Šeduva, in the Jewish World better known as Shadeve – a town situated in the center of Lithuania – was first mentioned in documents in the fifteenth century. According to some sources, the first Jewish families had established themselves in the town about the same time as when Rabbi Mosheh “HaGolah” was born there, in 1449.

 

The Jewish population in Shadeve started to increase in the eighteen century, after Shadeve acquired the status of a county administrative center and became a commercial town with the Magdeburg Rights of self-rule. By 1880, the Jewish population had increased to 2,386 out of a total population of 3,783. Jews worked in the small trades, crafts and agriculture, while communal life centered on the synagogue, a few small prayer houses, and the Yeshiva established by Rabbi Joseph Leib Blokh.

 

At the beginning of World War I, Shadeve was almost completely burnt down, the number of Jewish inhabitants in town considerably decreased, and the rest had to re-establish their businesses and social life. In 1920, a Jewish community committee with eleven members was elected. It worked in all fields of Jewish life until the end of 1925.

 

During the interwar period, Shadeve Jews made their living in trade, crafts, light industry and agriculture. A Jewish doctor and a Jewish dentist provided services to the population. The Jewish Folks Bank played an important role in the economic life of the shtetl. Shadeve Jews were engaged in a wide range of numerous educations, religious, cultural, and sports organizations, such as Tarbut, Tifereth Bahurim, Maccabi, HeHaluz and many others.

 

The economic crisis of Lithuania forced a large scale emigration from the Lithuanian provinces, and so many Shadeve Jews went to the USA, South Africa, and Eretz Israel in the 1930’s. The standard of living dropped gradually after Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940. Under the new regulations, youth organizations were disbanded, the Hebrew school was closed, and the factories and shops owned by Jews were nationalized.

 

The German forces captured Shadeve on June 25, 1941. By the beginning of July, Jews were forcibly moved into a guarded ghetto made up of houses surrounded by barbed wire fence in the nearby village of Pavartyčiai. On August 25, 1941, Shadeve Jewish history, which had lasted for centuries, was brutally severed when the Nazis and their local collaborators murdered 664 Shadeve Jews in Liaudiškiai forest.

 

Carte des terres de Szadow & de Mazaizen,
1788, copy 1827 (Zürich library, MK 2216)
Šeduva marketplace, around 1930s.
(Sue Benatar private collection)
Family photo
(Bentzi Juzent private collection)
Šeduva
(Kamzon, Yaakov David. Yahadut lita: tmunot ve-tsiyunim (Lithuanian Jewry: Its history in pictures), Jerusalem, 1959)
Futhball team of Šeduva,
1930s (Alain Musikanth private collection)