Skopishok, Lithuania

Other Names

The Skopishok SIG is an informal special interest group working as part of Litvak SIG. Tim Baker, our unofficial coordinator, and Saul J. Adelman, our WWW master, serve as points of contact. We hope to stimulate interest in the history of Jews who lived in Skopishok and provide relevant genealogical resources.

Tim Baker
2121 J Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

Saul J. Adelman
1434 Fairfield Avenue
Charleston, SC 29407

What is Here?

  1. Skopishok Section from Lithuanian Jewish Communities, by Nancy and Stuart Schoenburg by permission of Jason Aronson Publishers. We appreciate their help in this matter.
  2. The Skopishok-Bellingham connection by Tim Baker
  3. A Family History from Jeff Feldman
  4. A master list of the Jews of Skopishok being assembled from information submitted by our members.
  5. Some Special Interests

Skopishok (Skapiskis) - Rakishok District

From Lithuanian Jewish Communities, by Nancy and Stuart Schoenburg by permission of Jason Aronson Publishers

Skopishok is near Kupishok (9 miles, Ponidel (9), Rakishok (17) and Kamai (20). The Germans laid a narrow-gauge rail line during World War 1, and it passed by Skopishok.

During Russian rule under the Czars, the town was part of the District of Ezereni-Zarasai. During Independent Lithuanian, it was attached to Rakishok District.

In 1847, the Jewish population was 282, 85% of the general population; in 1897, it was 1010. In World War I, many Jews were sent to Russia. Some settled there and did not return to the town. During Independent Lithuania, the number of Jews declined, and at the outbreak of the Holocaust, about 40 Jewish families lived there (215 people).

The Jews engaged in trade, shopkeeping and peddling. The main trade was in flax. Before World War I, they had trade connections in Dvinsk and Ezereni. After the War, it was with Kibart. A number of Jews did business in wood. In 1937, there were six artisans, including three tailors, a shoemaker, a butcher and a carpenter.

There were two beit midrashes, with one for the Hasidim and the other for the Mitnagdim. From the rabbinate: R Ezriel Gordon; R. Mendel; and the last rabbi, R. Menachem Koplovitz.

The Skopishok-Bellingham connection by Tim Baker

The first Skopishok Jews who ended up in Bellingham came over in the late 19th century. Here's a list of their arrival dates in the U.S.(not Bellingham) according to the census:

There were relatives of these people from Ponemunok who also came out to Bellingham in the early 1900s, but I haven't included them here.

These individuals didn't come out to Bellingham immediately. The Glazers stayed initially with relatives in New Haven, Connecticut. The Schumans (including David Horowitz) lived for awhile in Manistee, Michigan before proceeding further west. Oral history in the Glazer family refers to 4-5 men who came out here initially on their way to the Alaskan gold fields. These may have been the first people on the list. In Bellingham they tossed a coin to decide if they should stay here or to on to Alaska, and they decided to stay.

I think the first Skopishoker shows up in Bellingham in 1900. At that time there were a number of German Jews here who ran large department stores and other businesses. It's unclear how much interaction there was between the German and the Lithuanian Jews. High holiday and new year services were held at the Odd Fellow's Hall for several years until May 1906, when the community purchased the old Congregational Church for $500. The congregation incorporated in 1908. Services and cheder were held in the b The congregation was strictly Orthodox and remained so through World War II. By the time Rabbi Fred Gartner came here in the 1950's, the congregation was changing. Under Rabbi Gartner, the congregation accepted mixed seating and other traditions more in line with Conservative Judaism (although I am unsure if the congregation formally affiliated with the Conservative movement.) When the congregation was selecting a rabbi in the 1980s, they found that the Reform Movement gave them the most support in their To my knowledge, Sandra Glazer Lake's aunt, Frances (Glazer) Garmo, is the only remaining descendent of the original founders who is still a member of Beth Israel. She has been very supportive and helpful in my search, and I feel very enriched by her presence here.

A Family History from Jeff Feldman

I have a family tree that goes back to the 1700's. It contains a brief account of how Skopishik began. I wonder if anyone else can verify the story. The source of my information is Zalman Davidovitz.

The story of the family tree begins with a baron Tziwinisky (circa 1760) who wanted to establish a new village. To do so he needed to build a church. He applied to the bishop for a priest. A priest by the name of Skop wa sent to the church. Skop realised that to create a viable community a trading centre had to be established, this meant a town with a regular market. Skop sought the assistance of Reb Judel from the town of Kupiship and asked him to settle in the new hamlet of Skopishik (Skapiskis) named In 1770 a law was passed in Russia requiring people to adopt family names. Reb Judel, being a grain merchant adopted the name Weitz. Reb Judel was a disciple of Schneuer Zalman from Ladi, the founder of Chabad. When Reb Judel's daughter was ready for marriage he went to ask theRebbe for advice. The Rebbe had died and his son, Mendel, had become the Rebbe. Reb Mendel recommended that Reb Judel's daughter, Musha, marrySchneuer Zalman Feldman, the grandson of Reb Schneuer Zalman. And so the family Feldman came into being (that is as far back as my family tree goes).

On another note, I have a steamship ticket dated 1910 when some Feldmans travelled from Southampton to Cape Town. I wonder if my descendants will be interested in seeing my plane ticket from Johannesburg to Melbourne. Somehow the computer print does not have the same nostalgia.

I also have a document written in Russian. I have had it translated. It is an insurance policy receipt dated 1892/3 and a 10 rubel note with a watermark of 1890.

Among my most prized momentos are original cheques written by my grandfather (whom I never met) dated 1914.

It is amazing how some documents survive.

A master list of the Jews of Skopishok being assembled from information submitted by our members.

Arrivals in the United States from Skopishok (people who went to Bellingham)

People who left for South Africa

Part of the Gaffin(ovitch) Family Tree (supplied by Saul J. Adelman)

Michael Mayer Gaffinovitch (b. approx 1861, d. 1890 in Latvia)

Some Special Interests

Saul J. Adelman - the surnames GAFFIN(OVITCH), GEN, and KAPLAN. I have a far more extensive family tree of which the part in the section above is just a start. My maternal grandfather David R. SANDLER, who was born in Skaistkalne, Lativa, is my paternal grandmother's second cousin once removed. My paternal grandparents met when they were children in Lithuania. My paternal grandfather was born in Dusetos (Dusiat), Lithuania.

Tim Baker - the surname JAFFE. Bernard and Audrey Jaffe were long-time members of Beth Israel and are now involved with Eytz Chaim. I am trying to track down some of their ancestors and determine if any of them survived the holocaust. Bernard's father, Chaim, was supposedly born in "Kerlitz," which may be Kurklia, Lithaunia. He came to this country in the early 1900's. The Jaffes were intermarried w/ families from Skopsihok and Rokishok, but the last word from them in 1939 was from Riga. Chaim's paren

Last Modified On: Thursday, January 2, 1998

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