The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life 
and During the Holocaust 

Editor in Chief Shmuel Spector, Consulting Editor Geoffrey Wigoder, New York University Press, New York, 2001.

KUPISKIS (Yid. Kupishok) Panevezys district, Lithuania. The origins of the Jewish community are not known; the earliest graves date from the beginning of the 18th century. The community was divided between Hasidim and Mitnaggedim, each group with its own rabbi. Disputes between the two groups continued until the Mitnagged rabbi founded a yeshiva, gaining Hasidic support. At the end of the 19th century, many emigrated to the U.S. and South Africa. The Jewish population in 1897 stood at 2661 (71% of the total). Between the World Wars, the strife between the Hasidim and Mitnaggedim continued, as did emigration. The town maintained three synagogues, a talmud torah, two Hebrew schools, a Yiddish school, a library, and social welfare and cultural organizations. The world economic situation coupled with foreign and local competition and an anti-Jewish boycott all contributred to the difficult economic conditions of the Jews. Most Zionist parties were represented in Kupiskis. The Jewish population in 1938 was 1,200 (42%). When Lithuania was annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940, some Jewish-owned businesses were nationalized. After the Germans arrived in June 1941, they ordered the Jews into a crowded ghetto, with little food and difficult conditions. A German teacher who had posed previously as a Communist but was a planted Nazi agent prepared lists of Jews, according to which they were taken from the ghetto and murdered by Lithuanians between July and Sept. 1941. The numbers of victims, including those from the surrounding area, exceeded 3,000.

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