This site is about Keidan, where my grandfather was born. Known today by its Lithuanian name, Kėdainiai, it was for centuries an important regional center, a seat of dukes and counts, and a multicultural community long before that term was coined. Until the catastrophic events of the 20th century, Keidan’s Jews lived in relative harmony with their neighbors, including Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Germans, Belarusians and even Scots. Keidan’s scholars, merchants, and artisans were known far and wide, leaving a legacy – in Yiddish, a yikhes – that continues to inspire the community’s far-flung descendants.
Collected here are memoirs, histories and other material that illuminates the story of this community. The goal is to provide Keidan’s descendants and others with a resource for exploration, enlightenment and understanding.
— Andrew Cassel
Click here to read more.
Keidan market square, 1910s
The Lithuanian Economy Bank, on the corner of Gedimino and Synagogue streets, above B.Feingold’s dry-goods shop.
The entrance gate to Keidan’s ‘shulhoyf’ or synagogue complex, with its Hebrew-numeral sundial.
Ice skating on the Dotnuvėlė river weir near the former manor house of Count Totleben,
The pharmacy and nearby shops, early 20th century.
Officers of Keidan’s Jewish fire brigade.
A Jewish football club in the 1920s.
Soldiers of the Lithuanian 2nd artillery regiment march past Jewish businesses on Gediminas (now Didžioji) Street, 1934
The train station near Keidan, 1914
The board of the “Maccabi” sports club in Keidan
Yehuda Ronder by the grave of his cousin, Chaim Ronder, in Kaunas, Lithuania in the 1960s
Teachers and students at a Jewish school in Keidan.
A section of the memorial wall by Kedainiai’s mass grave.
Reception committee, 30th anniversary banquet of the Keidaner Assn. of New York
An early 19th-century view of Keidan, showing religious buildings of its different groups.
Chldren by the memorial marking the mass grave where some 2,000 Keidan Jews were murdered on Aug. 28, 1941.
A marker commemorating the vanished Jewish community of Keidan at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.
The Jewish People’s Bank (Volksbank) in Keidan in the 1930s.
A view of Keidan’s center from across the Neviazhe River. The Calvinist church dominates the market square.
The aron kodesh, or holy ark, in Keidan’s Great Synagogue.
Faculty and students of the Keidan progymnasium.
Members of the Keidan fire brigade.
Kedainiai’s coat of arms.
I wish there were more notations were under the pictures. My ancestor Morris Charnas was from Keidan.
Are you not seeing the notes beneath the pictures? If you hover your mouse over or tap on a photo (if you’re looking on a phone or tablet) the caption should be visible. You can also click on a photo and it will come up on your screen, and you can scroll or move among photos. Please let me know if this does not work for you. (You can also use the Search feature to find mentions of your Charnas family.)
Harvey — I also have Charnes relative from Keidan: Zalmen Charnes (born 1874). He was probably related to Morris. Do you have more info about your relative?
Hello Greg and Harvey.
I am Shane Charnas, descended from Charnases of Keidan. I was in the town two days ago, visiting.
How can I get hold of you? I would like to share any information we have.
Shane, you might consider sharing your experience and info on the Facebook site “Roots in Keidan”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RootsInKeidan
Morris Charnas had a brother named Mayer. He was married to Bessie Kaplan, who was a first cousin of my grandfather Oscar Greenblatt (their mothers were sisters). Mayer and Bessie and buried in Montefiore Cemetery’s Kedainer Association like your Morris and Pauline Charnas.
Thank you for including the article by my grandfather, Samuel Goldblatt. We had no idea that it was translated into English and published online!
You are most welcome. Delighted you found the Keidan site; please send along any suggestions or corrections. All best, AC