The Samogitian Museum "Alka" preserves a unique historical source - the Jewish Memory Book "Telšiai" (compiled by I. Alperovičius, Israel, 1984). It was donated to the museum by one of the authors of the articles, Cvi Brikas. The articles for the book were written by Jews who lived in Telšiai, lived, studied and escaped the Holocaust. The book is divided into five sections: the history of Jews from the settlement in Telšiai until the Holocaust, the history of the Telšiai Yeshiva and the educational system it established, the most prominent Jews in Telšiai, the life of the Jewish community in Telšiai, and the fate of the Jewish community in Telšiai in the years of World War II. The Lithuanian academic community, Telšiai residents and visitors interested in the history of the Telšiai region from the 19th to the first half of the 20th century expressed their hope that the contents of the Memory Book "Telšiai" would be translated into Lithuanian.
Two years ago, in cooperation with Lithuanian and foreign partners, the Museum implemented the project "Telšiai Memory Book: the Life of the City's Jews". Some of the articles in the Memory Book were translated from Yiddish and Hebrew into Lithuanian.
Incentive to continue the project
Remembering Litvaks, Inc. on the initiative of President Philip Shapiro and his wife Aldona, the Jewish community in 2021 contributed funds to translate from Yiddish and Hebrew the remaining articles of the book "Telšiai", which tell the story of the Telšiai Jewish ghetto and its destruction. Support was provided by the David and Barbra B. Hirschhorn Foundation (USA), the JewishGen (USA) and the leaders of the Jewish Book of Remembrance publishing project for the Jews of Eastern Europe who escaped the Holocaust.
The translation of the unique and specific content of the Memory Book "Telšiai" (themes of Judaism, Jewish history and culture, and the rich terminology) required scientific editing. This could only be done by specialists in Judaic studies. Last year, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the destruction of the Telšiai ghetto, it was decided to submit a project application to the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Telšiai District Municipality and to continue the activities of the project "The Telšiai Memory Book: the life of the Jewish community interrupted by the Holocaust".
This year, the project will see the publication of a Memory Book translated into Lithuanian, supplemented by translators' commentaries to give the reader a better understanding of Jewish culture and its traditions, and illustrated with authentic photographs published in the 1984 edition of the book "Telšiai", as well as with the photographs kept in the museum.
Eighty-one years after the destruction of the Telšiai ghetto. This year's project will not only include the publication of the Memory Book "Telšiai", translated into Lithuanian, but also the organisation of a scientific conference "The Genocide in Samogitia: the Echoes of History and Memory", where lecturers from the Lithuanian Centre for Genocide and Resistance Research and the Lithuanian Universities will present their papers.
In order to get to know the Jewish life better, the cycle of educations and excursions "The Jewish Heritage of Telšiai" is being carried out, consisting of educations "The Great Jewish Autumn Traditions and Food" and "The Heritage of Jewish Musical Expression in Lithuania" (education-concert-education), as well as the excursion "The Jewish shtetl in Telšiai - 1941".
Continuing the theme of the project, the history of the Jews from their settlement in Telšiai and the whole of Žemaitija to the present day will continue to be researched by organising conferences, lectures, exhibitions, publishing articles, publications, education and excursions.