Jewish Roots

Research Your Jewish Roots in Lithuania

ellen research your jewish rootsThe following suggestions have been compiled with help from Rhoda Miller (a Certified Genealogist  and the coordinator of the LitvakSIG Svencionys District Research Group) and genealogist Lois Rosen.

  • Read these helpful tips by a leader of Jewish heritage tours to Lithuania.
  • Join JewishGen. Free.  Joining will give you access to the JewishGen Infofiles for Lithuania, full of information about the cities, towns, and shtetlekh (small towns) where Jews lived in the Old Country. Join the SIG (Special Interest Group) of your ancestral town to gain access to special data bases. JewishGen allows you to search many databases at once, including the All Lithuania Database (ALD).  The Home Page of JewishGen features a Town Search option.  If you know the name of your family’s ancestral town, or shtetl, enter that name into the box – even with an approximate spelling – and receive a list of possible towns and their exact locations.
  • Subscribe to LitvakSIG.   Free.  Join the discussion list and access the research pages about your specific locality.
  • If you don’t know where your family comes from, you’ll need to search out census records, immigration sources, US draft registrations, and ship manifests. For help, look at Steve Morse’s invaluable One Step Search Pages at He tells which sites are free and which are not.
  • Visit the website of the Roots to Routes Foundation to find out what records are available re: Jewish heritage in Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, and Moldova.
  • Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names provides information about those who perished in the Holocaust. Search by surname or place. If you know the name of someone who has written a page of testimony for one of your relatives, you can search by that person’s name to find other family members you may not have known about.
  • The Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers information, including town records, on  Microfilmed records can be ordered.
  • Write to the Lithuanian Archives. Visit this website, which describes, in English, the holdings of various Lithuanian archives, including these:

Lithuania’s central archives
Galina Baranova, Deputy Department Manager
Gerosios Vilties 10
LT-03134 Vilnius
Tel: 370/5/213-7482
Fax: 370/5/213-7612
(See for a description of what documents are held in these archives)

Kaunas, Lithuania, archives
Vitalija Gircyte, Chief Archivist
Maironio 28a
LT-3000 Kaunas
Tel: 370/732-3074
Fax: 370/732-3111
(See  for a description of what documents are held in these archives.)


lithuanialondonleeds2013 137Plan a Trip to Lithuania

A free official guidebook to Jewish cultural heritage in Lithuania is available here.

Jewish heritage tourists and genealogists have worked with these guides. (Ask them for client reviews.):

For Help With Translation From Yiddish

postcardFind a professional translator using the list compiled by the Yiddish Book Center, or the list compiled by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. I’ve worked with Chana Pollack & Myra Mniewski. For volunteer help, consult the Facebook group Tracing the Tribe.

Learn Yiddish

Even a taste of Yiddish feels delicious on the tongue. Here are some links to get you started:

  • learn yiddishYiddish on Twitter. Who knew? Twitter can help you find the Yiddish class or program that meets your needs.
  • Yiddish Farm. You can even choose to learn the language while working on a farm.
  • Yiddish Primer. An easy place to begin (without farm work).  20 simple online lessons offered by the Dora Teitelboim Center for Yiddish Culture. Start with the alphabet; sound is included.
  • Yiddish classes. Workers’ Circle offers all levels, online or in person, taught by excellent teachers.
  • Yiddish Online Dictionary. It goes both ways, from kiss to kush and vice versa.
  • Duolingo self-taught Yiddish online. Check it out!
  • Summer programs are listed here.
  • Universities around the world offer Yiddish classes.