zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) ROOTS=SAKNES zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) Ethnicities zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes)Jews zieds1mazs2.gif (177 bytes) Help




zieds1mazs.gif (257 bytes)  Special regulations for Jews in Baltic provinces

11 Names: Aaron, Bamberger, Berkowitz, Bernsteger, Hirsch, Izaksons, Jacob, Levi, Mensenkampff, Peysack, Wulff



Many laws regulated the life of Jews in the Russia Empire. (You may connect to the review I prepared for ROOTS=SAKNES. Pales. General rules for Jews in Russia Empire. ) This Page deals with the regulations for Kurzeme [Kurland] and Vidzeme [Livland] provinces and especially for Riga city. These regions were not usually considered as part of the Pale of Settlement.

In spite of the fact that the Baltic provinces had some autonomy, the special rules regarding Jews were set for them by the Russia government, not by the local governments of the nobility (Landtag), but, of course, the local nobility might and did initiate desirable changes.

To prepare this Page, I have used mainly the book of A.Buchholtz / Buchholtz/. As on this Site I am dealing with the reference time period since 1800, I have made available here only the chapters of this book related to the history for the period 1765-1842 . The text (120kB) is in German language, however.

The order of the General Governor of Vidzeme [Livland] province about expelling of Jews from the province in 1764 is presented in another Page of the Site. In some sense this order cleared the province for the start of the modern history of Jewish settlement in this and other Baltic provinces.


Jewish community in Rīga

1765. First 3 protected Rīga Jews

The year 1765 is important for Jewish history in Rīga, because in this year 3 Jewish merchants were allowed to settle here together with their family members and business staff, altogether 36 individuals. The names of these privileged Jews were the following: David Bamberger (13 persons), Moses Aaron (6 persons) and Lewin Wulff (17 persons). These Jews were named in a special enactment signed by Tzarin Catherine II and thus they came upon her special protection, in German Shutz, and therefore they were called Shutzjuden - protected Jews. A son or an unmarried daughter of a protected Jew remained a protected Jew, but a married daughter only in case if her husband was a protected Jew. Other - non-protected Jews - were allowed to enter the city only for business needs with special permission and for the time not longer than 6 weeks.

It is known that these 3 Jewish families came from Novorossijskaja province that was situated near the Black Sea (now in Ukraine). At that time the Russia government began to develop this region, organized the immigration of Germans and in general allowed foreigners to settle there without distinction in religion i.e. including Jews. You may remember that in 1765 Poland was yet an independent country, and therefore no serious number of Jews lived in the Russia Empire. One may suppose that 3 privileged Jewish families had just migrated or had expressed intention to migrate to Novorossijskaja province from Poland or from one of German states. By the way, one of their duties in Riga was to organize the further migration of Jews to Novorossijskaja province. It seems, they were not very successful with this duty.

1785. Schlocken opened for Jews

Next important event took place in 1785, when Catherine II declared that any free person of the Empire as well as foreigners without any religious distinction may settle in Sloka [Schlocken] and to be registered there as petty bourgeois or merchants. In that time Kurzeme [Kurland] was not yet included in the Empire and was a foreign country relatively to Vidzeme [Livland] province, to which Sloka and Riga belonged. In fact, Sloka came to the Empire some years before. It follows that then Jews from Kurzeme could come and settle in Vidzeme's village Sloka, and they really did, if they wanted to have stable business with Riga. It was easier for them to get permission to go from Sloka to Riga than to cross the Kurzeme/Russia border.

The foreigners were not only granted permission for settling in Sloka but they were also given 50 Roubles for building a house, and this money was not to repay. 1000 Alberts Talers were allocated for setting up both a school and an asylum for poor people and additional 400 Alb. Talers yearly for running these institutions. The future settlers could also obtain land for herding their cattle and were free of taxes for three years.

1788. Enlargement of the list of protected Jews

On July 1, 1788 the list of Schutzjuden was enlarged and now 15 Jewish families were allowed to live in Riga permanently. It should be mentioned that they were not registered in the city i.e. they were not its citizens. The additional Jews were either descendants of the first Schutzjuden or the people needed in the city because of their professional skills or the persons necessary for the functioning of the Synagogue. These 15 families arrived in or were invited to Riga in the time span 1765-1788. The rules for visiting Jews were not changed.

The families of the new Schutzjuden were listed in the appropriate decree and the list follows below. I made bold the words I thought should be the family names. I am not sure all mentioned Jews had hereditary names; at the contrary, I imagine that almost all of the second names of the individuals were their father names except the family name Berkowitz and maybe Wulff and Aaron. It is clear, however, that these names later became the family names, because they are encountered on the list of Jews registered in Riga in 1842. Connect to this list for detailed information.

On the list below the text in italics should be the translation of the appropriate German text, but the text in regular font is my comments.

The names and professions in German My translation, comments and additional information from the book /Buchholtz/ Number of Jews
1. Die Witwe des David Levi Bamberger, nebst ihrer ungeheyrateten Tochter The widow of David Levi Bamberger together with their unmarried daughter. D.Bamberger was listed among the first three Schutzjuden. His name in the book /Buchholtz/ was also written in other forms: David Levi, David Levi (Bamberg) or David Levi Bamberg. I have strong feeling that actually he was a son of a Jew named Levi, and his other relatives also lived in Riga - see below next three families. For your information, Bamberg is a town in Bayern, now Germany. Bamberger means a person from Bamberg. 2
2. Benedictus Levi, nebst Frau und Kindern Benedictus Levi together with his wife and children. Definitely, Benedictus is not a Jewish first name, rather it should be the translation of the Jewish name Boruch with the same meaning, so this man might be found in other documents with his Jewish name as Boruch Levi. >4
3. Ezechiel Levi, nebst Frau und Kindern

Ezechiel Levi together with his wife and children. The book of D.Eļjaševičs /Eljaševičs/ informs that Ezechiel David Levi, a son of David Levi Bamberger, was promoted to the position of a Jewish censor in December 1797. It may be decided that Ezechiel David Levi had acquired the family name Levi, and David was his patronymic. The second censor was another Riga Jew - Moses Hezekiel, though it is not possible to find him in this list. The both were the first ever censors of Jewish books in the Empire, and the first Jewish civil servants of the Empire, though the censoring of Jewish books in Rīga was soon terminated.

Moses Ezechiel Levi b. March 17, 1793 in Livland studied in Tartu [Dorpat] University 1812 - 1816 and became a surgeon. I guess he was a son of Ezechiel Levi, and his second name in reality was his patronymic. In the real life of that time, educated Jews quite frequently converted to Christianity, so it might happen to Moses Levi too. At the beginning of the19th century 2 other men from Livland named Levi graduated this university as doctors, but their first names - Demetrius August and Joachim do not allow to assert they were Jews, though they could be converts.

4. Moses Levi, nebst Frau und Kindern Moses Levi together with his wife and children. The book of D.Eļjaševičs /Eljaševičs/ also informs about another son of David Levi Bamberger - Moses Levi Bamberger. A serious problem arises again - what was the surname in this family and how many Jews had surnames at that time. In any case, Moses Levi from this list is the best candidate for a son of David Levi Bamberger. >4
5. David Moses Aaron, nebst Frau und Kindern David Moses Aaron together with his wife and children. David is a good candidate for a son of one of the first Schutzjuden - Moses Aaron. >4
6. Samuel Isaac, verheuratet mit Moses Aaron Schwester Samuel Isaac, married to a sister of Moses Aaron. Moses Aaron was mentioned among the first 3 Schutzjuden. 2
7. Samuel Moses Salomon, der Goldstücker, nebst Frau und Kindern Samuel Moses Salomon together with his wife and children. I think that his profession now is spelled as Goldsticker - a person who sews in gold. Easy to imagine that this was a demanded and fairly rare profession. By the way, a family name Goldstücker exists in the world. >4
8. Raphael Marcus Wulff, Petchierstecker, nebst Frau und einem ungeheirateten Sohn, Marcus Wulff Raphael Marcus Wulff, a stamp-cutter, with his wife and an unmarried son Marcus Wulff. The cutting or engraving of stamps should have been a pretty good business, because everybody, who signed a document, certified the signature with his personal stamp in sealing-wax. If the social standing of a person changed, a new stamp was ordered. Though I think that one professional of this kind was enough for Riga. 3
9. Jacob Wulff, nebst Frau und Kindern Jacob Wulff together with his wife and children. >4
10. Judel Wulff Wittwe, nebst zwey Söhnen und drey Töchtern Widow of Judel Wulff together with two sons and three daughters. 6
11. Salomon Peysack, nebst Frau, drey Söhnen und drey Töchtern Salomon Peysack together with his wife, three sons and three daughters. S.Peysack was a jeweler. A.Buchholtz claims that S.Peysack left his jeweler business and started the trade with rags, because the latter business was more profitable, but I am not convinced at all that the decision was fairly voluntary and profit driven. There were plenty of German jewelers in Riga united in the Guild. They did not tolerate any competition, and it was impossible for anybody else (not only for Jews) to start this business. Rags were needed in a good amount for paper manufacturing, so this business really could be profitable. In any case, S.Peysack was a respectable man - he was elected as the Jewish community foreman, which means he should have been a well-situated person. His main competitor for this position was Raphael Wulff. 8
12. Peysack Berkowitz, als Vorsänger und Schächter Peysack Berkowitz, a Kantor (Hazzan, Synagogue singer ) and Shochet (a person who was responsible for slaughtering of animals in accordance with the Kashrut rules). A.Buchholtz in his book /Buchholtz/ supposed that this man should be the ancestor of numerous Riga Jews by the name Berkowitz in the time the book was written (prior 1899), but he did not know any descendent of other 14 families of this list yet living in Riga at that time.
There were mentioned 42 Berkovics in the Address book of Riga 1928.
13. Levin Samuel, als Schächter und Kirchendiener Levin Samuel, a Shochet and Servant in church. No doubt, he was a servant in the Synagogue rather than in a church. There are several positions in synagogues that could be called a Servant. May be he was the Shames - the synagogue manager, or may be his assistant. At that time in Riga there was no specially built Synagogue, only some premises existed for prayers. The Synagogue was well visited, because many Jews came to Riga with temporary permission. >1
14. Leib Jacob, als Krancken-Wächter Leib Jacob, a caretaker on sick persons. Evidently L.Jacob came to Riga for his special skills. Fairly speaking, I do not know, why he was allowed to go to Riga, what he did that a Christian could not do in taking care of sick Jews from the Judaism point of view. Evidently the Kashrut rules could not be easy followed during the care of sick persons. It is also possible that, according to the customs of that time, a caretaker was obliged to be all the time in the home of the sick person, but Christians were not allowed to live in Jewish homes. >1
15. Wulff Hirsch, als Todten-Gräber Wulff Hirsch, a gravedigger - the person responsible for burials. Again, I do not know if a person should have been specially trained to bury a Jew in accordance with the Judaism rites. >1


I estimate that at this time at least 50 Schutzjuden lived in Riga counting all above mentioned Jews and their mentioned family members and adding 2 children for each family with unknown number of children and supposing that 4 last professionals in the list were unmarried and had no children.

1788-1822. Various events

Further on the number of Jews with permanent permission to live in Riga did not grow. At the contrary, it started to decrease, because the officials began to move Schutzjuden with permission to Sloka, where they could be registered as citizens, but unfortunately they could not find a job there, because Sloka at that time was a small village.

In the time span 1788-1822 various serious events occurred - in 1795 Kurland was included in the Empire, in 1804 new legislation concerning Jews was adopted in the Empire, in 1812 the great war with France of Napoleon took place; but all theses events did not change the legal status of Rīga Jews significantly. The protected Jews lived in Riga but were registered in Sloka as citizens. In 1811 only one of the protected Jews (one family) was not registered in Sloka - Moses Levi Bamberger. At that time in Riga lived 736 Jews with temporary permission, 429 of them were registered in Sloka as the permanent residence place.

In 1822 all the previous legal acts on Jews were systematized and new regulations adopted. The full text of them (in German) is published on this Site. I have translated only a small excerpt of them, concerning the people who were allowed to visit Riga, and have put it in a special Page. A.Buchholtz /Buchholtz/ informs that Riga municipality (Rat) at that time wished to limit the number of Jews in the city and asked the Empire government for the appropriate order but without success.


1835-1842 Permission to settle in Riga

The next step in the formalizing of the legal status of Jews in the Baltic provinces took place in 1835, when Jews were allowed to be registered in Kurzeme [Kurland] and Vidzeme [Livland], if they were included in the revision lists of the previous revision, but they lost the right to return there, if they moved to another part of the Empire. The new rules created no problems for Jews in Kurzeme, because they lived and were registered there; even more, now they obtained the legal base for the residence. As you remember, neither Kurzeme nor Riga nor Vidzeme belonged to the Pale of settlement.

The problem was much more difficult for Riga Jews. The text of the appropriate Law concerning Riga and Vidzeme was not very clear and some contradiction arose. The Jews decided that they could be registered now in Riga, if they actually lived there, but the Riga municipality did not wish to register them, because they lived with temporary permission - not as registered citizens; as a rule they were registered in Sloka. The problem was to be solved at the Highest level of the Empire. It took some time and only in 1842 the final decision was made that Jews from Sloka, who actually lived in Riga, could be registered in Riga, but they had no right to possess any real estate in the city. Nevertheless, this was the year when the Jewish community began to develop legally in Riga city.


Jews in Kurzeme

As Kurzeme [Kurland] was included in the Empire only in 1795, when the legislation concerning the Pale had already been settled, the Jews of Kurzeme were to some extent forgotten by the lawmakers of the Empire. For example, the Jews of the provinces of the Pale were prohibited in 1808 from living in rural areas, but as nothing in the Law was said about Kurzeme Jews, they continued to live in the rural areas of Kurzeme.

This is why the Baltic manor owners had Jewish commercial agents legally though the manors were situated in rural areas, of course. The rules of 1822 about Jews who could enter Riga declared that the commercial agents were allowed to enter Riga, which means that there were such agents in the world. Much later Ernst von Mensenkampff informed in his memories about these agents. He met them when he was a kid in the 1890s. He asserted that almost each manor, especially in Kurzeme, then had a Jewish tradesman in its staff. The memoirs were printed in 1943, when the final solution of Jewish problem in Nazi style was going on in full extent, and the author was obliged to write all the bad he could about Jews. I do not insist he was very diligent in this sense, however. He merely informed that these agents could get any article in no time, because they were part of the very good network of Jewish merchants (maybe a hint at the global Jewish plot), and, it seems, he was not very happy that the children in the manors were instructed to address the Jew in the manor "Herr Jude" what is translated as "Mister Jew".

I have not full information about the rules concerning the settlement of Jews in Kurzeme towns. H.Strods /Strods/ informs that at 1798 Jews were allowed to live in Jelgava [Mitau], Liepāja [Libau], Kuldīga [Goldingen] and Piltene [Pilten], but they were not tolerated in Ventspils [Windau], Bauska [Bauske], Jaunjelgava [Fridrichstadt]. The same author adds that at that time in Kurzeme lived 4581 Jewish man, and 3685 of them in rural areas. It is quite clear that gradually Jews were allowed to settle in all of the above mentioned and in other towns of Kurzeme, but I have practically no information when it occurred, except the following remark.

The book of E.Dunsdorfs /Dunsdorfs/ presents some information from a handwritten chronicle of Saldus [Frauenburg]. The author of the chronicle O.Bernsteger wrote that in 1867 a Jew Izaksons wished to open a manufacture shop in Saldus [Frauenburg] but could not, because a Jew was not allowed to live in the town. So he opened the shop at the town border line but outside it i.e. in the rural area where he should have been allowed to reside. The Jews were permitted to live in Saldus a bit later in 1869.

In Kurzeme and in Riga kahals existed till 1893, unlike in the Pale (also in Latgale) where they were liquidated in 1844.


Jews in Vidzeme, and expelling of 1893

To the end of the 19th century Jews lived in many Vidzeme [Livland] towns, though their number was not great. The Census of 1897 counted in both (Latvian and Estonian) parts of Vidzeme (outside Rīga) about 1600 Jews. Not all of them were privileged Jews, who could live in any place of the Empire. (See about relevant rules in another Page).

On January 14, 1893 an Order of the Minister of the Interior was issued that obliged officials till November 1, 1893 to exile inside the Pale all Jews who lived outside it without legal grounds. In general, this was the period when Jews were deprived of many rights, and they felt themselves very uncomfortably in the Empire. For example, in 1891-1892 about 20,000 Jews were exiled of Moscow to the Pale, including those who had legal grounds, as craftsmen and retired recruits and their families.

The officials in Kurzeme and Vidzeme did not think that the expelling of illegally living Jews would be useful for the provinces. For example, 90 Christian house owners (mainly Germans) of Liepāja [Libau] town petitioned the municipality not to do this. Their problem was that in the current economical situation many tenants did not pay rent except Jews, who were the best payers. The municipality discussed this problem and decided that the exile of Jews would destroy the business life of the town. At that time Liepāja business was growing quite well, the railway connection with inner provinces of the Empire was developing, and it was very important to organize the exchange of goods between these provinces and the Liepāja port. See for more details a book of Dz.Ozoliņa /Ozoliņa/.

The Liepāja municipality applied to the Ministers of the Interior and Finances for the change of the order. This application was backed by the province officials. The same did also Jaunjelgava [Friedrichstadt] and Bauska municipalities. Evidently even before these petitions reached the Minister of the Interior, he approached the Tzar, and His Majesty on July 21, 1893 agreed to change the order and allowed some categories of Jews to stay in Kurzeme and Vidzeme.

The appropriate decree of the Tzar /Cirkulāri/ seriously facilitated the previous orders concerning Jews illegally residing in these two provinces. The King allowed not to expel the Jewish families, who had settled (even if illegally) in both provinces before April 3, 1880, on condition if they had not been criminally prosecuted and had here property or occupation that allowed to live without approaching of any charity organizations. It was said they were permitted to stay temporarily by the time when the new legislation on the Jews would be elaborated, which never happened, by the way. In certain important cases the Governors were allowed to apply to the Ministry of the Interior for permission not to expel particular Jews, who settled after April 3, 1880, if their legal activity was extremely useful for local trade or industry.

The Police list of Jews, who illegally settled in Liepāja, but were not expelled, comprised 345 persons in 1893 and 685 persons in 1896. (Dz.Ozoliņa /Ozoliņa/), the total number of Jews in Liepāja was 6651 in 1881 and 9461 in 1897 /Skujenieks/. I do not know how many Jews and from which towns were finally expelled, but it seems that the number was not significant for Kurzeme and Vidzeme. In any case, the number of Jews in both provinces continued to grow, though their number in Vidzeme was small all the time.



© Bruno Martuzāns. 1995-2002