Rimantas Varanavičius and RLI’s Aldona Shapiro attended high school in Kavarskas during Soviet times, when there was no memory of the former Jewish community, which was annihilated in 1941. Rimantas is committed to preserving the memory among Lithuanians of Kavarskas’ Jewish community.
In 2018, he urged Aldona to translate into Lithuanian the Kavarskas entry in the Encyclopedia of Lithuanian Jewish Communities (Pinkas HaKehillot: Lita). The translation, which was reviewed by Dr. Lara Lempertienė, the director of the Judaica Research Center of Lithuanian’s National Library, and Virginija Mann, an expert in the Lithuanian language, was the first yizkor-book article translated into Lithuanian language that was accepted for posting by JewishGen, (compare with).
In 2019, Rimantas created a Lithuanian version of The Shtetl That Was (1997), a 244-page memorial to the town’s Jewish community which was written by Ralph Jaffe, a Jewish native of Kavarskas who emigrated to the United States before the Second World War. On August 7, 2019, Rimantas formally presented a copy of his translation to the Kavarskas Public Library and Aldona presented the library with an original copy of the book.
From left to right: Philip Shapiro, Rimantas Varanavičius, Kavarskas Library staff member Vilma Kisieliutė, and Aldona Shapiro. Photo credit: Giedrė Černiauskaitė.