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The History of Shkud

Translated by Eitan Reif

Edited by Aviva Tirosh

Our shtetl of Shkud, in the Kretingen district and flanked by two rivers – the Bartuva and Luoba, lay near the German – Latvian border. The Bartuva river crossed it in half and a bridge connected both parts of town.

Both parts differed in the style and social status of their population, and thus generated the Old Town and the New Town. The New Town was populated mainly by the well to do, and was thus considered wealthier and classier.

At first the Old Town Jews didn't come to terms with Jews moving into the New Town and objected to the establishment of another Minyan for the High Holidays – a crisis settled only after negotiations and a donation made by the New Town community for the benefit of the old synagogue.

The roots of Jewish settlement in Shkud reach the 17th century. The founding of the New Town took place at the end of the 18th century and the beginning if the 19th century.

Taxation data reveals the gradual development of Jewish Shkud, with 576 Jewish tax payers in 1766; 1,872 in the year 1847; 2,292 in 1897; 3,853 in 1921, and 2,500 in 1939 – indeed 50% of the gross population.

In the nearby vicinity were the towns of Dorbian, Kretingen, Memel, Maisad, Yelok, Salant, Bershtitz and Plotel. (Darbënai, Kretinga, Klaipëda, Mosëdis, Ylakiai, Salantai, Barstyèiai and Plateliai)

 

Topography and panorama of Shkud

The Old Town consisted mainly of a long street called “Jews' Street”, in contrast to the Lithuanian, Polish and Russian populated New Town. Two alleys branched out from Jews Street, one of which led to the Old Synagogue and Beit Midrash through a suspended wooden bridge, and the other named “Bath Alley” (Bad Gessle). This alley also led to the Bartuva River, where the Shkud Jews bathed. The shtetl was very small and its structure unique. On the sides of Jews' Street were two rain-water gutters. Between the gutter and the row of houses lay an empty stretch of land. With the arrival of rains, those areas turned into lakes of mud and water, and whoever wished to visit his

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neighbour or friend, living on the other side of the street, had to circumnavigate all the lakes in order to reach the destination.

With the development of the New Town it was moved into by many shop owners, and its population increased rapidly.

 

Market Square in the New Town

The market was circular in shape, with two rows of wooden shops stretching through its middle. Streets and alleys curved out from the market square: A street leading to the Old Town, an alley called “Milk Alley” (for in its end was a Lithuanian dairy), Maisad Street, leading to the shtetl of Maisad, the Rabbi's alley, leading to the grammar school and the abattoir, Yelok Street, leading to a shtetl by that name, Long Street (Di Lange Gass, in Yiddish), leading towards the Latvian border, Priests' Alley, leading to the local church, and Cinema's Alley.

Markets were held on Mondays and Thursdays. Here, the peasants sold their agricultural produce to the inhabitants. There were also larger – scale fairs (a Yarid), held three or four times a year, where horses and cows were sold. A day before the Yarid, rows of wagons would be seen making their way to the shtetl, and all the merchants and peddlers would set up stalls with their goods. The Jews of Shkud would thank their Maker when a Yarid went through without mishaps, fights, riots and robbery.

The Jews were especially frightened on the eve of Passover, when the setting up of a blood libel, naturally followed by pogroms, was common practice within Jewish communities.

 

The Population

Shkud was a vibrant Jewish shtetl in its social and cultural life, as well as in its public and national institutions. It had a reputation for its hospitality and its welfare institutions, renowned for their alertness and awareness of the needy. The heartfelt connection between a Jew and his brother was a characteristic of the inhabitants' lives, and “Ahavat Israel” was the shtetl's basic foundation. A Shkud Jew wouldn't return home from synagogue on Shabbat eve, until the very last guest was seen to.

 

The Shtetl's Administration

The twelve elected counsel members (Di Tsvelftlech) attended to the shtetl's material and spiritual matters. They would often also go to Telzsh (Telšiai) county, to foil Russian decrees against the Jewish population.

Only with the end of the First World War, did the administration of the shtetl pass from the hands of the twelve

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to those of the community's board, chosen by the entire Jewish population and granted broad administrative authority. Elections for this institution were held annually.

The first chairman of the community counsel was R' Mendl Chatskels z”l, in whose time the counsel enjoyed the full support of the people. And indeed, the town's leaders fulfilled their duties voluntarily and with dedication.

This counsel remained in office until 1926. In that year an “Ezra” association was established, and ran the community's affairs until its annihilation (“Ezra” associations were established in all Lithuanian shtetls, and were even supported by the Lithuanian government in fulfilling their objectives).

Among “Ezra's” important activities should be mentioned the effort to prevent the demolition of the Jewish wooden stalls in the Shkud marketplace which, supposedly, introduced ugliness to the town center. The “Ezra” people journeyed to the capital Kovno (Kaunas) and managed to undo the edict, which could have destroyed the existence and livelihood of dozens of families. All electors excelled in their impartiality and filled their public duties faithfully.

“Ezra's” activities in Shkud included: Overseeing and control of the Shechita and the abattoir. Slaughter fees were preset by a committee. The fees were paid directly to “Ezra” and the receipt represented a document for the Shochets, who were obliged to do their job without receiving further payment; The Rabbi, the Shochet and the Cantor received their salaries from the “Ezra's” funds; The replacement of a Shochet or Cantor who left the town was hired solely by “Ezra”, and “Ezra” was the body to approve the new candidate for the post; “Ezra” also supported the school teachers, whose teaching of Hebrew subjects was essential, yet unrecognized by the Lithuanian government; The pastures “Ganikles”, Jewish property turned over to “Ezra”, were leased for agriculture and provided a source of income for the association's treasury; “Ezra” loaned money to needy Jews under the most convenient conditions.

It should be pointed out that the town's affairs were run very successfully by “Ezra”. Its first chairman was Michal Fogelman hy”d, and eventually the position was filled by Meir Henoch Bloch hy”d.

The baths in the New Town were also under the supervision of “Ezra”. Inside the baths was a charitable hostel, which housed the poor, passing through Shkud.

 

The Charity Fund

A charity fund was established in around 1920. The capital was raised by the local public activists from the wealthy and those of limited resources alike. The fund offered its assistance to all the needy. Whoever had descended from wealth or had been stricken by a catastrophe received a long term, no interest loan, and thus aided to getting out of the trouble. So as not to hurt the feelings and self respect of the needy, a small committee would convene, agree on the sum

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of the loan, and hand it out in tact and discretion. At the end of the year an open meeting was summoned, where a financial statement, approved by the review committee, was presented. After the discussion and its approval, guidelines for future actions were set and a new leadership was elected.

With the outbreak of the First World War an emergency aid fund was established, aimed at supporting families whose providers were conscripted and were thus left without means of existence. These families were granted monthly stipends and even had their rent paid. Upon recommendation of the town's leaders, potatoes and flour were distributed to Shkud's inhabitants. Overseeing this distribution of groceries in that period, by appointment of the German governor of the town, was Yitzhak Kangisser z”l.

 

“Linat haTzedek” (Sleep of the Just)

This institution gathered around it most of the town's youth. In case of a lengthy illness a duty list was prepared, and each family had to dispatch a member for a night's watch by the sick person's bed, in order to relieve that person's family. A couple of people on duty slept near the sick person's bed, and were at his disposal at any hour of the night.

 

“Bikur Cholim” (Visiting the Sick)

“Bikur Cholim” was run by Moshe Taitz (living in Israel). Should a sick person's family find itself in financial trouble and unable to summon another doctor or purchase special medications, the people of “Bikur Cholim” would step in to fill the need. With great dedication they supported the patient and offered him economical and spiritual succor. The doctor too took the patient's social status into consideration and would treat him or her for a reduced fee. The same went for the pharmacy, which offered a discount in medication prices. The prescriptions were stamped by the chairman of “Bikur Cholim”, thus prompting the pharmacist to distribute the medications at a reduced price or free of charge.

In urgent cases, when the medicine for the patient was required on a Saturday, the chairman of “Bikur Cholim” would send one of his sons with the prescription. The pharmacy owner, a German gentile, would then stamp the form himself, so as to observe the Shabbat.

The “Bikur Cholim's” income depended on monthly donations, Aliyot to the Torah in the synagogue and collections at funerals. “Bikur Cholim” also had various medical equipment available, such as thermometers, ice, hot water bottles etc., loaned to patients free of charge.

 

“Ma'ot Hittin” (Provisions Money)

This initiative was handled by a select committee. Holidays' groceries were given discreetly to the needy, with all the provisions sent to their abodes without the neighbours having any notion of it. This approach to charity work enabled the poor to celebrate the Holidays together with everyone else, as equals.

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Bread for the Needy

Righteous women would collect donations and contributions throughout the year to support the shtetl's impoverished. There were no cases of starvation in the shtetl. Wine, meat, fish and Shabbat's Challahs were all supplied to the needy with great generosity.

 

Bride Welfare (Hakhnasat Kala)

Shkud's women made certain that a needy bride's wedding would be arranged properly. The bride would be given handsome dresses, a dance would be held with musical instruments, drinks and food would be served and the young couple would receive gifts as well.

With a maternal touch and tenderness the women of Shkud would lead the needy bride towards her new life. A special grace lay over this act.

These institutions' funds depended on monthly donations, Neders (vows) in the synagogue, taken on Aliyot to the Torah and weekly occasions. Volunteers dedicated their time to visiting homes and collecting for certain charities. Social gatherings were also held, with the proceeds directed towards succor and welfare. Many preferred the discreet charities (“Matan Beseter”), visited poor homes and provide them with kindling wood and warm clothes.


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Financial and Industrial Institutions

Translated by Eitan Reif

Edited by Aviva Tirosh

 

Popular Bank (Yiddishe Folks Bank)

This bank was a branch of the Central Popular Bank in Kovno (Kaunas), and it faithfully accompanied the economical development of Shkud. The merchant, grocer and artisan all received here the constructive assistance for developing their sources of income.

Never had a request for credit been turned down flat. Annual meetings were held, and a report had been distributed amongst the shareholders. After the confirmation of the balance sheet a board has been elected, entrusted with the task of running the financial activities for a period of one year. Last to head the bank were Motel Fogelman hy”d and Meir Henoch Bloch hy”d. Among the founders were Eliyahu Tanur hy”d, Michal Fogelman hy”d, Mendel Chatzkels z”l and Ephraim Bentzion Urdang hy”d.

 

Trade, Industry and Crafts

Before the First World War, Shkud had economic ties with the cities of Riga and Libau (Liepâja), as there was no border between Lithuania and Latvia. These cities were provided with agricultural produce and meat, and from them the shtetl received groceries and manufactured goods. The connection was maintained through wagons and horses, but during the war the railway line between Memel (Klaipeda) and Libau was opened, and by passing through Shkud aided the shtetl's economic development. With the closure of the borders between Lithuania and Latvia the close contact with those cities ended.

Towards the end of the First World War, with the annexation of Memel (Klaipeda), the coastal town, to Lithuania, a great change occurred in the economical life of the shtetl. The traders would visit Memel (Klaipeda) on a weekly basis, buying merchandise and bringing it back on freight trains or lorries. Shkud traders would buy goods in Kovno (Kaunas) as well. The shtetl's entire trade was in Jewish hands.

Once the Lithuanians realized that Lithuania's trade was concentrated in Jewish hands, they founded a chain of co-operative stores, in an attempt to change this. In 1929 such a store was opened in Shkud as well.

The Lithuanians ran an organized action and prevented Lithuanian customers from buying in Jewish stores. The Shkud Jews' struggle for survival against their rivals was a hard one, once the regime supported, financially as well as in other means, the new Lithuanian stores.

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There were a few large wholesale grocery stores and a shop in Shkud, owned by the Fogelman brothers, for construction appliances and iron. Residents of nearby towns bought necessary materials in these shops.

The shoe industry was the shtetl's main craft. A large number of the shtetl's youths worked in shoe manufacturing factories and also mastered the art of shoe stitching. Most of the factories were fitted with modern machines, powered by electricity. Shoe manufacturers were: Yitzhak Cohen, Michael Mines, Hirsch Gilder, Shlomo Peres, Yehuda Berman and Bernstein – in the New Town; [Gedalia] Abramovic, Moshe Yankelowitz and Moshe Leib Grinblatt – in the Old Town. All together, the factories and craftsmen in the trade produced around 400 pairs of shoes a day. Especially productive was Yitzhak Cohen's factory, “Continental”, which produced around 100 pairs a day.

The shoes were marketed throughout Lithuania, but the biggest consumer for Shkud's produce was the city of Memel. Shkud itself provided the raw materials. The shtetl's tanners, Shpitz (now in South Africa), Hochman, Turek and Kopelovitsch in the New Town and Grinblatt in the Old Town, purveyed most of the needed raw materials to Shkud's shoe factories.

There was a large weaving factory and a cloth dyeing factory in the Old Town owned by Mordechai Khoiker, which operated in two shifts and employed around 60 or 70 people. Large numbers of Lithuanian clients from the vicinity made their way to this factory in order to dye their home-made handicrafts. In the New Town there was Breina Montriski's cloth dyeing factory, and in the course of time another such factory was established by Yehuda Chatzkin hy”d. Fogelman's chains and nails factory employed around 20 people. Isaac Hovsha's candy factory in the New Town employed around 20 girls in the packing process, and Kastelansky's socks factory employed around 20 or 30 girls. Shkud socks were a desired commodity in the entire area.

Tailors, watchmakers, furriers, hatters, bakers, confectionary merchants, button makers, barbers, carpenters, builders, oven building experts (Joseph Glickman), achieved fame in the shtetl and its vicinity. Davidov's printing press provided printed matter, such as wedding invitations, advertisements, etc.

Many teamsters made their living from carrying goods to the railway station, which stood three and a half kilometers from the shtetl.

The main connection between the railway station and the shtetl was Dov Segal z”l, known as “Bere der prekuler forer”, and his son Ephraim hy”d, the owners of a stagecoach for conveying passengers to the train and back. At a later stage the stagecoach was also modernized, and substituted for a large bus.

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The stagecoach, providing transport on set times, was also used as a time indicator and was nicknamed by the Old Town inhabitants “traveling four wheeled clock”. It was known that as the coach passed by before dawn – it was 5:45 am, before dusk – 4 pm, and during the night – it was 10 pm.

The Segal family also had an elegant coach for special purposes and it served only exalted guests, arriving in Shkud from abroad, or put at the disposal of a groom arriving to see his betrothed…

The butchers of Shkud were made famous for their meat produce. Shkud sausages and the smoked meat made by Hersche Shmeris z”l traveled far from Shkud's boundaries.

About five farmers cultivated their own their lands in Shkud, produced enough for private consumption and sold the surplus to the shtetl dwellers. Owners of large plots were: Neta Zelikovitz z”l, Bere Kaganzon and Joseph Mirkis – in the old town, and the brothers Mendel and Nachum Chatzkels, Hirsch Cohen and David Shafkind – in the New Town. The last was a formidable agriculturalist, for in addition to the vegetable plot that was cared for by him inside the shtetl, he also kept in his yard a poultry house and a cow shed.

During the cucumber season he lay in ambush in his garden, in order to catch and teach a lesson to the uninvited guests, coming to steal the fruits of his toil…

The two pharmacies were in Jewish ownership. There were also two doctors in the shtetl.

A large customs house stood in Shkud, near the Latvian border. In this customs house the brothers Michal and Isser Yudelman were employed as brokers, whereas in other governmental institutions no Jews were employed.

In the Old Town were two large warehouses (“magazinen”), used as crop barns. These warehouses were built by the Germans during the First World War. Later they were used as places for banquets and mass assemblies.

Near the bridge in the Old Town there was a flour mill, the dynamo of which provided electric current for lighting and power for industry. At first a hydroelectric power plant, using water from the dam on the Bartuva River, was set to work, but generators were introduced at a later stage.

The plant owner was a German, Ellert, and after the great fire that ran through the place they were transferred to the ownership of General Plechavicius, as a token of appreciation from the Lithuanian government for organizing the successful “Putsch” of 1927, in which the Social Democratic government, headed by Dr. Grinius, was deposed without bloodshed.


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The National Funds

Translated by Eitan Reif

Edited by Aviva Tirosh

 

KKL (Keren Kayemet Le'Yisrael - Israel National Fund)

A team of people, working for KKL, was engaged in emptying the donation boxes, collecting contributions made through “mi sheberach” blessings in weddings and other happy occasions, selling Haroset for Pesach, and the distributing of Rosh Hashana greeting cards and their delivery to homes. In Simchat Torah the team arranged a special “Minyan”

 

sku015.jpg - KKL activists in Shkud
KKL activists in Shkud after the parade on the 25th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Herzl z”l

Bottom row, right to left: Shmuel Axelrod, Pesach Bob (now in South Africa), Eliezer Eisen.
Second row: Feivel Neiman, Yentel Savel-Vrotnitzki, Tzvi Yoselevitz, David Davidov, Rachel Savel-Elkes, Yitzhak Cohen.
Third row: Meir Hovsha, Ester Terushkin Rosen (now in Israel), Chaim Natanson (now in Israel), Yeshayahu Yudelman (now in South Africa), Chaya Sheindling Mevezis (now in Israel), Alexander Pinta (now in Israel), Mina Cohen, Gershon Faktor (now in Israel), Mordechai Shlez, Itta Yankelovitz, Meir Taitz (now in Israel), Israel Tenor

 

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and the Nedarim money was dedicated to KKL. In this Minyan also participated the public activists, teacher and author Israel Shaf z”l. The distributing of the KKL stamp was handled by the entire team. With the involvement of the dentist Tzvi Yosselevitz, z”l, fresh vitality entered the organization. From time to time activists' gatherings were held, setting operational guidelines for KKL fundraising, realized

Picture: A farewell party for the wedding of the member Rachel Savel in Shkud, 27 Iyar, 5690. Bottom row (right to left):Israel Tenor, Miriam Savel, Meir Taitz (now in Israel). Second row: David Davidov, Rachel Savel, Israel Shaf, Yentel Savel-Vrotnitzki (now in Israel), Moshe Yankelovitz. Third row: Shlomo London, Masha London, Liba Tov, Chaim Natanson (now in Israel), Rachel London, Mina Cohen, Michel Chin, Alexander Pinta (now in Israel), Itta Yankelovitz, Yitzhak Cohen.

by the youth organizations. Quotas and areas for fundraising were determined, and this encouraged a beneficial competition. One of the main activists in this field was David Davidov, hy”d. The youth's enthusiasm towards activities for KKL was great.

 

Keren Hayesod

In working for Keren Hayesod fundraising, Shkud's social activists didn't compromise for marginal sums. A broad public committee, including representatives from the Kovno (Kaunas) headquarters or delegates

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from Eretz Yisrael, evaluated the potential donor's means and even set the amount of the expected contribution. When the donor was unable to bring forward the required sum all at once, part was accepted in cash and part in personal bonds.

 

KPEY (Eretz Yisrael Workers Fund)

This fund was supported by the movements organized through the framework of the workers in Eretz Yisrael. Membership of the fund was personal, though the various organizations funneled their members' donations en masse. Large amounts were delivered from Shkud to the Kovno (Kaunas) KPEY centre.


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Youth Movements

Translated by Eitan Reif

Edited by Aviva Tirosh

 

“Ha'noar”

In 1922, after the closing of the Jewish Pro-gymnasium, the youth became interested in Eretz Yisrael's development. The first initiators of the Learning Youth's Organization (Irgun Ha'noar Ha'lomed) were Shlomo London, hy”d, Mendel Baskind and Ephraim Tsizling (now in South Africa). The organized youth,

 

sku018.jpg - Ha'Noar association in Shkud, 20 Sivan, 5695
“Ha'Noar” association in Shkud, 20 Sivan, 5695

Bottom row (right to left): Yitzhak Aibel, Yechezkel Yudelman (now in the USA), Shoshana Yudelman (now in the USA), Benjamin Shtiris, Mira Chatzkel, Sarah Fil (now in the USA), Abraham Yorburski.
Second row: Leah Mines, Shlomo London, Chaya Sheindling Mevezis (now in Israel), Mendel Baskind (now in South Africa), Liba Shaf, Shraga Perlgeber (now in Israel), Miriam Savel, Alexander Pinta (now in Israel), Yeshayahu Fogelman.
Third row: Liba Tov, Leah Perlgeber, Yehudit EIsen Halpern (now in Israel), Mendel Segal, Roda Chin, Sarah Reif Piotrkowski (now in Israel), Tova Levin, Miraim Katz Gelfand (now in Israel), Liba Horvitz, Pesia Dorfman, Mane Yudelman (now in South Africa).
Fourth row: Eliezer Baskind (now in South Africa), Leib Friedman (now in South Africa), Klein (now in France), Feiga Hadasin (now in South Africa), Mina Cohen, Rosa Axelrod, Abraham Tenor (now in South Africa), Temma Meller (now in Canada)

 

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the focal point of around 80 male and female members , was nicknamed “Ha'Noar”. On Saturdays, lectures were held on the way of Zionism, building of the Land and its development.

With the organizing of the youth, the various parties started drawing members into their rows.

This brought the splitting of the general “Ha'Noar” movement. Some members moved to “Gordonia” and some to “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair”. In the course of time several other movements were founded, such as “Dror”, “Ha'Chalutz Ha'Tzair” and “Beitar”. There also existed an organization named “Tiferet Bachurim”, encompassing most of the youth and focusing its activity on public prayers, in a special “Minyan”, and the studying of Mishnayes. During the prayers special songs were sung, composed by a famous Lithuanian Jew – ZYSh (Zelig Yosef Shneider). The spiritual leader of this organization was Rabbi Terushkin, hy”d.

 

“Gordonia”

The “Gordonia” organization was founded in 1925.

To the organizing and substantiating of “Gordonia” contributed vastly a local school teacher, Tzvi Rosenzweig. The Shkud branch maintained contact with the other chapters in Lithuania, and especially with the Kovno (Kaunas) headquarters, by which instructions it was run. Visits were made from the Kovno centre, and delegates were sent to national conferences of “Gordonia”, held biannually in Kovno. Meetings, trips and cultural entertainments were organized. “Gordonia” encouraged its members towards pioneering and Aliyah. Some “Gordonia” members from Shkud are now in Israel, in Kibbutzim and farming communities.

 

“Ha'chalutz Ha'tzair”

In 1933, “Ha'Shomer Ha'tzair” was split, and from one of its segments “Ha'chalutz Hatz'air” was created, encompassing around a hundred boys and girls. This organization also ran cultural activities and became an educating factor among the youth in the shtetl. The senior members moved on to “Ha'chalutz” and were demanded to achieve self-fulfillment.

The idea of fulfillment, and the integration of the older youth into the rows of the Eretz Yisrael workers, impacted on numerous Shkud senior members, and many joined the “Chalutz” chapter in town, calling for fulfillment and Aliyah. The numbers of those going out to training centers rose, and this especially among those going to agricultural farms in the Memel area.

After a time period of about a year or two, they made Aliyah, some legally and some through “aliyah - bet”.

 

”Dror”

A youth movement which belonged to the Social-Zionists' Party. It educated its members along Zionist – Socialist lines. At the end of a two year educational period, the “Dror” members joined the party.

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“Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair”

In 1925 a non-political scout movement was founded, headed by Harry Yudelman, son of Michel and Gitta. The guides took special care to impress scout-rules, good behavior, the helping of others, teaching general history and taking action for the Zionist cause. The organization grew with the joining of the best among the learning youth in town. The local troop produced superb guides, and in 1928 the Shkud branch, managed by Alexander Pinta (now in Israel), connected with

 

sku020.jpg - Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair, the Shkud troop, 1930
“Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair”, the Shkud troop, 1930

Bottom row (right to left): Moshe Kangisser (now in South Africa), Jacob Kravitz, Meir Sheindling, Hirt Tov (now in Rhodesia), David Gruppel (now in Israel), Yosef Taitz, Moshe Falk, Chaim Elkin.
Second row: Yosef Peltz (now in Israel), Tzipa Sher, Perlgeber, Meir Hovsha, Daniel Prochovnik Pirchiyahu (now in Israel), Alexander Pinta (now in Israel), Gitta Taitz, Zalman Gruppel (now in Israel), Miriam Tov, Eliyahu Fogelman (now in the USSR), David Peltz, Chaim Urdang, Eliezer Bob.
Third row: Sarah Belkind (now in Lithuania), Gelle Perlgeber, Shalom Binder, Feige Perlgeber, Shlomo Yankelovitz, Meir Taitz, Chaya Peltz Yaakobi (now in Israel), Tzipora Taitz Freilichman (now in Israel), Tzipa Singer.
Fourth row: Eliyahu Reif (now in Israel), Leib Yitzhak Mines, Dvora Segal, Feiga Fogelman, Hinda Segal (now in Lithuania), Rachel Bob, Etta Shlez (now in Australia), Mina Baskind, Ester Sheindling, Hinda Savel Rathoiz (now in Israel), Sheina Baskind.
Fifth row: Aba Bloch, Tova Mines, Israel Tenor, Shlomo Yitzhak Fogelman, Shlomo Taitz (now in Israel), Temma Taitz (now in the USA), Daniel Abramovic (now in the USA)

 

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“Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” movement in Lithuania. In this organization, very strenuous cultural activity was carried out, and especially Saturdays were dedicated to intricate and pre-planned activities. Many members from Shkud's “Ha'Shomer Hatzair” went to training and later made Aliyah. Emissaries of “Ha'Kibbutz Ha'Artzi” (National Kibbutz) on a tour to Lithuania paid a visit to the troop and pointed it out to be one of the best.

 

“Beitar”

This youth movement was founded later than the others. The movement was joined by some of the unorganized youth. The young members were trained to uphold strict discipline. Among the activists were Yosef Sheindling, hy”d, and Gershon Faktor and Chaim Natanson (both in Israel). The troop developed intricate cultural activity in its daily life. Its goal was fulfillment through Aliyah. In the summer of 1932 a large public celebration marked the fifth anniversary for the creation of “Beitar”. At that time the troop consisted of around 50 members and its public demonstration made a powerful impression on those present.


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Parties and Organizations

 

“Tzeirei Zion – Hitachdut” (Youths of Zion Association)

The Balfour declaration sent a wave of awakening and national enthusiasm through the shtetls of Lithuania. It was also the trigger for the establishment of a “Tzeirei Zion Association” branch, whose members were from among the senior youth, and which was the first party in town. The party engaged in cultural activities, participated in actions for the benefit of the national funds, and established a library and a class for amateur dramatists who appeared in plays and organized banquets. Among the party's founders were Yaakov Moshe Yankelevitz, hy”d, Moshe Urdang (now in the USA), Benjamin Tsizling, hy”d, and Leah Zundelevitz Weinberg (now in the USA).

 

Z. S. (Weltfarband) (Socialist Zionists – World Association)

This party as well was home to a large part of the youth. A struggle for decisive influence over the youth existed between “Tzeirei Zion – Hitachdut” and “Z. S. – Weltfarband”, up until the merging of both. Among its spiritual leaders was the teacher Moshe Heshel Cohen, hy”d.

 

“Ha'Oved” (“The Worker”)

In 1934, “Ha'Oved” was founded. It was joined by most of the shtetl's artisans. Due to their family obligations, members of “Ha'Oved” didn't go out on training but rather participated in academic activity, encompassing information on Zionism's history, the Histadrut (workers association) and its institutions, workers' villages and the co-operative movement. Members' wives were also in attendance.

 

“Mizrachi”

Among the parties in town, a distinguished place was allotted to the “Ha'Mizrachi” party, with its activists Chaim Aharon Hovsha, hy”d, and his son Meyer (the latter was a member of the central board and put much energy and activity into the movement).

Yaakov Shlez, hy”d, Yerachmiel Perlgeber, hy”d, Leah Hovsha, hy”d, and Batya Terushkin (now in Israel), were not only among the distributors of Shekalim, but also dedicatedly ran campaigns for the expansion of “Ha'Mizrachi”. These activities were especially stimulated before upcoming congressional elections.

The local Rabbi, hy”d, supported the movement with his personality.

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“Zionim Klaliyim” (General Zionists)

Small merchants and wealthy Jews were enrolled with this party. Like the other parties and organizations, this party also worked for the Funds and the Zionist idea. The first activists in town were called “Di Zionisten”. With the founding of the various parties they joined the General Zionists party. The party chairman was David Davidov, hy”d.

 

“Wizo”

This was the only women's organization in Shkud. “Wizo” women helped by conducting banquets for the upkeep of the high-school and also lent a shoulder to various social activities in town and to the National Funds. Among the activists was Alte Shafkind, hy”d.

 

“Ha'Kibbutz Ha'Ironi” (The Urban Kibbutz)

In 1933 a training farm for pioneers was created, near Zelikovitz's agricultural farmstead. There, youths from various towns received their training before making Aliyah. Those with professions continued their work in the shtetl. Members of the agricultural farm also worked as wood cutters and in other labors, and proved the population that they could perform all types of manual jobs exactly like the gentiles.

Jewish mothers who failed to understand the goal looked at them with pity, heartache and even the shedding of tears… at first this urban kibbutz was treated with disregard, but later the farm members won general appreciation and respect. The farm added a cultured aura to the cultural life in town, and many Shkud residents participated in the kibbutz' Oneg-Shabbat parties. The number of members reached twenty five.


[Page 24]

Sports Organizations

Translated by Eitan Reif

Edited by Aviva Tirosh

“Y. F. C.” (Yiddishe Football Comando)

This short lived organization was joined by youths from the old town. They would perform their exercises in the middle of the street and capture the residents' attention.

 

“Maccabi”

In 1924 a “Maccabi” branch was established in town, basing its sporting activity on a powerful football team. Almost every Sunday matches were held against teams from the close vicinity and also from Latvia. These sporting events gathered most of the townspeople as spectators, following their course with much interest. The best players were invited by the Lithuanian sports team in town to participate in its events.

 

sku024.jpg - the Maccabi board, Shkud; 20.8.1928 - For the departure of member M. Urdang
The “Maccabi” board, Shkud; 20.8.1928 – For the departure of member M. Urdang

Bottom row (right to left): Yosef Fisher, Tzvi Tzimbler, Leib Elishuv (now in France).
Second row: Abraham Natanson, Shlomo London, David Rodner (now in Israel), Moshe Urdang (now in the USA), Harry Yudelman, Kalman Cohen (now in the USA).
Third row: Alexander Pinta (now in Israel), Ephraim Tzisling (now in South Africa), Leib Cohen, Aharon Cohen, Alexander Mines (now in the USA)

 

[Page 25]

After some of the “Maccabi” players left town and emigrated to South Africa, the organization weakened and even disintegrated. One of the “Maccabi” founders was Hirsh, son of Yosef Shaf (Ika'le), who passed away prematurely.

 

sku025.jpg - 'Maccabi', Shkud
“Maccabi”, Shkud

Bottom row (right to left): Tuvia Einbinder, Leib Tzimbelov.
Second row: Eliezer Bob, Wolf Bass, Aba Levin, Reuven Gilder, Shlomo Malkin, David Bass, Leib Friedman (now in South Africa), Alexander Pinta (now in Israel).
Third row: Chaim Shalom Abramovitsch (now in France), Shlomo London, David Davidov, Yosef Fisher, Leib Elishuv (now in France), Eliezer Baskind (now in South Africa).
Fourth row: Yosef Kirzhner, Mendel Segal, Gedaliyahu Einbinder (now in Lithuania), Chaim Natanson (now in Israel), Benjamin Chin (now in South Africa), Benjamin Shtiris, Shmuel Axelrod, Abraham Bunis, Michel Fogelman, Yitzhak Aibel, Pesach Bob (now in South Africa).
Fifth row: Leib Shpetz, Abraham Friedman (now in South Africa), Meir Teitz (now in Israel), Israel Tenor, Leib Perlgeber, Shlomo Yudelman

 

“Ha'Poel”

The youth affiliated with the organizations of the working Eretz Yisrael, established in 1933 a branch of “Ha'Poel” (“the laborer”). Even some “Maccabi” members who left their organization due to its inactivity, joined “Ha'Poel”.

In addition to the various sporting activities, the branch also ran an intricate cultural activity. An orchestra was established, appearing in most of the nearby towns, and a drama class was set up.

“Ha'Poel;'s” football team was one of the strongest in the area. In its appearances at national Lithuanian holidays the chapter stood out in its uniform.

 

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