Kupiskis, Lithuania Entry from 

"Lithuanian Jewish Communities"

by Nancy and Stuart Schoenberg, Jason Aronson, 1996

Reprinted with the permission of Jason Aronson, Inc.

Kupishok is near Panimuk (21 miles), Skopishok (12), Subotsh (12), Rakishok (24), Ponevezh (4), Ponidel (18), Kamai (12), and Vabolnik (13). The nearest train station was in Subotsh.

During Czarist rule, the town was called "Slavianisky" and was included in the Vilkomir District. It is located on the Kupa and Levena Rivers. Around it are thick forests.

A Jewish community existed there for over 300 years, as evidenced by old tombstones.

In 1847, 1350 Jews lived there. In 1897, the Jewish population was 2661, 71% of the general population.

In 1875, the town burned down.

During World War I, part of the Jewish community left for Vilna and the interior of Russia. After the War (1921), the Jewish population was 1500, and in 1932 - 1444, 54% of the general population. During Independent Lithuania, many of the young people left the town and emigrated to South Africa or Palestine. However, by the time of the Holocaust, the Jewish population was close to 1500.

The Jews engaged primarily in small-scale trade, crafts, and peddling. In 1937, there were 22 artisans, including 5 shoemakers and needleworkers, 2 tailors, 3 metal workers and a baker. A significant number of Jews depended on support from relatives abroad.

The Jewish Peoples Bank had 369 members in 1929.

In the town were Hasidim and Mitnagdim; each group had a rabbi and a shochet. On Sabbath eve a siren was sounded at the flour mill owned by Hannan Milner as a sign of the coming of Shabbat. After a few minutes, a second siren was sounded to announce candle-lighting time.

The community had 3 prayer-houses: a Hasidic synagogue, a beit midrash of the Mitnagdim and the Great Synagogue, which was a beautiful old building. There was a yeshiva, Talmud Torah, Yavneh School, Tarbut School, Yiddish School, Hebrew kindergarten and library.

There were societies for the study of Torah, such as Tiferet Bachurim. The charitable institutions included Linat Hazedek, Hachnasat Kalla and a loan fund. All the Zionist parties as well as Agudat Yisrael were represented.

From the Rabbinate: R. Meir Epstein (Shnipisheker); R. Alexander (Sender) Hachohen Kaplan [previously Head of the Bet Din in Vilkomir, in the days of R. Aaron. Afterward he came to Kupishok and served for 45 years. He wrote the annotations of the Six orders of the Mishnah, which remained a manuscript; he died in 5644/1884]; R. Abba-Yakov Borochov [5647 5649/1887-1889]; R. Yehuda-Leib-Sholom Tzinabel; R. Yehuda-Leib Fein; R. Avraham Zvi bar Moshe Brodneh [Hasidic rabbi]; R. Eliahu-Meir Feivelson [died 5688/1928]; R. Zalman Partzovsky and R. Yisrael-Noah Chatzkevitz [the last Hasidic rabbi].

Natives: R. Baruch Feivelson; R. Elhanan Cohen; R. Yakov-Shmuel Yaffe [agronomist]; Shlomo Kodesh [teacher, public figure and author of the book Zo Kupishok Shehyeta].

Additional reference: Shlomo Kodesh, Zo Kupishok Shehyeta, Tel-Aviv: N. Tversky Co., Ltd., 5706/1946. The book (in Hebrew) is a four part poem telling about the life of generations in his Lithuanian town of Kupishok.

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