Jewish faith

Jewish faith has a long history in Latvia, but it is now followed by merely 0,025% of total population.

Although Latvia has approximately 6000 ethnic Jews, only 500 are followers of the Jewish faith as most became atheist while under anti-religious Soviet regime.

Riga synagogue
Riga synagogue which (unlike most others) has survived the occupations and was not closed down by the Soviet regime. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Historically the Jewish faith was the strongest in Latgale, as it was the only place where Jews were allowed to freely settle by the Russian Empire which controlled Latvia in 18th-19th centuries. Jews also had a presence in Riga and main towns of other regions, except for Vidzeme.

Kuldīga synagogue
A synagogue in Kuldīga town. Neglected under the Soviet rule Jewish religious heritage is repaired by modern Latvia. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

In addition to the adoption of atheism the Jewish religious communities also dwindled due to emigration and genocide. Very few synagogues remain open, served by a foreign rabbi. In comparison, 4,79% of Latvia’s total inhabitants followed the Jewish faith in 1935.

Kandava synagogue is now abandoned, like many small town synagogues that were not put to another use
Kandava synagogue is now abandoned, like many small town synagogues that were not put to another use. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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