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Translation of the
Schwabe Gymnasion Kovno Lithuania Yizkor Book

(Kaunas, Lithuania)


Project Leader: Susan M. Goldsmith
JewishGen Liason/Advisor: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

This project is being initiated in order to fund the remaining translation into English of Heichal Sheshaka A Palace That Sank..., the Schwabe Gymnasion Kovno Lithuania Yizkor Book, Y[Israel] Yablokovsky, Ed., Israel, 1962, 343 pages, (written in Hebrew). This book is the Yizkor volume for the Hebrew language high school (gymnasion) of Kovno, Lithuania, present day Kaunas. This book was published in Israel by the Organization of Graduates of the Hebrew Gymnasium of Kovno and contains history of the Jewish community of Kovno, memoirs, stories of community and political life, the Holocaust, personal anecdotes, and records of landsleyt in other countries. There are also extensive photographs in the book. The Book has been partially translated into English by Rabbi Shalom Bronstein of Jerusalem, Israel. Rabbi Bronstein has on a volunteer basis translated the Table of Contents and forty-four pages of text which appear at

Key Audiences

Although Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in Kovno constitute an important audience for the Yizkor Book, the Schwabe Gymnasion Kovno Lithuania Yizkor Book will also have a broad appeal to researchers seeking their family throughout Lithuania and beyond as the Gymnasion drew students and faculty from afar as well as locally. Among the Gymnasion founders were prominent German Jewish intellectuals. The Book will also provide to scholars interested in the region or specializing in Jewish history and society an unparalleled glimpse of the founding and operation of a Hebrew high school in the Pale of Settlement.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in central and Eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, Yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual and Zionist movements of the 20th century. The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or shot in the forests are not recorded elsewhere.

Usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish, or both, these books are not accessible to a wider audience. Thus, the translation of these books into English unlocks this information to many more researchers all over the world. The JewishGen Yizkor Book Project received the award in 2002 for outstanding contribution to Jewish genealogy by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Currently, there is little information available to the English speaking world regarding the Schwabe Kovno Gymnasion or its Jewish community. With the destruction of the Jewish community, the information in this Yizkor Book constitutes an invaluable facet of its documented history. This project will result in the creation of a primary English language source of information for anyone doing research on the town and its Jewish community.

Project Description

This project is intended to result in the translation, from Hebrew to English, of Heichal Sheshaka A Palace That Sank..., the Schwabe Gymnasion Kovno Lithuania Yizkor Book. The Project Coordinator will direct a fundraising effort for the translation and secure the services of the professional translators. When $500 has been accumulated in the translation fund, JewishGen will enter into Work for Hire or UpWork agreements with the translators. The Project Coordinator will select the order in which to translate the book text and will work closely with the translators to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Specific tasks the Project Coordinator will perform include proofreading, editing, and preparing the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project. The resulting translations will be posted, as they are completed, on the Yizkor Book Translations site. The translation will provide a valuable adjunct to the existing Kehilalinks site for Kovno, The Translation Coordinator will encourage Kovno researchers to help identify individuals in the many photos and to contribute their knowledge of given names when individuals are referred to in the Yizkor Book only by last name.

Estimated Cost

Translation: $9,000; Manuscript Editing and Preparation: $1000


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