The photographs that Beile Delechky brought with her when she left Europe for the United States in 1938 belong to the shattered legacy of Lithuania’s small-town Jews between the two world wars. The term “shtetl” too often conjures up “Fiddler on the Roof” stereotypes of pious Jews mired in a folkloric past. These pictures from the hamlet of Kavarsk (Kavarskas, in Lithuanian), many of them taken by Beile herself, unselfconsciously reveal a more nuanced view of everyday reality for Jews and Lithuanians during the 1930s...

...Kavarsk was not frozen in amber; indeed, the young people in these photographs would not have stood out at all elsewhere in 1930s Europe. Under normal circumstances, they would doubtless have achieved many of their aspirations for a better life and a better world; the times, however, were anything but tranquil.  Beile Delechy’s photographs are thus all the more valuable for having captured a moment in the history of a civilization that was soon to be irretrievably extinguished.

From the Introduction

by Zachary M. Baker

Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections

Stanford University Libraries

"The 9th of November, 7 o’clock in the evening. Riding out of Kaunas. A historic day for me. A dream is coming true. Emigrating and to where? - to America. Only six months ago this seemed like an illusion. Yes, an utter illusion…

Everything inside me feels feverish, soul, blood - everything…I have no strength even to place one foot forward. Nevertheless, I’m racing around. I’m not running, I'm  flying like a butterfly in spring. My soul is very much at ease, but deep inside, deep inside, my soul is smoldering…

And what will I be expecting next? I don’t know…I’ll have to start from scratch again."

From the journal of

Beile Delechky

A Little Rain

Children, oh children, a little rain

Quite wonderful, fragrant raindrops

A little rain is God’s grace,

Come on out and dance around

With bare feet and heads

Thinking about nothing, asking about nothing

Children grow in the rain

Bare heads, bare feet.

Every child will grow to become a giant

And reach up to the sky