SHOLEM-YITSKHOK LEVITAN (July 14, 1878-June 1941)
He was born in Eyragole (Ariogala), Kovno district, Lithuania, into a family of scholars and rabbis. He studied in yeshivas, received ordination into the rabbinate, and from 1902 was rabbi of various communities in Lithuania and Russia. After WWI he was chief rabbi of Oslo, Norway. In 1932 he returned to Lithuania, and until 1939 he served as rabbi of Shveksne (Sveksna). He authored numerous religious works which were well-known in the scholarly world, among them in Yiddish: Divre sholem, yalkut hadrosh (Words of peace, collection of sermons) (1922); Divre sholem veemes (Words of peace and truth), “on the importance of supporting various institutions of Torah study throughout the entire world” (Satmar, 1925), 144 pp. in Yiddish and 26 pp. in Hebrew, second edition (Warsaw, 1929). These texts, written in a rich, lively Yiddish, dealt with the questions of the observance of sexual mores and children’s education. On June 23, 1941 German gangs entered Shveksna, seized Jews capable of labor with the rabbi in their lead, drove them out to Heydekrug (Silute), near the German-Lithuanian border, and murdered them there.
Sources: Ohale shem (The tents of Shem) (Pinsk, 1912), p. 113; Dorot haaḥaronim (Generations of the later ones) (New York, 1937), pp. 124-25; Efraim Oshri, in Khurbn lite (The Holocaust in Lithuania) (New York-Montreal: Bukh-komitet, 1951), p. 310.
Khayim Leyb Fuks