Launch of Book about Jews of Švėkšna

Launch of Book about Jews of Švėkšna

Monika Žąsytienė, a Bagel Shop project volunteer and museum specialist, has written a book called “Švėkšnos žydų bendruomenė XVII–XX a.” [The Jewish Community of Švėkšna from the 17th to the 20th Century].

The Bagel Shop Café will host the launch of the new book at 6:00 P.M. on February 19. Register here.

According to the author, the book makes no pretense of being an historical work. Instead, Monika Žąsytienė sought to bring together local lore and regional history for future work on the subject. She made use of material from Lithuanian archives, Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C. Some of the information–testimonies, memoirs, correspondence in Yiddish, Hebrew, German and English–appears for the first time in Lithuanian in her book.

Žąsytienė was able to check much of the information and learn new information from family members of Jews who emigrated from Švėkšna, including professor Wilfred Stein, Jerry Shapiro, David Newman, Eric Goldsmith, Howard Kramer, Esther Rechtshafner, and from family members of Holocaust survivors, including Shirley Press, Melanie Segal, Shulamit Shpungin and others. The author said her acquaintance with Naftali Ziv of Švėkšna (Shvekshne, Shvekshna) and his wife Hana inspired her to write the book.

Emigration occupies and important place in the book, but Jewish emigration out of Švėkšna was too wide a topic in itself, the author said, so she concentrated on several family histories which provided the general outlines.

She divided the 20th century into four periods: before World War I, the interwar period, World War II and the post-war period. Events in Švėkšna are connected with national and global events to put the small town in historical context.

The book contains 80 illustrations from a variety of sources.

More about the book in Lithuanian here.