https://www.facebook.com/jaunjelgava.friedrichstadt/ https://www.facebook.com/media/set/set=a.911054582403444&=;type=3HISTORY OF JAUNJELGAVA / FRIEDRICHSTADT UNTIL THE EARLY 19th CENTURY A fortress in Selonia (Sēlija in Latvian), located where Jaunjelgava stands now, is mentioned in the historical documents since 13th century (castrum Selonum, 1208). The Crusaders, who leveled the original castle in the 13th century, built their own on the same spot in the 14th century. A country estate and a settlement were built around 1450. After the Livonian war (1558-1583) lands on the left bank of the river Daugava became part of the newly created Duchy of Courland and Semigallia. In 1567 Duke Gotthard Kettler founded a settlement on the spot of today’s Jaunjelgava, which was named Neustadtchen (the New Townlet). In 1590 Duke Friedrich Kettler founded the town market. In the 1596 the town had population of 60 families. In 1621 the town was destroyed during Swedish-Polish war. In 1646 the widow of the Duke Friedrich, who died four years earlier, Elizabeth Magdalena decided to rebuild the town. In January of the next year she gave it the status of a “stadt” (city) and suggested to name it Friedrichstadt, in memory of her late husband. By her order, the city was allotted an area of 2830 acres (around 40 sq. km.) It was the largest town of that time in Courland. Later on, on the 14th of July 1647, Polish king Wladislaw IV (Courland was then a vassal, albeit autonomous, state of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth) approved the decision of Elizabeth Magdalena by his own order, officially naming the town Friedrichstadt and listing its privileges. Several facts show that the dukes of Courland always considered development of the town as one of their main priorities. Thus the nephew of Duke Friedrich, Duke Jacob, was a supporter of the idea to renovate the city. In 1652, a massive stone church was erected and was standing until 1950s. Friedrichstadt was one of the first places in Courland to modernize its juridical and financial systems – as early as 1744 the town introduced the land and mortgage reference book system. By the end of 1750s, usurpation of power by the city government was a reason for local uprising. Duke started an investigation, found city fathers guilty, and fired them. Answering demands of town people, they were given a range of privileges. They paid a special low price for fire-wood that was cut in the forests owned by the duke. Additionally, the Town council was now required to help all newcomers who proved their loyalty to the city. Each new resident could get 200 free logs from the duke’s own forests to build his house. This quantity was enough to support a new family – to build a one-storey middle-sized house and all auxiliary structures. These privileges were held for almost one hundred years, until 1858, and played a major role in the development of the city, by making it attractive to the new citizens. Even now it is still possible to find buildings which were built using the duke‘s logs. The name given to the town by Elizabeth Magdalena did not become widely used immediately. In the 17th and 18th centuries, on the maps of the region city was still named Neustadt, while Friedrichstadt only appears in 1772 – 125 years after the official change of the name. Along with the two official names, other names were occasionally used. Latvians often called the town Serene, while Russian Old Believers, who settled in the Baltic provinces to escape religious persecutions in Russia, called it Orekhovka. Other names, like Jelgaviņa (little Jelgava in Latvian) and the Yiddish Naire (short for Nai Rige – New Riga), were made after the names of the neighboring big cities, and in a way reflected the ambitions of locals. The role of Friedrichstadt as an important center in the eastern part of the Duchy was also reflected in the administrative boundaries of Courland, which existed until 1926. The city was an administrative center of a district, whose population in the beginning of the 20th century was about 65 000 inhabitants, which is a lot more than the same area has nowadays. Since the times of Duke Friedrich, Daugava river (Düna in German, Dvina n Russian) was an important factor in the development of Friedrichstadt. The river route from the depth of the continent towards the Baltic Sea was especially advantageous for trade between Russia and Europe through the port of Riga, merchandize being transported on boats and rafts. Similar trade routes were crucial throughout many centuries, and many cities on river shores have developed as a result of advances in navigation. In the case of Friedrichstadt there was an additional natural “advantage”, which worked in favor of the town. River Daugava was not navigable over its entire length – there were many rapids between Jakobstadt (now Jēkabpils) and Friedrichstadt. Boats could sale down the river only during spring, when the waters were high, and even then it required masterful skills, while sailing up the river was absolutely impossible. Therefore goods were moved on the boats to Jakobstadt, where they were loaded on the carts and delivered to Friedrichstadt by land, turning it into a major transit point. In Friedrichstadt, some of the goods were moved back to boats and sailed down to Riga, while others were delivered to Lithuania, Courland and Livonia (Vidzeme). It is known that in the first half of the 19th century there were around 8000 carts transporting goods from Jacobstadt to Friedrichstadt. This situation was very favorable to local residents. Some got involved in transportation, others operated storages and became mid-traders, and still others were serving traveling merchants and sailors. Local craftsmen were selling their goods to the locals, as well as to the traveling merchants. In 1820 Friedrichstadt had 24 inns. By the beginning of the 19th century Friedrichstadt was an important trading centre where, among others, several Jewish-owned companies operated as exporters of Russian goods to England, Germany and USA. The main export goods were fur, leather, wood, linen and grain. Profits of the local merchants gave a bust to local industry and as a result tobacco, soap, needles and chocolate were produced in Friedrichstadt at that time.
BEGINNING OF THE JEWISH SETTLEMENT IN FRIEDRICHSTADT By its origin, the Jewish population of Courland was divided into two major groups - one originating from Prussia and Northern Germany, the other - from Lithuania. Courland, where Friedrichstadt was located, was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it had quite delicate rules for Jewish settlement and employ. The most favorable periods for Jews were those when Duke Ernst Johann Biron ruled (1737—1741, 1763—1769). At that time Jews of Courland were enjoying quite a few privileges and rights. Although generally it improved their status, implementation of those rights and privileges was quite complicated and inconsistent. This was due to the fact, that in the 18th century Courland became politically dependent on Russia, and the Russian government from time to time issued decrees limiting the rights of the Jews, or even expelling them. During the rule of Empress Catherine II the Great, some Courland Jews were allowed to travel to the neighboring provinces of Russia. When Courland officially came under the rule of the Russian Empire (1795), it was not incorporated into the Pale of Settlement (part of Russian empire where Jewish settlement was permitted). Jewish community life in Courland was regulated by special orders, and as a result situation was significantly better than in other parts of the Empire. When was the Jewish community established in Friedrichstadt? A well known author Herman Rosenthal, originally from Friedrichstadt, argued that the community was founded at the end of the 17th century, mainly as a result of migration from what is now Lithuania. Other sources mention appearance of the Jews only after 1795, the year of the third and final partitions of the Polish Lithuanian commonwealth. Possibility of an earlier Jewish settlement in Friedrichstadt can not be excluded. In 1742 Empress Elisabeth issued a decree ordering all Jews to leave the territory of Russia. The implementation of this decree could bring severe deterioration of trade in Riga, capital of Livonia, which was already part of Russian empire then. Riga city government members were afraid that Jewish merchants will abandon Riga and move their operations to Windau (Ventspils), Libau (Liepāja) and Koenigsberg, outside the borders of Russian empire. A special request was sent to the Empress to cancel the decree, and while a response was considered by the Senate, the Vice Governor of Livonia allowed Jewish merchants to settle in Friedrichstadt.
JEWISH COMMUNITY IN THE 19th CENTURY In 1803 the Jewish Burial Society (Chevra Kadisha) was founded, and the ledger (Pinkas) of this society began. The appointment to be the town's rabbi required an approval of the authorities. The first rabbi of the town at the beginning of the nineteenth century was Rabbi Shmuel, the son of Yehudah Leib. During the years 1830-1876, Rabbi Lipman Sholem Friedman served as the community's rabbi. He established a good rapport with the authorities and received their approval for his activities. During the years of his service, Jewish institutions were developed and a new cemetery was built (1848), in place of the old cemetery which was located in Serene, quite far from the town. Around that time the Burial Society received official approval from the authorities, and the construction of an additional Study Hall (Beth Medresh) was also completed. The number of prayer houses in the town then reached five: two synagogues, two Study Halls and a prayer house for Chassidim. A Yeshiva numbering around 30 student was established in the new Study Hall, and was financially supported by the community. In 1858, at the initiative of the community, a government school for Jewish students opened. During the 1860's Zvi Hirsch (Herman) Rosenthal, a resident of the town, published a series of essays in Jewish newspapers about communal events. Shortly thereafter, he became one of the leading maskilim [“free” intellectuals promoting reform of the traditional Jewish way of life] in Russia. Later on he moved to the United States, where he was very active in Jewish matters and was among the editors of the Jewish Encyclopedia. In 1876 the community appointed Rabbi Friedman’s son-in-law, Rabbi Bezalel Meyer Kahan, as the town preacher. He served many years in this capacity. After Rabbi Friedman's death, his grandson Rabbi Yehudah Leib Kahan, a native of the town, became the new rabbi. His tenure lasted until 1893, when at the recommendation of Courland governor Rabbi Kahan left to serve as a rabbi in Moscow. In 1891 there were four synagogues in Friedrichstadt: the Great Synagogue, ”Old Warm” prayer house, Synagogue of the Chassidim, and the “Heiman Shul”. Yitchok Bakster served as a Cheider melamed (teacher). In 1897 Rabbi Jacob Levinson began to serve as the rabbi of Friedrichstadt, the first among Courland rabbis to receive permission to serve as an official rabbi without requiring an examination by authorities. He died after a year in office. Rabbi Joseph Hillel Berman, who was affiliated with the early Zionist society 'Lovers of Zion', followed him as the town's rabbi (his tenure lasted until 1907).
ECONOMIC DOWNTURN An economical downturn began after the opening of the railway Riga – Dünaburg (Daugavpils, Dvinsk) in 1862. River trade lost its importance and economic situation in the town deteriorated. This, as well as the wider possibilities to live and get education in Riga, was the reason for many, including the Jews, to leave the town. However statistics show that until 1881 population of Friedrichstadt was growing and so did the number of Jews. Only later, when the mass immigration of Jews from Russia began, both general and Jewish population of the town decreased. Year General PopulationJewish population 1850 1513… 1881 58204128 (71 ? 1897 51753256 (63 ? 1935 2153530 (25 ? 1959 3344Under 5 (0,1 ? In a1892 news article, it was mentioned that the growth of Friedrichstadt had slowed down dramatically, and that its population became pauperized. Trade and craftsmanship have sharply decreased, while earlier successful trade of flax and grain lost its importance. The 1881 census data shows that the town had 498 buildings, 10 of those owned by the town itself and bringing only loses to the local budget. Life of the local residents was adversely affected not only by the deteriorating economic situation, but also by frequent natural disasters. Several times major floods destroyed significant portion of housing stock of the town. Most destructive floods occurred in 1740, 1743, 1837 and 1941. In 1771, after the breakout of ice on the river, most of the town was washed away, while in 1778 approximately 100 houses were destroyed. In 1710 there was an outbreak of the black plague epidemic, in 1848 – an outbreak of cholera (the Jewish cemetery had a separate section for the victims of cholera outbreak). The town’s houses were for the most part densely built wooden dwellings with roofs made of straw. Therefore, when from time to time fires broke out, they quickly spread to a large part of the town. Friedrichstadt’s position on the water boundary increased its importance as a military strategic object. During the Livonian war, Russian troops passed nearby. After the North war (1700-1721) Daugava became a border between Poland and Courland on one side, and Livonia, which was annexed to Russia, on the other. In 1812, clashes with Napoleon’s army took place nearby resulting in a huge fire. Only 45 houses were left intact in town. The 1892/1893 Friedrichstadt directory, displays for us the following picture: there were about 500 taxable properties in town, bringing in a total of 2000 rubles per year into the town budget. It is noted that in the previous decades Friedrichstadt experienced big financial loses. Multiple fires and other disasters greatly disrupted grain and linen trade. Only the wealthiest merchants could save their businesses during this period. As a result, the tax income decreased from 3,500 rubles in mid-80s to 2,000 in 1891. A decrease of population since 1881 is also noted, Jewish emigration being mention as the main reason of this decrease. The town was ruled by the Council (Duma) and the Government, the latter composed of selected Council members. German minority, who made up 15% of population, had approximately half the Council seats. Jewish councilors were the second largest group – in 1891 Friedrichstadt Council had 28 members, 11 of which were Jewish, while in the Town Government, out of 6 members 2 were Jewish. The structure of committees and sections of the Council reflected various aspects of the town life: taxation, financial control, construction, trade, gardening, sanitation etc. Town had a Justice of Peace, an Orphans Court, a prosecutor, a prison, lawyers to handle civil cases, as well as a Post and Telegraph office. Friedrichstadt had the District High school (gymnasium) named after Emperor Alexander the II, an elementary school, the State Jewish school, and a school for the girls. There was a Fire Society consisting of three Fire stations, one of them managed by Aron Kahn. Friedrichstadt had around 10 branches of different banks and insurance companies, three doctors, a hospital, around 7 medical specialists – paramedics, pharmacists and midwifes. There were 60 larger trading companies in town, owned by 27 merchants. Twenty one of these larger companies were owner by Jews. Of the 94 small trading companies, 48 were owned by Jews. There were 23 industrial and handicraft enterprises in town, among those were shops producing mineral water and tobacco, also two windmills. About half of those were owned by Friedrichstadt Jews. In addition there were 12 bakeries and confectionaries, six butchers, a printing house, as well as many little handicraft shops, among them two jewelry stores, four watchmaker’s shops, one photo studio and one musical instruments repair shop. There were four hostelries, 23 taverns and pubs – the role of the Jews was insignificant in this field.
ON THE EVE OF WORLD WAR I Changes which took place in Friedrichstadt in the years prior to the WWI are clearly noticeable in the 1912 town directory. Level of technical capacity of the town has grown significantly. Electrical plant was built, powered by the fuel engine. Town Hall, School and pharmacy, many commercial enterprises and the hotel were all supplied with electricity. Street lighting was switched to electricity in 1911. Telegraph station was supplemented with the telephone exchange, which had 32 subscribers. Apart from local subscribers, it was connected to Remershof (Skriveri) and Alsvig sanatorium (Alsviki). In 1909 telephone connection with Riga was established. Additional, direct telephone lines were connecting Friedrichstadt Post office and Police station with Mitau (Jelgava) and Bauska. Quite impressive is the list of education institutions. On the top of the list was still the Emperor Alexander II Gymnasium, followed by State elementary schools for boys and girls, Church school, co-ed German elementary school, co-ed Trade school and the Commercial High school. In 1912 a new school was opened in Friedrichstadt. Its impressive edifice, designed by famous architect Eugen Laube, imitated the pompous modern style buildings in Riga, and is still dominating Jaunjelgava architecture. Social benefits were provided by two savings and sickness funds, hospital with 36 beds, and a shelter for the poor. There were branches of several insurance companies and banks, as well as a branch of the Courland city mortgage union. The directory also contains information about places of public relaxation, reflecting improvements in the quality of life of town residents, as well as attempts of the local government to attract visitors. There was a theater and a concert venue in the Ašak’s hotel. A park (Stadtgarten) was created in the centre of the town in 1870, and had small pavilions and a restaurant. There were walking promenades along the bank of Daugava river and in the hills outside the city. Hauptsmanberg, two miles outside the town, was a popular place for hiking. There were beautiful small forests in old Serene, a mile away from the town, and on a deserted island about two miles down the river. In the pre-WWI years, the town council had 19 members, with Germans still in majority, but having more Latvians and with a single Jewish council member – Urias Shatz. Jewish population was also represented in various Council committees by Messrs. Katz, Heiman, Gitelson and Kahn. In 1908, Jewish charitable association (Gemilus Chasodim) was organized in Friedrichstadt. It was led by an elected board of 11 directors, chaired by Robert Vilkov. Two benevolent societies - “Linas Ha-Tzedek” and “Bikur Cholim” – were created to improve health of the community member. “Talmud-Torah” association for the promotion of Jewish education was created in 1906, and was led by Urias Shatz. It was affiliated with Mizrachi Religious Zionists and has established a modern religious school. It was tuition free and accepted children aged 7 to 10. The curriculum included 16 hours per week devoted to Torah study and 10 hours set aside for the study of Russian language and mathematics. A new building for the school was dedicated in 1913. In addition, there were several traditional religious private schools for Jewish children (cheders). A significant number of Jewish students studied at the German language elementary schools. Some of these students completed their Jewish education with private tutors. The same four Synagogues active in 1892, were still in operation on the eve of the WWI. Rabbi Ya’akov Abraham Flekser, previously from Jakobstadt, served the Jewish community since 1907. There were three shochtim (ritual slaughterers) in Friedrichstadt - Israel Hozioski, Yosel Friedman and Shaya Glezer. Of the 419 properties listed in the 1912 Friedrichstadt directory, 251 belonged to the Jews. 284 people are listed in the section entitled “Professions, trades and crafts of the Friedrichstadt residents”, approximately half of those were Jewish. The town had two doctors, 10 bakeries, 20 bars, two hotels, nine hostelries (inns), eight butchers, four photographers, two lemonade factories, one steam mill, one windmill, three sewing machine shops, two restaurants, four pubs and one tea house, eight watchmakers and jewelers, a weapons shop and a sawmill. All this means that on the eve of the First World War Friedrichstadt got over the economic downturn of the end of 19th century, and that the local Jewish community was in a relatively prosperous state. There are no signs of a decline in Jewish religious and social life, but the representation of the Jews in town government bodies has significantly decreased. The political passions of the early twentieth century did not bypass Friedrichstadt Jewish community. In 1902, a Viennese weekly newspaper reported from Friedrichstadt (Courland): “A Zionist Union was recently established here, headed by Dr. Regensburg. Thanks to the influence of the Union, the well-known Zionist [Nochum] Schatz, with the permission of the Governor of Courland, opened a Zionist library with a free reading room. More than 100 people joined the board of trustees of the library. The library enjoys a lively attention of the readers of both sexes”. Nochum Schatz was a son of Urias Schatz, the Friedrichstadt town Council member. A number of locals, among them also Jews, took part in the events of the 1905 Russian revolution. It was reported that in December of that year Friedrichstadt was captured by the rebels. During 1905-06 a branch of the Bund, consisting of approximately 100 members, as well as a branch of Poalei Zion [Spcialist Zionists] conducted intensive political activities in and around Friedrichstadt. To avoid arrests, some of the participants in the revolutionary events had to emigrate.
WORLD WAR I The First World War caused irreparable damage to the town and its Jewish population. On July 15, 1915 the Russian authorities took three members of the community as hostages, to prevent the possibility of “treasonous actions on the part of the Jews.” Soon thereafter, all the Jews of Courland, as well as the provinces in the territory of Lithuania, were ordered by the Russian military command to leave their homes within 24 hours, on suspicion of sympathies to the advancing German army, and expelled to the Russian interior. Only a few of them would returned to their hometown after the end of the military and revolutionary events. In addition to the losses due to expulsion, no less severe was the economic ruining of the town. Friedrichstadt had strategically very important location, since it provided German military with the only place between Jakobstadt and Riga, suited to cross Daugava river. German army occupied Friedrichstadt in the summer of 1915. From that moment on and till the fall of 1917, the town served as a launching pad for multiple German military attempts to cross Daugava. Both belligerents repeatedly used in the area combat aircraft, which was then the last word of technology. Among other sites, fortifications were built directly on the elevated territory of Christian and Jewish cemeteries. On the 5th of December, 1918 German army left the town, and soon it was taken over by the Bolshevik government which stayed in power until May of 1919. Fighting retuned to Friedrichstadt in October – November of 1919, when the nascent army of the newly independent Latvia drove the West Russian Volunteer Army of the Cossack General Pavel Bermont-Avalov out of Latvian territory. Again, the battles took place in the area of the cemetery. As a result of military operations, the city was almost completely emptied, about 1000 houses were destroyed (453 of them used to belong to the Jews), along with three Jewish communal structures. The photographs of the market square in 1917 show untouched snow, uncut grass, and the roofs of buildings that have collapsed. People are absent.
JAUNJELGAVA BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD WARS After the establishment of an independent Latvian state, the town was renamed to its Latvian name - Jaunjelgava (i.e. New Jelgava, pronounced Yah-oon-yell- gah-vah, with the stress on the first syllable). In the early 1920s, the pre-War residents began to return to the town, and its population slowly climbed to 2000. In difficult post-war conditions, the population began to rebuild their lives. The life in Jaunjelgava began to intensify, however the status of the administrative and economic center of the region was lost irreversibly. In 1916, under the German military administration, a narrow-gauge railway was built to supply the front, which connected Jakobstadt (Jēkabpils) with the territory of Lithuania. Built as a temporary project, it very soon became unusable as a result of the war. In 1926 it was thoroughly reconstructed, and had become an important transportation link for the region. As a result, the role of Jaunjelgava as a transit center has diminished even more. In the same year, the administrative center of the county was moved from Jaunjelgava to Jēkabpils. The town's industry also fell into decay. According to the 1935 census, only a few small enterprises worked in the city - a mill, a sausage shop, a sewing workshop, a sawmill, and a carpentry. At the same time, there were 100 trade enterprises (of which 52 belonged to Jews), 7 tea shops, and 6 hairdressers. There were four doctors in Jaunjelgava, two of them were Jews. Active movement of goods and people through the city was almost non-existent, so it is logical to assume that most of the trading enterprises did not flourish at all, and perhaps only existed nominally. During this period, the Latvian and Jewish primary schools, as well as the Commercial High school worked in the city. The Town Council consisted of 16 members, who were periodically elected until 1934. Rav Aaron Betzalel Paul, the Rabbi of Jaunjelgava, served as the Mayor’s deputy until 1925, when he was appointed the Principal of the Jewish primary school. Other Council members representing the Jewish community during this period were Aron Kahn, Reuven Perelman, Mairim Tabaksman, Pesach Spelman, Isaac Gulak, and Chaim Shlomo Westerman. In 1934, after the coup d'état in Latvia and the reorganization of local administration structure, a three-member board of state appointed governors managed the town, all of them were ethnic Latvians. For the first time in more than 100 years, there was no representation of ethnic minority communities in the governing bodies of the town. In the summer of 1940, the state independence of the Republic of Latvia was eliminated as a result of the 1939 Molotov – Ribbentrop pact between Hitler and Stalin, and the Soviet military occupied the country. A number of Soviet Army servicemen were stationed in Jaunjelgava. The establishment of the new regime brought along the nationalization of private property, as well as the reorganization of the education system according to the Stalinist model. This included, among other things, the policy of eliminating the schools of ethnic minorities. It is known that the New1941 year was celebrated Soviet-style at a single event, attended by both ethnic Latvian and Jewish schoolchildren.
LAST TWENTY YEARS OF THE JAUNJELGAVA JEWISH COMMUNITY Only few hundred Jewish residents returned after the WWI, so that the Jewish community shrunk to about one fifth of its pre-war size, and one quarter of the overall population of the town. Rabbi Chaim Aaron Bezalel Paul, who began to serve as rabbi of the small community during the period of German Army rule at the end of the First World War, continued in this position, and between the two World Wars became a dominant figure among the Jews of Jaunjelgava. With the establishment of Latvian rule, the American Joint Distribution Committee played an active role in the reorganization of the community and in its physical restoration. With the encouragement of this agency, a community council was elected with the participation of five non-partisan lists. Rabbi Paul stood at the helm of the council. The community reactivated the benevolent institutions Linas Zedek and Bikur Cholim, and sent a representative to the country wide conference of communities that took place in Riga in 1920. The Joint also provided material assistance in various areas, for example: free medical financing for the poor by way of the distinguished Dr. Hertzberg; conversion of the 'Talmud Torah' building to residential use in order to alleviate the housing distress of those Jews whose homes were destroyed during the war (in 1926—1927 with support from the Jaunjelgava Jews living in the USA, a new Talmud Torah building was built, see below); the allocation of 90,000 rubles for the Credit Union of the community, etc. With the passage of time this Union expanded and in 1929 became a cooperative institution named Jaunjelgava Jewish Savings and Loan Association. This institution was subject of Government control and periodic inspections. In 1933 around 100 members, mostly merchants, belonged to it. A traditional Gemilus Chesed [charitable assistance] fund was active alongside it, which primarily served the manual workers. A Jewish library was operating. The religious institutions of the community included the Central synagogue that was also used for communal events, prayer houses for Chassidim and the “Heiman” prayer house, a Burial Society, and a “Talmud and Mishnah study group”. The community also hired a ritual slaughterer and inspector. In 1930 the community's institutions were in a crisis, in part a result of a halt to the flow of money from émigrés from the community living overseas. After the Ulmanis coup d'état, the community was reorganized. Rabbi Paul continued to lead it and represent it before the authorities. In 1938 Rabbi Paul appointed permanent officers for the central synagogue (ritual director, teacher, cashier), and their appointment was approved by the Latvian Interior Ministry. A German language Jewish school was founded in Jaunjelgava during the period of German Army rule. In the period of independent Latvia this school was recognized as a municipal institution entitled to receive assistance from municipal funds. At first the language of instruction was Russian; later on, with the affiliation of the school to the network of Yiddish schools Tzisho, it was changed to Yiddish. In 1922 the institution consisted of 153 students in six classes. Rabbi Paul, who served in this school as a teacher of Judaism, was appointed in 1925 as its principal. Through his influence the faculty board decided to add, starting in the school year 1927/28, a course of Hebrew studies. With the shrinking of the community, the size of the school also was reduced. In 1930 the number of classes was reduced to five and the number of students to 100. An additional educational institution, Talmud Torah, was active in the town in the afternoons. In 1926 a quarrel broke out between the two educational institutions over the question of rights to a building constructed in the town from contributions made by former residents of Jaunjelgava, now living in the United States. As a result of the intervention of activists, former residents of the town, now living in Riga, the building was made available for the use of the Talmud Torah. A few Jews also studied in the municipal trade high school. Others traveled to study in the gymnasia of Riga.
By 1935 the share of Jews fell to only a quarter of the town's population. The downward trend continued until the outbreak of World War II. Despite the decline in their numerical weight, the Jews of Jaunjelgava continued to play a decisive role in the various commercial branches of the town: in a census taken in 1935 there were 88 firms and stores of a high rank (based on the payment of taxes) in Jaunjelgava. Among them 52 were Jewish owned, as detailed below: Type of BusinessTotalJewish % Grocery281761 Delicatessens and Butcher Shops 11764 Textile Products & Haberdashery 11764 Flour and Produce8788 Leather and Shoes15960 Hardware & Housewares3267 Barber Shops5360 Miscellaneous17411
In addition to the community's religious and educational activities, the Jews of Jaunjelgava developed political and cultural activities, but its dimensions were modest. In 1925 an agent from Riga founded a non-ideological boyscouts organization. A short time later the organization split up and a branch of Hashomer Hatzair - Netzach [radical Zionist Socialist Youth] was founded, twelve of whose members left for Palestine. In 1927 a branch of Maccabi was established, and in 1930 a branch of the Chalutz [Zionist Socialist Youth] movement was active. In that period local Jewish newspapers were published in Jaunjelgava, mostly as one-time issues and under the editorship of the journalist Moses Tabaksman.
The relationship between Jews and the general population was, generally speaking, correct. Rabbi Paul was elected to the town council and served as the vice-mayor of the town until his resignation from his duties in 1925, with his appointment as principal of the Jewish school. The Maccabi activist Aaron Kahan and the educator L. Hartman received medals of honor in recognition of their activities within the community.