Continuing Education Students from Israel Visit Panevėžys Jewish Community

Under an agreement of several years’ standing Edit Perry and Ewa Baranska have led another delegation of people from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities to Panevėžys and the Panevėžys Jewish Community. Many are adults involved in continuing education during the academic year on the topic of Jews from the Baltic states. During the summer they strive to visit as many sites as possible where they had family in Lithuania, including Panevėžys. The students were keenly interested in the photography exhibit and archival documents illustrating Jewish life before World War II preserved at the Panevėžys Jewish Community.

Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman and member Jurijus Smirnovas delivered lectures at actual historical sites inside the former ghetto territory and the old Jewish cemetery which is now called Memory Square.

Smirnovas shared his experience of World War II with the visitors. He was a small child at the concentration camps in Panevėžys and Šiauliai and lost his family members.

Chairman Kofman delivered a lecture at the former old Jewish cemetery now called Memory Square, with the Sad Jewish Mother statue commemorating what was. He told the history of the cemetery, which appeared more than 200 years ago. Many famous people, rabbis, doctors, teachers, intellectuals, Jewish artisans and common people were buried there. The Panevėžys Jewish Community has a partial list of burials from 1872 to 1940. During that time it appears 6,934 people were buried there. The cemetery was destroyed in 1966 and headstones were used for decoration at the Panevėžys Drama Theater. Due to the efforts of the Panevėžys Jewish Community, the headstone fragments were returned to the cemetery and the commemorative statue erected there in 2009, created by the famous sculptor Vytautas Tallat Kelpša.

The visiting students later went to the mass murder site in the Pajuostė Forest.