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 go to the Families page or contact Emma to add your details for other searchers to find.
Please note that for data security reasons, we can only post names, locations and photos of those who are deceased.
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. Thanks must also go to Galina Baranova at the Lithuanian State Archives, for all her work on research and translation on behalf of us all. And to everyone who has shared information, documentation and photos, thank you, please keep them coming!
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
Likewise, they may have referred to the area as Novo-Alecksandrovsk, Ezherene, Zarasai or Kovno Gubernia (meaning the District of Kaunas).
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.
Rabbi Mayer Abramowitz worked tirelessly for several years to renovate the Jewish cemetery at Obeliai. His relentless fundraising and personal sacrifice was needed, as the work costed out at USD45 per headstone.
By 2003, over 200 fallen stones had been righted and recorded and the grass had been cut. A small wooden fence was also placed around the cemetery. Rabbi Abramowitz even managed to arrange a small rededication ceremony on 7 July 2003. For photos and a more detailed report, click here.
Some new photos, taken in Autumn 2015, have been recently very kindly contributed by Ruta Anulyte, and have now been added to the page.★
Obeliai from Google Maps and Google Earth 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, which included all the Jews from Obeliai.
Obeliai History MuseumThis is the website for the museum located in Obeliai today.
Interview with Sigitas Parulskis Interview with revered author, Sigitas Parulskis (born in Obeliai), about his novel, "Darkness and Company", about forced collaboration in Lithuania during the Second World War.★
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
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/Kehilalinks 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: 22 January 2022
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.