“Pagiriai” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Lithuania

55° 21' / 24° 24'

Translation of the “Pagiriai” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Lita

Written by Josef Rosin

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1996



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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 448-449)


Written by Dov Levin

Translated by Shaul Yannai

In Yiddish, Pogir

A county town in the Ukmerge district.

Year Total
Jews Jews as
of Total
1859 174 .. ..
1897 522 .. ..
1923 424 83 20
1940 .. ~40 ..

Pagiriai is located in central Lithuania, 25 km northwest of Ukmerge, the district's city. The settlement is noted in historical sources dating from the beginning of the 17th century. At the beginning of the 18th century, Pagiriai received the status of a town. From the middle of the 19th century and onwards, and during the period of Independent Lithuania, Pagiriai was the center of a county.

The Jewish community, which was formed in Pagiriai at the beginning of the 19th century, built a synagogue and established a number of Judaic studies associations. Apparently, the community grew to such an extent before WWI that it was able to maintain a Rabbi. The community's Rabbi in 1880 was Rabbi Dov-Zundel Beker (born in 1855). As to its educational and religious services, the Jewish community of Pagiriai relied quite a bit on the Jewish community of Ramygala, which is located 18 km north of Pagiriai. Subsequently, the number of Jews in town declined gradually due to continuous emigration to larger cities and abroad.

When Independent Lithuania (1918-1940) was established, there were less than 100 Jews in Pagiriai. Nevertheless, for a short period time (in 1923), the town's Jews were able to maintain an organized community which was headed by community committee with 5 members: one from “Tzeirei Zion”, one from the Labor party, and 3 who were not affiliated to any party. Some of the town's Jews were affiliated with the Zionist camp. Of the 17 people who had a right to vote to the 19th Zionist Congress (1935), 16 voted for the “Eretz-Yisrael HaOveded” party and 1 for the Grossmanists. All of the Jewish families in Pagiriai made their living from petty trade. 5 families had shops. In 1937, the town had 7 Jewish artisans: 2 shoemakers, a glazier, a hat maker, a tinsmith, a butcher, and one other. In 1939, the town had 14 telephones; none of them were owned by Jews.

During the period of Russian Rule (1940-1941), all Zionist activities were forbidden and the social and economic atmosphere changed.

The few Jews who remained in Pagiriai after Germany conquered Lithuania in June, 1941, were murdered during the autumn of 1941 by local Lithuanian Nationalists upon the order by the Germans. The community's Rabbi, Rabbi Kopel Josefovitz was one of the murdered victims.


Yad Vashem Archives, TR-2, report 54.
YIVO - Lithuanian Communities' Collection: files 714-715, pp. 31690-31721.
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, files 55/1701, 55/1788, 13/15/131, Z-4/2548.
Gotlieb, Ohalei Shem, p. 441.

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