“Aukstoji Panemune” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Aukštoji Panemune, Lithuania)

54° 51' / 23° 58'

Translation of the “Aukstoji Panemune” 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 496-497)

Aukstoji Panemune

Written by Josef Rosin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

In Yiddish, Paniemun; in Russian, Ponemon

A county town in the Kaunas district. From 1931 it became a suburb of Kaunas.

YearGeneral
Population
JewsPercentage
1792490....
18971,57577549
1935..A few hundred..

Panemune is located on the left bank of the Nenumas River, close to Kaunas. Near it was a pine forest and it was used as a place for curing patients with tuberculosis and as a resort area mainly for residents from Kaunas. In 1559, an estate was built in the area and Panemune developed near it. During the Russian rule (1795 – 1915) Panemune was included in the Gubernia (region) of Suwalki. During WWI (1915 – 1918) Panemune was under German rule. From the 18th century and during the period of Independent Lithuania until 1931, the town was the center of the district. In that year it became part of Kaunas.

The Jews did not encounter difficulties when they came to settle in Panemune. In the middle of the 19th century they were the great majority in the town. They had a synagogue and a Rabbi. Rabbi Avraham Lichtenstein served in the Rabbinate in Panemune in the 1880's. From 1890 Rabbi Binyamin Meisil headed the Rabbinate, followed by Rabbi Mordechi-David Henkin and Rabbi Ephraim-Nisan Ma-Yafit (from 1926). The last two were murdered in the holocaust.

The Jewish population in Panemune decreased with the years. They were 49% of the population in the town before WWI. During the period of Independent Lithuania, it was estimated that there were a few hundred Jews in Panemune. With the declaration of autonomy for the Jews, a 9 member ruling committee was voted in Panemune: 6 were not affiliated with any party and 3 affiliated. The committee functioned from 1919 until 1924 in most areas of Jewish life in the town. The Jewish community in Panemune continued to be independent even after the town became part of Kaunas.

The Jews of Panemune made their living from commerce, labor and light industry. A few of them owned land and orchards in the area and dealt in agriculture: others leased land and grew vegetables, mainly cucumbers. According to the 1931 Lithuanian government census there were 20 shops in Panemune, 13 of them (65%) were owned by Jews. The division into business branches is shown in the table below:

Branch or Type of BusinessTotalOwned
by Jews
Flax and Crops11
Butcher shops and cattle trade84
Restaurants and taverns53
Beverages11
Clothes, furs and textile products11
Medicine and cosmetics10
Tools and iron products11
Miscellaneous22

According to the same census, Jews also owned a soda water factory, a workshop for producing mens' hats, 2 mills, a brick factory, a bakery, a sawmill, and 2 barbershops. In 1939 there were 18 telephones in the town, 2 of them were owned by Jews.

The Zionist idea had a following in Panemune. In 1901 – 1902, 61 Shekalim (tokens of membership in the Zionist organization) were sold in the town. The 1909 list of donators for Eretz-Israel list 7 Jewish names from Panemune. Many Jews from the town were affiliated with the Zionist camp during this period and they voted in the Zionist Congresses elections:

Congress
Nr.
YearTotal
Shekalim
Total
Voters
Labor
Part
RevisionistsGeneral
Zionists
GrosmanistsMizrachi
Z”SZ”ZAB
1519272222  210  10
1619293110  14  5
181933..11910836  2
191935..210157 1132811

Among those who were born in Panemune were: Avraham Ish-Kishur (Schpindelmann, 1863 – 1945), who greatly helped Hertzel in his first steps in London. He eventually moved to Eretz-Yisrael and was active in the Zionist administration. He passed away in Jerusalem; his father, Mordechai, owned a matches factory in the Panemune; Bernard Horovitz (born in Panemune in 1863) immigrated to Chicago and was one of the founders of the Zionist Federation in the United States.

Regarding the fate of the Jews of Panemune during WWII see the entry on “Kaunas”.

Bibliography:

Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem, TR-2/NOKW/2322.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1701, 55/1788, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
YIVO - Lithuanian Communities' Collection: files 824-828, pages 35634-35746.
Gotlieb, Sefer Oheli Hashem, Pinsk, 1912, p. 145.
Hamelitz [The Advocate] – (St. Petersburg), 4.4.1886.

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