Pusalotas Jewish Cemetery
Pusalotas (Pushelat in Yiddish) is a small town in the north of Lithuania, 15 miles north of Panevezys. The Jewish community first established itself at the beginning of the 19th century. The peak of the Jewish population in Pusalotas was in 1897, the year of the official census in the Russian Empire when 920 Jews were residents, which was 69% of the total population. In the interwar period, many emigrated to South Africa, Palestine, and the United States. The Jewish population diminished and before the Second World War numbered only 120 residents.
The Jews of Pusalotas made their living from active commerce, crafting, and agriculture. In 1937, within the Jewish community, there were: 10 workshops, 4 tailors, 3 butchers, a carpenter, a shoemaker, a watchmaker, two cart men and five who were in agriculture on their own or on rented land. There were also two Jews who owned factories that manufactured ceramic pots. In the town, there was a Jewish Folksbank which did a lively business, a charity fund, and an inn for poor travelers, all of which helped many of the more unfortunate.
The Jewish children learned in the Hebrew school in the town, where they also learned Yiddish. Next to the school was a Jewish library. Many of the Jews of Pusalotas had already adopted Zionism by the time of the First Zionist Congress. People from Pusalotas were delegates to the Russian Zionists Committee which took place in Vilnius in 1899. The youth was organized into Hashomer Hatzir and other movements. Among the rabbis who had positions in the town were: Rav Yakov Kalmus (1904-1910) who left to become the Chief Rabbi of Moscow (1926-1935). In 1935 he moved to Israel where he was a member of the Chief Rabbinate and a judge in the High Rabbinical Court.
Reuven and Frida Brog were also residents of Pusalotas. Their grandson Ehud Barak was Chief of General Staff and the Prime Minister of Israel between 1991-1996.
After the German invasion into the Soviet Union, 248 Jews of Pusalotas were shot in Sadeikoniai forest near the village in August 1941.
The Jewish cemetery is dated back to the mid 19th century. This cemetery is one of the best-preserved in Lithuania. The cemetery was still in use until the destruction of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. It is known that 10 Jews were shot there in July 1941. Nothing was built on the cemetery grounds in the Soviet time. This cemetery was digitized in 2007 by Howard Margol, and Yulik and Daniel Gurevich. In 1993 the cemetery was registered into the Cultural Property Register of the Republic of Lithuania. There is a memorial stone with an inscription in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Lithuanian: “The old Jewish cemetery. May their memory be eternal”