I want to tell you a story of a family visit to Lithuania in search of their roots. It is quite a common reason people come on a private tour with a guide who could guide in the big cities and escort to the family related shtetl.
This time I have met two brothers coming from the US. They corresponded with me in advance and I knew some details about the family. We had historical & heritage tour of Vilnius during which we traveled through centuries of Lithuanian and Jewish history starting from Grand Duce Gediminas and other duces, autonomy period and the Golden age of Litvak Jewry, then through Russian rule and the Pale of settlement ending with the twentieth century and the WWII events. More detailed program is available in our star tours section.
The next day of a tour was to northern Lithuania. We drove through Panevezys, homeland of a renown Ponivetch Yeshiva, to Seduva. It is a small town with a population of a little over 3 000 people. It got self-government rights in 15 century and later was a developing town which attracted more and more people. First Jews came to Seduva in the end of the sixteenth century and later on they were 2/3 of the total population controlling commerce and manufacture.
My clients’ family had a property in Seduva and we were lucky to find its location in the archives. We walked around the town looking into houses and trying to imagine how the family lived here for generations. The family left to South Africa in 1860′ and my clients did not have illusions that they will see the same place, but they really wanted to breath the same air.
There is an impressive memorial erected next to Seduva municipality.
Later we went to see the Jewish cemetery with was renovated in an amazing way by Seduva Jews Memorial Fund. There were about 1300 headstones found and today about 400 of them are standing again to commemorate the graves.
As a finale to our visit we went to pay a last tribute to the Holocaust victims. The place of murder is not so easy to find. We had to drive “lefts and rights” for about 20 minutes and found a newly built memorial in honor of 700 Jews who were murdered by Nazis and local killers on August 25th 1941.