This page will be where I dig into the family history and find out more about the name ‘Leigh’ and our family roots from my dad’s and mum’s side of the family….

WHAT IS A LITVAK? (www.belarusguide.com/culture1/diversity/litvak.html)

My great grandad was Ruval (Reuben) Liberovitch from Lithuania. He was married to Khaia and they moved to Manchester from Lithuania. They then changed the name to Leigh when they moved to South Africa.

Town was called Telchi in Polish or Telšiai in Lithuanian…

My grandad was Hyman Leigh (my dads dad) who married Sally Todes.


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Extract from Wikipedia..

Jews in Telšiai

In 1897, the Jewish population numbered 3088, 51% of the total population. Jews were expelled during World War I, but by 1939, 2800 had returned, out of a general population of 8000. Many were involved in trade which included produce, wood, and crafts.

A major source of income was the famous Telšiai Yeshiva, (a school for Talmudic study, sometimes called a rabbinical college). It was the largest and most famous yeshiva in Lithuania between 1875 and 1941, establishing Telšiai as a center of Torah studies (the entire body of religious law and learning, including both sacred literature and oral tradition). There was also an Orthodox Jewish rabbinical seminary and a Jewish day school providing secular and religious instruction for younger children.

Following World War I and the expulsion of the Jews—which decimated the Telšiai Jewish community—the city again became a center of traditional Jewish learning. There were also charitable institutions, including a Chevra Kadisha (burial society), a hospital, a loan society, a public kitchen, a clinic, special summer camps, and a women’s association for support of the sick and poor. There were also two Jewish newspapers, published in Yiddish.

In 1931, Telšiai became a city of the first order. During the Holocaust in 1939 when the Russians enter Lithuania they eventually closed down the yeshiva. Most of the students dispersed with only about a hundred students remaining in Telshe. Learning was done in groups of 20-25 students studying in various batai medrashim (“small synagogues”) led by the rosh yeshivas.

In 1940, after the Soviets captured Lithuania, the yeshiva and all religious schools were closed. As young students were fleeing the yeshiva, trying to save the Torahs (scrolls of the law) by carrying them in their hands, they were shot dead in the streets. During the subsequent occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany during World War II, the large Jewish population of Telšiai was almost completely annihilated.

Telšiai has a rare, surviving wooden synagogue.[4]

The original yeshiva building still stands in Telšiai; it is now occupied by an electrical company.

The yeshiva was transplanted to the United States in 1941, during World War II, when two of its roshei yeshiva (“deans”) who had escaped the Holocaust chose to re-establish it in Cleveland, Ohio, where it still remains. The yeshiva was opened in the house of Yitzchak & Sarah Feigenbaum on 20 Cheshvan 5702 (1941). This yeshiva again became a well-respected center of Talmudic study, incorporating the distinct methods of the historic institution, and it is still going strong today.

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