Pandelys Jewish Cemetery
Pandelys (Ponedel in Yiddish) is a small town some 18 miles northwest of Rokiskis, the district capital. Jews first settled in Pandelys in the 18th century. By the late 19th century, the town was almost entirely Jewish. According to the census in the Russian Empire of 1897, there lived 1131 Jewish residents out of 1190. The bustling town was located at the crossroads between Rokiskis, Kupiskis, and Birzai. It was also near to the important trade route from Vilnius to Riga, and merchants exchanged goods here. The name Pandelys derives from the Slavic name of Monday and the market day here was on Mondays.
The Jews earned their living from the weekly market days and from the bi-annual market fair. The Jews were grocers, merchants, and artisans: shoemakers, tailors, makers of roof tiles, tinsmiths, hat makers, butchers, barbers, and makers of wigs. Others traded in flax, crops, and timber, or were peddlers and coachmen. After the First War, Pandelys was restored quickly and became a modern place thanks to aiding received from the “Joint” and relatives in America.
Pandelys Jews were Hasidic and extremely orthodox. Their influence on the life of the community was so great that even on the eve of WWII they were powerful enough to force Jewish merchants to close their shops on the eves of the Sabbaths and holidays. The town had several prayer houses made of wood, all of them destroyed or burnt during WWII.
Numerous Jewish charity organizations were active in Pandelys before Zionist activities began. The Zionist organizations had branches of “HaShomer HaTzair”, “HeKhalutz”, and “Beitar”, and a “Maccabi” club, which had 100 members. The latter had a soccer division, and a drama club, and a library.
The Germans entered Pandelys on June 27, 1941. It is not clear whether the local Jews were shot in one place. Most likely they were divided, and some were taken to Antanoshe village near Obeliai. and there shot dead together with the Jews of nearby villages. The others likely perished in Velniaduobes forest together with the Jews of Rokiskis.
The old Jewish cemetery is neglected but there are some 250 gravestones or their fragments remaining. The first burials date from the mid-18th century and the cemetery was still in use until the annihilation of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. In the Soviet times a water tower was built on the cemetery grounds. In 1994 the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Hebrew and Lithuanian: „The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”.