Jonava (Yonava), Lithuania Yizkor Book

Project Name: Translation of the Jonava (Yonava), Lithuania Yizkor Book

Project Leader:
Susan M. Goldsmith

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

Jonava developed on the Vilia River, with Jews settling there in the 18th Century. By 1897, 3,975 Jews resided in Jonava, constituting 80% of the population.

In 1972 the yizkor book commemorating this town was published in Israel, edited by Shimeon Noy and Itzchak Burstein. Sefer Yanovah: le-hantsahat zikhram shel Yehude ha-ayarah she-neherevah ba-Sho'ah (Yizkor book in memory of the Jewish community of Yanova) contains 429 pages in Hebrew and Yiddish and 35 pages in English. A professional translator will be engaged to translate the Hebrew and Yiddish sections, starting with the table of contents and the necrology.

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in this region constitute the primary audience for the material. However, the material has the potential to be of broader interest to scholars specializing in Jewish history and society in this region.

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, these important books are not accessible to most users, who cannot read these languages. 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.

In Jonava Jews were shopkeepers and skilled craftspeople, providing virtually all supplies and services needed by the peasant farmers. Jews also participated in the timber industry and in furniture manufacture, for which Jonava was noted. Jonava was also distinguished by the fact that, in the 1920s, as many as two-thirds of the municipal council were Jewish, as were the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. By the 1930s, however, Lithuanians in Jonava boycotted Jewish businesses, leading to a stark economic decline. The Jewish population in 1940 fell to 3,000, 60% of the total. Many Jonava Jews emigrated to the United States, South Africa, and Palestine, while Jews fleeing Poland arrived in Jonava.

On June 22, 1941, the Nazis invaded Lithuania. On that day, the Deputy Mayor was killed by a Lithuanian. Starting June 29, 1941, 2,108 Jewish citizens of Jonava were shot in the Girelka Wood just outside the town.

Project Description

The book's 429 pages in Hebrew and Yiddish will be translated and the approximately 270 photographs in the book will be scanned and the photo captions translated. The English section will be scanned and added to the web site.

To accomplish that JewishGen will hire a professional translator. The project coordinator will select the order in which to translate the chapters and will work closely with the translator 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.

Estimated Cost: $16,142


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Updated 5 Jul 2010 by LA