Material compiled by Joel Alpert

Copyright © 1997 & 1998 & 1999 & 2000 & 2001 & 2002 by Joel Alpert



Other Names

  • Jurborg, Jurburg, Yurberig (Yiddish)
  • Jurbarkas, Yurbarkas (Lithuanian)
  • Georgenburg (German)



Yurburg, Lithuania

Yurburg, Lithuania is located on the banks of the Neman (Nemunas) River. In the early 1900s, the Neman River was the border between Lithuania to the North and East Prussia to the South. In 1650 there were a few Jews documented living in the town. They became merchants and prospered in the town. They were owned lumber yards, purchased farm produces and resold them in the town, among other professions, and generally became the middle class, with the native Lithuanians being for the most part, farmers. The Jewish population grew to over 2000 by 1900, when conditions worsened and many began to emigrate to the America, South Africa, Australia, Uraguay, Paraguay, Argentina and to Palestine. There were strong Zionist and socialist activities in Yurburg from 1900 through the end in 1941.

In an article by William Berton of Saginaw, Michigan, in the genealogical publication "Landsman" Volume IV, Numbers 2-3, on page 19, it is stated that "according to Berl Kagan, Jurbarkas (Yurburg) is one of the oldest Jewish settlements in Lithuania, dating back at least to 1593. In 1650 there were only about 8 to 10 Jewish families in 7 houses. In the 17th century, Yurburg Jews had the responsibility for collecting taxes from the surrounding towns. Jews from Kovno came there to conduct their business. Jewish population figures are given as follows: 2,333 in 1764-1766; 2550 in 1862; 1887 in 1927, 2,350 (31% of the total population) in 1897,and about 2350 before the Holocaust." Between June and September 1941, after the the town was occupied by the Germans, the Jews of Yurburg were murdered by Lithuanians. Berton also states that "other town name variations are Jurburg, Jurbarak and Jurbarski."


Yurburg Synagogue

The Wooden Synagogue in Yurburg

Built in 1790, destroyed in 1941 (from a 1926 postcard)

Enlarged Image of the Yurburg Wooden Synagogue or Very Enlarged Image

There was a famous wooden synagogue built in the town in 1790. In the Encyclopedia Judaica, in the article on Lithuania, there are pictures of it. Also see article on Jurbarkas. Also there is a print (plate 73) of it in the book Wooden Synagogues, by Piechotka, published in Warsaw in 1959. The Nazi forced the Jews to tear down their beloved synagogue before all the Jews of Yurburg were murdered in July 1941 by the Lithuanians under the control of the Nazis.

A videotape copy exists of 16mm. films taken by an emigree of Yurburg, when he returned for a visit in 1927. It contains footage of the town, including some dark scenes in the Wooden Synagogue mentioned above. Images to be supplied - watch this spot!

The Governor and his family had an estate on the river, in the town, and townspeople were allowed to use it as a park. On hot days after work, the townspeople swam in the river.


Haupt Street in Yurburg

Haupt (High) Street in Yurburg about 1927

Courtesy of Helen Kizell Beiles (Montreal, Canada)


What happened to the Jews of Yurburg?

Here is the story of one families' members

Krelitz Family of Yurburg


(photo taken in the early 1920s)

The American Branch of the Krelitz Family

Read about The Destruction of the Jewish Community of Yurburg - Translated from the book Yehudat Lita (The Jews of Lithuania) by Regina Naividel.

Arnstein Family 1911 Arnstein Family 1934

The Arnshtein ( Arnstein /Arstein/Arshtein ) Family

Click here for larger images and Identification


The Memorial Book (Yizkor Book) for the Jewish Community of Yurburg, Lithuania

Click above to go to the Yizkor Book

This book was written by former Jewish residents and survivors of Yurburg to help preserve the memory and knowledge of their beloved destroyed community. It was published in 1991 in Israel by the Organization of Former Residents of Yurburg, chairman: Shimon Shimonov (Shderot David Ha'Melech 1, Tel Aviv, Israel; cost was $30 in 1993). The book is mostly in Hebrew, with a five page English summary. Consequently, until now most of the contents have not been available to the English speaking community. Here we are attempting to provide translations to the public. Translated pages are reproduced here with permission from the Organization of Former Residents of Yurburg. Those of us who lost relatives from the town of Yurburg never knew what happened to them; now fifty years later, we learn the horrible truths.

Translations Funded by the Ellis Family of Milwaukee
In memory of the Members of the Meir Eliashevitz and Meir Krelitz Families Who Were Victims of the Shoah

Translations Funded by the Beiles Family of Canada
In memory of the Members of the Beiles and Kizell Families Who Were Victims of the Shoah

Translations from the Yurburg Yizkor Book are provided thanks to the generosity of members of the American branch of the Krelitz Family, whose grandmother and great grandmother was Leah Naividel Krelitz of Yurburg.

For the full list of translated material, click to view the Contents of the Yurburg Yizkor Book and use to the hypertext to access the translated material.

Important Note:

As of December 8, 1998, this material has been reorganized into chapters with the photographs inserted, so as to facilitate printing of the material as it appears in the original book. Of course there is still substantial material not yet translated that will be inserted as we obtain money for the translation work. We still have about 300 pages yet to translate with a cost of about $15 per page.

Are you interested in any of the untranslated material, willing to help in the translation, or want to contribute to having material translated? Here's how to help. Any help or interest is appreciated to accomplish this task.



The Talmud Torah - Hebrew School

The Talmud Torah - Hebrew School in Yurburg

(from a 1926 postcard)

Enlarged Image or Very Enlarged Image with Students Names

According to Jack Cossid, who emigrated from Yurburg in 1937 at age 19, the town was almost totally Jewish. They were the middle class, the merchants, whereas the non-Jews were mostly farmers and lived in the countryside around the town. In 1920, the town established a secular high school, the Gymnasium, in which secular topics such as physics and calculus were taught. The town had at most about 3000 residents, most of whom were Jewish.


The Yurburg Cemetery in June 1998 - photo by Gerrard W. Rudmin


The Intact Jewish Cemetery in Yurburg

Photos below taken during the summer of 1995 by the FAST Genealogical Service - Commissioned by Don Levinsohn

Headstone of Leah Naividel Krelitz

Headstone of Sarah Leah Naividel Rosin

It is well known that the Nazi not only murdered the Jews and destroyed their towns, but also desecrated and destroyed the Jewish cemeteries all over Europe. In 1994 Milton Blackstone of La Jolla California, travelled to Lithuania in search of still existing Jewish cemeteries and came upon the intact Jewish cemetery in Yurburg. In the summer of 1995, Don Levinsohn commissioned photographs to be taken of the headstones in the Yurburg Jewish cemetery through the FAST Genealogical Service . Joel Alpert provided The List of Names - appearing on headstones from the readable photos. Also make sure you search the All Lithuania Data Base of JewishGen for the names of your family. There is more information from the cemetery headstones recorded there.

Right: Gravestone of Sarah Beylah Naividel Rosin, daughter of Hillel Naividel.

Photo Courtesy Boris Feldblyum Collection © 1995.

Left: Gravestone of Leah Naividel Krelitz, daughter of Hillel Naividel, and mother of Krelitz family members mentioned above.

Photo Courtesy Boris Feldblyum Collection © 1995.

REVISED....Enlarged Images of the Headstones and their photos.


Photo of Risa Gittel Freeman, 1936Risa Gittel Freeman ( 1853-1936)

Photos supplied by Mimi Moses, of the headstone of her great-grandmother, Risha Gittel Kophelonva (1853 - 1936) and photo of Risha.
Monument inscription: "The Important and Modeest Woman, Mrs. Risa Gittel, the daughter of Reb. Koppel Freeman Died with a Good Name on the 8th Day of Yaar in 5696 (1936). May Her Soul Be Bound Up in the Bond of Everlasting Life...."
The relatives (her brother and sisters) in the picture stayed in Lithuania and perished during the Holocaust.
This headstone was among those rephotographed in 1995.


Other collected material on Yurburg are:


Other Resources:

U.S. Holocaust Museum

The Washington, D.C. museum has a database of documents you can search for references to Jurbarkas (Yurburg). Click here to launch your search, or here to learn about the museum and its archives. Click here to find our how to view the Yurburg Yizkor (Memorial) Book at the U.S. Holocaust Museum Library and the Hebrew College in Brookline, Massachusetts.


Search the All Lithuania Data Base of JewishGen for the names of your family. There is more information from the cemetery headstones recorded there.

United States Holocaust Research Institute Reading Room Information for Yurburg

List of People or Researchers with an Interest in Yurburg

Please enter your family names and your name on the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) for jurbarkas. We will be removing the list below shortly. You can find other reserachers below by searching JFGG.

Searchable Databases

JewishGen Family Finder

Would you like to connect with others researching jurbarkas? Click the button to search the JewishGen Family Finder database. .

Families - Name - Mail or e-mail

Mazer - Anne Lichtenstein Madow -

Michelson - Eric M. Bloch -,,

Joffe - Taube Fine -
Zilber - Joseph Alkoni - Ha-Yasmin Street #18, Herzliya 46631, Israel (09)-957-3343
Hesselovich / Hesselovitz - Kim Hoj -
Naividel, Krelitz, Eliashevitz - Joel Alpert -
Velonsky, Diamondstein - Peter Hills -
Vladislavosky - John Wladis -
Levinsohn - Ashley Levinsohn -
Levensohon/Levinsohn/Lewenzohn/Levinson - Berny Goodheart -
Dagul - Fred Klein -
Menzer(Mincer) - Leon Menzer -
Zorach - Jonathan Zorach -
Kophelonva, Freyman , Lebovsky - Mimi Moses - - 847-256-1234
Bernstein - Wolf Z. Bernstein - - P.O.B. 656, Nathania, Israel
Dimantas, Diamond - Morton Diamond - 301 West Byberry Road, Apt F-17, Philadelphia, PA 19116
Jakubaitis - Mildred Young -
Levin - Stan Rose -
Arnstein /Arstein/Arshtein - Jeffrey R. Stern - 10383 SW 115th
Street; Miami, FL 33176
Arnstein /Arstein/Arshtein - Roy Thacker -

Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999
From: Peter_Hills <>
Subject: Jurbark Web Page

I have just studied your web page with great interest as my grandfather came from Jurbark.

My grandfather, was Jacob VELONSKY (b c1878) who came to London UK when aged about 20 and remained there until his death in 1935. His twin sister Esther DIAMONDSTEIN however went North to Leeds UK before moving to USA.

We know from gravestone inscriptions that their father, Abraham, was a Cohen.

I have discovered from naturalization documents, thanks to generous help from two experienced JewGenners in San Francisco and LA, that Esther was born in Jurbark. I have also managed to track down Esther's granddaughter who is alive and well in CA.

Esther and her family came to the US from Toronto, Canada on the Canadian Pacific Railway, arriving at the port of Detroit, Michigan on April 1st, 1904.


Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999
Subject: Letters of Interest

Here are two letters that should be of interest to those who read the Shtetlinks page on Yurburg. The first letter is dated Nov. 6, 1928 written in Yiddish with a photo:

"From your old uncle Mordechai Bar Jacob Kommel for my devoted dear nephew Alchanan (Alex Kommel), his wife Lea Rachel (Lillian) and daughter (Margot)."
The second letter also came from Lithuania and was dated Oct. 10, 1931. Georgenburg is the way that Mordechai spelled the town. The photo showed an elderly man, with beard and kipa, sitting in a chair and holding a book. It reads:

"Dear Children: Thank God I feel better, but still not competely well. But what can I do-old is not young. I don't want you to worry about me because I know that the economy in America is not good, and so are your business. God bless you for everything that you have done for me. If not for you I would be dead already. God should help you and your business. You should become rich like Rothschild, then it will be good for everybody. Today I received $100 that you sent to me and I paid my debts. Thank you for your good heart and for not forgetting about my difficult situation. In the day of your father's death and my brother Aaron's anniversayr of death I will go to the Synagogue to pray and to say Kaddish in his memory. Regards from my daughter Chana Rachel. She is now for eight days in Kovno by a doctor. Her husband still does not work but maybe he will get a job when the summer season willstart. Regards to my nephew Chanoch-Zundl and his wife Rosa and son Aron, regards to my nephew Jacob and his wife Hena and their children Ahron and Meier. Regards to my nephew Alchanan, his wife Lea Rachel and daughter. Regards to Abraham Nisen and his family, Jehuda Leib, doctor and family, Tzila, doctor, Esther, with her daughters Lea Malke with the children, Chana Rachel, Frank Schwartz with her husband, Doctor Michal and his wife Eta, children from Iochai Shmuel, ala ha shalom, regards to my newphew Isaac Kommel.


Dear Child, If it is not too hard for you to make easier my difficlut situation it will help me alot. I can't ask you because of what's happening now in America. Give my regards to your bothers and sister Sarah."

Your old Uncle Mordechai Jacob Kommel

Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000
Subject: Yurburg Yizkor Book
Having spent several hours reading the material that has been translated from the Yurburg Yiskor book, I can't tell you how impressive it is. It wasn't all a pleasant experience, but deeply moving and important nonetheless.


David Hoffman

From: "Mildred Young" <>
Subject: Re: Jurbarkas, Lithuania
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001
I just have been into the Yurburg Shtetlinks Page and the Yurburg Yikor Book. I am so drained and sadden to read of the stories of the Jewish people in Lithuania. I have watched documentaries and read about the Holocaust, but it still upsets me to hear of how evil man is to man. God have mercy on us all.

From: "rthacker" <>
Subject: Arenstein family in Jurbarkas
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2001
Dear Mr. Alpert,
About a week or two back my cousin Mr. Jeffrey R. Stern sent you an E-mail regarding our great grandfather who we understand was a Doctor in Jurbarkas before World War II. We share an aunt who lives in Newington, Ct. who is the source of this information.

Her father was named Israel Harold Arenstein (or Arnstein). His brother was named Louis. Both came to America from Lithuania. Israel was my grandfather,and Louis was Jeffrey's grandfather. I do not know when Louis came over, but it was before Israel.

I work in public administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia, (live in Richmond) so I know word of the mouth documentation may be true, but it is not what I think I know, It is what I can document that matters. I have viewed your website on Jarbarkas since last December and have wondered if a connection between our family and it's roots could be documented. Last week I obtained the documentation that establishes the link.

Louis Arenstein became an American citizen in 1918. My grandfather Israel arrived in New York City in July 1911, But did not become a citizen until 1944. Last week I received papers from the INS.When World War II broke out in December 1941, Israel was still considered an alien. As an alien Israel had to file papers informing the U.S. Government who his overseas relatives were. The papers that I received are not very clear but this is what they say as he listed them.

ballew Arenstein Russian mother Yurbarkas Lithuania

Dora " " sister Known "

Morris " " Brother Yurbarkas, "

Julius " " " Yurbarkas

by Dora's name he also stated (now married?)

This declaration was dated December 30, 1941. In it he also stated that he was born in Yurbarkas in Known, Lithuania on 11-25-93.

This documentation indicates (does not prove) that our family had family in Jarbarkas at the time of the Holocaust.

My aunt tells me that her parents tried to convince the rest of the family to come to America, because Hitler had come into power in Germany and things looked bad in that part of the world. The family refused to leave because they had a nice home there and did not want to give it up. My aunt said that finally " their letters stopped coming"

She never knew what happened to them. Her parents gave up hope and burned up the letters years later. Now Jeffrey and I only know what she can tell us. My aunt is in her seventies now and with the passing of time memory can become faint.

Your Web site on Yurburg, Lithuania is a blessing to us. I send her the section on the destruction of Yurburg so she would know what had happened so many years ago. It was hard on her, but I gave her a choice to know of not to know and she chose to know.

My aunt indicates to me that her grandfather (the doctor) who lived in Jarbarkas name was Jacob Arenstein. She also indicates to me that he died a year or two before World War II broke out.

We have searched Appendix Number 4 on your web site and think that Yudel Arshtein might be Israel's brother Julius. My aunt remembers that Julius was an electrical engineer by trade. In your web site Yudel was listed as an electrician by trade. Could the other brother Morris be Monik who is listed on the web site? The web site list them as brothers. The difference in Lithuanian and English may explain the difference in spelling.

If our great grandfather (the Doctor) died just before the war is it possible that no monument had been placed at his grave site when the Germans sweep into town?

Do you have any suggestions where we can search for additional sources of information ? Was a census conducted in that area around 1940 ? As I understand it all Jews were made to register once a year at their synagogue. The government would come around and copy the synagogue's record for their own purposes. Do you think that these records might still exist ? Do you known if we might find addition information at YAD VASHEM ?

Any information or hints of places to research will be appreciated. Thank You for all your hard work in placing this information on the web.

Roy A. Thacker

Date: 23 Nov 2001
From: "David Beirman" <>
To: <>
Subject: [Altman Family in Yurburg]
Sunday October 28th 2001
Dear Mr Alpert,
When I started researching I never imagined that the little town of Yurburg (Yerberig) would be even mentioned on the internet. What I found is so immense, the information stupendous. I don't not know why I didn't think to search the internet before for my husband's family who all came from Yurburg and Smalininkai ('Shmalenken'). I have begun the search and printed reams. Now to contact the people whose families came from Yurburg.
Only three members of the Altman family got out of Europe before 1939. Eight others were murdered in 1941 in Yurburg.
My husband, David Beirman, knew very little about his mother's family left in Yurburg after her parents and brother Shmuel, Perla (nee Berman) and little Myer sailed for Australia in 1929. Brother and sister William and Rachel Altman went to America in the 1920's.
The Altman family I've located on your web site were murdered in 1941 in Yurburg. Their names are: Altman: Riva, Natan, Shmuel, Avraham, Hirsch, Fania, Chiene, Chume-Marie. Are any of these people mentioned anywhere?
To my astonishement KOPEL ALTMAN from Kovno was found in Germany and placed on the Lithuanian Survivors List in 1946. He must be a cousin. I do not know how to trace him but have placed his name on various survivors lists.
I am also trying to locate memebers (if any) of the Berman family from Yurburg. Isaac Berman owned the soda family in Yurburg.He died before the war. All the Berman family left Lithuania before the war.
I cannot find reference to Berman the Tinsmith of Yurburg.
Your web site is stupendous. I look forward so much to getting in contact with people whose families lived in Yurburg. This town was intriguingly special - I look forward to learning as much as I can.
Yours sincerely,
Elizabeth Beirman

Dear Mr Alpert,

My name is David Beirman. My maternal grandparents were Samuel Altman who left Yurburg for Sydney in 1929 and my Grandmother's maiden name was Pera Berman whose family owned the Soda Factory in Yurburg. All the Bermans came to Australia before WWII.
Two of my grandfather's family Rachel and Willy Altman left for Boston in the 1920s.I now know that 7 of the Altmans (my great uncles and Aunts) perished in Yurburg during the Shoah.
I know very little about any of them . Your web site is a blessing and a glimpse into a past which was previously a mystery.
Dr David Beirman
Director Israel Government Tourist Office (Australasia & SW Pacific)


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Copyright © 1997 & 1998 & 1999 & 2000 & 2001 by Joel Alpert

Created June, 1996 | Last modified Jsanuary 31, 2002