History of Jewish community in Kupiškis before the WWII

Simonas Jurkštaitis

The development of Jewish community in the town of Kupiškis is dealt in the article of three chapters. Chapter 1 reviews the development of Jewish community form its establishment in the town until the World War I. An analysis is given on the reasons, which caused such a situation that about a half of town’s population professed Judaism. Their businesses and other sources of earning for living are discussed and the influence of Jews on development of Kupiškis and the area evaluated. Chapter 2 deals with the life style of local Jews at the beginning of the 20th century, their relations with other religions, and changes in Jewish influence on economics and politics. Jewish organisations, which functioned in Kupiškis, as well as their activities and achievements, are analysed. Their trade types and professions at the beginning of the 20th century are discussed separately about how this had influenced the growth of the town. A section of this chapter is devoted to the Jewish politics. There were various political streams of the Jews, but they held to united politics in the community life of Kupiškis; thus this group of population had been not less influential than the Catholics.

The last chapter deals with the contribution of Jewish community in Kupiškis into the perpetuation of its remembrance, as well as the review of several prominent Jewish emigrants and/or their offspring. A specificity of this chapter is that up to now nobody in Lithuania has analysed the support of Jewish emigrants in perpetuating the heritage of their forefathers. The chapter describes the unveiling ceremony of a memorial plate in the former synagogue, now a public library, as well as presents the weighty contribution of Norman Meyer to this project. This man is one of the most active persons, which contributed to the perpetuation of the Jewish community in Kupiškis. Thanks to him and other persons, the people living in Kupiškis and their guests can learn about the well-studied and perpetuated history of this land and see the influence of Jews on the town of Kupiškis.