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When veteran broadcaster Sara Manobla represented Israel at an international conference of journalists in Moscow in 1977, little did she realize that her contact with the Jews of the Soviet Union would become the start of her own voyage of self-discovery. Her commitment to the cause of the refuseniks and her involvement with them once the gates of emigration opened and the When veteran broadcaster Sara Manobla represented Israel at an international conference of journalists in Moscow in 1977, little did she realize that her contact with the Jews of the Soviet Union would become the start of her own voyage of self-discovery. Her commitment to the cause of the refuseniks and her involvement with them once the gates of emigration opened and they arrived in Israel eventually led to an exploration of her own family history. Together with her cousin, she embarked on a roots journey to Zagare, a little shtetl on the border between Lithuania and Latvia. Here she met Isaac Mendelssohn, the sole survivor of the town's Jewish community. Unexpectedly, a meaningful and fruitful relationship developed between Isaac, a group of descendants and a group of local inhabitants, a relationship always shadowed by memories of the slaughter in 1941 of Zagare's Jewish population by Nazis and local Lithuanian collaborators. The culmination came in 2012 with a joint project of the two groups to erect and dedicate a memorial plaque in the center of the town. As part of her desire to accept Zagare, Sara Manobla followed up on the story of an elderly Jewish woman and her granddaughter who had been rescued and hidden by a Zagarean family during the Nazi occupation. She tracked down the granddaughter, now living in Jerusalem, and her testimony resulted in the Zagarean family being posthumously honored by Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority as Righteous among the Nations. The book ends on a note of hope and reconciliation, as this account of a search for roots leads to a coming to terms with today s highly charged relationship between Lithuanians and Jews.


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When veteran broadcaster Sara Manobla represented Israel at an international conference of journalists in Moscow in 1977, little did she realize that her contact with the Jews of the Soviet Union would become the start of her own voyage of self-discovery. Her commitment to the cause of the refuseniks and her involvement with them once the gates of emigration opened and the When veteran broadcaster Sara Manobla represented Israel at an international conference of journalists in Moscow in 1977, little did she realize that her contact with the Jews of the Soviet Union would become the start of her own voyage of self-discovery. Her commitment to the cause of the refuseniks and her involvement with them once the gates of emigration opened and they arrived in Israel eventually led to an exploration of her own family history. Together with her cousin, she embarked on a roots journey to Zagare, a little shtetl on the border between Lithuania and Latvia. Here she met Isaac Mendelssohn, the sole survivor of the town's Jewish community. Unexpectedly, a meaningful and fruitful relationship developed between Isaac, a group of descendants and a group of local inhabitants, a relationship always shadowed by memories of the slaughter in 1941 of Zagare's Jewish population by Nazis and local Lithuanian collaborators. The culmination came in 2012 with a joint project of the two groups to erect and dedicate a memorial plaque in the center of the town. As part of her desire to accept Zagare, Sara Manobla followed up on the story of an elderly Jewish woman and her granddaughter who had been rescued and hidden by a Zagarean family during the Nazi occupation. She tracked down the granddaughter, now living in Jerusalem, and her testimony resulted in the Zagarean family being posthumously honored by Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority as Righteous among the Nations. The book ends on a note of hope and reconciliation, as this account of a search for roots leads to a coming to terms with today s highly charged relationship between Lithuanians and Jews.

11 review for Zagare: Litvaks and Lithuanians Confront the Past

  1. 5 out of 5

    Judie

    Sara Manobla’s grandfather moved to England. Her mother’s family had moved there two generations earlier and looked down on the newcomers. Her family wasn’t religious. The main contact with Judaism was from the dishes her mother cooked. She later moved to Israel and, following the Six Day War in 1967 and Yom Kippur War in 1973, encouraged her to learn more about her religion. One of her first actions was becoming involved with Russian scientists who were Refuseniks, Jews who lived in the Soviet Sara Manobla’s grandfather moved to England. Her mother’s family had moved there two generations earlier and looked down on the newcomers. Her family wasn’t religious. The main contact with Judaism was from the dishes her mother cooked. She later moved to Israel and, following the Six Day War in 1967 and Yom Kippur War in 1973, encouraged her to learn more about her religion. One of her first actions was becoming involved with Russian scientists who were Refuseniks, Jews who lived in the Soviet Union who wanted to practice their religion and emigrate. In the process, she discovered that her family roots were in Zagare, Lithuania. With the help of several people, including her cousin Joy, she began searching for her family’s story. Jews had made up sixty percent of Zagare prior to World War II. Only one Jewish person remained following a massacre of the entire population who hadn’t been moved into slave labor. They were buried in a mass grave outside the town. A memorial plaque in Lithuanian, Hebrew, and Yiddish marked the location but was put up only once a year. ZAGARE is the story of how Joy and Sara, among others, reached out to the people of Zagare. They did so by helping the residents meet their current needs as well as move beyond focusing on the suffering they experienced during both the war and under the Russian government after the war to face what happened to the Jews who had lived there. Ninety six percent of Lithuania’s Jews were murdered during the three years of the Nazi occupation, most of them within the months following the invasion. The remainder were herded into ghettos and used for slave labor until they were unable to work. This readiness of so many Lithuanians to collaborate with the Germans resulted in the almost complete annihilation of the indigenous Jewish population, heading the statistics of all the Nazi-occupied countries of Europe. Most were killed by Lithuanian partisans prior to the arrival of the Nazis. Not all the residents were anti-Semites or people who ignored what was happening to the Jews. As a result of Monobla’s research, one resident of Zagare was recognized as a Righteous Gentile at Yad Vashem in Jerusaem. I was interested in reading ZAGARE because my maternal grandparents emigrated from Lithuania and my paternal grandparents came from Latvia in the early twentieth century. There were a few relatives left in Lithuania before the Holocaust and they all died there. ZAGARE had chronological inconsistencies. Names and incidents were included that did not add to the story. There was a good deal of repetition. It would have been a good magazine article but had too much filler to create an engrossing book. This book was an advance copy from LibraryThing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Etha Frenkel

    I approached this book expecting another family history written for the grandchildren but it is MUCH more than that. Sara Manobla relates her discovery and the building of a relationship with the Lithuanian village native to her grandparents. She describes a long process in which she must come to terms with the overt denial by much of the population of the role of local Nazi collaborators in the massacre of the Jews. With the help of people who had risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbo I approached this book expecting another family history written for the grandchildren but it is MUCH more than that. Sara Manobla relates her discovery and the building of a relationship with the Lithuanian village native to her grandparents. She describes a long process in which she must come to terms with the overt denial by much of the population of the role of local Nazi collaborators in the massacre of the Jews. With the help of people who had risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors and of young people willing to face up to the truth and seek atonement, she manages to reconcile herself to the past. I found the book very moving and very honest.

  3. 4 out of 5

    M

    Prior to reading this book I was completely unaware of the history of Lithuania during WWII. This book provides quite a bit of historical information while not losing the personal story at the core. A recommended read for anyone interested in WWII history and especially for those wanting to know more about countries and regions involved in WWII outside of the ones most often written about

  4. 5 out of 5

    Timo

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

  6. 5 out of 5

    Janics

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Gordon

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ovidijus

  10. 5 out of 5

    Igor V

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Dumarin

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