“Taujenai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Taujėnai, Lithuania)

55° 24' / 24° 45'

Translation of the “Taujenai” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Josef Rosin

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 297-298)

Taujenai

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

In Yiddish, Tevyan

A county town in the Ukmerge district.

Year General
Population
Jews Percentage
1859 60 .. ..
1897 151 .. ..
1912 .. 111* ..
1923 250 95** 38
1940 .. ~30  

* 31 families.
** 18 families.

Taujenai is located on the banks of the Musa River in northern Lithuania, 15 km north of Ukmerge, the district's city. The town was established during the second half of the 18th century, near an estate that was also called Taujenai and was first owned by the Radzivil family and later by the Morikonis family. During the period of Russian Rule (1795-1915) Taujenai was part of the Vilnius region and it was the center of the county then and also during the period of Independent Lithuania. The first Jews to settle in the vicinity of Taujenai did so during the middle of the 18th century. They made their living mostly from petty trade and by maintaining taverns and inns along the Ukmerge – Panevezys road. A few dozen Jewish families lived in Taujenai proper. After establishing in Taujenai a synagogue and other institutions, the town became the spiritual center for the Jews in the surrounding areas, who received communal and religious services in the town. During the last years before WWI, most of the Jewish breadwinners engaged in trade. There were also 3 shoemakers, a tailor and a carpenter who were Jews. A number of Jewish families from Taujenai emigrated abroad. A few emigrated to Eretz-Yisrael. One of them, Dov Leibovitz (Ariel), was a Bilu pioneer, who emigrated to Eretz-Yisrael in 1884. He was one of the first to settle in Gedera. Subsequently, he managed to bring his father to Eretz-Yisrael.

Among the Rabbis who served in Taujenai were: Rabbi Eliyahu Sobel (from 1907) and Rabbi Tzvi Veinberg.

When Independent Lithuania was founded, a modern Jewish community was established in Taujenai, which was headed by an elected council. 8 candidates represented 2 local parties during the 1921 (in April) elections for the council. 5 of the 8 were elected: A.B. Tankhumas, Y. Kram, Y. Valet. B. Levin, and Alte Khar. In accord with the Jewish Ministry of Jewish affairs in Kaunas, a representative from the nearby town of Traupis was added to the council so that the small Jewish community of Traupis would also receive communal services and aid. 10 Jews engaged in commerce during the 1920's : 3 in retail and 7 as petty traders in the surroundings villages. 4 of the petty traders used horses and 3 moved around on foot. 4 breadwinners engaged in labor (building, metal work, glaziery, and wood carving). 6 Jewish families engaged in agriculture. 3 of them received land from the Lithuanian government in accordance with the agrarian reform. Those who had cattle used the pastures of the estate owners in the area and every now and then it caused disputes. According to the 1931 Lithuanian government census, Jews owned in Taujenai a flax store and 2 wool carders.

Due to the difficult economic conditions in Taujenai, 3 Jewish families needed full public support and 7 other families received partial support. People left the town because of the economic situation there, which deteriorated from year to year during that period also. In particular, it was the younger people who left.

21 people participated in the 18th Zionist Congress (1935)in Taujenai: 16 of them voted for the “Grossmannists”, and 5 for the Mizrakhi” party. In 1939, there were 9 telephones in the town; one of them belonged to a Jew by the name doctor, K. Goldberg. At the end of the 1930's and afterwards, when Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union during the autumn of 1940, it was mostly the elderly and the ill that remained in the town. Prayers in the synagogue were held on Saturdays and holidays only.

In the autumn of 1941, a few weeks after the outbreak of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, armed Lithuanians transferred the remaining Jews of Taujenai to the near Ukmerge. On September 5, 1941 (13 Elul, 5701) they were murdered at Pivonija Forest together with Jews from the surrounding areas. The murdered Jews were buried in a large mass grave. In 1950, a memorial was built in that site (see also the end of the article “Ukmerge”).

Bibliography:

Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1788, 55/1701, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
YIVO - Lithuanian Communities' Collection: files 456-458, pages 20291-20338.
Gotlib, Ohalei Shem, p. 80.
Di Yiddishe Shtime
[The Jewish Voice] – (Kaunas), 18.5.1923.
Folksblat [The People's Newspaper] – (Kaunas), 28.1.1936.

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