The Riga Synagogue on Peitavas Street (Peitav Shul)
An architectural monument of national significance.
At the end of the 19th century, a religious community formed that united the Jews living in the Old Town. A plot of land was bought for the purpose of building the synagogue, and in March of 1903 the building permit was granted.
The synagogue was designed and built by two people – an outstanding architect and art historian Wilhelm Neumann and beginning architect Hermann Seuberlich. The original project was altered several times, but by the beginning of the year 1905 the construction of the synagogue was finished.
During the period between WWI and WWII, the Peitav Shul was one of four choral synagogues in Riga. Conducted by the famous cantor Abram Abramis, its choir was popular not only among Jewish audiences.
After Riga was occupied by the Nazis, all the synagogues in the city were burnt down on July 4, 1941. The Peitav Shul was the only synagogue in Riga to escape the common fate because it was located in the Old Town and there was a risk that the fire would spread to nearby buildings. During the war the synagogue was used as a warehouse. After the war it was learned that the eastern wall of the synagogue, where the bookcase with Torah scrolls (Aron Kodesh) was located, had been concealed. This deed, which saved the Torah scrolls from destruction, is attributed to Gustavs Shaurums, a priest from the nearby reformist church.
Following the war, services at the Peitav Shul was renewed. During Soviet times it was one of the few synagogues functioning in the USSR as well as one of only four that maintained a choir. Despite the unofficial prohibition of Jewish religious practices and constant surveillance by the national security bodies, the synagogue remained the centre of Jewish life in the city.
Today the Peitav Shul is the only functioning synagogue in Riga.
The synagogue on Peitavas Str. is one of a few ceremonial buildings constructed in the manner of Art Nouveau. Ancient Egyptian motifs – stylized palm-branches and lotus flowers – decorate the building.
During Soviet times there was no financing for the renovating of the building and members of the religious community fixed and maintained the building with their own means.
With the support of the European Union, the Latvian State, and the Latvian Council of Jewish Communities the synagogue was thoroughly renovated in 2007-2008.
Rabbi – Mordehay Glazman
Peitavas street 6 / 8
Riga, LV – 1050
Phone: (+371) 67214507