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In written sources Raktė Castle and Žagarė was first mentioned in 1198. This castle was one of the most important castles of the Semigallian tribe. Žagarė is mentioned again in 1473. 16th century in the writings Žagarė is called a city in the 1613 was established first school. At the 1633 New Žagarė were build  Renaissance style St. Petro and Povilo church. Due to the favorable geographical position (the road to Riga passed through Žagarė). In the 17th century on the right shore of Švete starts grow a now city called New Žagarė and quickly overtakes Old Žagare.

In the 18th century Žagarė becomes very important selling center in the northern Lithuania. In the fairs were comming merchants from Russia, Germany, even England. There were several churches, prayer houses and schools, because there were people of different nationalities – Lithuanians, Latvians, Germans, Jews, Russians There were selling and buying land products, salt, leather, iron. In the 19th century in the city were working lots of iron manufactories, button, rope shops, canvas bleaching, woolen and candle factories, wineries and breweries and lots of artisans. Resident livers was increasing: in the 1861 – 4185 people, 1914 – 14000. At the end of first world war role of Žagare decreased when the railroad Šiauliai – Riga was extended through Joniškis. At the 1923 in Žagare were only 4730 people.


Very important part in history of Žagare were Jews community. Jews settled in New Žagarė in the first half of the 18th century, when Jews were allowed to settle in the lands of Duke Umiastovsky. Immediately, they came together and, united, formed a community of existing residents. 1712 During the fire, epidemics and wars, many inhabitants of Old Žagarė died, so Jews started to form here. 1731 The privilege of King Jacob mentions Old Žagare with a good Jewish home..The Jewish community in Žagarė was famous for its famous rabbis and preachers. Rabbis Jekutiel-Zalman, Kalonimus Goldstein, Duber Rabinovich, Isaac-Aizik Rabinovich, Chaim Lurje, Cemach Zax, Cvi Predmeiskis lived in Old Žagare. In New Žagare, the rabbinics included rabbis Simon Hurvich, Elijah Shik, Uri-David Apirion, Chaim – Cvi Broide, Jacob-Joseph, Bencion Feldman, Jacob Kac, Chaim Corb, Israel Reiff, Judah-Leiff Reif. Born in Žagare, Rafael Nathan Rabinovich (1835-1888), a world-renowned Talmudic researcher, has written a 16-volume scholarly work on him. Famous rabbi and Talmudic scholar Wolf Lipkin lived in Žagare. His son, the famous rabbi and preacher Israel Lipkin (1810-1883), known as Israel Salanter, was born in Žagare. Žagarė Jewish community in the world was famous not only for its cultural activities, but also for its outstanding writers, artists, businessmen and scientists. 19th century pr. there was a circle of scientists led by Chaim Cak. A very large community lived in Žagarė (during the interwar period there were 8,000 Jews – 57% of the population). The Jews of Old and New Žagariai had separate kahals, synagogues, cemeteries, rabbis.World War II, which led to the Jewish genocide, destroyed the Jewish community in Žagarė. 1941 In the Žagarė ghetto Jews were inhabited not only in the city but also in the surrounding areas – Linkuva, Pašvitinis, Žeimelis and others. In Shagar Naryškin Park, the Shoah claimed about 3,000 lives, and in the Vilcarnis Forest about 500 Jews in and around Zagar were shot dead. In the secret Reich documents – the SS – Standartenfuhrer Jager report states that October 2 2236 Jews have already been arrested in Žagarė, including 633 men, 1107 women and 496 children.

History of Žagarė continues today, you must visit in Lithuania – Žagarė.

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