The Jewish way

In 1674, the shopkeeper Samuel was the first Jew who was mentioned in the city documents. 10 years later, the Jewish community Qahal was established in Ukmergė. Over time, the number of Jews grew and the largest number of Jews living in the city was recorded at the end of the 19th century.

The most favorable years for the Jewish community was the interwar period when their culture and business flourished freely. In 1868, a Jewish secular school was already operating in Ukmergė, later, a private school and a “Talmud-Tora” religious school were opened, as well as a craft school was established for poor families. During the interwar period, Jewish children were able to attend two gymnasiums (in Yiddish and Hebrew languages). Since 1919 the city had evening courses for adults, two Jewish kindergartens, a Jewish orphanage named after M. Rosenblum, a Jewish women’s charity, and other social and cultural associations. The Jews of the city formed not only an economically but also a politically active community.

The main place of Jewish localization in the city was the centre – the current Kęstučio, Vytauto, Gedimino, Pilies, Vilniaus, Žuvų, Vilkmergėlės (former Egipto), Širvintų (former Sinagogų), Vienuolyno (former Juozapavičiaus) and others streets.

The peace was interrupted by World War II, which brought genocide to the Jewish people. Out of the 37 % of the Jewish population in the interwar period, only 0,1 % remained afte the war. In the Pivonija forest (about 4 km south-east of Ukmergė), where there was a resting place for Jews and other residents, in August 18-19 and September 5 of 1941, 6,354 Jews were killed. In 1953, a memorial monument was built for the victims.

A number of famous Jews were born in Ukmergė: singer and inventor of the metronome Zelman Pomeranc, famous businessman and philanthropist Chaim Frenkel, writer Moshe Zeifert, millionaire Manel Zakharov, who married Chai Karlinskytė from Ukmergė.

After the small number of surviving Jews emigrated to Israel and other cities after the war, the Jewish community of Ukmergė practically ceased to exist. It currently consists of several dozen people. Explore the Jewish Ukmergė in Jewish heritage in Lithuania page.


One of the necessary conditions for establishment and residence of Jews in a certain area is the establishment of a cemetery and synagogue. This condition was followed while creating the Jewish community as well. It is believed that already in 1665, the Jews were given an area for the cemetery and in 1685 the synagogue and Qahal were mentioned. The building of the great synagogue, like most of the buildings of the city during that time, was originally wooden but in 1851 it was rebuilt using bricks. In 1912 it was mentioned that there was a synagogue and 12 Jewish houses of worship in Ukmergė.

Jewish mass murder site / mass grave of Holocaust victims

In 1953 a monument was erected in this place. In 1998 a stone slab with a text was replaced at the initiative of the Jewish community, which says that 10,239 people were killed here (most likely, it is the number of Jews killed in Ukmergė district). The monument is a vertical pentahedral concrete slab with a white marble slab with an inscription in Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish indicating the location of the massacre and the number of fatalities.