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VIRBALIS (Ger. Wirballen; Pol. Wierzbolow; Rus. Verzhboloro), town in S.W. Lithuania. Due to the position of the town on an important commercial route between Russia and Germany, the Jewish community was financially prosperous. In 1897 there were 1,219 Jews (37% of the total population). Among Lithuanian Jewry, the community of Virbalis was outstanding for its nationalist cultural activity and its promotion of Hebrew both as a language for study and for daily speech. Following World War I, the Jews returned to the ruins of Virbalis, the majority of them having abandoned the town during the war. According to the census of 1923, they numbered 1,233 (30% of the population). Many of them were engaged in agriculture, either as landowners or as lessees of orchards, vegetable gardens, and tobacco plantations. Near the town was located the training farm of *He-Ḥalutz. This also included a Hebrew secondary school, a Tarbut school, and a kindergarten. There were, in addition, several Zionist organizations and welfare institutions. The mayor of the town was a Jew. The Germans invaded Virbalis on June 22, 1941. A week later they massacred the men, and a short while after that, the women and children. The poet *Yehoash was a native of Virbalis.


M. Sudarski, in: Lite, 1 (1951), 1633–44.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.