Proposal
Gargzdai (Gorzd), Lithuania Yizkor Book

Project Name. Translation of Gargzdai (Gorzd), Lithuania Yizkor Book

Project Leader
Lianne Franco
Dr. Carol Lieberman


JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager
Lance Ackerfeld
Fax: 1-909-259-7005

Project Synopsis

The first mention of Gorzd is in the writings of the Crusaders in 1253. The Jewish community of Gorzd was one of the first in Lithuania. In 15th century documents Jews are mentioned as appointees for collecting customs duties. In 1639, King Wladislaw IV promised Jews full privileges of citizenship. The German army captured the town on June 22, 1941, and between then and September 1941 destroyed the Jewish population. From 1959-1989 one Jew lived in Gorzd.

In 1980 the Gargzdai survivors published a 496-page yizkor book, Sefer Gorzd; ayara be-hayeha u-be-hilyona (Gorzd book; a memorial to Jewish community of Gorzd), Edited by Yitzhak Alperovitz (Tel Aviv, The Gorzd Society, 1980). There are 417 pages in the Hebrew/Yiddish section and 79 in the English section. Only a few chapters are now online at http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/Gargzdai/Gargzdai.html, including a necrology and an index of names. JewishGen requires the services of a professional translator to complete the translation of the remaining 403 pages of Hebrew and Yiddish text.

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in this town constitute the primary audience for the material.  However, the material has the potential to be of broader interest to scholars specializing in Jewish history and society in this region.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in central and eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual and Zionist movements of the 20th century. The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or shot in the forests are not recorded elsewhere. Usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish, these important books are not accessible to most users, who cannot read these languages. Thus, the translation of these books into English unlocks this information to many more researchers all over the world. The JewishGen Yizkor Book Project received the award in 2002 for outstanding contribution to Jewish genealogy by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

In 1897, the town's 1,455 Jews represented 59% of the total population. Slightly more than 1,000 Jews, or about 30% of the town's population, lived in Gorzd in 1939. The Jews dominated commerce in the area in the 20th century. Between September 14 and 16, 1941, all the remaining women and children were killed in a mass grave in the forest. Only one woman, Rachel Yomi, pretended to be dead and lived to be the single witness to the mass killing in the forest.

Project Description

Approximately 403 pages of Hebrew and Yiddish text remain to be translated and put online at http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/Gargzdai/Gargzdai.html. To accomplish that JewishGen will hire a professional translator. The project coordinator will select the order in which to translate the chapters and will work closely with the translator to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Specific tasks the project coordinator will perform include proofreading, editing, and preparing the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project.

Estimated Cost. $14,600


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Updated 5 Oct 2009 by LA