Ann Rabinowitz <annrab@...>

In regard to Joel Nathan's inquiry about cemeteries, one of the first things
he should do is to look at the IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project
for his shtetls. This database will describe what cemteries, if any,
are still existing in the shtetls.

Also, he should certainly check the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial
Registry (JOWBR) database for cemeteries: The JOWBR has a listing of
the burials in Vabalninkas for sure, but there are no last names. The thing
to do is to prepare in advance by obtaining death dates of relatives so they
can be matched with the graves in the database. I was able to find my
relatives due to knowing their Hebrew names and that of their fathers and
their death dates.

Thirdly, he should contact his guide who should be thoroughly familiar with
the shtetls and where the cemeteries are located and their most up-to-date
condition. The guide can also tell him about any living Jewish residents in
the shtetls he is interested in. For instance, Sheptel Melamed, was the
last remaining Jew in Birzai, but I am not sure if he is still alive.

Also a valuable contact is Howard Margol who has gone numerous times to
Lithuania over the years and can perhaps shed some light on the shtetls and
what can be found there.

Then, he should look at the shtetlinks for the three towns and see what info
is to be gotten there. Very often these sites
can provide photos of the cemeteries and their condition in advance of the
visit and information on what is available.

Important are the next few steps which deal specifically with the LitvakSIG
and how their resources can assist travelers such as Joel Nathan. The
District Coordinator(s) for the
area(s) where the three shtetls are located should be contacted to see what
is available that might assist in the visit. Birzai and Vabalninkas are in
the Panevezys District and Taurage is in the Raseiniai District. Many
times, the District Coordinators may have been to Lithuania and to the very
shtetl being inquired about. This will give the traveler an on-the-ground
view of things.

The All-Lithuania Database (ALD)
should be used to locate death records to match with the cemetery records.
The traveler may also want to obtain other vital records to ensure that all
bases are covered regarding their family.

In another vein, there are books available about the shtetls such as "They
Lived in Vabalninkas, 1925-1941" which was published by the State Vilna Gaon
Jewish Museum regarding Vabalninkas with many photographs which should be
obtained. There is also a manuscript that was prepared by the Birzai high
school regarding the Jews who lived there.

There are many more resources to utilize, but these are the basics. These
items should keep Joel busy and informed prior to his trip!

Ann Rabinowitz

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