Olkeniki in Flames;
A Memorial Book to the
Community of Olkenik in the Vilna District
(Valkininkai, Lithuania)

54°21' / 24°50'

Translation of
Ha-ayara be-lehavot; sefer zikaron le-kehilat Olkenik pelekh Vilna

Editor: Shlomo Farber

Published in Tel Aviv 1962



Project Coordinator

Ernest G. Fine


This is a translation from: Ha-ayara be-lehavot; sefer zikaron le-kehilat Olkenik pelekh Vilna
(Olkeniki in flames; a memorial book to the community of Olkenik in the Vilna district),
Editor: Shlomo Farber, Tel Aviv 1962, Association of Former Residents of Olkeniki and Surroundings (H, Y 287 pages)

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Hebrew translated by Sara Mages
Yiddish translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund


The Hebrew section
Map of Olkeniki and the surrounding area   7
A word from the editor   8
Words from the memorial service S.P-R 9
Introduction S.P. 10
Chapters of History
Olkeniki until the 19th century S.P-R 13
The town and her daughters S.P-R 19
Olkeniki from the beginning of the century to the Holocaust S.P-R 21
Paths (Poem) Avraham Menachmi 32
Institutions, organizations, societies and personalities (photos)   33
Public institutions S.P-R 39
Societies for the study of the Torah K.P-R 40
Community elections in 1921   41
The town, its landscape and chapters of folklore
Topography, landscape, transportation, residents' businesses S.P-R 45
Chapters of the way of life of the previous generation S.P-R 52
Hadarim[1] in the town Shlomo Karpowich 54
R' Zelig the melamed and his heder[1] S.P-R 55
The installation of gas in Beit Hamidrash[2] S.P-R 56
My Birthplace Olkeniki Yakov Agami 57
My immigration to Israel Zahava Menachmi Tanel 57
Baking Matzot (told by Mina Bank-Goldberg) S.P-R 58
A bus appeared in town Y. M-N 60
The fire in town; the delay of the reading in Olkeniki S.P-R 60
The weddings of the Yeshiva students; the small synagogues in town K. P-R 62
The old synagogue
Fire {Poem} Avraham Ferber 67
The old synagogue Shlomo Ferber 68
Personalities, Houses, Images
A man of vision in the Olkeniki forests (Poem, translated by N. Ginton)) H. Grada 87
HaRav R' Shmuel, HaRav R' Yakov, HaRav R' A.A. Waldshen K. P-R 88
Torah scholars in the last generation – the commentator R' Zev S.P-R 89
The Rabbi's son-in-law; R' Avraham Mende S.P-R 91
R' Avraham Mendel Grinzweig K. P-R 95
HaRav R' Tuvia Rotberg HaRav Zalman Rotberg  
Old families in town (my grandfather's home) Amma Dworzan-Farber 96
The first immigrants; a senior public activist; the last Gabai [manager of synagogue affairs] S.P-R 97
My father's home Simcha Polachik 99
The demolished house Yosef Karpowich 99
A house in town S.P-R 100
Three families Chaim Z-KI 102
A mother in town S.P-R 104
A female pioneer; in memory of a friend Yosef Karpowich 104
The town during the last generations S.P-R 105
One of the activists; the greengrocer K. P-R 106
The town's folklore S.P-R 106
A man of folklore Zehava T-L 107
The power of a handshake Yosef Karpowich 107
The “Prablistan”? B. Farber, May the Lord avenge his blood 108
Napoleon and the book seller Balon 108
The Holocaust
With the arrival of the holocaust Yosef Melzman 111
The imprisonment of the first five; a merchant and an activist S.P. 118
My good friend Chaim Z-KI 120
To the young man (Poem) Binyamin Farber, May the Lord avenge his blood 120
From distress K. P-R 121
From bad to worse {told by David Ribak) S.P-R 128
From the brink of doom to the land of the living Chaim Beit Yosef - Zubiski 131
In the forests with the partisans and in Siberia (photos)   152
A survivor saved from the pit (told by A. Tiken) S.P-R 153
Holocaust survivors (photos)   157
With the arrival of the holocaust HaRav Kalman Farber 158
Days of horror (told by Meir Kinbrum) K. P-R 194
Meetings with fellow townsman in the Soviet Army Y. M-N 195
Those are your sons, Olkeniki! K. P-R 197
Two sisters K. P-R 200
A memorial candle   202
On the Ponar Mountains K. P-R (translated by S.P-R) 205
The names of the survivors   206
Dates in the life of the town S.P-R 206
At the ending of the book S.P-R 208
The Yiddish section
From the Editor   212
The Shtetl [town] Until the Holocaust
The History of Olkeniki Sh. F-R 215
Olkeniki, a Shtetl [town] of Legends Cheikl Lunski 215
Olkeniki Youth (poem) Chaim Grade 221
On the Way to Eretz-Yisroel (photographs)   223
The Rabbi's Daughter's Wedding (poem) Chaim Grade 224
The Old Synagogue Shlomo Farber 225
The Legend of the Philantrophist, Reb Yosef Kh. L-Ki 228
The Old Synagogue Near the Merczank [Merkys River] (poem) Ch. Grade 229
A Family in Olkeniki Ruchl Sarduf-Dvortsan 233
Pain and Sorrow
The Death of Olkeniki Leizer Straf 237
Where a Day, Where a Night Miriam Ben-Shamas-Ribak 238
From School to the Red Army Khanan Berenshtein 241
In the Storm (Told by Berl Lipshitz) Recorded by Chaver Paver N. Einbinder 243
How I Saved Myself (Told by Levi Lipshitz) Recorded by Chaver Paver 256
At the Edge of Panar Kalman Farber 259
Eternal Light Kalman Farber 262
Graves of Parents and Children   265
Pictures of the Marytrs   266
The Names of the Marytrs   279
At the Close of the Book Sh. F-R 287
Corrections   288
List of photographs from the Memorial Section
List of names extracted from Memorial Section

  1. Heder - an elementary Jewish School in which children are taught to read the Torah and other books in Hebrew. Return
  2. Beit Hamidrash – house of study. Return


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