“Smilgiai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Lithuania)

55° 52' / 22° 4'

Translation of the “Smilgiai” 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 435)

Smilgiai

In Yiddish, Smilg

Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shimon Joffe

A county town in the Panevezys district.

Smilgiai lies in central Lithuania, 21 km north west of the district town Panevezys. In 1897 it had a population of 150, Jews constituting over one third.

This small community supported a rabbi and in the period 1870-1880. He was Rabbi Moshe Yona Joffe. After him, Rabbi Zalman Aaron Dat led the community (died in 1916), author of the work Toldot Aaron. He did not wish to be supported by the community and opened a pharmacy managed by his sons. The salary paid him for his rabbinic position during the years of his ministration he devoted to the building of a study center in the town. He also wrote articles for the Ha'Melitz and other Hebrew publications.

According to the census conducted by the Lithuanian government in 1923 the town had 408 inhabitants, including 37 Jews. Over time, the Jewish population increased to 40 families, but nearby communities provided religious services.

According to a survey conducted in 1931 by the Lithuanian government the Jews owned 2 textile shops in the town and one general store. The town also had one Jewish shoemaker.

At the end of 1936, bandits murdered the rich Jewish merchant Fogel, as well as his family and servant. Their funeral was held in the nearby town Rozalimas. The terrible shock suffered by the Jews at this event, caused most of them to re allocate to other places during the year. In 1938 only 4 Jewish families remained, and these too intended to move to the neighboring towns Rozalimas and Pakruojus.. It is not known whether any Jews remained in the town after the conquest of Lithuania by the Germans in June 1941.

Bibliography:

Folksblat [The People's Newspaper] – (Kaunas), 18.12.1936, 15.7.1937, 4.1.1938.

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