The Last Wooden Synagogues and The Ghosts of Millions

The Survivor Mitzvah Project’s 2012 Humanitarian Aid expedition continues in Lithuania and Latvia. Zane Buzby and guide Liudmila Petrovna visit 99-year-old Dobke Jonas who is the sole survivor of the massacre of her shtetl, Zesmar. The SMP visits Zesmar and one of the last wooden Synagogues still standing in Eastern Europe. In need of repair, the SMP has arranged for a hole in the roof to be covered and repaired. This historic Synagogue is one of only 8 wooden Synagogues still standing in Lithuania. Hundreds like it have already collapsed due to neglect, vandalism and the fact that there are few individuals or groups from other countries actively trying to save them. Sadly, unless some steps are immediately taken, they will all be gone in a year or so.

The SMP team also visits the mass grave in Zesmar where Dobke’s relatives and every Jewish man woman and child in the town were brutally murdered during the Holocaust.

The SMP team crosses into Latvia in search of the wooden Synagogue in Subate. But it is too late. It has already fallen down. The Jewish shtetl of Subate, is now a ghost town, alive only in memory.

The SMP team drives towards the next of many destinations, bringing supplies and your donated dollars to elderly Holocaust survivors in towns and villages in Latvia and Lithuania – bringing life-changing relief to the last elderly survivors of the Shoah.

* Still photos of the Zesmar Synagogue by artist Joyce Ellen Weinstein.

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