Ongoing projects and upcoming trip to Skuodas

I haven’t written for quite some time, but the various Shkud projects continue. Here’s an update:

  • The Shtetl Shkud Families Pages have made great progress. I don’t believe they will ever be truly finished, as more information is continually coming to light, but with only a few exceptions I’ve now posted a page for each family listed in Hana Shaf-Brener’s necrology and filled it out with information provided by Kehilat Shkud, Jewish Gen’s Lithuania databases, Yad Vashem’s Shoah Names database, and other sources. Wherever possible, I’ve included photographs. If you have information and/or photos of your own family you’d like me to add, please let me know by emailing me or adding a comment to this post.
  • With the help of colleagues at Jewish Gen, I’ve created a Kehila Links site for Skuodas. Besides providing basic information on Shkud, the Kehila Links site also directs interested individuals to Shtetl Shkud where they can find out more.
  • With the help of Indre Joffyte at the University of Vilnius, I will soon post some English-language transcripts of Lithuanian witness testimony to the Holocaust in Shkud.
  • The Bernstein family (Shkud descendants) and I are feeling out the possibility of a Stolperstein project for Skuodas. We’re just in the very tentative research stage of what will, if we go ahead, be a years-long project. If you have ideas or want to contribute, let me know – email me or add a comment to this post.
  • And the best for last – I’m planning to be in Skuodas for three days this summer: July 10-13, 2014. Previous visits, while incredibly rewarding, have been only a few hours. This time, I want to spend some time simply walking the streets, trying to imagine my father and his vanished family and community in that place. It seems important to me to walk through the green parkland by the rivers and lakes and establish a connection to the land itself, that nurtured my father and his family for many generations. Of course I also plan to revisit the Jewish cemetery and the Holocaust memorials, including Alka Hill, where I have not yet been. Alka Hill is where over 500 Shkud women and children were massacred in August 1941, some shot, but many buried alive. A horrible place, but I would like to go.
  • On a more hopeful note, the Skuodas Museum is planning a public event on July 10, and I am making arrangements to give a presentation on the Skuodas Jewish community, in the past and in the present diaspora. It’s an incredible opportunity to educate the present-day Skuodas people on an aspect of their own history they probably don’t know much about, and also, perhaps more importantly, to connect with a real, live Jewish person who is also connected with them. More on that as it develops …