History of Jewish Latvia - Overview

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Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen (1843-1926)
Chief Rabbi of Dvinsk Mitnagim 1887-1926
The Ohr Somayach

Rabbi Yosef Rosen (1858-1936)
Chief Rabbi of Dvinsk Hassidim
The Rogatchover Gaon


Prior to the 16th century, Jews were banned from Latvia by the ruling
German knightly orders.

Jewish settlement in Latvia began about 1571 in Courland. Jewish life,
families and institutions flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Before 1939, Jewish life in Latvia was rich with Yiddishkeit and heavy with oppression and discrimination. To help give you the flavor of the times and
place, here you'll find Sarah Foner's short stories about Dvinsk near the turn
of the century, an introduction to Torah great Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen
of Dvinsk and excerpts from The Autobiography of Solomon Katzen set in
Latvia at the beginning of the 20th century. Also here are photos of
synagogues and Shtetl that once were, as well as books, videos and
archival material.



Jewish Genealogy’s Latvia SIG - History of Jews in Latvia

Jewish History of Latvia by Daniel Romanowski (with links to map)

Jews in Latvia - History From the 14th Century to Today

Virtual Jewish History Tour of Latvia
by Jono David from the Jewish Magazine, July 2000

Map of the Baltic Republics of Russia - 1915

A Brief History of Jewry in Latvia
From web site of Cornerstones of Latvian Business

Latvian Jewry - A Brief History of 19th-20th Century

Livonia - from Jewish Encyclopedia 1901-06

Latvia / Livonija Timeline 1190 - 1998

Latvia's Jewish Community: History, Tragedy, Revival 29.11.2001
Center for Judiac Studies - University of Latvia
20 Exhibit Boards containing photos and text in Latvian/English and photos
of the conference
      The on-line exhibition

       Information about the Exhibition and Conference

      by Leo Dribins, Armands Gutmanis, Margers Vestermanis
      This is the full text of this book on Latvian Jews that was presented at
      the November 29, 2001 conference.



 The Stories of Sarah Foner - Translated from Hebrew to English

Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen of Dvinsk - Brief Biography

Part II of Autobiography of Solomon Katzen - The Early Years 1902-23



Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook

Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen of Dvinsk - Brief Biography



The Light From Dvinsk: Rav Meir Simcha, the Ohr Somayach
By Yaakov M. Rapoport
copyright 1990, Targum (dist. by Feldheim)
Out-of-print but can be found in Jewish seminary libraries and some used bookstores. Library of Congress Call Number: BM 755 K253 R36 1990

Rabbinic Bibliography – Latvia
Reference books about rabbis and synagogues in Latvia from as early as

History of Latvian Jews
Josifs Steimanis
Columbia University Press, East European Monographs
English Translation 2002, 240 pp. $38.00
Review of History of Latvian Jews, by Arlene Beare of JewishGen.org

A comprehensive Latvia History bibliography may be found at Jewishgen.org’s Latvia SIG page.These are selections from that page with abridged
descriptions. Visit the link, above, for more information about each book and additional books on related topics. Books about the history of specific cities
and shtetl's are at the city's and shtetl's page at this site. See the History of Jewish Latvia menu, at left.

Yidin in Letland
Mendel Bobe
Tel Aviv: Reshafim, 1972.

A comprehensive history of Latvian Jewry, covering the regions of Latvia (Kurland, Livonia and Latgale), history from the time of Catherine II through
the Holocaust and the postwar Soviet period, and cultural and political life.

The Jews in Latvia
[Editorial board: M. Bobe and others, Tel Aviv]
Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel [1971].

A good introductory book on the Jews of Latvia. Discusses the history and characteristics of the three regions of Latvia--Livonia, Kurland and Latgale
--and the differences in the Jewish experiences within each region.

Latviyah ve-Estonyah: entsiklopedyah shel ha-yishuvim ha-Yehudiyim le-min hivasdam ve-'ad le-ahar Sho'at Milhemet ha-'olam ha-sheniyah, 'orekh
Dov Levin, be-hishtatfut Mordekhai Naishtat

Pinkas ha-kehilot
Yerushalayim: Yad va-shem, rashut ha-zikaron la-Sho'ah vela-gevurah, 1988.

A comprehensive overview of the Jewish communities of Latvia and Estonia.



Jewish Latvia (Dvinsk, Riga, others) Videos

The Lost Wooden Synagogues of Eastern Europe (including Latvia)
By Albert Barry and Florida Atlantic University, Narrated by Theodore Bikel
28 minutes.



Jewish Latvian Archives at Kibbutz Shefayim (Israel)
The following are indices of the records of the Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews at Kibbutz Shefayim in Israel.

      Books Relevant to Latvian Jewry

      Latvian Jewish Organizations, Parties, Institutions and Movements

      Latvian Jewish Personalities

      Photos of Latvian Jewish Organizations and Institutions

      Photos of Latvian Jewish Personalities



The Holocaust in Latvia - Overview

Jewish Histories of specific shtetls and cities


      Daugavpils (Dvinsk)

      Jelgava (Mitau)

      Kuldiga (Goldingen)

      Liepaja (Libau)

      Rezekne (Rezhitsa)




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