History of Jewish Latvia - Overview



MENU - History Of Jewish Latvia
Introduction   Histories On The Web   Memories   Film & Video    Well Known Latvian Jews
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INTRODUCTION

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.

 

HISTORIES ON THE WEB

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

 LATVIA's JEWISH COMMUNITY: HISTORY, TRAGEDY, REVIVAL
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.
http://www.am.gov.lv/en/ministry/4265/4299/

Jews in Latvia by the Latvian Institute
http://www.li.lv/en/?id=21

 

MEMORIES

 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

 

WELL KNOWN LATVIAN JEWS

Isaiah Berlin - Biography and Work
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/berlin/

Isaiah Berlin - Virtual Library
http://berlin.wolf.ox.ac.uk/

Isaiah Berlin - Thesis
Dignity is Everything - Isaiah Berlin and his Jewish Identity (128 pages)
by James Chappel, Haverford College
http://triceratops.brynmawr.edu/dspace/bitstream/10066/672/1/2005ChappelJ.pdf

Simon Dubnow - Biography
http://www.jafi.org.il/education/100/people/BIOS/dubanov.html

Simon Dubnow Institute - English and Deutsch
http://www.dubnow.de/en/main.php?seite=home

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook
at Jewish Virtual Library
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Rav_Kook.html
Orthodox Union biography
http://www.ou.org/pardes/bios/ravkook.htm

Nechama Leibowitz - Biography from the Jewish Agency for Israel
http://www.jafi.org.il/education/100/PEOPLE/BIOS/nleib.html

Nechama Leibowitz - Biography from the Jewish Virtual Library
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/nleib.html

Nechama Leibowitz on each Parsha
http://www.jafi.org.il/education/torani/NEHAMA/indexgil.html

Yeshayahu Leibowitz
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/yleib.html

The Rogatchover Gaon (Rabbi Yoseif Rosen) - Biography
http://www.tzemachdovid.org/gedolim/jo/tpersonality/rogatchover.html

Mark Rothko - Biography
http://www.nga.gov/feature/rothko/

Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen of Dvinsk - Brief Biography

Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen of Dvinsk - Long Biography

Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen and the Flooding River
The Rabbi Prays at the Bank and the Davina (Daugva) River Flood Waters Retreat
by Issar Har`el - Former head of Israel's the "Mossad"

 

READ MORE ABOUT IT

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
1853.

History of Latvian Jews
Josifs Steimanis, professor of history Daugavpils Pedagogical University, Daugavpils Latvia
Columbia University Press, East European Monographs
English translation 2002 by Edward Anders $44.50

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.The preceding titles 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 shtetls are at the cities and shtetls page at this site. See the History of Jewish Latvia menu, at left.

Ebreji Latvija (Jews in Latvia) by Mendels Bobe
Latvian edition and Russian edition
(Yiddish edition, Yidin in Letland; Tel Aviv: Reshafim 1972, is out of print but available in some libraries)
(English edition is out of print but available in some libraries)
Originally published by the Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel
Republished by Shamir, Riga and Latvia Jewish Religious Communities, 2006, 406 pages, 32 pages of photos, paperbound.

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. 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.

Latvia - Synagogues and Rabbis (Latvija - Sinagogas Un Rabini) 1918-1940
Project of Rabbi Nathan Barkan (Rabina Natana Barkana projekts)
Published by Shamir, Riga and Latvia Jewish Religious Communities, 2004
Oversized "coffee table" size book Hardcover, 294 pages with abundant photos
All text is provided In 4 languages Latvian, Russian, English and Hebrew

This volume provides historical photos of Latvia's synagogues in the interwar period, organized by city or shtetl. Most of these synagogue buildings no longer exist. Some photos of synagogue related documents are included. Photos are accompanied by text about each location and synagogue. Separate sections include capsule biographies of rabbis (rabini), cantors (kantori) and ritual slaughterers (sehteri). Ordering information and table of contents will be posted in late 2006.

Postcard Set -- Synagogues of Latvia 1918-1940
The photos of synagogues from the book in postcard form.
Available in several dual language versions, such as English - Russian.
Ordering information and table of contents will be added to this listing in late 2006.

Latvia - Map of Memorial Places of Jewish History
Synagogues, Jewish Cemeteries and Burial Places of Holocaust Victims
Available in several dual language versions, such as English - Russian.
Unfolds to 68.5 x 95 cm (26.75 x 37.625 inches).

This map of Latvia uses special markers to indicate the types of Jewish sites in each location. Under the map there is an alphabetical list of locations, and a brief description of each site at each location. The reverse side contains a short history of Jews for 66 different locations in Latvia, listed alphabetically. Most location histories include a photo of a synagogue (from Latvia - Synagogues and Rabbis, listed above) and/or cemetery. Ordering information will be added to this listing in late 2006.

Children of Latvia Draw Old Synagogues - Catalogue
(Latvijas Berni Zime Vecas Sinagogas - Konkursa darbu katalogs)
Published by Shamir, Riga and Latvia Jewish Religious Communities, 2005
Drawings with captions stating student, age, school and teacher, paperbound, 84 pages

Drawings by non-Jewish Latvian schoolchildren of synagogues that no longer exist, in memory of Latvian Jewish communities annihilated in the Holocaust.
Ordering information and table of contents will be added to this listing in late 2006.

Jewish Cemeteries in Latvia (Ebreju Kapsetas Latbija)
by Meyer Meler (Mejers Melers)
Published by Shamir, 2006
Hardcover, larger size, 175 pages with abundant photos
All text is provided in 3 languages: Latvian, Russian and English

This book, organized by community name, includes photos of cemeteries and a few tombstones as well as historical photos of communities. The text for each community describes the settlement, history and population of Jews there and a brief history of the cemetery as well as its exact location.
Ordering information and table of contents will be added to this listing in late 2006.

Outstanding Jewish Personalities in Latvia
by Grigorijs Smirins with others
Published by the President Guntis Ulmanis Fund, 2003, 127 Pages, Hardcover
Editions available in Latvian, Russian and English

Photos and brief biographies of historical and contemporary Jewish personalities associated with Latvia. Ordering information and table of contents will be added to this listing in late 2006.


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.

 

FILM & VIDEO

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.

 

RESEARCH MORE ABOUT IT

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

 

RELATED PAGES

The Holocaust in Latvia - Overview

Jewish Histories of specific shtetls and cities

      Dagda

      Daugavpils (Dvinsk)

      Jelgava (Mitau)

      Kuldiga (Goldingen)

      Liepaja (Libau)

      Rezekne (Rezhitsa)

      Riga

      Subate

      Varaklani


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