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After Poland annexed Latgale (1562), laws and conditions were favorable for the Jews, but the majority of Jews arrived only in the mid-seventeenth century fleeing Bogdan Khmelnytsky pogroms in Ukraine and Belarus. Speaking Yiddish and more strict in their observance of Orthodox traditions than German Jews, most were small tradesmen and craftsmen or farmers. Until 1844, Jewish communities in Latgale had their own local government, kahals, that collected taxes, enforced observance of secular and religious laws, and maintained order. In 1784, 3,698 Jews permanently resided in Latgale. In 1804, Jews could live only in cities and villages to prevent the debt-encumbered lands of Polish landlords from coming into Jewish possession. Jews forced to move to the city frequently became the poorest due to difficulty in finding work and crowded conditions. In 1847, approximately 11,000 Jews lived in Latgale. [March 2009]

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