Jekabpils

Jakobshtadt,Jacobstadt,Yakovshtat,Yekabpils

Location: 82 km NW of Daugavpils, 56º 29'/25º 51'






Brief History
Population
Religious Institutions
Charitable and Benevolent Societies
Occupations
Movements
Holocaust Period
Krustpils Photos
Jekabpils Picture Gallery
Useful Links

Jekabpils Family Histories (List of names)
Jekabpils and Krustpils Residents and Occupations
Jekabpils Jewish Cemetry
List of the Jacobstadt merchants for 1837
Ancestor Photos new


Brief History

Jekabpils formerly Jacobstadt is situated on the banks of the Dvina river. Jakobstadt was founded in the 16thC by Jacob, Duke of Kurland,(Courland today) for a group of people banished from Russia. The Settlement was granted town status in 1670 and named after Jacob.
 
  • 1795
1795 Courland (Kurland) was annexed by Russia
  • Early 1800's
The community was organised. The majority came from Lithuania and some from surrounding villages. 
  • 1810
A community register was kept. A Rabbi officiated soon afterwards.
  • 1830
A Yeshiva opened.
  • 1850
An elementary  school for boys opened. It functioned until World war 1.
  • 1901
They had a library and a reading room.
  • 1912 
Dr Yehezkel Gurevitz one of the heads of the community was elected as a representative of    Courland  in the fourth Duma. (Advisory and Lawmaking body in Russia)
  • 1915
The Jews of Courland were exiled to Russia. 3 Members of the Jekabpils Jewish community signed as guarantors for the community and prevented their banishment.
  • 1934
Parallel to community council the "Association of the Jews of Jekabpils" was organised
  • 1920-1940 
The name was changed from the German Jacobstatdt to the Latvian Jekabpils and they became part of Independent Latvia. There was a Jewish school in which Yiddish was the medium of instruction and Hebrew was also taught.
  • 1922
Rumours of ritual murders by Jews. Pogrom atmosphere calmed by police
  • 1962 
Jekabpils and Krustpils ( formerly Kreuzbug ) were united.

Population
  • 1835
2,569 Jews
  • 1840
60% emigrated to agricultural areas in Southern Russia.
  • 1881
2,254. Many were illegal. Formed 41% of the total population.
  • 1893
If documents were not valid they were banished. The emigration to the USA began.
  • 1897
2,087. Formed 36% of the population.
  • 1920
676 in the community. Only a few returned after the war.
  • 1935
60% of the Businesses were Jewish. They formed 14% of total population. 793 out of 5,826 total population. They were able to open shops on Sunday afternoon.
  • 1999
60 Jewish members of the community.

Religious Institutions

A synagogue
3 Houses of prayer
Beth Midrash
"Poalei Tzedek" Minyan
Haderim
Talmud Torah"
Rabbi Yehudah Leib Shaul was the leader of the community from 1908-1941. There were branches of Agudath Yisrael.

Charitable and Benevolent Societies

Gemilluth Hesed
Bikkur Holim-sick visiting

Occupations

The first Jews were poor peddlers. They were allowed to acquire real estate in the second half of the 19thC and their situation improved. The majority were in Business in lumber,grain and flax. There were tailors,shoemakers,tinsmiths,blacksmiths and carters.Two factories producing matches before World war 1 were Jewish owned. There were 5 doctors.

Movements

The Jewish socialist party-The Bund- became active from 1905.
"Bar Kochva" scout movement.
Hashomer Hatzair Netzach
Betar
Gordonia
Herzlia
Zionism strengthened in 1930's
324 members of Jekabpils community voted in 1933 in the elections to the 18th Zionist Congress.
Anti-Zionist Yiddishists were active in the Workers club (Arbeiterheim)
 

Holocaust Period

The Red army entered Latvia in 1939 following the Ribbentrop- Molotov Accord. (Germany and the USSR) and a Soviet Government was installed in 1940. There was nationalisation of privately owned business. Jewish public institutions were wound up. A number of Jews joined the new regime. On June 22nd 1941 the Soviets began to evacuate. The few Jews who succeeded in fleeing to Russia were conscripted into the Red army. The majority of the Jews remained behind in the town which was occupied by rhe Germans on June 29th.. In September 1941 on the way to the town Kokas where they had been sent many who had difficulty marching were shot on the way and the rest were murdered in Kokas. The Red Army liberated the town in the Summer of 1944. Survivors brought back the remains of the dead for Jewish burial and erected a monument in their memory in the 1950's. The authorities removed the monument and all traces of  Jewish identification. After 1991 Jewish memorials were once again allowed in Latvia.
 

Ref:  Extracted  from the Archives of Latvian and Estonian Jews held at Kibbutz Shefayim in Israel.
Per permission of Mr Shlomo Kurlandchik.  Chief Archivist.

Jekabpils today

The total population is 14,600. The Jewish community today numbers only 60 people and dates from 1990.  There are hardly any young people living there today and they are mainly elderly and impoverished. The leader of the Jewish community showed me the few remaining buildings that were owned by Jews. An office is located in the old Jewish area and the community receives rent from a street market located on Jewish land. There is a large cemetery with many stones that have decipherable inscriptions. The cemetery is overgrown and in need of attention. Many stones are broken and many overgrown with moss. A great feeling of sadness overwhelms one. The Commission for Preservation of  Jewish Buildings and Monuments is trying to fund a project for documenting sites such as these throughout Latvia.
Jekabpils is a small town and the town lacks funds. The community has no synagogue and the only sign of Jewish life is matzoh at Pesach. Through the American Yad L'Yad programme they receive some support from Congregation Beth Shalom in Naperville, Illinois - suburban Chicago.The journey from Riga takes 2-3 hours and the road is good. The road follows the river and near Plavinas the scenery is particularly pretty. Visitors are well advised to take sandwiches as there are no restaurants such as we are used to in Europe or the USA.
 
 

Useful Links

 Latvia SIG Home Page
 LitvakSIG  (All Lithuania Database)
 JRI-PL Home Page
 PreservationCommission
 Cemetery Project Latvia {LV}
  Latvia Maps  
 Yizkor Book Translations
 Riga
 JewishGen: The Official Home of Jewish Genealogy
 Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain - Homepage
JGFF Find others researching your family or shtetl


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Compiled by Arlene Beare
Jan 06, 1999
Suggestions or Comments?
Contact: Arlene Beare
Last updated: 3rd May 2011
Copyright©1999-2001Arlene Beare
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