Riga Synagogue. Photo by FLLL – Wikipedia

Around 9000 Jews live in Riga. Riga is also home to to the only Jewish hospital in the former Soviet Union. The Latvian Society for Jewish Culture is the principal organization of the Jewish community.

Few of Riga’s religious edifices remain.  The Kar Schul Synagogue, which opened in 1871 and was located at 25 Gogol Street, burned down in 1941. Several hundred people trapped inside perished in the blaze.

Some ruins of the synagogue can still be seen, as well as a gray stone monument engraved with a Star of David.


Peitav Synagogue. Photo by Avi1111 – Wikipedia

Constructed in 1905, the  synagogue on Peitavas Street was able to be restored because it was used by the Nazis as a warehouse and so escaped destruction. It is currently used for worship.

The Jewish Museum features exhibits devoted to the history of Latvian Jews and a video that retraces this history of the Shoah in Latvia. There is also an exhibit related to famous Jews of Riga.

Among them are the Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz, and original and controversial thinker whose strict Jewish Orthodoxy nonetheless makes room for modernity and a left-leaning pacifism; the political philosopher Isaiah Berlin (1909-97), who became a British citizen and a professor at Oxford; and the great rabbi Avraham Kook (1865-1935), the mentor of the religious Zionist movement and the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine under the British mandate.

Great Choral Synagogue (photo taken in the 1930s). Photo by Kalnroze – Wikipedia

There is a plaque on the building where Isaiah Berlin on Alberta Street (The building is next to the only building on the street with a yellow facade).

The former home of Isaiah Berlin, like all of those of the street, was designed by the famous Russian architect Eisenstein, father of the celebrated film director.

The former Jewish cemetery, with its thousands of gravestones, was transformed into a park.  The new Jewish cemetery was created in 1920.

Registers of the deceased dating from 1951 to the present are available for examination.

Choral Synagogue Memorial. Photo by Kalnroze – Wikipedia

The Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia was set up in 1998 and is directed by Professor Ruvin Ferber. It includes a library.

Visitors doing genealogical research can go to the  State Historic Archives, which possesses documents regarding most of the cities and villages with a Jewish presence before the Shoah.

One should also note that the Shefayim Kibutz in Israel in the site of the Association of Jews of Estonian and Latvian Origins, which has a library and important archives relating to life in shtetlach before the Shoah.