shtetlinks

Obeliai, Lithuania

Welcome to the Obeliai homepage. Please join us to share our common interest in our ancestors lives, stories, and collective history. We are pooling our resources in order to collect as many documents and vital records as we can to create a lasting record of a lost community.

Susana Leistner Bloch, Vice President of the Shtetlinks Project at JewishGen, Inc. explains ShtetLinks as follows:

"Our webpages are Cyberspace Yizkor Books. Just as the former residents and survivors of a shtetl took it upon themselves to record all they could remember and publish a Yizkor Book in memory of the Jewish community that once lived there, so we, the next generation, should make sure that whatever we have, every little bit of information that sheds light on the lives of our people is recorded and preserved."

If you wish to contribute any stories, family details or photos, please contact Emma Freeman by clicking here or click below to join our mailing list.

If you have visited Obeliai recently or have any photos, postcards, maps or stories to share, please contact Emma here.

If you are trying to trace your family tree to Obeliai/ Abel, please got to the Families page or contact Emma to add your details for other searchers to find.

Special thanks must go to Dr William Saxton, Marcia Spiler and Ida Weinberg for their copious contributions and support, and to Michael Grant for his hard work on the sketch map, as well as to Rabbi Mayer Abramowitz for his tireless efforts on the Cemetery Project.


Contents


Background

Obeliai has had many names, spellings and pronunciations over its chequered history, any one of which may be the name your family remember it by:

ABEL, OBEL, ABELE, ABELI, OBELIAI, OBELIU, OBELYAY, OBYALYAY

Obeliaiarms.jpg

The arms of the town were granted on August 8, 1993. Obeliai was first mentioned in the 16th century and received city rights in 1957. The town did not use any arms until the above arms were designed in 1993. The blue bend symbolises the Kriauna River, the silver field, the Lake Obeliai. The three apple blossoms on the bend are canting (sloping), "obelis" meaning apple tree.

With thanks to Ralf Hartemink for the above explanation, taken, with permission, from his site International Civic Arms. Further information on the arms of Lithuanian districts and cities can be obtained from a book by E. Rimsa entitled "The heraldry of Lithuania, Part 1" published by the Lithuanian Heraldry Commission, Vilnius, 1998.

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Cemetery Restoration

Rabbi Mayer Abramowitz has been working tirelessly for several years to renovate the Jewish cemetery at Obeliai. On my initial visit only 12 stones were standing and visible in waist-high (wet!) grass. Relentless fundraising and personal sacrifice ensued, as the work costed out at USD45 per headstone. Now over 200 have been righted and recorded and the grass has been cut. There is also now a small fence around the cemetery. We even managed to arrange a small rededication ceremony. Some of the village's (now all non-Jewish) population also came to pay their respects. For photos and a more detailed report, click here.

Rabbi Abramowitz has informed me that a fellow Abeler (Abel descendant!) is trying to set up a committee to ensure the maintenance of the cemetry for the future, so that it does not slip back into the neglect of the past. Anyone interested is asked to please contact Emma via the link at the bottom of the page and she will put you in touch.

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Obeliai References and Research Sources
Please note: The spelling of names and town names are copied exactly as they appear in each source.

Mapquest This link will allow you to obtain a rough idea of the area of Obeliai and surrounding shtetlach. Sadly, it is not a very detailed map of the area. We are still searching for a more detailed map. There is also a map of the area on the Photos of Obeliai page.

Yisker-bukh fun Rakishok un Umgegnt  The Yizkor Book for Rakishok/Rokiskis covers the Obeliai and Zarasai area and includes a wonderfully detailed account of life in Abel by I. Michel-Michalewitz on page 271. Dr William Saxton arranged for this section to be translated by Nathan Summer, to both of whom we extend our thanks and gratitude.

Pinkas Hakehillot Lita (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Lithuania)  This book has a wealth of information on what life was like for Lithuania's Jews at the turn of the last century. This link will take you directly to the page on Abel.

Other excellent books are The Annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry by Rabbi Ephraim Oshry and Lithuanian Jewish Communities by Nancy Schoenburg and Stuart Schoenburg

SS Einsatzgruppen documents  These documents outline the methods by which the Nazis systematically murdered the Jews of Lithuania and elsewhere. The tallies of the dead include the entry for the massacre at Antanase Forest outside Obeliai on 25 August 1941.

Obeliai History Museum This is the website for the museum located in Obeliai today.

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Links to related genealogical sites

JewishGen Homepage

LitvakSIG Homepage Special Interest Group focussing on Lithuanian Jewry, including the All Lithuania Database

ShtetLinks page for Kupiskis (Kupishok), Lithuania

ShtetLinks page for Rokiskis (Rokishok), Lithuania

JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR)   The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) is a database of names and other identifying information from cemeteries and burial records worldwide, from the earliest records to the present.

The Yizkor Book Project   Collects and translates the Books of Memories created by descendents and former residents of various shtetlach.

JewishGen Family Finder Search the JGFF (JewishGen Family Finder) for others with research interests in Obeliai or researching the same family names as you

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Contact Information

We would like to know more about life in Obeliai. Please share your family's stories, anecdotes and photos with us. If you have any photographs or stories of Obeliai you would like to share, please contact Emma Freeman by clicking here or click below to join our mailing list.

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These Shtetlinks pages about Obeliai are the copyright of Emma Freeman
All other copyrights have been acknowledged where relevant and permission granted where reprinting or hyperlinks to other sites and texts have been used.
Last revised: 26 May 2012

This site is hosted at no cost by JewishGen, Inc., the Home of Jewish Genealogy. If you have been aided in your research by this site and wish to further our mission of preserving our history for future generations, your JewishGen-erosity would be greatly appreciated.