Other names






Synagogue (photo taken in 2004 by Gilda Kurtzman)


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(Native name in BOLD)
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Joniškėlis, Yonishkelis, Joniškiai, Joniškelio, Johaniszkiele, Ionishkelis, Ioganishkely56°02' 24°10'E M ULithuania103.6 miles NNW of Vilnius

An Introduction to Yanishkel (Joniskelis)

According to "Lithuanian Jewish Communities" by Schoenberg, the town of Yaniskel (Joniskelis) was located approximately 6 km from Posvol (Pasvalys). Prior to the Holocaust it was home to about 70 families (162 individuals).

In "Where Once We Walked" by Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, the town is further defined as being 58 km ENE of Shavli (Siauliai) at 56 02'/24 10'.

The book, "The Annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry", by the late Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, mentions that amongst the Jews killed in Posvol (Pasvalys) on August 27, 1941, were a number from Yanishkel (Joniskelis). The Jews from Yaniskel (Joniskelis) were buried in the Martyrs' Cemetery in Posvol (Pasvalys). There were five women who survived the slaughter - two were the Todes sisters from Yanishkel (Joniskelis).

Lithuanians participated in the murders and were supervised by the Germans. Names mentioned by Rabbi Oshry are: Petras Bieluskas, Verkus the shoemaker, Strazdas Yuozas the tailor, Metzkus, Ignatz Augentas, Godas Leonas, Antonas Birkauskas, Yanas Vilimas, and Visatzkus. He also mentioned one Lithuanian named Baniolis who was able to keep three Jewish girls alive in a barn for three years.

There are also a number of firsthand accounts of the community. One such memoir by Chaim Joselson follows along with a story by partisan historian Isaac Kowalski.

Joniskelis Stories and Resources

Yaniskel, My Birthplace by Chaim Joselson
First Diversion, by Isaac Kowalski, the story of the first diversionary action in Vilnius in June, 1942
JewishGen Family Finder This is where you can find the names of others interested in Yanishkelis. The Family Finder is an interactive database that allows genealogists to trade family and town names, make connections and expand their circles of information.

U.S. Holocaust Museum The Washington, D.C. museum has a database of documents that you can search for references to Joniskelis.  

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, Editor in Chief Shmuel Spector, Consulting Editor Geoffrey Wigoder, New York University Press, New York, 2001.

Joniskelis (Yid. Yonishkel) Birzai district, Lithuania. Jews first settled in the 18th cent. The Jewish  population in 1897 was 136 (22% of the total). At the end of the 19th century, many Jews emigrated to America and South Africa. During World War I the Jews were expelled, some returning after the war. In elections for Lithuanianís Sejm, most Jews voted for the Zionist list. Jewish native Benjamin Miller was among the founders of the American Zionist Federation. The Jewish population  in 1940 was 210 (21% of the total). After the German invasion in June 1941, Lithuanian nationalists tortured, robbed, and filled Jews. On 26 August 1941 the Jews were taken to a grove next to Zadeikiai and murdered.
Photo Albums
Holocaust Victims - Necrology of Joniskelis from Yad Vashem Testimonies
Lithuanian Research Resources

LitvakSig - LitvakSig (Lithuanian Special Interest Group) Home Page

ALD- All Lithuania Database

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