“Grinkiskis” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Grinkiškis, Lithuania)

55° 34' / 23° 38'

Translation of the “Grinkiskis” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Dov Levin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1996


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Lita: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Lithuania,
Editor: Prof. Dov Levin, Assistant Editor: Josef Rosin, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.


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(Pages 197-198)

Grinkiskis

In Yiddish, Grinkishok

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shimon Joffe

A county town in the Kedainiai district.

Year General
Population
Jews %
1841 238 .. ..
1866 558 .. ..
1897 924 .. ..
1921 .. 250 ..
1923 972 235 24

Grinkiskis lies in the middle of Lithuania, 35 km. north-east of the district town Kedainiai, on the banks of the river Susve. The Grinkiskis estate is mentioned in historic annals of the sixteenth century. During the period of Russian rule (1795-1915), it belonged, administratively, to the Vilna province, and to the Kovno province sub-district town. This status was kept also during the period of Lithuanian independence (1918-1940). During that time the township had, in addition to administrative offices, 30 shops and workshops. During the Second World War the town was almost entirely destroyed by military action.

In the seventeenth century mention is made of a wooden synagogue, evidence of a Jewish community there. Jews made a living of trade, craftwork and farming. Despite the increased population growth in the second half of the nineteenth century, the economic condition of the Jews was difficult. An article published by a local inhabitant in Hamelitz of May 1883, stated; 'It is two years now that our Bet Midrash (study house) has neither candles nor wood and the 'gabaim' (beadles) spend their time looking for money and all in vain, as most buyers of the Aliya don't pay. Things have reached the point in which a policeman collected debts on behalf of the authority. About a year earlier, it was announced in the same publication that a Gemilut Khasadim Society (benevolent loan society), was established in the town by the initiative of the learned (religious) student Falk Kantorovich. The cemetery, the 'heder' and the 'shochet' served the Jews of the neighboring town Baisogola.

From 1872 until the First World War the position of the town rabbi was filled by Rabbi Arieh-Leib Ber son of Rabbi Zvi-Hirsh Halevi Wolpert. Rabbi Meir Leib Matz officiated after 1934. He wrote the book Netiv Meir (Meir's Way), published in Kedainiai. He was the last rabbi of the community and was murdered by the Lithuanians in the summer of 1941. In the year 1921- four years after the creation of the Lithuanian independent state, about 250 Jews lived in Grinkiskis. In the elections a year later to the first Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament), 130 voted for the Jewish lists; for the Zionists -84, for Achdut (Agudat Yisrael) -38; for the Democrats -8. During this period, as before the War, the Jews made a living from shops and craftwork. The commercial activity centered around the weekly market day, on Tuesdays. According to a survey conducted by the government in 1931 the Jews owned in Grinkiskis 3 textile shops, 2 meat shops, 2 flour mills, one shop selling sewing machines, (Singer), a watchmaker's shop, and a bakery. In 1939 the town had 8 Jewish artisans, 4 butchers, a baker, a photographer, and a shoemaker. In 1939, the town had 20 telephone subscribers, including four Jews. Despite the constant decrease in the number of Jews in the town, they continued to have a vigorous public life. The voting for the various congresses in the thirties is given below:

Congress
No
Year No. of
Shekels
Total
Votes
Labor
No
Revis-
ionist
General
Zionists
State
Party
Mizrachi
Z S Zts. A B
16 1929 6 9 - - 5 4 - - -
17 1931 8 8 - - 7 - - - 1
18 1933 .. 51 27 - 6 - 17 1
19 1935 .. 22 12 - - 9 - 1

Bnei Akiva was one of the youth movements active in the town.

During the Soviet regime (1940-1941) Zionist activity was forbidden and some businesses were nationalized, including Jewish ones.

20 Jewish families were still living in Grinkiskis at the time of the German invasion, on June 22, 1941. At the end of August 1941, armed Lithuanians led the entire town Jews to the nearby town Kriukai and there murdered them on September 2, 1941, together with the local Jews.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, M-9/15(6).
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1701, 55/1788, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
Gotlib, Ohalei Shem, p. 34.
Hamelitz [The Advocate] – (St. Petersburg), 12.11.1884, 28.5.1883.

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