University of Latvia Center for Judaic Studies


Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia 19 Raina Blvd., Riga,Latvia, LV-1586.
Rector's office tel. 371-7228928.
International office tel. 371-724309
fax 371-780113

RE: Center of Judaic Studies at tbe University of Latvia
Professor Ruvin Ferber Head of the Board Center for Judaic Studies University of Latvia
19 Raina Blvd., LV-1586 Riga, Latvia
 Ph.: +371-7615703   Fax.: +371-7820113,


Prof Ruvin Ferber

Establishment of Center for Judaic Studies

 July 15, 1998 for the first time in the history of the Republic of Latvia a Center for Judaic Studies was established at the University of Latvia.  On January 19th, 1999 the official opening ceremony was carried out after successful work of the Center during the first semester,. The ceremony caused great interest amongst mass media and the whole society of Latvia. More than 20 foreign diplomats, members of parliament and government participated in the event that was addressed by vice Prime Minister of Republic of Latvia, Ambassador of Israel in Baltic States, Chief Rabbi of Riga and Latvia and other distinguished personalities.

Frame and goals.
The Center is established as a separate unit at the University of Latvia, under direct auspices of the Rector. The Center is governed by an elected Board
Head - Prof. Ruvin Ferber, vice head - Prof. Aivars Stranga.
Among the members are: Rector of the University of Latvia, Prof Juris Zakis, Prof. Herman Branover, professors in history and philosophy, and others). The Advisory Board includes Rabbi Nathan Barkan (chief rabbi of Riga and Latvia), Dr. Gregory Krupnikov (co-chair of Riga Jewish community),
M. Vesterman (director of Jewish documentary center), and others.
The main activities of the Center for Judaic Studies is connected with its goal to give university students, staff members, the Jewish community and the broader society the opportunity to obtain a wider range of knowledge concerning the whole variety of subjects in Jewish history, philosophy, religion, traditions and Hebrew language. One of the priorities is the history of the Jews in Latvia and the Baltic region with a special accent on the history of the Holocaust. The Center is functioning on interdisciplinary principles with a number of invited lecturers and experts from Israel, Germany, Russia, etc.

The University of Latvia has allocated the space for the Center in the most prestigious part of the main building and the rooms are currently under renovation. The university is currently covering the executive (technical) director’s basic salary. In addition the expenses are currently covered by a grant from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture (New York). The Embassy of Israel and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the University of Latvia supported the visit of Prof. Joel Veinberg (Israel). Donations to date are from the Soros foundation in Latvia, the Embassy of Israel,  Rabbi Nathan Barkan and the SHAMIR foundation (Jerusalem). The office equipment has been donated by  the Embassy of Netherlands in Latvia and from the Latvian government.

Below are listed the main initial activities of the Center.

Lecture courses. The Center has organized and canied out the following lecture courses. These Courses are included in the curriculum of study programmes for the students striving for the B.A. and M.A. degrees in the Faculty of History and Philosophy, Faculty of Theology, as well as to the students of other faculties at the University of Latvia and other universities.

1.The history of Jews in Latvia from 16thC till today . 35 students participated and passed the examination.Course Head Prof A. Stranga together with 8 examination.lecturers and experts in the field, The  Course ran from October 1998 till June 1999,.
2. Introduction to Rabbinical Literature 15 studentspassed the examination Course Director Dr.I.Leitane.
3. Introduction to Judaism Approximately 40 students participated from February 1999 till June 1999. Course Directors Dr.I.Leitane, Rabbi Arjie Bekker,
4. The History of Jewish People until  70 C.E . Approximately 25 students
5. Jewish Tradition and Philosophy in the 20'"' Century. Dr. I. Leitane, for master students.

Oral History Project

In conjunction with the Latvia SIG (Special Interest Group) this ongoing project ihas been designed and organised by Ms Aina Antane. A number of Jewish individuals who were born in Latvia have been interviewed and the interviews have been documented and taped. The interviews are carried out in Russian or Latvian. The idea is to build up a series of oral histories that will give a picture of life in Latvia in the 20thC.

MS Aina Antane

Public lectures.
A number of public lectures for broader audience has been carried out by Prof. H. Branover, Prof R. Ferber, Dr. I. Leitane, Rabbi Arje Bekker and others. Professor Joel Veinberg (Ben Gurion Univ. of the Negev, Israel) was invited to deliver the block of lectures in Biblical studied during April - May of 1999.

Literature and facilities.
The library of the Center has been established, and we hope to develop it in cooperation with other centers of Jewish studies. The Center is continuously providing the studients with all necessary studying materials, such as studying programmes, course readers, illustration materials, etc.

Scientific priorities.
The Center had defined three main scientific priorities which have been successfully carried out.
1. History and cultural history of Jews in Latvia and Baltic (A. Stranga, L. Dribin, M. Vesterman and others).
2. Rabbinical and philosophical Jewish thought in Latvia and Baltic region (I. Leitane).
3. Jewish thought and modern science (R. Ferber).
4. The concept of Jewish education in Latvia and Baltic (A. Kopelovich, A. Antane).

Sources of support.
As it was mentioned, currently the Center is supported by a Grant from the Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture (New York), as well as by small grants from Soros Foundation - Latvia, from Latvian Government, from Small Embassy programme (the Embassy of Netherlands in Latvia). As a result, the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia has become an actively functioning academic unit at the University of Latvia. The Center is not only playing a noticeable role in the educational system and social life of the Latvian state, but is also having an impact on the Jewish community life as its very important  academic component. In my view, however, there is a great potential in developing the role of the Center for maintaining Jewish survival and continuity in Latvia and Baltic. We have in mind a number of projects such as seminars, preparation of publications, exchange of visits of lectures, and many other collaborative actions of training and mobility. All these activities would allow influencing the direction and contents of the Center activities, increasing its component that is oriented towards Jewish community co-existence in the Latvian state. It has to be noted, however, that all financial sources mentioned above are not allocated on a regular basis, but rather as valid for one occasion. In my view, the assistance of organizations and philantropists would help decisively to develop the activities of the Center and thus help "to press the right buttons" to maintain the positive development of Latvian - Jewish relations which in fixture perspective could play an important role not only for Latvia but for the whole Baltic region.

Fifth International Conference
Jews of Latvia and Baltic Region in European History and Culture
The conference will be held in Riga on September 16-17, 2003
University of Latvia Main Building, 19 Rainis Boulevard

HONORARY PRESIDENT OF THE CONFERENCE: N. Barkan, Chief Rabbi of Riga and Latvia

Prof. H. Branover (Israel)
Prof. R. Ferber (Latvia)

Gita Umanovska (Latvia)

-Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)
-M. Dubin Foundation of the SHAMIR Association (Riga, Latvia)
-Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture (New York, USA)
-Riga Religious Jewish Community (Riga, Latvia)
-Jewish Community Center “Alef” (Riga, Latvia)
-The Chais Center for Jewish Studies in Russian, The  International Center for University
 Teaching of Jewish Civilization, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Israel)
-Latvian Academy of Sciences (Riga, Latvia)
-Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Beersheba, Israel)

Prof. H. Branover, Co-Chairman (Israel)
Prof. R. Ferber, Co-Chairman (Latvia)
G. Umanovska, Secretary (Latvia)
A. Antane (Latvia)
Rabbi A. Bekker (Latvia)
Prof. L. Dribins (Latvia)
Z. Elkin (Israel)
A. Ferdman (Latvia)
Dr. J. Hochbaum (USA)
D. Kagan (Latvia)
I. Kanepaja (Latvia)
Prof. A. Kleckin (Latvia)
Dr. G. Smirin (Latvia)
Prof. A. Stranga (Latvia)
A Suharenko (Latvia)
E. Valk (Israel)
M. Vesterman (Latvia)
Dr. Z. Vagner (Israel)

Prof. Y.T. Assis (Israel)
Prof. I. Bartal (Israel)
A. Beare (UK)
Dr. M. Chernenko (Russia)
V. Dubnova (Russia)
P. Kalms (UK)
Prof. R. Kaplanov (Russia)
Z. Katz (Latvia)
Dr. G. Krupnikov (Latvia)
M. Leinwand (Israel)
Dr. L. Lempertiene (Lithuania)
Dr. V. Mochalova (Russia)
Dr. A Podolskii (Ukraine)
Prof. S. Redlich (Israel)
Dr. A. Shneer (Israel)
Prof. J. Stradinsh (Latvia)
Prof. J. Veinberg (Israel)
C. Whippman (UK)
Prof. E. Zeiger (USA)


-      Jews in Latvia and Baltic region as part of European Jewry
-      Historical and cultural relations  of Baltic Jews in European context
-      Cultural autonomy in history of Baltic Jewry
-    Baltic Jewry and European economic connections
-    Baltic Jewry nowadays: problems and perspectives
-      Secular and religious philosophies and Jewish mysticism
-      Holocaust in Latvia and Baltics

There will be special workshop “Holocaust research in Latvia in Baltics”

Allocated time for contribution – 20 minutes

Contributed papers will be published in the book of proceedings.

LANGUAGES: Latvian, English, and Russian

June 15,  2003   Title and ca. 200-word abstract due (preferably by e-mail), with 5 lines CV
July 15,  2003    Notification to authors of acceptance of papers
Sep 16,  2003     Full electronic version of papers must be submitted to the Organizing Committee
                           before the start of the conference

Gita Umanovska, Conference Secretary
Center for Judaic Studies
University of Latvia
19 Rainis Blvd
Riga     LV-1586     LATVIA
Tel:  371-7-325519,   371-7-271262
Mobile phone:   371-9-452273

Aina Antane
Executive Director of the Center for Judaic Studies
University of Latvia
19 Rainis Blvd
Riga     LV-1586      LATVIA
Tel:   371-7-034421
Mobile phone: 371-9-574526
Fax:   371-7-225039
There is no registration fee. Travel data and hotel booking  details
have to be sent to G. Umanovska or to A. Antane.

The Riga International Airport receives direct and connected flights by Air
Baltic, SAS, Lufthansa, British Airways, Finnair, Lot, Czech Airlines, and
others. Taxi fare is about $15 from the airport to Riga center.
Visitors from the former Soviet Union (outside the Baltic) must prepare
their visas in their home countries, using the special visa invitation forms
provided by the conference organizers.

Kosher meals may be ordered upon request.

Rooms may be reserved upon request. Information for reservation by a participant
may be found at web address

There is expected a very limited number of grants to cover conference expenses (regular
visa, travel fare via train or bus, decent accommodation in university
dormitory double rooms during the working  time of the conference). 

Information aboout the conference may be found at

Compiled on behalf of the Center for Judaic Studies by Arlene Beare As I Arlene Beare only compiled this page on behalf of the University of Latvia Center for Judaic Studies please send any queries to: Prof Ruvin Ferber 19 Raina Blvd., Riga Latvia, LV-1586.


Compiled on behalf of the Centre for Judaic Studies by Arlene Beare
As I Arlene Beare only compiled this page on behalf of the University of Latvia Center for Judaic Studies please send any queries to:

Prof Ruvin Ferber
19 Raina Blvd., Riga
Latvia, LV-1586.

Copyright©1998-2003 Arlene Beare
Last updated: 04 August 2003