In June, 2011, I finally made it to the homeland of my
maternal grandparents – Lithuania. For many years, on and off, I was
interested in genealogy, and I have always wanted to visit the places my
family came from. My grandfather's mother's family (Ruch) comes from
Rokiškis. His father's family, we think, comes from Salakas.
Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before I was able to ask all
the right questions, and before I was old enough to talk him into taking
me on a trip to Lithuania. I finally took the trip by myself, spent a
couple of days in Vilnius, and a couple of days chasing my family
heritage. My goal was just to 'be' in the places my ancestors lived in,
and to see some of the places I had heard about (either from my
grandfather, or third hand from other family members). In this sense,
the trip was a great success.
My family (Bacher / Ruch) emigrated to South Africa like
many of the Rokiškis Jews. The following generation of my parents,
emigrated to Australia like many of the South African Jews. And this is
where I hail from.
Rather than repeating
everything here, I simply link to my blog postings (which contain many
photos) from my trip. I also took a few short videos which are not
included in the blog postings but which I include below. There are also
many more photos than those included in the blogs, so I have created a
couple of flickr streams for reference.
The first two videos are
simple panoramas around Independence Square in Rokiškis. My interest
here was the black timber house right at the centre of the square which
was built by 2 of my “first cousins, 3 times removed” - Pessach
& Rachmiel Ruch. I had seen photos of this house as a child and was
curious to see it 'for real'.
The last video is at the old
Jewish cemetery in Rokiškis. I have a photo which I remember from my
childhood of 2 of my grandfather's sisters standing by the grave of
their father, my great-grandfather, Yitzchak ben Shaul haLevi Bacher. I
know my grandfather had unsuccessfully tried to find the grave before,
but I thought I would give it a shot too. The cemetery, as has been
reported in various spots, is in total shambled. But it still felt
special to be there. Naturally, I couldn't find the grave due to the
fact that there were not many headstones where the print was legible.
Either way, I took a video there.
I got a lot of help compiling
my route, and specifically, locations of places around Rokiškis from
family members, including a distant cousin and the last remaining Ruch
(that I know of) who was born in Rokiškis – Rueven. And I think all
of them for their help. Below is the Google map I made which marks out a
few of the locations (click here if the map doesn't display below).