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  Z A S L I A I,  L I T H U A N I A  


Zasliai is located in central Lithuania, at coordinates: 54 52' N / 24 36' E

- 27.9 miles E of Kaunas [Kovno]
- 31.2 miles WNW of Vilnius [Vilna]
- About halfway between Kaunas and Vilnius
- Presently in Trakai [Troki] District
- Formerly in Vilna Gubernia

Zasliai is the current Lithuanian spelling.
In Yiddish it was known as Zosle, Zashsla, Zhosle, Zhosli, Zhusli or Josli.



Jewish Population (Based on Census Pre-War Figures) = 1,067
From Black Book of Localities Whose Jewish Population Was Exterminated By the Nazis
Published by Yad Vashem, 1965, Jerusalem



About Zasliai
From Yahadut Lita (Lithuanian Jewry), Volume 3
Published by The Association of The Lithuanian Jews in Israel, 1967, Tel Aviv


(Zasliai), Troki District

Zhusli is near Kushidar (7 miles), Rumshishok (16), Zhezmir (7) and Veviya (15). Only dirt roads connected them. It is surrounded on 3 sides by lakes, Lake Statkonishki, the "Liman" and the third just called 'The Lake.' It was on the rail line from Kovno to Vilna, and about halfway between the two.

In 1847, the Jewish population was 836. In 1897, it was 1325, out of a general population of 2000. Before the Holocaust, there were about 1200 Jews, constituting a majority of the population. The Lithuanians, Poles and Russians lived in a separate neighborhood.

The town burned down several times - the last time during World War I.

The train station was 3 miles away. Near it was a large neighborhood, which included many Jews whose occupations required proximity to the railway, in particular merchants in wood, grains and poultry.

Most Jews engaged in small-scale trade, peddling, and crafts. There were tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, barbers, butchers, blacksmiths and clockmakers.

Tuesday was market day. The local merchants would buy fruits from the farmers in the summer and sell them to whole-salers in Kovno. They also exported berries, cherries and apples to Russia and Germany. Some local wood and grain merchants also traded abroad. Many people had their own small farms beside their homes, with a vegetable garden, a chicken coop and a cowshed. Most people raised goats. It was because of the goats that the people requested (and were granted) that the train tracks be laid farther from town.

Zasliai as
in Russian (Zhosli)


The standard of living was very low, and when the people could no longer sustain themselves, many emigrated or were supported by their relatives who had emigrated.

There were two large Jewish prayer houses, a Tarbut School, 2 cheders, a library, a Jewish Peoples Bank with 148 members, a volunteer fire department (which acquired its equipment through donations from former residents living in the U.S.), an association of artisans, Maccabi and various Zionist organizations, including Socialist Zionists, Revisionists, Mizrahi, and Nationalists. Youth trained and prepared for aliyah at various farms. Many of these pioneers were absorbed in Palestine, especially on kibbutzim, including Givat Brenner, Yagur, Dafna, Ein Harod, and Tel-Yosef. Some settled on moshavim or in the cities.

From the rabbinate: R. Yitzhak bar Shlomo-Zalman [later served as rabbi and teacher in Vilna]; his son R. David [took R. Yitzhak's place. He was the rabbi for 40 years until he died in 5591/1831]. The son of R. David, R. Menahem-Mendel [served as rabbi from 5594-5634/1834-1874]; R. Shaul bar Arye-Leib; R. Yitzhak-Meir Rabinovitz [later in Slobodka]; R. Yitzhak-Eliezer-Leifman Sharshavsky [5643- 5648/1883-1888. Later in Nesvizh]; R. Avraham-Haim Shas [grandson of R. David]; and the last rabbi, R. Moshe Levine.

Natives: Shmuel-Menahem Halevy Katz [maggid in Courland]; Shimshon Shas [maggid]; Prof. B.Z. Halper [linguist and orientalist]; and A. Klaus [journalist].

Editor's Note: The towns referred to above by their Yiddish names are, in Lithuanian:
Kaisiadorys, Rumsiskes, Ziezmariai, Vievis, Kaunas, Vilnius



Coat of Arms - Zasliai was granted city rights on January 12, 1792 by Stanislaus Augustus. At the same time he granted the new city an emblem with a wheatsheaf flanked by two angels holding a laurel branch with the motto 'Ex mancipio Libertas'.

The wheatsheaf symbolized the rich crops and the wealth of the area. The richness and freedom won with it is also indicated in the motto.

The freedom did not last long, as the city lost its freedom some months later. The symbol similarly became obsolete in the same year. After the independence of Lithuania the new arms were designed based on the old emblem, and officially granted on June 17, 1992.




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