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Afrikaner Yidishe Tseitung Article

This Yiddish-language weekly newspaper published in Johannesburg from 1942 to 1971 ran a series of pictures that were taken in Lithuania shtetls before WWII.
By Ada Green, May 1999

Pre-War Lithuanian Series in the Afrikaner Yidishe Tzeitung

This article originally appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of Dorot.
It was reprinted with permission from Alex Friedlander, the editor of Dorot.

The Afrikaner Yidishe Tzeitung was a Yiddish-language weekly newspaper published in Johannesburg from 1942 to 1971. It is available on microfilm in the New York Public Library Jewish Division (Call No. *ZAN-*P49), at YIVO (Call No. 64-Y-294-309) and in the Library of Congress Hebraic Section. For approximately a one-year period beginning in late November 1952 and then irregularly thereafter, the Tzeitung ran a series of pictures, "A Picture from the Old Home," that were taken in Lithuanian shtetls before World War II (a few of the last of the series were of Polish shtetls). From Feb. 20, 1953 on, the pictures were accompanied by an article about the shtetl called "There Once Was a Home." The number of people in each picture ranges from just a handful to over 50; they are identified underneath each picture. The pictures were submitted to the Tzeitung by relatives and/or landsmen from South Africa’s large immigrant Lithuanian Jewish community.

Below is a list of the towns, the specific issue in which each appeared and the page number. The towns are mentioned according to their old Yiddish name and not their current Lithuanian name.

Picture only:

Nov. 21, 1952 - Shavel, p. 12

Dec. 24, 1952 - Ponevys, p. 9

Jan. 2, 1953 - Shavel, p. 12

Jan. 9, 1953 - Ponevys, p. 12

Jan. 16, 1953 - Ponevys, p. 11

Jan. 23, 1953 - Ponevys, p. 10

Jan. 30, 1953 - Shavel, p. 11

Feb. 6, 1953 - Kupishok, p. 12

Feb. 13, 1953 - Shatt, p. 12


Article with accompanying picture:

Feb. 20, 1953 - Vilna, p. 12

Feb. 27, 1953 - Ponevys, p. 13

Mar. 6, 1953 - Kupishok, p. 7

Mar. 13, 1953 - Vashki, p. 5

Mar. 20, 1953 - Vilkomir, p. 6

Mar. 27, 1953 - Shavel, p. 4 (YIVO only)

April 3, 1953 - Krekenava & Linkuva, p. 5

April 17, 1953 - Kurshan & Kavarsk, p. 5

April 24, 1953 - Pasvul, p. 6

May 8, 1953 - Pushelat, p. 6

May 15, 1953 - Pashvitin, p. 12

May 22, 1953 - Radziwilischki, pp. 6 & 11

May 29, 1953 - Kupishok, p. 7

June 5, 1953 - Pushelat, p. 12

June 12, 1953 - Shidlova, p. 12

June 19, 1953 - Jurbarkas, p. 19

June 26, 1953 - Zagare, p. 6

July 3, 1953 - Birzh, p. 5

July 10, 1953 - Kelme, p. 5

July 17, 1953 - Rasein, p. 5

July 24, 1953 - Yanishok, p. 5

July 31, 1953 - Zagare, p. 5

Aug. 7, 1953 - Rakishok, p. 5, 12 (YIVO only)

Aug. 14, 1953 - Yanishok, p. 5

Aug. 21, 1953 - Yanishok, p. 5

Aug. 28, 1953 - Oran, p. 5

Sept. 18, 1953 - Zagare Jonava, p. 5

Oct. 9, 1953 - Ostrolenka Rozshan (Poland), p. 9

Oct. 30, 1953 - Plungian, p. 5

Nov. 27, 1953 - Anikst, p. 5

Jan. 1, 1954 - Vashilkova (Poland), p. 15

Sept. 3, 1954 - Lodzh (Poland), p. 11 (no picture)

For my particular ancestral shtetl, Shatt, the picture that appeared in the Feb. 13, 1953 issue was of a Literary Society taken in 1925, containing over 50 people. Most of them perished in the Holocaust. However, in the photo and identified at the bottom was a Sarah Greenblatt Levine and her husband, Max Levine, and it specifically said that they now live in America. Although I have not yet found any documentation of them in this country, had it not been for this picture I would have never heard of them. While I regret that I am not available to do look-ups for others either at YIVO or at the New York Public Library regarding the material discussed in this article, I hope that when you have a chance to look, perhaps you, too, shall be as lucky as I was in discovering a hitherto unknown relative.

[Alex Friedlander’s note: This weekly journal, although unindexed and in Yiddish, also contains announcements of marriages and anniversaries, as well as obituaries, in almost every issue. Researchers with family roots in South Africa should check known marriage or death dates of individuals against the appropriate issue to look for family listings.]

about the author
Ada Green

Ada Green is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in history and Judaic Studies. She has been researching her family history since early 1993, and has done genealogical research in Israel, Vienna, Ukrainian Galicia, Lithuania, Scotland, and South Africa, as well as numerous states in the USA.  She is a member of the JGS (New York) and was a former member of its Executive Council where she was Chair of its Cemetery Project. Her  proudest accomplishment was she single-handedly collected the gravestone data on over 75,000 burials that she submitted to the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), including all known New York area Litvak landsmanshaftn plots for Ariogala, Babtai, Kvedarna, Dieveniskes, Gargzdai, Jonava, Jurbarkas, Kaunas, Kedainiai, Kelme, Krakes, Kraziai, Krekenava, Lida, Raseiniai, Rietavas, Seredzius, Seta, Siluva, Sveksna, Taurage, Vilijampole, Vilkija, and Ukmerge. With the assistance of Lithuanian guide Regina Kopilevich, Ada indexed the Jewish cemeteries in Kedainiai, Krakes and Vandziogala, Lithuania.   In 2006 Ada received the IAJGS Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Genealogy via the Internet, Print, or Electronic Product for her cemetery work.  Ada also indexed synagogue memorial plaques for the JewishGen Memorial Plaques Project, most notably those in Beacon, Hudson, Kingston, Newburgh, and Poughkeepsie, NY.

Ada has taken 5 research trips to Lithuania and has given lectures on that subject in New York, South Africa, and Israel. Ada spoke on Lithuanian Jewish Genealogical Research at the 19th Annuali JGS Summer Seminar in New York on August 1999.  She has written articles for Dorot (the journal of the JGSNY) as  well as Avotaynu.  

In 1998 Ada was a member of the LitvakSIG temporary Advisory Board.  She served on the LitvakSIG board in 2006-7 and was co-ordinator of the LitvakSIG Kaunas District Research Group for 5 years.