REZEKNE (Rus. Rezhitsa ; Ger. Rositten ), city in Latvia, one of the larger cities of the E. Latvian province of Latgale. In the late 18th century Jews expelled from Makasan (a nearby town) settled in Rezekne. The Jewish population grew steadily; in 1847 there were 542 Jews and in 1897 they numbered 6,478 (60 percent of the total population). By 1920 the number of Jews had declined to 4,148 (41.5 percent); in 1925 to 3,911 (31 percent); and by 1935 to 3,342 (25.4 percent). Most Jews were either merchants or artisans, and during the period of Latvia's democratic regime (1918–34) there was a very active Jewish communal life. Rezekne had a yeshivah (Bet Yosef), several Yiddish and Hebrew schools, including a Jewish high school founded in 1922 (349 pupils graduated until World War ii), and a variety of communal organizations and institutions. The town was occupied by the Nazis on July 3, 1941, and together with the Latvian police they began the systematic murder of Jewish men, and later of the women and children. German sources speak of about 1,219 killed in Rezekne. A census taken in 1959 indicated a figure for the total population, but did not give any information on the number of Jews living in Rezekne. It is known that in 1960 the baking of matzah was prohibited and that there was one synagogue in the town. In 1970 the number of Jews was estimated at about 250.
Yahadut Latvia (1953); M. Kaufmann, Die Vernichtung der Juden Lettlands (1947). add. bibliography: Dov Levin (ed.), Pinkas ha-Kehillot – Latvia and Estonia (1988).
[Joseph Gar /
Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]