Zionist youth, rabbis, and other groups. Hundreds of others still needed visas to get out of Lithuania. A fortunate few escaped via an eastward, Asian route, using an odd combination of permits: a bogus visa for entry to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, a place that few of the refugees had even heard of, and a visa for transit through Japan. The breakthrough in the visa dilemma came unexpectedly at the Dutch consulate in Kovno. L.P.J. de Decker, the Dutch minister to all three Baltic states, authorized his acting consul in Lithuania, Jan Zwartendijk, to issue permits declaring that "an entrance visa is not required for the admission of aliens to Surinam, Curacao, and other Dutch possessions in America." Consciously omitted was the key fact that admission was the prerogative of the colonial governors, who rarely allowed it. Escaping war-torn Europe to reach Curacao in the Caribbean meant crossing the Pacific Ocean, a route made possible by Japan's acting consul to Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara. In the absence of clear instructions from Tokyo, he granted 10-day Japanese transit visas to hundreds of refugees who held Curacao destination visas. Before closing his consulate, Sugihara even gave visas to refugees who lacked all travel papers. In January 1941 hundreds of refugees with only Curacao "visas" began arriving in Japan and were unable to proceed to other countries. The Japanese Foreign Ministry cabled Sugihara to ask him how many transit visas he had issued in Lithuania. On February 28, 1941, Sugihara sent a list of 2,140 persons. Some 300 others, mostly children, were covered by these visas, issued from July 11 to August 31, 1940. Not everyone who held visas was able to leave Lithuania, however, before Soviet authorities ceased issuing exit visas.  


R' Dr. Dov (Bernard) Revel z"l
R' Dov Revel was born in Pren, a suburb of Kovno, Lithuania on September 17, 1885 / 8 Tishrei 5646. His father, R' Nachum Shraga, the rabbi of Pren, was his first teacher, and young Dov excelled at his studies. (R' Nachum Shraga died in 1896 and was buried next to his close friend R' Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor, the leading halachic authority in Lithuania in the late 19th century. The community later erected an ohel / structure over their two graves.) Thereafter, R' Revel's teachers included R' Yitzchak Blazer ("R' Itzele Petersburger," one of the three leading students of R' Yisrael Salanter), and he also studied briefly in Telshe, where he attended the lectures of R' Yosef Leib Bloch, the rosh yeshiva.
R' Revel received semichah / ordination at age 16, but it is not known from whom. Thereafter, the young scholar earned a Russian high school diploma, apparently through independent study. He also became involved in the Russian revolutionary movement, and following the unsuccessful revolution of 1905, was arrested and imprisoned. Upon his release the following year, he emigrated to the United States.
Immediately upon his arrival, R' Revel enrolled in New York's Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan. Shortly afterward, one of America's senior rabbis and president of the Agudat Harabanim / Union of Orthodox Rabbis, R' Bernard Levinthal of Philadelphia, visited the yeshiva and, after discussing Talmudic topics with the new student, invited him to come to Philadelphia as the rabbi's secretary and assistant. While in Philadelphia, R' Revel began to become acquainted with the unique challenges facing American Jewry and the special needs that a yeshiva would have to meet if its graduates were to minister to Americanized congregations and keep their members loyal to Torah. At this time, R' Revel began attending law school in Philadelphia, but he eventually decided that the law was not his calling. In 1911, he earned a doctorate from Dropsie College, the first graduate of that school.
While still in Philadelphia, R' Revel announced a plan to create a subject index to responsa literature written since the completion of the Talmud in 475. (This herculean project was dropped after an index was compiled to the works of only one scholar, Rabbeinu Asher, the "Rosh.") R' Revel also began to write a commentary to the Jerusalem Talmud, but this too was never published.
In November 1908, R' Revel was introduced to his future wife, Sarah Travis of Marietta, Ohio. The members of the Travis family were Lubavitcher chassidim and wealthy Oklahoma oil-men, and R' Revel moved to Oklahoma to join the family business after finishing his doctorate. (R' Revel wore his yarmulke in the oil fields, surely an unusual sight.) But even while serving as an assistant to his brother-in-law Solomon, learning the petroleum business, and amassing his own fortune, R' Revel's primary occupation continued to be his Torah study.
In 1915, R' Revel was appointed President and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan, and he returned to New York.


Emmanuel Levinas
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.Emmanuel Levinas (January 12, 1906 - December 25, 1995) was a Jewish philosopher originally from Kaunas in Lithuania, who moved to France where he wrote most of his works in French. He was naturalized in 1930.
Levinas was deeply influenced by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, whom he met at the university of Freiburg, as well as by Jewish religion. He was one of the first intellectuals to introduce to France the work of Heidegger and Husserl, by translations (for example of Husserl's 'Cartesian Meditations') and original philosophical tracts. After the Second World War, Levinas became a leading thinker in France.
Levinas work is based on the ethics of the Other. The Other is not knowable and cannot be made into an object, as is done by traditional metaphysics (called ontology by Levinas). Some of his work is rather hard to understand, but one could say that Levinas prefers to think of philosophy as the 'knowledge of love' rather than the love of knowledge. In his arrangement, an ethics of responsibility precedes any 'objective searching after truth'. Levinas derives the primacy of his ethics from the experience of the encounter with the Other. For Levinas, the face-to-face encounter with another human being is a privileged phenomenon in which the other person's promixity and distance are both strongly felt. The encounter makes clear the other person's unknowable difference, a fact which, for Levinas, compels us to respond to them: the encounter leads to a call of responsibility.
Among the many works of Levinas, key texts include Totalité et infini: essai sur l'extériorité (1961) and Autrement qu'etre ou au-dela de l'essence (1974)



By : Herman Rosenthal Peter Wiernik

Russian poet; born in Kovno Oct. 13, 1846; died in New York (U. S. A.)
March 9, 1900. He began to compose Hebrew songs at an early age. When
fourteen he took instruction in Hebrew grammar from Abraham Mapu. At
eighteen he entered the rabbinical school at Wilna. In 1867 he married
and settled in Telshi, where he enjoyed the friendship of Mordecai
Nathansohn (his wife's grandfather) and of Leon Gordon, who was a
teacher in that city. Rabinowitz lived there for twenty-two years,
being engaged most of that time in business, and writing occasionally
for Hebrew periodicals. In 1889 he removed to Vilkomir; in 1891 he
went to New York, to which city his children had preceded him. Here he
translated novels into Yiddish.
"Zemirot Yisrael" (Wilna, 1891) contains most of his Hebrew songs.
Those written after his arrival in the United States fall below the
standard of his former productions.

kov-born-#9: Solomonas Teitelbaumas (b.1972) is a talented artist from Lithuania, recently discovered by the Western world. Teitelbaumas was born in Kaunas. His precocious abilities were recognized in early childhood. By age ten, he entered J. Naujalis Art School in Kaunas, inadvertently launching a brilliant career. In time, he graduated from Vilnius Art Academy with a Master's Degree and studied at the Art Academy of Salzburg. In line with his talent and education, the Wunderkind became well-known through exhibitions in Kaunas, Vilnius, Salzburg and Leipzig. His quality was quickly acknowledged. Artistically speaking, Teitelbaumas became a rising star. His interesting style is best described as "Teitelbaumanian," that is, original. On close inspection, however, one may find a few stylistic reminders of Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali among his numerous works. "Teitelbaumanian" paintings are otherwise noted by visual depth, dark outlines, heavy brushstrokes and color - luxuriant color, with notable exceptions to the rule. We are happy to feature work by this talented artist.

Teitelbaumas, Solomonas
Kaunas Jewish Cemetery I
 Date 1997  function f_showVGMPopUp_143() { VilnaGaonPopup_143.style.posLeft = VilnaGaonPopup_143.offsetLeft-350 VilnaGaonPopup_143.style.visibility = 'visible'; } function f_hideVGMPopUp_143() { VilnaGaonPopup_143.style.posLeft = VilnaGaonPopup_143.offsetLeft+350 VilnaGaonPopup_143.style.visibility = 'hidden'; } from Jewish Art Network online gallery, representing Vilna Gaon Jewish Museum. In concordance with the Council of Europe, we support the Vilna Ghetto project with a contribution to the museum from this sale.

 Original Medium Oil on Canvas 

Percikovichiute, Cherne
Jewish Girl, a Member of a Corporation
 Date 1938

Two Girls Prepare the Wall Newspaper

kov-born-#10: Percikovichiute, Cherne
CHERNE PERCIKOVICHIUTE (1912-1942) was born in Kaunas, Lithuania. She was a student at Kaunas University and studied art under J. Vienozinskas from 1930-1932. She was one of the more promising students at the acclaimed Art School of Kaunas and a favorite of Professor Vienozinskas. Ms. Percikovichiute took part in many exhibitions in Lithuania. Because of the Holocaust and the looting of Jewish art, few of her works survived. However, one of them is on permanent display at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius, Lithuania. The artist was killed in the Kaunas ghetto in 1942.
kov-born-#11: Portnovaite, Dina
DINA PORTNOVAITE (1924 - 1989) was born in Kaunas. She lived at a time when it was dangerous to be "modern," particularly as an artist in Soviet Lithuania. With the exception of a brief trip to Wales in 1939, her entire career was spent under Soviet rule. Between 1944 and the death of Joseph Stalin [1953], everything was defined in political terms. And everyone knew that guidance from above was more than a friendly suggestion. "Soviet Realism" was in. Everything else was out, or highly suspect. How any self-respecting artist could survive that kind of oppression and develop a personal style is anybody's guess. We don't know how to explain that. We only know that a few artists, like Dina Portnovaite, were able to do just that and lived to tell the tale. Her medium was oil or paper gouache - a technique of painting with opaque watercolors prepared with gum. Her work was sometimes expressionistic; at times it was almost abstract. At the Stage favors the former. Landscape comes close to being abstract. [Portnovaite was a student devotee of Zale Bekeris, the well-known Jewish Expressionist


Professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York.
was born in Kovno, 1873. After studying in Eastern and Western Europe
came to New York in 1900. In 1901 he received his appointment at the
seminary which he still holds.
Moshe Arens
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Moshe Arens (born December 27, 1925 in Kaunas, Lithuania) is an
Israeli politician. He was a member of the Likud party, and served as
Minister of Defense three times.

Arens immigrated to the United States with his family in 1939 and
became an American citizen. In 1948, when Israel achieved its
independence and began fighting wars with the Arabs, Arens immigrated
to Israel and became a right-wing activist, joining the Irgun forces,
which were led by Menachem Begin, a man who he would work with much in
his political career. After the war he entered politics, eventually
being elected to the Knesset and becoming chairman of its committee on
foreign affairs and defense.

In 1981, Begin, who was prime minister at that time, appointed Arens
to be the ambassador to the United States. He left that position in
1983 when he became defense minister for the first time, replacing
Ariel Sharon. In 1984 he became minister without portfolio in the
national unity government. In December 1988, in the government of
Yitzhak Shamir, he became foreign minister until June 1990, when
Shamir appointed him defense minister again. He held that position
until 1992, when Likud lost the election. He continued to be a
hardliner in Israel's relations with the Palestinians and Arabs.

Arens then retired from politics until 1999, when he challenged his
protege Benjamin Netanyahu for leadership of Likud. Though he received
only 18% of the vote, Netanyahu brought him into the government as
defense minister in January 1999, sacking Yitzhak Mordechai. He
retired from politics permanently later in 1999 when Likud lost the

Today Prof. Moshe Arens is a Chairman, International Board of
Governors of Judea and Samaria College in Ariel.


Grigory Kanovich was born in 1929 in Kaunas, Lithuania. His novels on
Jewish topics were translated into different European languages and
into Hebrew. At the end of the 1980s, he became a deputy to the
Supreme Soviet of the USSR from Lithuania ("Sajudis"). He participated
in the First Congress of the Jewish Va'ad in Moscow (Dec. 1989). In
1990, he published a literary Zionist pamphlet, "Yevreyskaya romashka"
(The Jewish Camomile] (VEK, No. 2(5), Riga, pp. 1-3), which had
significant influence. Kanovich emigrated to Israel in 1992, and lives
in Bat-Yam.


Professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. He
was born in Kovno, 1873. After studying in Eastern and Western Europe he
came to New York in 1900. In 1901 he received his appointment at the


President Yeshiva College, New York. He was born in Kovno, Lithuania,
1885. After graduating from the Riga Gymnasium he came to the U.S. studied
at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, and took his
Ph.D. In 1915, he was appointed president of the faculty of the Rabbi Isaac
Elchanan Theological Seminary, which was later merged into Yeshiba College.


President American Jewish Physicians Committee. He was born in Pinsk,
1875. He settled in New York in 1898. He was the president of the Beth Israel
Hospital, New York