BAUSKA (Yid. Boysk), town in S. Latvia, near the Lithuanian border. Originally in the duchy of *Courland, it was incorporated in Russia in 1795 and became a district town in the government (province) of Courland. Jews were permitted to settle there by a special law of 1799. At first their right of residence was restricted to a suburb on a bank of the river Aa (Lielupe), but the restriction was lifted in the 1820s. The community, most of whose members came from Lithuania, retained its "Lithuanian" character, with its stress on Torah learning and Orthodoxy. It numbered 2,669 in 1835 but by 1850 had decreased to 2,226 as a result of the settlement of 82 families (692 persons) from Bauska in the agricultural colonies in the province of Kherson in 1840 and of an outbreak of cholera in the area in 1848. The Jewish population numbered 2,745 in 1897 (42% of the total population). During World War I many Jews were forced by the Russian military authorities to evacuate Bauska, which was in the area of hostilities, for the Russian interior. Many did not return after the war and by 1920 there remained only 604 Jewish inhabitants. Their number rose to 919 in 1925. Most of the trade was in Jewish hands, supported by a Jewish cooperative bank. Well-known rabbis who officiated in the community in the second half of the 19th century were Mordecai *Eliasberg and Avraham Yitzḥak *Kook. During Soviet rule in 1940–1941 all Jewish life and trade was eliminated. Bauska was occupied by the Germans on June 26, 1941. On August 3, 50 Jews were murdered by Latvian police, and on September 30, 1941, all the remaining Bauska Jews, about 800, were executed.
L. Ovchinski, Toledot Yeshivat ha-Yehudim be-Kurland (19112), 48–55; Z.A. Rabiner, in: Yahadut Latvia (1953), 244–76; M. Bove, Perakim be-Toledot Yahadut Latvia (1965). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: PK Latvia ve-Estonia, S.V.
[Simha Katz /
Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.