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Vievis Jewish Cemetery, The

A list and photos of headstones in the shtetl of Vievis
By Harold Perloff, November 2001

Recently I visited my grandparent’s shtetl in Lithuania. Its former Yiddish name was Vevya, but it is now known as Vievis in modern Lithuanian. It is forty kilometres from Vilnius on the main road to Kaunas. None of the Jewish community buildings remain. The local gas company offices have been built on the site where the synagogue stood. However, in the centre of the town there still stand the wooded buildings that were previously mainly Jewish homes and shops.

Sadly, the Jewish cemetery, five kilometres from town, was also mostly destroyed in 1963 by the Soviet authorities when constructing the highway. On investigating I found that there were a few scattered headstones left, and I felt that this last evidence of a former Jewish community should be recorded.

I arranged for all the stones to be photographed. Svetlana Saratova from the Vilnius Jewish Museum organised it, Ana Sokoliskiene did the photography, and Mira Voiciukevic prepared the stones by dusting down and applying shaving cream to highlight the lettering. The cream washed away without leaving any after effect. Although the highlighting was very effective and photographed well, it was still necessary to revisit with the photographs to further study a few of the words and letters that were not quite clear.

There is only one 20th Centuryand thirteen 19th Century stones.

The 19th Century stones are quite modest and are mostly of rough hewn, undressed granite, and only between 12 inches to 24 inches wide. Patronymics have been used but there generally were no family names except Katz in the case of two Cohanim and also one reference to a Levite.

The 20th Century stone was seen and recognised by Odile Suganus, a French lady whose family left Vievis in the 1920’s. It was that of her uncle who died as a child. She had it re-erected as it had fallen over and there were signs of desecration to some of the graves. Ms. Suganus has written a book, MOSAIQUE, in French (published by Graphein, Paris, 2000), on her family research and visit to Vievis in 1991.

I was not fortunate enough to determine whether any of the graves were those of my direct ancestors, but as there were never more than a couple of hundred Jewish families living there, anyone not exactly mishpocha would at least be landsleit.

Generally, on 19th Century Jewish tombstones, patronymics were used rather than family names, so for them to be of use genealogically it is necessary to know the Hebrew names of the deceased, and the dates of death, but with luck, of course, something might turn up.

There are several Jewish cemeteries remaining in Lithuania, and although a few are still reasonably intact, and a few even well maintained by local people, most of the Jewish cemeteries are in a derelict, deplorable state, and, whenever possible, ought to be recorded before they are irretrievably lost.

To view a photograph of each matzeva, please click on the highlighted number in the left hand column.




Father’s Name

Hebrew Date


Beloved Father, Teacher Yehudah son of Zvi 27 Heshvan 1836
  Shlomo son of Todros 3 Tammuz 1840
The Woman Manukha daughter of Reb* Avrohom 17 Adar 1851
Marat** (The Lady) Rokhl daughter of Reb* Aharon 4 Kislev 1860
Our teacher, the Rabbi Elaikim son of Yehoshua 8 Teves 1860
Marat ** (The Lady)
{The letters for the year have been transposed from their normal order to read "WILL BE BLESSED" i.e. Tof, Bes, Resh, Khoph, instead of Tof, Resh, Khoph, Bes}
Shainy daughter of Reb* Yacov 16 Shevat 1862
Reb* Mayer son of Reb* Yekhiel 25 Elul 1872
Beloved {the name is unclear due to stone erosion} ???? son of Todros 10 Shevat 1871
Halo Hoo (It is he)
Our Teacher
Zvi son of Reb* Yacov 13 Adar I 1875
Our Rabbi and Teacher Eliahu son of Reb* Avrohom the Levite 8 Kislev 1874
This tombstone is headed with the symbol for Birkat Cohanim, the Priestly Benediction (two hands ready to bless)
Father, Teacher
Elegy: "I weep and my eyes run with water" Lamentations 1:16
Noson Noteh son of Reb* Moshe Katz During Purim 1874
HaBesulah (the unmarried woman), Marat** (Miss) Dvorah Daughter of Moshe Ber Sivan 1882

The Boy
Hillel son of Yitzhak Mordkhai Rosh Chodesh Sivan 1882
This tombstone is headed with the symbol for Birkat Cohanim, the Priestly Benediction (two hands ready to bless)
The Boy
There is also the touching elegy, "We will weep forever at your grave, as we never had a chance to raise you, plucked from us at the end of your second year"
Aba Yitzak son of Dovid Yacov Katz, the Cohen Rosh Chodesh Kislev (1st of Kislev) 1927
"In this place up until 1963 was the Vevya Jewish Cemetery"
(The site marker indicating the position along the highway)
General view of the condition of the cemetery

*Reb is an Honorific title which is the equivalent of "Mr." It does not indicate that someone was a rabbi.
**Marat is the traditional Ashkenazi title of address for a woman, similar to Mrs. or Miss.
All of the stones are headed with the Hebrew letters Peh"Nun signifying "Here is concealed," and sometimes followed by the letters Heh"Heh for "HaKever hazeh" (This grave of) or "Halo Hoo" (It is he). Many of the stones end with the Hebrew letters Tof, Nun, Tsadi, Bes, Heh which is a Hebrew abreviation for "Thee Nishmato (Nishmata) Tz’roora b’Tzror haChayim" or "May This Soul Be Bound Up In The Bonds Of Life" referring to a quotation from 1st Samuel 25:29. On many of these tombstones the Hebrew year is followed by the letters Lamed Peh Kuf, indicating that the number is "abbreviated" and 5000 must be added to it.


about the author
Harold Perloff

Harold Perloff This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it is an English born businessman. He had a conventional orthodox Jewish upbringing, was a former hippy and travelled all over the World.

He is an avid birder, amateur genealogist, Jewish history researcher, and a lover of Yiddish. He has written a research paper "Polish Civil Registry Records as a Jewish Historical Resource" and also compiled several English-Yiddish lexicons of Natural History terminology. Harold Perloff is very grateful to Judith Langer Caplan for the care, advice, enthusiasm, and patience she brought to the creation of this webpage.