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The Jews of Latgalia in SW Latvia were culturally similar to Jews of Lithuanian-Belorussian and the Polish Kingdoms. Poland was sovereign from 1561 until 1772. Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jews began to arrive in Latgalia in the early 17th century following pogroms in Poland (1605 to 1639) and in Ukraine and Byelorussia (1648 to 1653). The first Jews came in the sixteenth century fleeing Muscovy to present-day Kraslava district, but when Latgale was acquired by Poland in 1562, the more favorable Polish laws for Jews in Latgale attracted them here. Toward the end of the Polish rule in 1766, 2,996 Jews lived in Latgalia that came under Russian control after the First Partition of Poland in 1772 when 5,000 Jews lived there. By 1784, that number reduced to 3,700. Latgalia was divided in 1802, when the Vitebsk region became part of the Pale of Settlement. Jews were forced to leave rural areas, to resettle in cities or small towns (shtetlach), and to double taxation. Latgalia was very poor due to its location on the Russian border in the interior of Latvia and was untouched by the Haskalah. By 1847, the population grew to 11,000. Excellent website with history, photos, photos, folklore and more for the settlements such as Rezekne, Daugavpils (Dvinsk), Livani, Preili, and Ludza within Latgale Region. General history.  [March 2009]

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 13:10
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