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[Col. 1583]

Maligan on the Mountain and in the Valley

(Mielagėnai, Lithuania)


Gershon Braslavski

Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay

Maligan was in the district of Sventzian, Vidz and Haudutishok, and was surrounded by thick forests. Half of the shtetl was on a mountain, the other half in the valley, through which flowed a small stream into a larger lake.



Young Jewish folk from Maligan taking a trip on the river


As the area lent itself to great abundance of produce from the land, many folk made a living as Jewish farmers.

The Jewish families were about 25 in total. The Jewish folk were shopkeepers, farmers and craftsmen. Most important the Maliganers were known for their blacksmiths and tinsmen.

[Col. 1584]


A group of young Jewish folk during an outing in 1937


Maligan was 20 kilometers from Sventzian, and 14 kilometers from Haudutishok: the only communication for many years was a wagon and a horse. Shortly befor WW11, a passenger–auto was the means of transportation between Sventzian and Vilna.

Besides this, many folk used the train station in Haudutishok, 14 kilometers away.

Besides Jews, Lithuanians Russians and Polaks also lived in Maligan. Prior to WW11, the situation between the Jews and the rest of the population was very friendly, and

[Col. 1585]

no one had the foresight that some would turn into bandits, hooligans and robbers.

The Jewish children went to Cheder and Yeshivas like in all the other shtetls. In later years the children went to study in Sventzian and Haudutishok.

[Col. 1586]

A smaller portion of the children went to the Polish “Povshne” school.

The older generation was religious and followed all the religious traditions. Everyone seemed to be in a good economic situation.



Children–young and old during a Zionist evening in Maligan


In Honor of My Shtetl

Boruch Gontovnick, Montreal

Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay

In a valley, between flowing rivers,
I was brought up,
By a father who not very rich,
But a righteous peasant, standing before my eyes!

I felt very at home there,
With my friends and beloved ones,
We played together,
In the shtetl, this little one!

Green fields, covered with flowers,
From forests to rivers–such a pleasant aroma,
Around and about, everything smelled,
Of our endurance of hard work, with courage and honor.

[Col. 1586]

Jewish peasants, with long beards,
Plowed and seeded their fields,
With the knowledge, to work their land,
Their sweat would bring forth an appetite–to eat black corn bread.

Healthy Jews, with callouses on their hands
Went to the meadows with their baskets,
With a joyful “nigun” they cut and shook the grain,
Working hard, they were not ashamed!

The huts were covered in straw,
The fields spilled over with abundance,
Our fathers seeded these fields,
With barley and oats and peas and beans.

The houses, with balconies, covered in moss,
We ran barefoot as children in the gardens,
For many years we carried this heavy burden,
And that is how our mothers lived.


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