Life in a Shtetl


Jews first appear in records for the town in the fifteenth century. By the late nineteenth century this market town had some nine thousand inhabitants, nearly two-thirds of whom were Jewish.

The size of the community meant that some trades and professions were exclusively for the Jewish community, such as the kosher butchers and bakers. Other traders were involved with business which reached across the whole town and surrounding areas. The father of the novelist Leon Uris, author of Exodus was born in Navaredok (as the Jews called it). He remembers that the town was famous for its matzot all over the world.

"The matzot was baked and packed in special crates… hundreds of young men and women were employed in the industry. They worked 12 or 13 hours a day for several months until Pesach. In every street there were several bakeries, filling the air with the aroma of freshly baked matzot and the singing voices of hundreds of men and women working in the ‘factories’."