Jewish Encyclopedia of Latvia
For the more than five years the Jewish Religious Community “Shamir” (Riga, Latvia) has devoted itself to the perpetuation of the memory of Latvian Jewry and the victims of the Holocaust, as well as the advancement of Jewish history and culture in Latvia. The community has published over ten books on the history of Latvian Jews and Jewish tradition, held several workshops for teachers and designed a series of educational programs for high school students on the history of the Holocaust.
At the moment the Jewish Encyclopedia of Latvia is the flagship project of “Shamir”. This encyclopedia will cover a period of over 400 years of Jewish presence in Latvia and will reflect the Jewish contribution to Latvian science, technology, medicine, music, culture, trade and industry. This will be a new source of invaluable information not only about Latvian Jews, but also about their impact on world Jewry.
It should be taken into account that the last comprehensive Jewish encyclopedia in Russian that had also reflected the life of Jews in Latvia was published nearly 100 years ago – at the beginning of the 20th century, and at the present time its only value is historical. The Concise Jewish Encyclopedia published in Israel at the turn of this century is, by virtue of its specificity, fragmentary with regard to its information about Latvian Jews. The same can be said about the recently published YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe (Institute for Jewish Research, New York). To this day there is not a single encyclopedia devoted specifically to the history and achievements of Latvian Jewry that would also contain biographies of its distinguished members.
The compilation of our future encyclopedia already numbers over 3000 entries – feature stories and individual biographies. Over 1000 articles (more than 800 printed pages) have been received from authors and are ready to be edited.
The editor-in-chief of the encyclopedia is Rabbi Menachem Barkahan. The executive director of the project is Victoria Shaldova. Rita Bogdanoca is a secretary of the editorial board. Dr. Grigory Smirin is the science editor of the encyclopedia, and the editorial board consists of Prof. G. Branover, Dr. I. Brod (USA), Dr,. Zeev Vagner (Israel), Dr. Batia Valdman (Israel), Dr. Boris Volkovich, Prof. L. Dribins, Joseph Rochko, Prof. Ruven Ferber, Garry Feitelberg (USA), Chaim Freedman (Israel), Dr. Aharon Shneer (Israel), Prof. Joseph Shteiman.
The encyclopedia is intended to be published in Russian and English.
Jewish Encyclopedia of Latvia will become a memorial for the flourishing Jewish community of Latvia. The community consisted of scientists and shoemakers, Rabbis and social figures, revolutionists and Zionists, socialists and liberals, prisoners of Ghetto and GULAG, businessmen etc. In the entries the Holocaust in Latvia is widely reflected, names of the victims are found and saved.
We present several experimental pages of the Jewish Encyclopedia of Latvia for your consideration.
We would greatly appreciate it if you could find the time to provide us information about your parents, yourself as well as the Jews whose biographies are tied to Latvia and who, in your opinion, deserve to be included in this publication. We have attached a questionnaire to this pamphlet, but if your information extends beyond its scope, that will benefit the entire project. We would also be very grateful to you for any graphic and documentary materials related to the life of Latvian Jews.
We welcome your contributions of copies correspondence, documents, family tree charts, and photographs as well which will be part of the archive and Jewish Museum in Latvia.
The development of the project demands financial support. It’s an enormous amount of work in public and private archives, translation into the Russian and English languages, pre-print preparation, printing and distribution of the book. So, we welcome your financial contributions to the project.
Rabbi Menachem Barkahan
Head of the management board