By Leizer Levitan
Translation by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Near to the lake, not far from the shtetl of Paliush, there was a little hamlet Gavikan, where about 20 families lived and made their living from fishing. The lakes were leased by Schmuel Yose( Gilinski) from Paliush and Leizer Gavenda from Meran. Day and night the fishermen were busy on the lakes and they would transport the fish from village to village to barter and exchange their produce for other products and goods, and often to other middle men.
The plentiful fish would also be sent to larger cities.
The Jews of Gavikan had a synagogue and Shabbos and holidays they came to pray with their fellow Jews in nearby shtetls. The Pauliusher Shochet (slaughterer), R' Haim Rafael, also came to Gavikan.
The young folk from Gavikan, having a difficult time to make a living, immigrated to a larger world. Today, they can be found in America, where they still remember with fondness and hold dearly in their hearts the memories of their little hamlet Gavikan, the kind and gentle nature of their fellow Jews, who never were envious of anyone, who worked so diligently and quietly: who met their undeserved death in such a painful and agonizing manner.
After the first World War, the small hamlet of Gavikan was swallowed up (incorporated) into the nearby town of Ignalina, the Jewish families were absorbed amongst the Jews of Ignalina. The synagogue would not allow that Gavikan be forgotten, thus the name, The Gavikaner Synagogue.
The families that I remember from Gavikan were: Leizer Sneiderovitch, Abraham Yosef Glas, Abraham Yitzhak Rutshtein, Velvel Levitan, Shlomo Gilinski, Chaim Gilinski, Avraham Yitzhak Gilinski, Yosef Rappaport, Leizer Yitzhak Katz, Bina Katz, Motl Sneiderovitch, Zlata Sneiderovitch, Sheina Gavenda, Meir Katz, Uri Katz, and others. The Gavikener, who lived in Ignalina, together with other Jews from the Sventzian district, met their end, perpetrated by the Lithuanian and Germans, in the mass grave of Poligon.
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