Eisiskes Jewish Cemetery 2

Cemetery Information

Country
Lithuania
Region
Vilnius
District
Šalčininkai
Settlement
Eišiškės
Site address
To locate the cemetery, start by going east on J.Pauliaus II street. 100m past the Eišiškės Stanislovas Rapolionis gymnasium (26, J.Pauliaus II street) turn left onto a dirt road. Continue north until you reach an intersection, keep right and proceed forward for 450 meters and then the cemetery will be on the right, surrounded by trees.
GPS coordinates
54.17003,25.01017
Perimeter length
295 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
yes
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over
General site condition
The majority of the cemetery site is clear, although it is partially covered with foliage. There is graffiti at the site. The mass grave is marked with memorial. The site is located too close to the Belarusian border.
Number of existing gravestones
No tombstones preserved. There are 3 fragments, which were probably from gravestones however there are no inscriptions on any of them.
Date of oldest tombstone
N/A
Date of newest tombstone
N/A
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Municipality
Preserved construction on site
No
Drone surveys
No

Historical overview

Eisiskes (Eishishok in Yiddish) is a small town in southern Lithuania close to the border with Belarus.
The Jewish community of Eisiskes is likely among the first to exist in Lithuania. Exact information concerning the numbers of Jews in Eisiskes, their profession, and public institutions, can be found only from later centuries, particularly the 19th century when Eisiskes became a renowned center for the study of the Torah and for its learned Rabbis. According to the sources, there were approximately 660 Jews in 1847, however fifty years later in 1897, during the general census in Russia, the community had grown to 2376 Jewish residents and comprised 70% of the population of the area. In 1925, when Eisiskes belonged to Poland there were 2800 Jews out of 4000 residents.
In the 19th century, the Jews dealt mainly in commerce and some were farmers. The Jews owned wide fields extending far beyond the river. Many Jews had vegetable gardens planted with potatoes, cucumbers, beets, carrots, and other produce, which satisfied all their needs and also left a considerable surplus to be sold on market days. The Jews were also involved with shopkeeping, peddling, and horse and hide dealing. At the center of the town, a row of fancy goods and fabric shops was located. Market day was on Thursday.
The Jewish life of Eisiskes concentrated around the shulhoyf in the center of the town that consisted of the Great Synagogue and two Beit Midrash. Eisiskes was renowned as a town of Torah study. There were two Yeshivas in Eisiskes. Many of the students of the town’s Yeshiva later became great biblical scholars.
The Germans occupied Eisiskes on June 23rd 1941, and on September 21st 1941, an SS unit entered the town, accompanied by Lithuanian auxiliaries. More than four thousand Jews from Eisiskes and its neighboring towns and villages were first imprisoned in the area of the synagogues and then taken in groups of 250 to the old Jewish cemetery where they were murdered.
The history of Jewish Eisiskes has been documented in the book “There Once Was A World“ by Yaffa Eliach, professor at Brooklyn College. The old cemetery is now a site of remembrance with a memorial stone in three languages: Lithuanian, Hebrew, and English.
There is a local legend surrounding a gravestone dating to 1097 existing in the Old cemetery of Eisiskes. However most likely the cemetery was established at the end of the 17th century. According to local farmers the cemetery land was no longer used in the 19th century. After this time the area of the old Jewish cemetery decreased. To preserve the remaining cemetery area, Jews dug deep ditches around the cemetery. No tombstones remain in the cemetery today. 989 Jewish men were killed and buried on the outskirts of the old Jewish cemetery in September 1941. In 2015 the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery”.

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