“Klykuoliai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Klykoliai, Lithuania)

56° 22 / 22° 50'

Translation of the “Klykuoliai” 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 597-598)

Klykuoliai

In Yiddish, Klikol, Klikl

Written by Josef Rosin

Translated by Shimon Joffe

A town in the Akmene county, in the Mazeikiai district.

Year General
Population
Jews %
1840 64
families
.. ..
1847 .. 794 ..
1897 640 582 93
1923 615 40
families
..
1939 235 30 12

Klykuoliai lies in the Samogitia region in north western Lithuania, near the Vadakstis River, which divides Lithuania from Latvia at this point. It is approximately 35 Km .to the east of the district capital Mazeikiai. The settlement came into being in the first part of the 18th century. In 1757, the king granted it the right to hold three fairs a year and one market day each week. Klykuoliai became a town and the number of inhabitants in the 19th century increased greatly. During the period of Russian rule (1795-1915), the town belonged administratively to the Vilnius province and from 1843, to the Kaunas province and the Siauliai district. During the First World War the town was the scene of battles between the German and Latvian forces. In the period of Lithuanian independence the town was adjoined to the Mazeikiai district and the number of its inhabitants was much reduced. In effect, the town reverted to being a village settlement.

Jews first settled in the town at the beginning of the second half of the 18th century. Within a few years, a synagogue was built and a cemetery established. During most of the 19th century the Jews constituted the majority in town. For many years the Jews made their living peddling in the neighboring villages, including in Courland, across the border. They returned home for the Sabbath. In time, some Jews enriched themselves and lived off shop keeping and horse trading and had business dealings with Liepaja (Libau) and Riga in Latvia. The Gavronski family stood out among them, its descendents spread out throughout Russia and emigrated to the USA and Southern Africa. Communal life in town was concentrated mainly around the Beth Midrash (study house). From the end of the 18th century emigration increased to lands across the seas.

Among the rabbis who officiated in Klykuoliai were Rabbi Eliyahu , Rabbi Moshe (1816-1897), who served for 46 years, Rabbi Yitzkhak-Reuben son of Moshe, author of the book 'The Fields of Yitzkhak', his son Rabbi Aba, Rabbi Katz (1906-1914), Rabbi Aharon-Aba Rabinovitz, Dr Ben Zion Shein, born in Klykuoliai, was a well known Zionist activist in Cape Town, South Africa.

During the First World War, the Russian military authorities banished the Jews, in the summer of 1915, into the Russian interior from this and other towns in Courland and Lithuania. Most of their properties and were stolen and lost. When they returned in 1918, some of the refugees (40 families only), found strangers in their homes. They demanded and received back their houses, but they were robbed and oppressed by the Latvian soldiers, who also despoiled the cemetery and turned the study house into a stable. It was only after the retreat of the Latvians across the border that the process of the recovery of the community began, headed by Rabbi Shlomo Goldblat. As laid down in the Law of Autonomy for the Jews, a community council was elected consisting of 5 members, and it was active in all aspects of Jewish life.

The community was assisted greatly by its ex inhabitants who had emigrated abroad, as well as receiving aid from Jewish welfare institutions and the Ministry for Jewish Affairs in the Lithuanian government. According to a survey conducted by the Lithuanian government in 1931, Jews owned 2 textile shops and a pharmacy. In 1937 there were only three Jewish artisans in town, a butcher and two others.

After some years of social and economic stability a turn for the worse occurred in the middle thirties. This was due, among other causes, to the opposition of the Lithuanians to the commercial activity of their Jewish neighbors. Yet in spite of the above, here and there, cultural and social contact was continued.

The extent of Zionist activity in Klykuoliai can be judged from the results of the voting for the Zionist congresses, as given in the table below:

Congress
No
Year No. of
Shekels
Total
Votes
Labor
No
Revis-
ionist
General
Zionists
State
Party
Mizrachi
Z S Zts. A B
18 1933 - 17 2 12 1 - - 2
19 1935 - 24 - - - - 23 1

In the last years before the Second World War, the community institutions hardly functioned, aside of the study house which, also, was neglected and little used. The cemetery too, was neglected, though it was still surrounded by a stone fence. Their few children were sent to study in neighboring towns. Small children were taught at home by the parents or by Melamdim (tutors) brought in from outside the town. The desire to leave the town grew in those years, and this applied particularly to the young, who looked to South Africa as their goal. In 1939, a mere thirty Jews remained in the town. The tendency to emigrate continued also in the Soviet period (1940-1941), though now it was only possible to leave for other places within Lithuania.

The handful of families remaining when the Germans entered the town in 1941, among them the elderly and the feeble, suffered oppression of the Lithuanian neighbors. At the beginning of Autumn1941, they were all transported to the district town Mazeikiai and were incarcerated in wheat barns on the banks of the Venta River. On August 8, 1941, they were all shot by armed Lithuanians in the Jewish cemetery and buried in a mass grave there.

In the beginning of the nineties, a stone memorial was raised in what used to be the Jewish cemetery, with inscriptions in Hebrew, Yiddish and Lithuanian; 'The old cemetery to the eternal memory of the martyrs'.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, Koniukhovsky Collection 0-71, file 21; 3785/122.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1701, 55/1788, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
YIVO - Lithuanian Communities' Collection: file 1007, p. 45172.
Zamatar, A., “A Shtetl Vos Zunkt”, Di Yiddishe Shtime [The Jewish Voice], 8.3.1939.
Gotlieb, Ohalei Shem, p. 155.

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