Object Alone

Obj. ID: 42930  Holocaust Memorial at the Site of the Ruined Great Choral Synagogue in Riga, Latvia, 1989, 1998

© Ruth Ellen Gruber, Photographer: Gruber, Ruth Ellen, 2006

Who is Commemorated?

Jews killed in synagogue destruction


A memorial boulder was installed on the anniversary of the killing in 1989. It is inscribed with the date of the massacre.

The memorial consists of some exposed synagogue walls including part of one wall and two stairways. These have been excavated to the level of the original tile floor of the synagogue, a portion of which is exposed.   

A single modern stylized metal menorah, with a small Magen David superimposed, is set high upon a wall but it is very hard to see.

A small metal plaque with a dedicatory and explanatory inscription in Latvia, Hebrew in English was affixed in 1993 to one of the walls.


On the boulder:

ת'נ'ב'ב'ה' [=תהי נפשם צרורה בצרור החיים ]

4 / VII

Translation: May their souls be bound in the bundle of life. 4 July 1941

The inscriptions on the plaque in Latvian, Hebrew, and English are almost identical. 

The inscription in Latvian reads:

1941. – 1945. Gados Latvija
noslepkavoto ebreju pieminai

Liela harala sinagoga uzcelta
1871. Gada.

Fasisti nodedzinaja sinagogu
1941. Gada 4 julija liesmas aizgaja
doja simtiem evreju.

Memorials uzselts 199. Gada
- Mandels Kaplans (DAB)
– par odgu
Solomonam Kušlikam no rezeknes:



The inscription in Hebrew reads: 

לזכר היהודים שנרצחו והישמדו
בשנים 1941-1945

בית הכנסת הגדול נבנה בשנת
ה'תרל''א 1871

ב 4 ביולי 1941 הועלה בית הכנסת
באש על ידי הנאים ונשרף, כאשר
מאות יהודים נעולים בתוכו.
הי"ד [=השם יקום דמם]

לוח זכרון זה נקבע ב 1993 בתרומותיהם
הנדיבות של:
- מד מנדל קפלן מהדרא"ס לכבוד סולומון
קושליק מרזנקה
- ניצולי השואה מלטביה, החיים בארה''ב
- ממשלה, ארגונים עיבריים ואזרחים מלטביה
- אזרחים מישראל, ארה''ב, קנדה, שבדיה, גרמניה וארצות נוספות.

תנצב''ה [=תהי נפשם צרורה בצרור החיים ]

Translation: In memory of Jews killed in Latvia 1941-1945  / The Great Choral Synagogue was built in 1871 /  On July 4, 1941, the synagogue was burned down by Nazis, with hundreds of Jews locked inside. May God avenge their blood / This memorial was built in 1993 thanks to donations made by: Mr. Mendel Kaplan (SAR) in honour of Solomon Kushlik from Rezekne; Jewish Survivors of Latvia loving in the USA; The Government of Latvia, public organizations, and individuals from Latvia; Individuals from Israel, USA, Canada, Sweden, Germany, and other countries. / May their souls be bound in the bundle of life.

The inscription in English reads:

In Commemoration of Jews Killed in Latvia 1941-1945 

The Great Choral Synagogue was built
in 1871

 Nazis burned down the
Synagogue on July 4, 1941.
Hundreds of Jews died in flames. 

This memorial was built in 1993 thanks to
donations made by:
- Mr. Mendel Kaplan (SAR) – In honour of
Solomon Kushlik from Rezekne
- Jewish Survivors of Latvia from the USA
- Public organizations,
individuals, and the Government of Latvia,
- Individuals from Izrael [sic], Sweden, Germany,
Canada and other countries

Commissioned by

Jewish Community of Riga

Author of description
Samuel D. Gruber | 2022
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconsdivuction
Section Head
Language Editor

13 image(s)

Name / Title
Holocaust Memorial at the Site of the Ruined Great Choral Synagogue in Riga | Unknown
Object Detail
Completion Date
1989, 1998
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Period Detail
Unknown |
Iconographical Subject
Type of grave
Material / Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Panel Measurements
Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Scribal Notes
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

The Choral Synagogue was originally constructed in 1868-71.  It was a large Renaissance-style building famous for its choir and cantors, including Baruch Leib Rosowsky and Herman Yadlovker Mandel, whom non-Jews also came to hear sing on Jewish holidays.

The building was burned to the ground on July 4, 1941 with Jews inside – possibly including an unknown number of Lithuania Jewish refugees. The exact number of victims is unknown. Estimates have been as high as three hundred Jews killed in the destruction, but this number – and all others proposed - has been contested. After the war, the ruins were demolished and the area was paved as part of a public square. There was no mention of the history or fate of the synagogue.

Beginning in 1988, a memorial was conceived and executed by the Jewish community of Riga. In 1989, a memorial boulder was installed on the site on the anniversary of the killing. It is inscribed with the date of the massacre but no other information.

In 1993, an expanded project was created from excavated ruins of the synagogue. Originally, plans called for the excavated ruins to be covered, and within there would be a small museum/or exhibition, an idea similar to what was subsequently done in Vienna when remains of the medieval synagogue were excavated in the course of erecting a new Holocaust monument. Lack of funds, however, derailed the ambitious Riga project.

The final project by architect Sergey Rizh exposes some original walls of the synagogue and creatively reconstructs others. A  few of the decorative elements found in the excavation embedded in the walls. Still, there was little informational material included at the site except for a small metal plaque embedded in one of the walls.

Sometime in the 1990s, about the time of the opening of the synagogue memorial, the day of the synagogue destruction, was designated the official day of Holocaust remembrance in Latvia.

On July 4, 2007, a new memorial – the Saviors Monument – was also dedicated immediately adjacent to this synagogue site, adjacent to the synagogue memorial. This large new monument overwhelms the older memorial.

Main Surveys & Excavations
The following information on this monument will be completed: