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Jewish Daugavpils

Jewish Daugavpils

Since the 19th and early 20th centuries, Daugavpils (also known at various times as Dvinsk, Dinaburg, and Dünaburg) was an important regional center of Jewish cultural and spiritual life. Prior to World War I, Jews comprised approximately 50%, or 55, 000, of Dvinsk’s total population.

Prominent Jewish natives and residents of Dvinsk have included:

  • Religious thinkers Meir Simcha ha-Kohen, Yosef Rozin (the Rogatchover Gaon), and Abraham Isaac Kook (HaRav, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of modern Palestine).
  • Solomon Mikhoels, Artistic Director of the Moscow State Jewish Theater and Chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee during World War II.
  • Mark Rothko, abstract expressionist painter.
  • Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, a Hebrew lexicographer, who drove the revival of the Hebrew language.
  • Isser Harel, Director of the Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency).
  • Oscar Strok, composer, also known as the “King of Tango.”

During the German occupation of Latvia, the overwhelming majority of Daugavpils Jews and those of neighboring regions were relocated to the Daugavpils Ghetto.

Over 15,000 were killed in the Holocaust.

Jewish Daugavpils