Марьяш Рута Максовна
Jewish Women In Latvia

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  • Комментарии: 1, последний от 07/08/2013.
  • © Copyright Марьяш Рута Максовна (rutol@latnet.lv)
  • Обновлено: 22/03/2011. 12k. Статистика.
  • Статья: Публицистика
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  • Аннотация:
    Доклад "Еврейская женщина в Латвии" Конференция в США 1997 год

  •   Hadassah Research Institute
      on Jewish Women
      Lown 300A, mailstop 079
      Brandeis University
      Waltham, MA 02454-9110
      Jewish Women. Conference 1997
      Jewish Women In Latvia
      By Ruta Marjasa
       According to the 1997 statistics, 14, 614 Jews live in Latvia - more than half of them women.
      The subject of Jewish women in Latvia has never to my knowledge been an object of research.
      This paper is the first attempt in this direction.
      Jews began to settle in this small country on the coast of the Baltic Sea in the 16th century. Latvia did
      not obtain its status as an independent country until the twentieth century - in 1919. Latvia"s independent status was short-lived. In 1940, it lost its independence and was annexed by the former Soviet Union. During the second World War, Latvia was occupied by Nazi Germany for three years.
      It regained its independence in 1990, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
      All these dramatic changes, of course, affected the Jewish community of Latvia. More than five
      thousand Jews were subjected to Soviet repression. During the Soviet period, the wealthiest
      Jews, the intelligentsia and those belonging to the Zionist and the Social Democratic parties
      were arrested and exiled to Siberia. Seventy thousand Jews - 70% of the entire wartime Jewish
      population of Latvia, died in the Holocaust.
      This history of anti-Semitism has, of course, deeply influenced the lives of Jewish women. It deprived them of opportunities to realize themselves as an active part of the society. Jewish girls were encouraged to get the best education as possible to the same degree as their brothers, and even right after the war there were already a considerable number of Jewish women working as doctors, pharmacists, and teachers.When thepolitical situation allowed it, a majority of these women emigrated to Israel, America and other countries.
      Today, in post-Communist Latvia, anti-Semitism has been minimized. Nobody threatens our lives.
      There is no official, state-supported anti-Jewish propaganda. Latvia has good relations with Israel.
      However, anti-Semitism still exists on a daily basis. There are occasional incidents of hooliganism.
      Sometimes anti-Semitic illegal leaflets are distributed. Occasionally, not very tactful utterances about Jews appear in mass media. It is an unpleasant fact is that the Latvian attitude toward the Nazi occupation is less negative than to the much longer period of the Soviet occupation that brought much more calamity.
      This is a subject that causes a certain tension between the Latvians and the Jews. But apart from these
      phenomena, anti-Semitism in Latvia is "harnessed." This is particularly important considering the difficult social-economic situation in the country as Latvia, like many other countries of Eastern Europe, undergoes a period of transition from the totalitarian socialist regime to a free market economy and is witnessing a dramatic growth of poverty.
      This period of transition has produced inequalities in health care and education. Social and political
      alienation in the society is spreading rapidly. Unemployment in Latvia is over seven percent and growing, with women representing over half of the unemployed. There is sex discrimination in the workplace - newspaper advertisements for positions typically specify that they will hire only men.Many children do not attend school . Twelve per cent of the prostitutes in Latvia are juveniles . A fourth of country"s population are pensioners, whose work-life was spent under the former system. They have not accumulated any social capital and now they receive very scanty pensions that do not allow them even a subsistence standard of living. Of course, among them are Jews and Jewish women.
      In 1997, the Guinness Book of Records designated Latvia as the state with the biggest discrepancy in the number of men and women: there are only a 1,000 men to every 1,167 women. There are reasons to believe that this proportion is true also for the Jewish community, because it is growing old and men usually die first. The general birth rate in Latvia has fallen from 2.5 for all women in 1989, to 1.2 for a woman in 1995.
      The birth rate has also been falling for Jewish families.
      Just a decade ago, in 1989, there were 22, 897 Jews living in Latvia. Jewish women comprised 11,737 of this number and 6,000 of them were over 50. Many of them have died, the Jewish birth rate is very low and that, combined with the continuing emigration to other countries has resulted in a rapidly decreasing Jewish population.
      There has also been a rapid increase in the number of mixed marriages among Latvian Jews. In 1996,
      there were 78 Jewish marriages but only 14% were marriages in which a Jewish man married a Jewish
      woman and only 17% were marriages in which a Jewish woman married a Jewish man. The rest - 69% of marriages were mixed - a Jew to a Russian or a Jew to a Latvian. This phenomenon can be explained by the fact of limited choice - the Latvian Jewish community is very small, but the time for young people to get married arrives nonetheless.
      Although Jews have a consciousness of Jewish identity, they feel a connection with people of other
      nationalities and being Jewish is often only a formal ethnic designation for them. Jews are often considered attractive marriage prospects. Jews are thought to be successful at business. Jewish men are thought to make good husbands because, compared to non-Jewish men, they do not drink, do not cheat on their wives, love their children, take care of their families etc. However, the number of all Jewish marriages is decreasing simply because the Jewish community is growing old.
      The unsolved issue of citizenship in Latvia also promotes Jewish emigration. Approximately 50% of Jews now living in Latvia come from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. They are not considered to belong to the free Latvia of the pre-war period and they are not given Latvian citizenship. This is a pressing political issue that I hope will be solved in the near future in accordance with European standards.
      The Jewish community of Latvia is well organized. At least one third of its members, that is about 5,000 people, actively participate in various Jewish public organizations. The most active are the Jews living in the capital of Riga, but Jewish activity is felt also in other cities. Jewish organizations are politically neutral - they do not support any of the many political parties or political organizations of Latvia.
      The Jewish Cultural Society of Latvia was re-founded in 1989 nearly half a century after all Jewish cultural life was violently ended by the Communists in 1941. Among the founders were three
      women : administrator Esphira Rapina, physician Ieva Vater, and myself - a lawyer Ruta Marjasa. At present, the Jewish Cultural Society is led by a talented professional producer and journalist Karmella Skorik. Its Center organizes seminars on cultural issues, sends specialists to study in Israel, and organizes Jewish culture festivals.
      There is a Children"s Aesthetic Centre called "Motek;" and a Children"s group called "Ciri-Biri-Bom" that has performed in Germany, Denmark, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine. There is also a dance ensemble, a singing group, an acting company, and clubs such as "Hasefer," "Simha" and the "Davar." All these groups are led by women - Elena Bragilevska, Gita Umanovska, Ester Andreyeva, Elza Chausovska, Ina Movshovich,Elena Gorelik, Edit Bloh.
      There is a museum and a Documentation Centre at the Jewish Cultural Society. They co-operate with
      Israeli and German scholars, organize photography exhibitions and publish some materials. The Politically Repressed Jews Group was led by Bella Hofenberg who now lives in Israel, and Leva Slavina, who recently passed away. There is also an Association of Veterans of World War II.
      An important organization caring for the Jewish elderly is the Charity Association "Wizo - Rahamim," led by Hanna Finkelshtein, a social worker who studied in Israel. The Association regularly serves free meals and provides other services. Members of the "Old People"s Club" work at this Association. It has a choir of 28 people under the guidance of Riva Heiman and Esphira Tolpin.
      Women are active in the health, education and welfare sectors of the Jewish community. There is a
      Jewish Women"s Club Idishe Mame; and the social aid clubs Jad Ezra and Taharat Hamishpaha that are headquartered at the Riga Synagogue.Women work in the Jewish medical Society Bikur Holim and in the Jewish hospital, whose chief is a female physician, Rashel Shats. The Riga Jewish Secondary School has 450 pupils and has been in existence since 1988. There are several Jewish kindergartens. Jewish children attend craft schools, technical schools, Latvian and Russian secondary schools, and study at universities, institutes and academies.
      Jewish women in Latvia have never had a tradition of participating in the state government. During
      the past 50 years it was not even possible. But today, Inna Shteinbuk is a director of the Department of Macroeconomic Analyses and Projection at the Ministry of Finance; Ilana Woltman works as a judge; and one of the country"s most prominent lawyers is Irina Voronova. I myself am a Member of Parliament and Deputy Chairman of the Commission of Legal Affairs. Latvia also boasts many outstanding Jewish women scholars and scientists. Contemporary Latvian Jewish women scholars include mathematicians Elina Falkova and Nina Semeruhin; chemist Regina Zhuk; psychologist Anna Kapelovich, biogeneticist Ekaterina Erenpreis; political scientist Maija Krumina; literary critic Elena Shapiro; physicians Gita Nemcova and Ilana Shapiro. A recent book about Jews of Latvia , "Our Own Colour in the Rainbow", notes many outstanding Jewish women in the arts as well.
      Lija Krasinska represents a whole era in the development of Latvian music and culture This remarkable woman, a professor of at the Music Academy of Latvia, has taught students who perform all over the world. Musicologists Regina Buhova, Raisa Smolar, Raisa Grodzovska, Marina Mihalec have international stature. Our musicians include Dina Joffe, Valentina Brovak, Zinaida Tovbak. Inese Galant, now working at the Mannheim Opera House, is one of the brightest personalities in Latvian music life. She has included Jewish national songs in her recital repertoire. Puppet theater producer Tina Hercberg belongs to the older generation of cultural adminstrators. The well-known cinematographer Valentina Freimane has educated several generations of actors and creative intelligentsia of cinema and theater.
      When I think about all these wonderful Jewish women , I see the manifestaton of a special Jewish mentality.
      By preserving their Jewish identity, Jewish women maintain a link with world culture and have a way of resisting the provincialism that so often endangers small countries and their cultures.
      The role of integrating the culture of a Diaspora country into the Jewish culture of the world is, in my
      opinion, a characteristic feature of Jewish women in Latvia working in the fields of culture and science.
      It is their special mission.

  • Комментарии: 1, последний от 07/08/2013.
  • © Copyright Марьяш Рута Максовна (rutol@latnet.lv)
  • Обновлено: 22/03/2011. 12k. Статистика.
  • Статья: Публицистика
  •  Ваша оценка:

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