Mayer Visit to Rokiskis

by Kevin Mayer


In June, 2011, I finally made it to the homeland of my maternal grandparents – Lithuania. For many years, on and off, I was interested in genealogy, and I have always wanted to visit the places my family came from. My grandfather's mother's family (Ruch) comes from Rokiškis. His father's family, we think, comes from Salakas. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before I was able to ask all the right questions, and before I was old enough to talk him into taking me on a trip to Lithuania. I finally took the trip by myself, spent a couple of days in Vilnius, and a couple of days chasing my family heritage. My goal was just to 'be' in the places my ancestors lived in, and to see some of the places I had heard about (either from my grandfather, or third hand from other family members). In this sense, the trip was a great success.

My family (Bacher / Ruch) emigrated to South Africa like many of the Rokiškis Jews. The following generation of my parents, emigrated to Australia like many of the South African Jews. And this is where I hail from.

Trip Details

Rather than repeating everything here, I simply link to my blog postings (which contain many photos) from my trip. I also took a few short videos which are not included in the blog postings but which I include below. There are also many more photos than those included in the blogs, so I have created a couple of flickr streams for reference.






The first two videos are simple panoramas around Independence Square in Rokiškis. My interest here was the black timber house right at the centre of the square which was built by 2 of my “first cousins, 3 times removed” - Pessach & Rachmiel Ruch. I had seen photos of this house as a child and was curious to see it 'for real'.


The last video is at the old Jewish cemetery in Rokiškis. I have a photo which I remember from my childhood of 2 of my grandfather's sisters standing by the grave of their father, my great-grandfather, Yitzchak ben Shaul haLevi Bacher. I know my grandfather had unsuccessfully tried to find the grave before, but I thought I would give it a shot too. The cemetery, as has been reported in various spots, is in total shambled. But it still felt special to be there. Naturally, I couldn't find the grave due to the fact that there were not many headstones where the print was legible. Either way, I took a video there.



Travel Route

I got a lot of help compiling my route, and specifically, locations of places around Rokiškis from family members, including a distant cousin and the last remaining Ruch (that I know of) who was born in Rokiškis – Rueven. And I think all of them for their help. Below is the Google map I made which marks out a few of the locations (click here if the map doesn't display below).


View Rokiskis (Lithuania) Jewish Points of Interest in a larger map



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