“Pushelot” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania
(Pusalotas, Lithuania)

55°55' / 24°15'

Translation of the “Pushelot” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Josef Rosin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1996

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 475-476)

Pusalotas (Lith.)

Pushelot (Yiddish)

Pusholaty (Russian)


Written by Josef Rosin

Translated by

Edited by Howard Margol[1]


Pusalotas is a city in the north of Lithuania, north of Ponevezh[3], and is noted in the beginning of the 17th century; from 1644 there was a weekly market.

In the period of the Russian government (1795-1915) the town was, in the beginning, in the Vilna district and in 1843 it became part of the Kovno district. In the 19th century it developed into a larger town.

Jewish Settlement until World War Two

Karaites that were associated with Posvol[4] also settled in the town in the year 1554. In the middle of the 18th century, the Karaite community left and a Jewish community arose in its place, apparently in the beginning of the 19th century.[5]

The Jews of Pusalotas made their living from active commerce, crafts, and agriculture. In the days of the First World War, in summer 1915, the Russian army exiled them to central Russia. At the end of the war, some remained in Russia. Many of those who returned to the town immigrated to South Africa, Israel [Palestine] and the United States. The Jewish population diminished and before the Second World War they were only 13 percent of the number before the First World War.

After Lithuania became independent in 1918, according to the law of autonomy, five members of the community were elected to a Community Committee. This committee was active for a number of years and dealt with most of the aspects of Jewish life in the town.

As in the past, in this period the Jews earned their living by active commerce, crafts and agriculture. In 1937, within the Jewish community there were 10 workshops, 4 tailors, 3 butchers, a carpenter, a shoemaker and a watchmaker. In addition to this, there were two cart men and another five who were in agriculture on their own land or on rented land. According to the governmental survey of 1931 two Jews owned textile stores. Another two Jews had factories for ceramic pots. In the town there was a “people's” bank which did a lively business, a charity fund, and an inn for poor travelers, all of which helped many of the more unfortunate. In 1939 there were 6 telephone lines, one of which belonged to a Jew.[6]

The Jewish children learned in the Hebrew school in the town, where they also learned Yiddish. Next to the school was the library.

Many of the Jews of Pusalotas adopted Zionism already in the time of the First Zionist Congress. People from Pusalotas were delegates to the Russian Zionists Committee which took place in Vilna in 1899.

The youth was organized into Hashomer Hatzir and other movements.

In the town there was a division of volunteer fire fighters that was composed of both Jews and Lithuanians. The division had various social activities and even a soccer team.

Among the rabbis who had positions in the town were: Rav Yakov Kalmus (1904-1910) who left to become the Chief Rabbi of Moscow (1926-1935). In 1935 he moved to Israel where he was a member of the Chief Rabbinate and a judge in the High Rabbinical Court. Rabbi Ahron Zalman Das (born 1859) held the position in Pusalotas for 16 years. He was educated and a Zionist and published articles in Hamelitz and other periodicals. Other rabbis were: Rabbi Yosef Pagramanski and the last rabbi was Rabbi Tzvi Flaxman. The Nazis murdered the last two during the Holocaust.

Among the natives of the town was the Magid, Shlomo-Bezalel Tzadikov (born 1853) who spread the idea of “Love of Zion” in Russia and the United States.

During the Second World War

With the absorption of Lithuania to the Soviet Union, in 1940, many of the Jewish factories and stores were taken over by the Soviets. All the youth and Zionist organizations disbanded. The Hebrew school became part of the Lithuanian school system and the language of instruction was Yiddish.[7]

When the Germans came on the 24th of June, 1941, the arrests and murders began, carried out by the local Lithuanians. The first victims were those who had a connection with the Soviet government. Several days later the Red Army returned and took over the town but several days later, on the 27th of June, retreated from it. The Lithuanians came out of their hiding places and returned to control the town.

There are no sources about the Jews who were murdered in the town. According to Soviet sources, in July 1941 most of the townspeople were murdered, but there is no doubt that the meaning is that the intention was the Jews.

In the beginning of the 1990s the old cemetery was cleaned and the stones re-erected.[8]

Translator's Footnotes

  1. Words in brackets and footnotes are the comments of the translator and editor. Return
  2. Approximate percentage Return
  3. 55°55' / 24°15' Return
  4. Pasvalys Return
  5. According to the 1765 census Jews were living in the town, which makes this information seem unreliable. Return
  6. The telephone belonged to Izaak Frank, Didjioj St, phone #6. Frank was a farmer and a timber trader. Return
  7. There were separate classes for the Jewish children. Return
  8. This work is due to the efforts of Howard Margol. Return

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