Updated April '99
A Hole in the Heart
It was said that if a Jew from Keidan was traveling, and someone asked where he was from, he would puff out his chest and poke a finger at his heart, replying proudly, "Me? I'm a Keidaner!" And so forcefully would he poke that it looked like the finger might go right into his chest. Thus people took to calling them "Keidaner mit griblen in hartzn" -- Yiddish for "Keidaners with holes in their hearts."
This site is about Keidan, where my grandfather was born. Known today by its Lithuanian name, Kedainiai, it is a town like many others, wiith a library, a chemical plant and some 28,000 residents, none of them Jews. But for 500 years, from the mid-1400s until Aug. 28, 1941, it was home to an important Jewish community, with scholars, merchants and artisans. An aristocratic legacy helped foster a pride that made Keidan stand out in the world of the old Russian Pale. Every shtetl was special to its inhabitants, but Keidan had what in Yiddish is called yikhes -- a lineage, a pedigree.
For several years I have been collecting stories, documents and images of Keidan, to learn and to preserve something of its former life. Keidaners and their descendents live all over the world, and I hope this enables some of them to also reach back and grasp their lineage -- their yikhes.
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