1902 - 1989
Buried in Kelmė's cemetery,
55, 64 03 78 (š. pl.)
22, 94 02 77 (r. ilg.)
Jehuda Meras was the director of the Jewish National Bank in the town of Kelmė (Raseiniai County) where he lived with his wife Miriam and their two children, Jonina and Icchokas. He was among the first victims of the Lithuanian ultra-nationalists (white armband wearers) when the Germans occupied the area. Miriam was shot on July 29, 1941, during the mass murder operation that took place in the town mansion. Twelve-year-old Jonina and eight-year-old Icchokas remained alive for the time being, with a small group of Jewish children. A number of local Lithuanian women brought some food to the children and when the place where they were being held was left unguarded, they smuggled some of them out. Their former housekeeper, Michalina Legantienė, took Jonina and Icchokas. She brought them to her one-room lodgings, rented in the house of the Urbelis family. In order to ease Michalina’s burden of caring for the two children, Adomas and Petronelė Urbelis invited Jonina to live with them. The sister and brother were baptized, for the rescuers believed it would protect them from persecution. But the authorities soon came and took the children to the temporary Jewish camp near the village of Laukodeme, where the last Jews from the area were being kept. The Meras siblings succeeded in running away and came back to their rescuers. Since it was extremely dangerous to continue hiding them there, Petronelė Urbelienė found a place for the two with Zofija Sankienė* on an isolated Šakaliai farmstead (khutor). After the situation had calmed down in Kelmė, Jonina returned to the Urbelises, and Icchokas to Michalina Legantienė. While Jonina found a safe haven and a warm attitude with his rescuers, Icchokas suffered a lot from Michalina’s husband. He hated the boy, abused him, especially when drunk, and hit his wife for her insistence on keeping Icchokas. When the situation became unbearable, Michalina brought the boy to her neighbors, that passed him on to another family, and so on, until one day Ichhokas found himself on the street. The crying boy was picked up by a poor couple, Juozas and Bronislava Dainauskas, and became their seventh child. In that family he found not only shelter until the end of the German occupation, but also love and compassion, especially from Bronislava. The eldest son of the family, 20-year-old Petras Dainauskas, protected Icchokas in every possible manner: in the nearby forest, he prepared a number of hiding places where the Jewish child could stay when strangers were in the house and wait until Petras would come for him. After the liberation, Icchokas was reunited with his sister. Later they moved to Kaunas and in the 1970s immigrated with their families to Israel. Ichhokas (later, Yitzchak) Meras became a writer, whose main theme is the Holocaust
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I see two women near me. One - Miriam Meriene, Jewish. She gave birth to me and showed me a way through my early childhood, until the gravel pit shut out. The other one is Bronė Dainauskienė, a Lithuanian, a mother of six children. She embraced me by both hands and hid me from the evil eyes, she withdraw me from the gravel pit, gave birth to me as her seventh child, and led me secretly through life until my early life.