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Use our multimedia maps, and explore the family pictures, archival material, and personal stories of 21 Jewish Holocaust survivors to get a unique insight into Europe’s rich Jewish heritage, and to discover sites of Jewish life in towns in Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.
After the Vilna Gaon, the doctor Zemach Shabad is the second most famous figure of the Vilnius Jewish community. Colloquially known as Doctor Aiskauda, he was born in 1864 and graduated from Moscow University. He moved to the Tambov Oblast in Russia in 1891 to help fight a cholera outbreak. He became a popular and well-known doctor throughout the region because he helped and cured Jews or non–Jews alike, including those unable to pay him. Children especially liked him because he would give them milk and cookies instead of medicine, which would miraculously treat them. And, even though he was not a veterinarian, many children brought them their sick pets, and he would always make an effort to treat them. In addition to being an exceptional doctor, Dr. Shabad was a social and political activist, serving as a Senate member of the Second Polish Republic in 1928. He was also a key Jewish political leader, as he was one of the co-founders and Vice-President of YIVO, the Institute for Jewish Research, which still exists today.
Following Dr. Shabad’s death in 1935, all the Jewish shops, organizations, and banks closed throughout Vilnius, and nearly 30,000 people attended his funeral. He was buried in the Uzupis cemetery, which was destroyed during the Soviet occupation, and he was later reburied in the remaining active Jewish cemetery in Šeškinė.
In 2007, a monument was erected to honour his memory, outside of the children’s sanatorium that he founded. Given his tremendous work and support for sick children, the inscription reads: “Doctor T. Z. Shabad – great friend of children.”