Latvia SIG #Latvia Re: Origin of Latvian Jews #latvia

Alex Shapiro <alex@...>

Evidence? I'm your evidence: born and raised in Latvia, my father was
born in Latvia, my grandparents were born in Latvia. My father is buried
there, along with my mother. They spoke fluent Yiddish, but my father
was always telling me that the roots of his family are >from Spain. Many
of the Jews in Latvia have darker complexion, the older generation often
used the Sephardic siddurim. At that time I did not know how to pray,
the result of the Soviet education. But the older generation often
prayed at one time in the basement hall of the Riga synagogue that was
allocated the Sepharadim. Many of my friends used to say that their
grand-grand-grand.... parents came >from Portugal. True, there were also
many Ashkenazi Jews in Latvia. There were also some descendants of
Moroccan and Persian Jews, whose ancestors were the traders who came to
Riga that used to be an important port connecting with the Scandinavian
countries and north Europe. But truth to be said, nobody gave any
importance to that. We all were Jews whose parents spoke Yiddish, the
Jewish language of that place and the language of the Jewish schools
before the Soviet invasion in 1940. Some of the older generation knew
basic Ladino, usually songs. During the Holocaust time many Latvian Jews
were killed and put in the mass graves in the Bikernieku Forest, some
were burned alive in the Riga synagogue in the Maskavas district. Their
remains are still buried there, Ashkenazim and Sepharadim together and
nobody gives any importance about their origin. There were just Jews who
were killed for being Jewish.

I attend the services in the Sephardic synagogue in Houston because I
feel more comfortable there, even though my mother was of
Russian/Lithuanian background. I don't feel myself better or worse than
other Jews, because of my mixed Sephardic / Ashkenazi background. I'm
just an Israeli-Latvian Jew who lives at this time in America.

When I traveled to Riga, some years ago, I visited the Jewish museum on
6 Skolas Street. I spoke with the museum curator there who said that
they have documented evidence about the Sephardic Jews who used to live
in the Ventspils Municipality in West Latvia, as well as in Latgalia
area where is my father from.

Shana Tova,

Alex Shapiro
Houston, Texas

Alex, what evidence (dan or otherwise) do you have of your Sephardic
origins (or for any Latvian Jews)? I haven't seen a single case that
pans out. Shana Tova, Randy Schoenberg Los Angeles, CA

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