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Jewish Emigration from Mazeikiai

Considerable Jewish emigration from Lithuania in general and Mazeikiai and its surrounding villages in particular took place during the last decades of the Czarist regime, especially during the last decades of the 19th century, up until World War I.

Reasons for emigration were diverse. Oppression by the Russian authorities (high taxation, conscription into the Czarist army, etc.), economic difficulties, epidemics, bad crops and Zionism were among the main motivations for emigration.

Main destinations were the USA, South-Africa, Australia, England and Ireland.

From 1929, the Jewish community suffered from economic depression resulting from the general economical crisis, and from acts of the Lithuanian authorities to increase the percentage of Lithuanians in commerce and industry. As a result, emigration of Jewish people was increased.

During the 1930’s, as a result of growing anti-Semitism of local nationalists and general persecution on the one hand, and the blooming of Zionism on the other hand, growing numbers of young Jews went to “Hachshara” (agricultural and crafts training camps) and made “Aliyah” to Eretz-Israel.

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Compiled by Raymond Ravinsky
Updated: March, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Raymond Ravinsky

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