Vislielākais burtu izmērs
Lielāks burtu izmērs
Burtu standarta izmērs
Synagogues in Kurzeme and Semgale. 18. Century- 1941
Pēdējās izmaiņas veiktas:
27.04.2010.

Author: Alda Brazune, Faculty of History and Philosophy at the University of Latvia

There are no academic research works about Jewish houses of worship in Latvia or in Kurzeme and Semgale at all. One can find only some general publications about individual synagogues written by journalists, not scholars, which make the matter more important to study.

The materials I used were sources from Latvian State Historical Archives, the fund of the Department of Churches and Confessions and funds of Document archive of State Inspection for Heritage protection. There were also some publications, but one of the important materials for this research is the book-album "Latvia. Synagogues and Rabbis. 1918-1940".

Due to the documents taken from the fund of the Department of Churches and Confessions of the Latvian State Historical Archives (see table Nr.1) one can come to a conclusion that in the period between two world wars in Kurzeme and Semgale there were one third of all Latvian Jewish houses of worship - 36 synagogues and 24 Jewish houses of prayer (in the same time in Latvia there were approximately 72 synagogues and 136 houses of prayer).

Most of the houses of worship used by the Jews of Latvia in the interwar period were constructed prior to WWI. They differed in style, from splendid synagogues in the architectural style of Neo-Romanesque or Neo-Renaissance, to the houses of prayer often located in shabby old wooden houses bearing witness to either the former prosperity or the deplorable financial position of respective Jewish community. After the war many of those buildings fell into a statne of decay or lay in ruins.

Many new houses of prayer were built during the period of Latvian sovereignty and old ones were renovated. In Kurzeme and Semgale were built 6 and renovated 33 (more than 50%) houses of worship. It was because in the fiscal year 1925-1926, the Saeima (Parliament) of Latvia allotted 20'000 LVL for the restoration of synagogues and houses of prayer destroyed or damaged during the war. Between 1927 and 1928, an additional sum of l0'000 LVL was granted. The prominent Jewish public figure, deputy of Saeima Mordechai Dubin greatly contributed to that effort.

In the interwar period most of houses of worship (53%) in Kurzeme and Semgale were stone buildings, 27% were wooden houses and 20% - brick buildings (see table Nr.2).

The first synagogue in Kurzeme and Semgale was built in Aizpute. Jews settled there in the 16th century, the community was formed in the 18th century, and it was the first one in Courland. But the Great synagogue was constructed in 1751 and was stone building.

Preserved synagogue buildings in Valdemarpils, Sabile and other cities are cultural monuments. Synagogue in Sabile was built in 1875 in the style of late baroque. Classicism style synagogues buildings in Ventspils and Talsi also were built in the second part of 19th century.

Synagogue in Valdemarpils. In the middle of 19th century in Sasmaka (later renamed as Valdemarpils) were as many inhabitants as in Talsi, 84% of them were Jews. It was because till 1799 Jews could not settle in cities of Kurzeme, but Valdemarpils belonged to independent Piltene district.

In the very center of Valdemarpils, next to Lutheran church we can find the group of three buildings - winter synagogue, summer synagogue and auxiliary building. All of them are national cultural monuments. Winter synagogue was built in the 18th century in the style of baroque, other building were constructed shortly afterwards. At the moment there are store, depositary and apartments. Despite the fact the three synagogue buildings in Valdemarpils are cultural monuments we can not find more information about them.

Synagogue in Bauska, Sudmalu 35. After 1797 in Bauska Jews mainly settled in the right bank of river Memele and made there something like a Jewish suburb, named Slaboda. Jewish Community there developed in the begging of 19 century, shortly afterwards amount of Jews increased rapidly.

In 1835 in Bauska were two synagogues - one stone building and one from wood. In the photos of 1930ies we can see the ruins of third synagogue, which was built from brick, but nobody knows the exact time of its construction.

In Latvia historically synagogues never was built in radically different, particular style and the architecture of synagogues fit well with traditions and historical styles of Latvia. Stone building of synagogue in Bauska was built in 1830 next to town hall. Main facade of the two-storey building was made with the accents of pilasters, projective rizalite and huge low-pitched pediment. Art historian V.Pengerots said that building was made in the forms of provincial empire style. It is true because building was nothing more than localization of strictly standardized Nicolay I sample facades. The author of buildings design is not known; probably it was one of the Courland province architect F.Shultz. In the first part of 19th century he built and reconstructed a lot of significant public buildings in Bauska.

Inside the synagogue was wide parish room, which was encircled (from three sides) by empora - grilled loft grounded on pillars; it was female area during service. At the fourth wall was located Aron Kodesh - huge, splendid four story construction. The silhouette of Aron Kodesh was very similar to baroque altars in Courland. Only extremely varied openwork wood engravings on the ornamental and constructional parts of the Aron Kodesh testified about the attendance of Jewish tradition. In the openwork exquisite margin ornament between components in the ornamentation of acanthi, rokaja and ribbon one could see figures of lions and dogs, wild ducks and storks. There were not figures of people like in Catholic Churches as it is not Jewish tradition. Atop of Aron Kodesh were bicephalous aureate eagle.

Aron Kodesh was constructed in 1830ties. According to eyewitnesses AronKodesh was constructed by old Jewish craftsman Shapsha (or Shafia). He made it in three years and died shortly afterwards in Bauska. He was an author of one another AronKodesh in synagogue somewhere in Poland, which burnt down during the Great War. AronKodesh in Bauska's synagogue was outstanding artistic property.

The virtuosi wood engravings of Aron Kodesh were complemented with impactful paintwork in blue, green, red and yellow. Board ceiling was colored in navy blue with accents of off-white clouds and golden stars. The author of paintings was Josef Erlich (Ereicb), he made them in 1832. Synagogue was blown up during Second World War.

Synagogue in Sabile At the time of the Russian Empire (1795-1918) Jews lived in Sabile since 1799. In 1881 62.7% of inhabitants (or 873 people) were Jews.

Synagogue in Sabile was built in 1890 for the Jewish community but at the moment it is up-to-date Centre of Art and Culture. For the last time amount of Jewish inhabitants diminished. At the moment there is no Jewish community in Sabile, which would like to regain building. On 6 of August in 1941 in the synagogue were killed 240 Jews, ever since then synagogue was not used as sacred building.

From WW2 till 1991 it was gym-hall, in 1991 - storehouse, but since 1992 it was derelict, now it has been reconstructed. Memorial tablet gives proof of the original meaning of the building.

Synagogue is a part of town planning national reserve, city Sabile historical centre and a part of protected cultural reserve "Abava". Building is national cultural monument.

Building is one nave rectangular edifice with span roof. Its main facade is in the style of eclectic, in the shapes of the baroque (late baroque). Four pilasters divide facade to three parts. On top of the middle part is triangular pediment with small windows at the over part, round windows at the central and two big windows at the nether part. Side facades are more common.

Synagogue is significant city environment formative element.  As described before - the architectonic image is simple, but monumental; the details of facade are scrupulous. After the reconstruction in year of 2000 the building became important tourism object. It was possibility to preserve building as memorial sign of tragic fate of Jewish community in Sabile. For sure it is very important that building is dedicated to culture, not commerce.

The similar situation is with synagogue in Kuldiga. In the last years synagogue was reconstructed and adapted for concert hall, previously there was cinema Kurzeme. Before WWII in Kuldiga were approximately one thousand Jews, now only some five. In Jelgava were five synagogues and houses of prayer buildings, now is only one, it is used as apartment house.

The situation of most synagogues and houses of prayer in Kurzeme and Semgale and also in all Latvia except Riga is really pitiful. For further researches it is not enough to batch information from archives and funds, there is acute need for inspection of all preserved buildings, making surveys, drawing the plans, asking questions to local inhabitants and taking photos. To gather information and make a data base for research work and for memory of perished communities.

 
 
 
 
Citizens in 1935
 
 
Jews in 1935
 
 
Jews,
 
%
 
 
Jewish cult buildings
 
 
First Jews
 
 
Community
 
 
Aizpute
 
 
3418
 
 
534
 
 
15.62
 
 
2
 
 
16 century
 
 
The beginning of 18 century
 
 
Akniste
 
 
473
 
 
199
 
 
42.07
 
 
1
 
 
 
 
 
Middle 19 century
 
 
Auce
 
 
3320
 
 
147
 
 
4.43
 
 
1
 
 
1880ties
 
 
 
 
 
Bauska
 
 
4904
 
 
778
 
 
15.87
 
 
3
 
 
17 century
 
 
~1820
 
 
Dobele
 
 
2470
 
 
72
 
 
2.92
 
 
1
 
 
 
 
 
Late 19 century
 
 
Griva
 
 
5546
 
 
234
 
 
4.22
 
 
1
 
 
The beginning of 18 century
 
 
19 century
 
 
Grobina
 
 
1074
 
 
95
 
 
8.85
 
 
1
 
 
 
 
 
The beginning of 19 century
 
 
Ilukste
 
 
1300
 
 
71
 
 
5.46
 
 
1
 
 
18 century
 
 
1830-1840
 
 
Jekabpils
 
 
5826
 
 
793
 
 
13.61
 
 
3
 
 
1795
 
 
1810
 
 
Jaunjelgava
 
 
2153
 
 
561
 
 
26.06
 
 
5
 
 
 
 
 
The beginning of 19 century
 
 
Jelgava
 
 
34099
 
 
2039
 
 
5.97
 
 
4
 
 
 
 
 
The beginning of 18 century
 
 
Kandava
 
 
1718
 
 
68
 
 
3.96
 
 
1
 
 
1795
 
 
The beginning of 19 century
 
 
Kuldiga
 
 
7180
 
 
646
 
 
9.00
 
 
2
 
 
1795
 
 
1799
 
 
Liepaja
 
 
57098
 
 
7379
 
 
12.92
 
 
8
 
 
The beginning of 17 century
 
 
Late 18 century
 
 
Nereta
 
 
612
 
 
54
 
 
8.82
 
 
1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pavilosta
 
 
791
 
 
61
 
 
7.71
 
 
1
 
 
 
 
 
Late 19 century
 
 
Piltene
 
 
737
 
 
45
 
 
6.11
 
 
1
 
 
16-17 century
 
 
 
 
 
Sabile
 
 
1817
 
 
281
 
 
15.47
 
 
2
 
 
The beginning of 19 century
 
 
 
 
 
Saldus
 
 
4410
 
 
329
 
 
7.46
 
 
2
 
 
Late 19 century
 
 
 
 
 
Silene
 
 
1022
 
 
189
 
 
18.49
 
 
2
 
 
 
 
 
19 century
 
 
Skaistkalne
 
 
760
 
 
125
 
 
16.45
 
 
1
 
 
 
 
 
Middle 19
 
century
 
 
Subate
 
 
1489
 
 
387
 
 
25.99
 
 
4
 
 
 
 
 
Middle 19 century
 
 
Talsi
 
 
41 16
 
 
499
 
 
12.12
 
 
3
 
 
The beginning of 19 century
 
 
Middle 19 century
 
 
Tukums
 
 
8144
 
 
953
 
 
11.70
 
 
2
 
 
1795
 
 
~1800
 
 
Vainode
 
 
1416
 
 
125
 
 
8.83
 
 
1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Valdemarpils
 
 
1135
 
 
159
 
 
14.01
 
 
2
 
 
 
 
 
Late 18 century
 
 
Ventspils
 
 
15671
 
 
1246
 
 
7.95
 
 
3
 
 
Late 18 century
 
 
1830
 
 
Viesite
 
 
1340
 
 
193
 
 
14.40
 
 
1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

http://xen-maint.lu.lv/studiju-centri/jsc/pilsetas/zemgale/sinagogas.htmlTable Nr.2. List of Synagogues and Houses of Prayer in Kurzeme and Zemgale

 
City or town
 
 
Name
 
 
Address
 
 
Material
 
 
constructed in
 
 
reconstructed in
 
 
Aizpute
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Great Synagogue
 
 
2 Sinagogas street
 
 
stone building
 
 
1751
 
 
1935
 
 
The Small Synagogue Beit HaMidrash
 
 
 
 
 
brick building
 
 
1875
 
 
1933
 
 
Akniste
 
 
The House of Prayer of Chassidim
 
 
6 Daugavpils St.
 
 
wooden building
 
 
1939
 
 
 
 
 
Auce
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
12 Kalna St.
 
 
wooden building
 
 
1900
 
 
1937
 
 
Bauska
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
35 Vienibas Street
 
 
stone building
 
 
1830
 
 
1922
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
35 Vienibas St.
 
 
stone building
 
 
1840
 
 
 
 
 
The House of prayer of Chassidim
 
 
2 Aizsargu St.
 
 
wooden building
 
 
1938
 
 
 
 
 
Dobele
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
7 Tukuma St.
 
 
brick building
 
 
1940
 
 
 
 
 
Griva
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
60 Liela St.
 
 
brick building
 
 
1895
 
 
1935
 
 
Grobina
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
38 Liela St.
 
 
brick building
 
 
1860
 
 
 
 
 
Ilukste
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
Tirgus St.
 
 
wooden building
 
 
1929
 
 
 
 
 
Jaunjelgava
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Big House of Prayer
 
 
64 Jelgavas St.
 
 
brick building
 
 
1848
 
 
1919,1939
 
 
The Big Synagogue
 
 
64 Jelgavas St.
 
 
stone building
 
 
1859
 
 
1919-1935
 
 
The Synagogue of Chassidim
 
 
76 Brivibas St.
 
 
brick building
 
 
1904
 
 
1919
 
 
Heiman 's Synagogue
 
 
62 (66), Rigas St.
 
 
brick building
 
 
1883
 
 
1920
 
 
The Old House of Prayer
 
 
62 (66), Rigas St.
 
 
brick building
 
 
1920
 
 
 
 
 
Jekabpils
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The New Synagogue
 
 
49 Vadona St.
 
 
stone building
 
 
1845
 
 
1924-1939
 
 
Craftsmen 's Synagogue
 
 
23 Akmenu St.
 
 
wooden building
 
 
1874
 
 
1926-1935
 
 
The Old Synagogue
 
 
16 Akmenu St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1881
 
 
1926-1931
 
 
Jelgava
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
1 Dika St.
 
 
Wooden building
 
 
1784; Rebuilt in 1874
 
 
1922-1934
 
 
Salzman 's Synagogue
 
 
11 Viestura St.
 
 
Wooden building
 
 
1830
 
 
1936
 
 
The Great Synagogue
 
 
1 Udens St.
 
 
Brick building
 
 
1860
 
 
1934-1939
 
 
The House of Prayer of Chassidim
 
 
4 K.Barona St.
 
 
 
 
 
1919
 
 
 
 
 
Kandava
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
33 Liela St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1880
 
 
1937
 
 
Kuldiga
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Small Synagogue
 
 
6 Ventspils St.
 
 
 
 
 
1862
 
 
 
 
 
The Great Synagogue
 
 
6 Ventspils St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1875
 
 
 
 
 
Liepaja
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Great Synagogue
 
 
11 Petera (Kursu)
 
St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1872
 
 
1933
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
13 Petera (Kursu)
 
St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1863
 
 
1936-1937
 
 
House of prayer Beit HaMidrash de Chassidim
 
 
15 Graudu St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1874
 
 
1939
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
8 Jana St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1883
 
 
1936
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
27 J.Brauna St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1898
 
 
1938-1939
 
 
House of prayer Poalei Tzedek
 
 
25 Julianes St.
 
 
 
 
 
1910
 
 
 
 
 
House of prayer under the poorhouse Maushav Skeinim
 
 
21 Kungu St.
 
 
 
 
 
1911
 
 
 
 
 
House of prayer under the Butchers' Society Zovhei Tzedek
 
 
2 Petera (Kursu) St.
 
 
 
 
 
1920
 
 
 
 
 
Nereta
 
 
The New Synagogue
 
 
Ievinas
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pavilosta
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
Vilnu St.
 
 
Wooden and stone building
 
 
1890
 
 
1929, 1939
 
 
Piltene
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
5 Synagogues St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1850
 
 
1925
 
 
Sabile
 
 
 
 
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
Synagogues St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1875
 
 
 
 
 
House of prayer Beit HaMidrash
 
 
Synagogues St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Saldus
 
 
 
 
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
4 Synagogues St.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
4 Miera St.
 
 
Brick building
 
 
1879
 
 
1939
 
 
Silene
 
 
 
 
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
1 Dika St.
 
 
Wooden building
 
 
1875
 
 
 
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
4 K.Barona St.
 
 
Wooden building
 
 
1908
 
 
 
 
 
Skaistkalne
 
 
Synagogue
 
 
Tirgus Square
 
 
Stone building
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Subate
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Synagogue ofChassidim
 
 
1 Jelgavas St.
 
 
Wooden building
 
 
1880
 
 
 
 
 
The Synagogue of Chassidim
 
 
9 Domes St.
 
 
 
 
 
1902
 
 
 
 
 
The Synagogue of Mitnagdim
 
 
2 Krasta St.
 
 
Wooden building
 
 
1879
 
 
 
 
 
The Synagogue of Mitnagdim
 
 
9 Domes St.
 
 
Wooden building
 
 
1902
 
 
 
 
 
Talsi
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Winter Synagogue
 
 
5 Kalnu St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
~1850
 
 
1937
 
 
The Summer Synagogue
 
 
5 Kalnu St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
~1857
 
 
1992
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
4 Brivibas St.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tukums
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Great Synagogue
 
 
3 Elizabetes St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1865
 
 
 
 
 
The Small Synagogue BeitMidrash
 
 
8 Elizabetes St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1866
 
 
1928
 
 
Vainode
 
 
House of prayer
 
 
Elkonu St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1929
 
 
1933
 
 
Valdemarpils
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Winter Synagogue
 
 
1 Ezera St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
 
 
 
1937
 
 
The Summer Synagogue
 
 
1 Ezera St.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1938
 
 
Ventspils
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Summer Synagogue
 
 
9 Synagogues St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1856
 
 
1930, 1934, 1937
 
 
The Winter Synagogue
 
 
7 Tirgonu St.
 
 
Wooden building
 
 
1872
 
 
1928
 
 
Jacob Berman 's House of Prayer
 
 
26 Plata St.
 
 
Stone building
 
 
1908
 
 
1935
 
 
Viesite
 
 
House of Prayer
 
 
 
 
 
Wooden building