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60970th Yortzayt for Keidan - Israel commemoration

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  • awcassel
    Sep 10, 2011

      From Arie Shcherbakov comes the following account of the Aug. 28 Keidan yortzayt commemoration in Tel Aviv. Photos from the event may be seen here as well; click on the "Photos" link to the left and look for the folder labeled "Tel Aviv commemoration, Aug. 28 2011".

      Thanks to all.


      On August 28, 2011 a number of Israeli descendants of the Keidan Jewish community gathered in the hall of the Association of the Lithuanian Jews in Tel Aviv to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the brutal massacre of their families. Unfortunately, none of those who were young at the time of the Holocaust was present - those few who are still with us are in their 90s and couldn't attend. Most of the 50+ participants belong to the 2nd generation of Keidaners, who made an effort to come to Tel Aviv from all parts of the country -– not only from Haifa and Jerusalem, but also from the kibbutzim like Beit Zera and Ramat Hashofet, Regba and Nachal Oz (Gaza border), some of the latter founded by their chalutzim parents from Keidan. Many of us haven't seen each other for years, some (especially those who came to Israel from behind the Iron Curtain at the beginning of 70s) had never met, so the encounter was very emotional for all the participants.

      A little exhibition of old photographs from Keidan, found in the archive of the Association of the Lithuanian Jews, was prepared – as a surprise and a tribute to our community - by Rachel Levin, a member of the Association's management.

      According to the tradition, the evening started with the lighting of six candles and the reading of the Psalms, El Male Rachamim and Kaddish by Mordechai Landsberg, son of Shmuel and Rivka Landsberg, and Arie (Lionya) Shcherbakov, son of Guta Kagan. This was followed by the playing of Beethoven's Sonata Pathetique, by the talented Israeli pianist Misha Zertsekel. The musid provided a proper break between the excitement of the encounters and reunification with memories of our families.

      Dr. Ran Hakim, from Ramat Hashofet, son of Zipora Rodni, who had visited Lithuania about two months ago, gave a very interesting presentation of Kedainiai as it looked in the 30s and as it looks today. His presentation included some old photographs of our people in their everyday lives, lives which were mercilessly cut off on August 28, 1941 at the mass grave. A number of heartbreaking photographs showed us the history of building a memorial at this field of murder by a handful of survivors shortly after the war.

      Sara Yakubovski from Haifa, daughter of Mina Ronder, read excerpts from the letters sent in 1946 by her uncle, Chaim Ronder, one of the only three survivors from the mass grave, to his sister in Israel. These letters, describing the horror and suffering of the last days of our people in Keidan, each time anew set us as witnesses to the tragedy as if it were occurring right now in front of our eyes. Sara also read a deeply moving poem -- "The Letter" (which didn't arrive) by an Israeli poet of Lithuanian origin, Y. Taharlev.

      Tamar Dothan from Jerusalem, daughter of Rachel Sruelov, read the last letter written by her grandfather (in Hebrew!) just a few months before the massacre. She also talked about the initiative by the manager of the Regional Museum in Kedainiai, Mr. R. Zirgulis, to set a memorial plaque with the names of our martyrs at the mass grave site. We supported the idea, though unfortunately we were informed about it just few days before our meeting. In spite of the fact that we were eager to help with identifying the names, we were told that the dedication, scheduled for September 23, couldn't be postponed. The deadline to submit the list of the names was set for September 9 (!), which made the mission of preparation of these names on such a short notice to be practically impossible. Still we've tried to do what we can in this unbelievably short time. Tamar volunteered for the task of collecting names, and everybody was invited to help her.

      The meeting ended, but we'll try our best not to let the memories of our lost families fade away.
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