Below is a very brief Jewish history of Sabile. A reading list for further information is included below.
It’s unclear when Jews first arrived in Sabile, but by the early 1800s, there was already a Jewish population there. In 1809, a Chevra Kadisha was registered in the town.2 By 1881, the Jewish community accounted for about two thirds of the town’s population.5 Sabile’s Jewish congregation was formed in 1840, and served as a first career stop for many rabbis. The stone synagogue was built in 1875 and was used until 1941.1 A yeshiva was opened in 1897, but closed after a few years.
On April 28, 1915, the Jews of Kurland were ordered to leave within 24 hours3. They were accused of sympathizing with the Germans. Most were sent to five provinces within Russia designated to take the expelled Jews. During the First World War, three Jewish public buildings and 18 Jewish private homes were destroyed, along with 28 homes of non-Jews.5 Only a few Jews returned to Sabile. Those remaining were murdered when the Germans occupied the town in the summer of 1941.
- 1863: 9474
- 1881: 14005
- 1897: 16805
- 1910: 14685
- 1913: 17304
- 1920: 9305
- 1925: 13505
- 1930: 19145
- 1935: 18175
- 1881: 8735
- 1897: 7985
- 1910: 7005
- 1920: 2245
- 1925: 3255
- 1930: 3065
- 1935: 2815
- 1941: population of 240 murdered under German occupation, summer or fall of 1941
- from Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Latvia & Estonia, Dov Levin, ed., Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel, 1988, p.109, translation
- 1840: Rabbi Menachem Mendel Izraelson
- 1840-1847: Rabbi Mordechai-Uri Samunov
- 1847?-1862: Rabbi Duber Ze’ev Wolf Lifshitz
- 1864-1900: Rabbi Tzvi Ralbeh
- After 1900: Rabbi Meir Berlin
- Between the Wars: Rabbi Binyamin-Yonatan Cohen
- “Sabile”, Latvia Synagogues and Rabbis, 1918-1940, a project of Rabbi Nathan Barkan, “Shamir,” Riga, Latvia, 2004.
- “Sabile,” from the Museum “Jews in Latvia,” Riga, Latvia.
- Dr. Shaul Lipschitz, “Jewish Communities in Kurland“, from The Jews in Latvia, published by the Association of Latvian and Esthonian Jews in Israel, Tel Aviv, 1971. pp.276-285.
- Kurland: Eine allgemeine Siedlungs-, Verkehrs- und Wirtschaftsgeographie, Dr. F. Mager, L. Friederichsen & Co., Hamburg, Germany, 1920, p.61
- Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Latvia & Estonia, Dov Levin, ed., Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel, 1988, p.190-192, translation
The titles below are specifically for Valdemarpils/Sassmacken history. An additional list of Courland resources is available here.
- Kurlandische Verkehr und Adresbuch, 1892/1893
- Aleksejeva, Olga. “Jews in Sabile.” From Shamir, Riga.
- Levin, Dov. “Sabile” Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Latvia and Estonia.
- Oranovski, A. Kurljandskaja gubernija. (Gouvernement Kurland.) Petersburg, 1862. “Cities in Talsen Uyezd“