“Shidleve” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Siluva, Lithuania)

55°32' / 23°14'

Translation of “Shidleve” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Josef Rosin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1996


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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

Jonathan Levitow

Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

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 681 - 683)

Shidleve (Siluva)

Written by Josef Rosin

Translated by Jonathan Levitow

(in Yiddish, Shidleve; in Russian, Sidlovo)
Raseynay (Raseiniai) district.

Shidleve (Yiddish “Shidleve,” Russian “Sidlovo”), a county town in the Raseynay district, is located in western Lithuania, the Zamut region, about 20 km. northeast of the district capital of Raseynay1. The town was built on a hill surrounded by woods and become known as a resort. Historical documents from the 15th century mention Shidleve as a village, and those from the 16th already describe it as a town. In 1612 Catholic priests began to publish details of a miracle which ostensibly occurred there. The local bishop confirmed the miracle in 1768, and after that thousands of pilgrims came to the town every year to pray and ask forgiveness from “the Holy Mother of Shidleve.” During the period of Russian rule (1795-1915) the town became part of the administrative district of Vilna and after that of the district of Kovno. During this period and during the period of Lithuanian independence (1918-1940), Shidleve was the county center.

Jews apparently settled in Shidleve during the 18th century. A synagogue existed in the town by the nineteenth century. In 1854 a Jewish settlement called Preni was founded on nearby lands that the Russian government had provided free of cost.

Under the laws of Jewish autonomy passed by the independent Lithuanian government, Shidleve elected a community council of 5 members, which dealt with most areas of Jewish life in the town between 1920 and 1924. The Jews of Shidleve took part in the election of the first “seym” (parliament) of independent Lithuania in 1922: 124 votes were cast for the Zionists, 4 for “Unity” (“Agudat Yisroel”), and 1 for the Democrats. The Jews of Shidleve lived for the most part from commerce and handwork, and a few worked in agriculture. The yearly, week-long market, which also had a religious significance, played an important role in the Shidleve economy,

According to the census taken by the Lithuanian government in 1931, Shidleve had 11 stores, 7 of which belonged to Jews (64%), and which fell into the following categories:

Type of businessgen.
population
Jews
meat and livestock20
restaurants and taverns11
food10
clothes, furs, and textiles22
medicine and cosmetics10
sewing machines, electric supplies11
tools and iron products22
fuel11

The census also shows a lumber mill and two grain mills owned by Jews.

In the 30's the economic situation of the Jews in town began to decline because of, among other things, the propaganda put forward by the Union of Lithuanian Merchants (“Verslas”), urging people not to buy from Jews. The rise of the Nazis in neighboring Germany also had a bad effect. The Jews of Shidleve suffered many anti-semitic attacks. For example, in Jan. 1928 drunken Lithuanians broke into the house of a Jewish family and demanded they return a Christian child that the Jews had ostensibly stolen. They broke windows and doors in the house and in the houses next door. The pretext for this attack came from a widow who had been sentenced five years before for murdering her illegitimate child. The atmosphere of a “pogrom” prevailed in town, but the police brought the situation under control. Many Jews emigrated to South Africa during these years. In 1939, there were 18 telephone numbers in Shidleve, three of which belonged to Jews.

The children of Shidleve received their basic education in three schools in town: a Hebrew school of the “Tarbut” network, a Hebrew school in the “Yavneh” system, and a school which used Yiddish as its language of instruction. Some of the graduates of these schools went on to the Hebrew “gimnazye” in Raseynay2. The town also had a library with books in Hebrew and Yiddish.

Many Jews of Shidleve belonged to the Zionist camp. A Zionist “Aguda” (“Union”) was already established in 1899. Three lists of contributors to the settlement of Eretz-Yisroel from 1899, 1900, and 1903 mention Jews from from Shidleve, and the collectors were Elyezer-Aryeh Kaplan, Yakov Meyrovitz, Moyshe Movshovitz, and Neta Sheyn. During the period of Lithuanian independence, most Jews sympathized with the Zionist parties. The results of the elections for the Zionist Congresses were as follows:

CongressYearTotal
contri-
butions
Total
votes
“Working
Eretz-
Yisroel”
Revis-
ionists
Gen.
Zion-
ists
1    2
StatistsMizrakhi
181933 372313  10
191935 5316 38 26
        Nationalist Block
211939443686--2  26

The Beys-Midrash in Shidleve was a large, beautiful building. In the late 30's it was renovated with the help of the emigrants from Shidleve in South Africa.

Among the Rabbis who served in Shidleve were: R. Tsvi-Hirsh son of R. Avraham Avli, who passed away in 1856, and R. Ben-Tsion Yakov Levitan, who served in Shidleve for 36 years beginning in 1903, until he passed away in 1939. The last Rov of Shidleve was R. Yosef Pagramansky, killed in WWII with the other members of the community.

One of the natives of Shidleve was the writer, teacher, and educator, Ahron Frank (1889-1945). He was one of the founders of the first Hebrew language “gimnazye” in Lithuania (in Virbaln) and published many stories and essays. He was killed in Dachau after being taken from the ghetto in Shavl.

With the absorption of Lithuania into the USSR and its transformation into a Soviet Republic in 1940, the large stores were nationalized, and most of these were owned by Jews. All of the Zionist parties and youth movements were dissolved. The Hebrew educational institutions were closed. The supply of merchandise became limited, and prices rose. The middle class, which included many Jews, was severely hurt, and the standard of living gradually declined.

The Germans entered Shidleve on June 24, 1941, days after the outbreak of the war between Germany and the USSR. They immediately took all of the Jews of the town to the nearby settlement of Ribuk. All of them were imprisoned in barns, and the men were taken to work at the train station of Lidevyan. There they were forced into hard labor with beatings and curses. At the beginning of August 1941 about 100 people from Shidleve and other villages in the area were taken from the barns and brought to the village of Padubise, about 6 km. from Lidevyan. There they were killed and buried in a mass grave. The other Jews of Shidleve were killed on the 21st of August, 1941, and buried in sand pits next to Ribuk, about one km. northeast of Lidevyan. Three Jews who received a warning from a Lithuanian friend about what was coming succeeded in escaping and reaching the ghtetto of Shavl.

At the beginning of the 1990's a stone monument was erected in the old cemetery of the Jewish community of Shidleve , and on it was written in Yiddish and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery: the memory of the departed is holy.”

Yad VaShem Archive: 0-3/2580; M-9/15(6)
Central Zionist Achive: files 2-4/2548, 13/15/131, 55/1788, 55/1701
YIVO, “Collection of Communities of Lithuania,” files 1311-1315
Gotlieb, “Ohaley Shem” (“Tents of Shem”) p. 204
“The Jewish Voice” (Kovno) Jan. 1, 1938, Dec. 1, 1938, Dec. 20, 1938
“Naujienos” (Chicago) June 11, 1949


Translator's notes

  1. I'm not 100% sure about the connotation of the expression, "arayat nafa," which I've translated as "county town." I thought at first it might mean something like, "county seat," but at the end of the first paragraph Shidleve becomes a "merkaz nafa," or literally, "county center," which seems closer to "county seat" than "arayat nafa." At any rate, an "araya" is a small town, something larger than a "k'far" (village) but smaller than an "ir," (city), and "nafa" means, "region," "district," or "county." Return
  2. A "gymnazye" is a school for older children, covering our junior high or middle school, high school, and early college years (prior to the "university" level). Return


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