Jelgava

Jelgava

Mitau

 

Distance from Riga 42 km (A8)

 

The 18th century was the time of the formation of the Jewish community in Jelgava. At the same period Jewish Street (Dobeles road at present) as a designated residential area, appeared on the map of the city. Most of the Jews came to Jelgava from Scotland and Northern Germany. A Chevra Kadisha was founded and a cemetery was opened here in 1730. However, the Jews were not allowed to build their houses in the inner city. The first synagogue and the first Beit Midrash in Mitau were opened in 1784. Only in 1793, the local Jews were granted permission to live within the city boarders. The local Jewish community was officially recognized in 1796, when Courland became a part of the Russian Empire.

Reuben Joseph Wunderbar (1790–1853) glorified Mitau by writing the history of the Jews of Livonia and Courland and contributing greatly to the Jewish secular education. Levi Ovchinsky (1871–1941), the author of “History of Kurzeme Jews” was a Rabbi in Mitau. The Jelgava residents Prof. Max Laserson (1887–1951) and Rabbi Mordekhai Nurok (1884–1962) were elected members of Saeima (Latvian Parliament).

The 2,039 Jews, who lived in the city in 1935, made up 6% of its total population.

The Nazis occupied Jelgava on the 29th of June 1941. By the mid-September 1941, all the Jews, present in the city on the day, when the occupation began, were exterminated.

There are now 50 members in Jelgava Jewish community.

 

The Choral Synagogue, Ūdens, 1. It was built in 1860. The building was destroyed in July 1941. The Faculty of Economics of the Agricultural University is currently situated on this site.

Hospital Bikur Holim, Viestura, 15. The hospital welcomed patients of any background, but the poor Jews could avail of free medical care. At present, the building ventures Jelgava TB Hospital.

Cemetery, Miera, 1. It was opened in 1729. A small section of the cemetery with a few remaining original headstones still can be seen.

Monument to the Victims of the Holocaust, traveling the Miera St. away from Jelgava, 1 km past the city border take the turn off to the right into the forest and travel a further 1 km to reach this monument. The memorial stone dedicated to the executed Jews of Jelgava was unveiled in November 1992. The exact spot of the execution is situated 500 m to the right from the monument.

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