ZAGARE (or Zhagare; Pol. Zagory; Yid. Zager), town in N. Lithuania on the border between Lithuania and Latvia. It had two separate Jewish communities: Old Zager and New Zager. New Zager was founded at the beginning of the 18th century by Jews who settled on the lands of the nobleman Umjastowski, after oppression by the townspeople. According to the census of 1766, there were 840 Jews in Old Zager and 313 in New Zager. As a result of its proximity to *Courland, Zagare became one of the first centers of the Haskalah movement in Russia and gained renown as "a town full of scholars and scribes." The maskilim circle of Zagare, which at the beginning of the 19th century was concentrated around the person of Ḥayyim Zak, became known as "the scholar of Zagare." On the other hand, Zagare was influenced by the centers of traditional Jewish learning of Lithuania; the majority of the Jews remained faithful to tradition and two yeshivot existed in the two parts of the town. Noted personalities born in Zagare include R. Israel *Salanter, Senior *Sachs, Raphael Nathan *Rabbinovicz, the *Mandelstamm family, K.Z. *Wissotzky, J. *Dineson, and the bibliographer A.S. *Freidus. The Jewish quarter in Zagare was among those damaged in 1881 in the outbreak of conflagrations which swept the Lithuanian communities as an accompaniment to the pogroms in southern Russia. After World War I, during the existence of independent Lithuania, this community declined. The Jewish population of the two communities numbered 5,443 in 1897 (c. 68% of the total) and 1,928 in 1923 (41%). After the German occupation of Lithuania in 1941, a ghetto was set up in the town, in which Jews from the neighboring localities were also interned. At the beginning of October 1941, the inhabitants of the Zagare ghetto were murdered.
H. Frank, in: Lite, 1 (1951), 775–84; A. Zagerer, ibid., 1605–07; E. Oshry, Khurbn Lite (1951), 234–9; A.S. Sachs, Worlds that Passed (1928), 41–44.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.