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The Jewish Community of Uzhgorod

Uzhgorod

 

Czech: Uzhorod

Hungarian: Ungvar

A town in Transcarpathian Oblast, Ukraine.

Part of Austro-Hungary until 1920, then in Czechoslovakia; between 1938 and 1945 in Hungary; and since then until 1991 in the Soviet Union.

 

21st Century

In 2005 there were about 600 Jews, mostly elderly, still living in the town and they received support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Community. They have a synagogue, Jewish community center, a Jewish Day school and they publish a magazine called Gut Shabbos which covers Jewish activities in the Carpathian Mountains. The nearby Jewish communities of Munkatch, Chust, Vinograda and Rachov participate in their activities. There is a Chabad which run a pre-school and mikvah.

The magnificent synagogue, built in 1904, has served as a concert hall Transcarpathian Philharmonic Hall since WWII. All Jewish symbols were removed from the building, but as of 2012 there is a plaque commemorating the 85,000 Jews from Zakarpattia Oblast murdered in the Holocaust.

 

History

The Jewish community of Uzhgorod, probably dated from the 16th century. There is some controversy about who were the original Jewish settlers. Some say Sephardic Jews came in the fifteenth century, some say survivors of the Chemilnitzki massacres (1648-1649) were the first to settle. At the end of the 1720s, approximately 30 Jewish families lived in the town, which at that time belonged to the Habsburg monarchy. In 1730, they employed Rabbi Bodek Raisman from Lviv who was considered the founder of the local community. In the 18th century, the local Jews lived primarily off winemaking and agriculture; the community was very poor. Jews from Galicia came in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and contributed to the growth of the town.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century a yeshiva was established. Some of the outstanding rabbis, disciples of the Hatam Sofer, of Hungary served in Uzhgorod, notably Rabbi Meir Eisenstadter (Maharam Esh; officiated until 1852), his son Menaḥem Esh (d. 1863), and Ḥayim Tsevi-Hirsh Mannheimer (1814–1886). They also played national roles and had great spiritual influence on Uzhgorod and Hungarian Jewry in general. Solomon Ganzfried, author of the Kitztzur Shulchan Arukh, served as dayyan in 1866.

In 1864 Karl Jaeger established a Hebrew printing press with types bought in Vienna. The first book printed was M. Eisenstadter's Responsa Imrei Esh, (part 2). Printing continued until 1878. In 1926 another press was set up by M. S. Gelles and continued to be active until World War II. About 70 works were printed in Uzhgorod. The city remained a center for the publication of traditional rabbinic works from the 1920s until the Holocaust.

During the Hungarian revolution in 1848–1849, Ungvár sent 14 Jewish men to serve in the army, and the congregation fully equipped a battalion of soldiers.

The concentration of secular intelligentsia, and large numbers of physicians, lawyers, printers, and clerks, contributed to both the rise of Magyar nationalism and the appearance of a more liberal Judaism. However, the efforts of this sector to develop modern education met with determined opposition by the Orthodox. When in the mid-1860s a debate developed around the establishment of a rabbinical seminary, Me’ir Eisenstadt led the opposition successfully. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, government authorities imposed secular schools on the population as part of its Magyarization program. In 1868 the community split to found a separate Neolog community, whose first rabbi was M. Klein, translator of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed into Hungarian. Soon after the establishment of the community, however, most of its members returned to Orthodox Judaism.

At the turn of the 20th century, Hasidism gained significant influence in Uzhgorod. Among the most prominent tzaddikim residing in the town were Yitzchak Teitelboim (1869–1944) and Issachar Ber Lifshitz (1889–1944), as well as the Leifer family (Issachar Ber Leifer and his sons Meir, Chaim Lejb and Reuwen Menachem), representing the Przemyśl dynasty, and Chaim Jakub Safrin of the Zhydachiv dynasty.

In 1890 a Jewish elementary school was established. The language of instruction was first Hungarian and later Czech.  The community also maintained a Talmud torah school and a yeshivah. In 1904 a central synagogue was established in a magnificent building. In 1909, a Chasiddic synagogue was built.  The community was vibrant with three women’s associations, a Jewish hospital, an old people’s home, and a free eatery.

In 1914, the town experienced an influx of thousands of Jewish refugees from Galicia, which had been seized by the Russian army. When the front line approached Uzhgorod, most of the local Jews escaped, but in 1915, when the danger passed, almost all of them returned.

Between the two world wars Uzhgorod became a center of intense Jewish national and Zionist (revisionist) activities. In 1930 the community numbered 7,357, about one-third of the total population.

In 1934, a Hebrew high school was founded; it upheld conservative religious values and encountered only minor rabbinical opposition. After the Hungarian occupation of the region, the high school underwent intensive Magyarization, and in April 1944, with the beginning of deportations to Auschwitz, it closed its doors.

In 1938 the Jewish population was 9,676. They were an important force in the local economy, and many Jewish politicians were elected to the local government. One of the town’s streets was named in honor of Theodore Herzl, and another in honor of local doctor W. London. In 1919, two Jewish primary schools were opened in Uzhgorod, one with Czech as the language of instruction and the other one with Hebrew, followed by a middle school with Yiddish in 1924. A branch of the Zionist Organisation was established in 1919, and in the 1930s the town became one of the centres of the revisionist movement. In the interwar period, the Zsidó Néplap Zionist weekly was published in Uzhgorod.

Before WWII, Uzhgorod was a busy trading center with shops, workshops, restaurants and banks - primarily operated by Jews. The vast majority were employed in small trade and about 25-30% in major and minor commerce. There were also Jewish doctors and lawyers. Jews worked in government offices, health organizations, court houses, banks and cultural institutions. There were also wealthy Jews - the Moskovits family who owned brick factories - and others.

 

The Holocaust

Following the Munich pact (1938), Uzhgorod was annexed by Hungary, which immediately implemented anti-Jewish legislation. Local Magyars spearheaded the persecution of the Jews in the community. In the winter of 1939/40, all Jews of Polish citizenship or Czech citizens originally from Poland were expelled to Poland, and many died under the severe conditions. The young were conscripted into forced labor and sent to the Russian front, never to return.

With the Nazi occupation in March, 1944, the situation became much worse. On Passover (April 21-23) 1944, all the Jews of Uzhgorod and the surroundings (25,000 persons) were concentrated in a ghetto located outside the town in a brick factory and a lumber yard. There was not enough food or water and there was an outbreak of an epidemic. Three weeks later all were deported to Auschwitz. The first transport left on May 17 and the fifth and last on May 31. 

 

Postwar

Following the war, several hundred survivors returned, but many left for Czechoslovakia and Israel.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
125595
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
Hasidic rabbi

Born in Ungvar, he attended yeshivot and as a young man was attracted to Hasidism. His teacher Tsevi Elimelekh of Blazowa instructed him to found a hasidic community even though he was not a descendant of the traditional hasidic leaders. He gathered round him hasidim in Satu Mare and Beregszasz (Beregovo) who practised a simple faith and rejected any form of modernism. They supported themselves by their own labor. Towards the end of his life he settled in Palestine where he established a small hasidic community. He wrote a number of books in the spirit of his teachings.
Scholar

Born in Ungvar (Uzhgorod), Hungary (now in the Ukraine), he studied at the Pressburg (now Bratislava, in Slovakia) yeshiva, the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary and Berlin University. His area of expertise was the study of medieval Hebrew poetry and Sephardi piyyutim. His goal was to publish editions of all the major medieval Hebrew poets and he edited the diwans of some of them including Shelomo Ibn Gabirol, Shemuel ha-Nagid and Moshe Ibn Ezra. While rabbi in Nachod, Hungary, he became an ardent Zionist and headed the Hungarian Mizrachi organization. In 1905, Brody went to Prague where he became chief rabbi in 1912. In 1930, Salman Schocken founded the Institute for the Research of Hebrew Poetry and Brody went to Berlin to head it, moving with it to Jerusalem in 1933.
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph (1804-1886), rabbi and scholar, born in Ungvar (now Uzhorod, Ukraine), then part of Hungary. Orphaned in his childhood, he was brought up in the house of the local rabbi Zevi Hirsch Heller, one of the outstanding scholars of his time. From 1830 to 1849 he served as rabbi of Brezewicz and subsequently as head of the Beit Din of Ungvar. He was one of the chief speakers for orthodox Jewry at the Jewish congress which took place in Budapest in 1869. He had earlier published a treatise against the Reform movement.

Ganzfried’s first published work, "Keset-ha-Sofer" (1835 and again in 1871, with additions written by the author), concerned the laws of writing Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot. It was highly recommended by Moses Hatam Sofer. Ganzfried's main claim to fame, however, was his "Kitzur Shulhan Arukh" [Abridged Shulhan Arukh] based upon the "Shulhan Arukh" of Joseph Caro with the commentaries of Moses Isserless. Written in simple language and published in 1984, the work summarized all the laws relating to the everyday life of the ordinary Jew living outside Erez Israel. During its author's lifetime, the "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was published in 14 different editions and since then scores of further editions have been issued. The work replaced all previous abridgements of the "Shulhan Arukh". It became an authoritative work to which scholars added marginal notes and comments. It has been translated into many languages (The first English translation was made by H. E. Goldin in1918).

Ganzfried's other published works include a commentary on the prayer book with notes and supplements to the commentary "Derekh ha-Hayyim" written by Jacob Lorbeerbaum and first published in 1839; "Penei Shelomo" (1845), notes on "Bava Batra", "Torat Zevah" (1849) concerned with the laws of shchitah (ritual slaughter), "Lehem ve-Simlah" (1861) on the laws on menstruation and ritual immersion, "Appiryon" (1864, with the author's additions in 1876), commentaries on the Pentateuch and on some aggadot; "Oholei Shem" (1878), on the laws of names and bills of divorce and on the writing of deeds; and "Shem Shlomo" (1908), commentaries on various Talmudic themes. Remaining in manuscript form are "Leshon ha-Zahav", on Hebrew grammar, "Penei Adam", notes to "Hayyei Adam"; "Kelalim be-Hokhmat ha-Emet", a commentary on the Zohar;

Ganzfried died in his hometown, Ungvar.
Kiss, Arnold (1869-1940), rabbi, author, poet and translator, born in Ungvar, then part of Austria-Hungary, (now Uzhgorod, Ukraine). He was a son of Rabbi Moric Klein, who translated Maimonides' "Moreh Nevochim" into Hungarian. He studied at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Budapest in 1894, and was ordained in 1895. The same year he became rabbi of Zsolna , then rabbi of Veszprem in 1897, and rabbi of Buda from 1901 to his death.

He compiled a prayer book for women, "Miriam", with a Hungarian language commentary, another for young girls, "Noemi", and a third for children, "Echod". Kiss translated medieval and modern Hebrew and Yiddish poetry into Hungarian. He was the author of several volumes of religious and lyrical poetry and of fiction. His novels and short stories, dealing with Jewish problems, employ a somewhat conventional psychology. His essays on Hebrew and Hungarian poetry appeared in the "Pesti Naplo", "Budapesti Hirlap", "Magyar Hirlap" and in literary periodicals. Kiss became professor of Hebrew literature at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

Kiss was a member of the Board of Governors of the Rabbinical Seminary and vice president of the Rabbinical Association of Hungary, co-president of the Yehudah Halevi association, and a member of the Board of Advisory Council of the "Zsido Lexikon". His works included (sermons) Gilead (poetry),1900, "A pap harfaja" ("The Priest's Harp") 1904, "Job", 1904; "Getto-dalok" ("Ghetto songs"; including the poems of Morris Rosenfeld),1908; "Elborult csillagok alatt" ("Under clouded Stars")` (short stories) "Az oszi haraszt muzsikal" (The Music of Autumn Leaves), 1932, "Barangolasok a kodben" ("Roaming in the Gloaming"), 1933, "Orok lang" ("Eternal Flame"), 1934), "Samuel Hanagid elete es munkai" ("Life and Work of Samuel Hanagid"),1893, "Gabirol elete es kolteszete" ("Gabirol's Life and Poetry"); "A heber kolteszet" ("Hebrew Poetry", 1924, "Martirok tortenete" (The History of Martyrs), 1924, "A spanyol-heber poezis" ("Spanish-Hebrew Poetry"),1926, "Kiss Jozsef elete es muvei" ("The Life and Works of Jozsef Kiss"), 1927, "Bialik a heber kolto",1930, and "Maimuni Mozes", 1934.
Pasztor, Arpad (1877-1940), author and publicist,born in Ungvar, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Uzhhorod in Ukraine). He became a journalist in Budapest and traveled a great deal, being the first newspaperman to interview Lev Tolstoy for a foreign publication. In the United States he familiarized himself with the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman: he translated into Hungarian the latter's "Leaves of Grass".

The experiences of his jouneys around the world were told in the volumes: "Tengeren, tengeren tul" ("On and Across the Sea"); "Budapesttol a fold korul Budapestig" ("From Budapest around the World to Budapest"); "Kanadatol Panamaig" ("From Canada to Panama"); "Tolstoj Tragediaja" ("The Tragedy of Tolstoy"); "E. A. Poe; Walt Whitman; Talalkoztam Poe Edgarral" ("I Have Met Edgar Poe"); "Pinter Mari Amerikaba megy" ("Mari Pinter Goes to America"); "Newyork" ("New York"); "Szivek" ("Hearts"); "Jezus" ("Jesus"); "Versek" ("Poems"); "Uj versek" ("New Poems"); "Vegig az uton" ("All the Way on the Road") and others.

Pasztor also wrote fiction. His novel "Vengerkak", a poignant story about the victims of white slave traffic in Russia, was converted into a successful play. He wrote a dozen or more plays and operettas for the Hungarian stage. His play "Innocent" was performed in the United States. Pasztor converted to Christianity at some stage of his life
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph (1804-1886), rabbi and scholar, born in Ungvar (now Uzhorod, Ukraine), then part of Hungary. Orphaned in his childhood, he was brought up in the house of the local rabbi Zevi Hirsch Heller, one of the outstanding scholars of his time. From 1830 to 1849 he served as rabbi of Brezewicz and subsequently as head of the Beit Din of Ungvar. He was one of the chief speakers for orthodox Jewry at the Jewish congress which took place in Budapest in 1869. He had earlier published a treatise against the Reform movement.

Ganzfried’s first published work, "Keset-ha-Sofer" (1835 and again in 1871, with additions written by the author), concerned the laws of writing Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot. It was highly recommended by Moses Hatam Sofer. Ganzfried's main claim to fame, however, was his "Kitzur Shulhan Arukh" [Abridged Shulhan Arukh] based upon the "Shulhan Arukh" of Joseph Caro with the commentaries of Moses Isserless. Written in simple language and published in 1984, the work summarized all the laws relating to the everyday life of the ordinary Jew living outside Erez Israel. During its author's lifetime, the "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was published in 14 different editions and since then scores of further editions have been issued. The work replaced all previous abridgements of the "Shulhan Arukh". It became an authoritative work to which scholars added marginal notes and comments. It has been translated into many languages (The first English translation was made by H. E. Goldin in1918).

Ganzfried's other published works include a commentary on the prayer book with notes and supplements to the commentary "Derekh ha-Hayyim" written by Jacob Lorbeerbaum and first published in 1839; "Penei Shelomo" (1845), notes on "Bava Batra", "Torat Zevah" (1849) concerned with the laws of shchitah (ritual slaughter), "Lehem ve-Simlah" (1861) on the laws on menstruation and ritual immersion, "Appiryon" (1864, with the author's additions in 1876), commentaries on the Pentateuch and on some aggadot; "Oholei Shem" (1878), on the laws of names and bills of divorce and on the writing of deeds; and "Shem Shlomo" (1908), commentaries on various Talmudic themes. Remaining in manuscript form are "Leshon ha-Zahav", on Hebrew grammar, "Penei Adam", notes to "Hayyei Adam"; "Kelalim be-Hokhmat ha-Emet", a commentary on the Zohar;

Ganzfried died in his hometown, Ungvar.
GELLES Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name derives from a personal characteristic or nickname. Gelles is a variant of the German Heller. Heller/Hell, literally "bright" in German. It is also a personal nickname for persons with fair or reddish hair and a light complexion. Similar Jewish surnames comprise Geller and Gellman.

Distinguished 20th century bearers of the Jewish family name Gelles include the Polish-born British Rabbi Benjamin J. Gelles and the Austrian attorney and consultant David Gelles.
The Great Synagogue in Uzhgorod (Ozhhorod), Transcarpathian Oblast, Ukraine, 1990
The synagogue was built in the Moorish style in 1904.
It is now a concert hall.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Zipporah Eker)
Hasidic rabbi

Born in Ungvar, he attended yeshivot and as a young man was attracted to Hasidism. His teacher Tsevi Elimelekh of Blazowa instructed him to found a hasidic community even though he was not a descendant of the traditional hasidic leaders. He gathered round him hasidim in Satu Mare and Beregszasz (Beregovo) who practised a simple faith and rejected any form of modernism. They supported themselves by their own labor. Towards the end of his life he settled in Palestine where he established a small hasidic community. He wrote a number of books in the spirit of his teachings.
Rabbi

He was a native of Bonyhad and studied in Ungvar. He served as rabbi in Ujhely (Satoraljaujhely), Senta (Yugoslavia) and Vacs. Between 1859 and 1867 he lived in Jerusalem. Silberstein wrote Shevilei David on the Pentateuch and four other volumes with the same title on the Shulhan Arukh.
Scholar

Born in Ungvar (Uzhgorod), Hungary (now in the Ukraine), he studied at the Pressburg (now Bratislava, in Slovakia) yeshiva, the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary and Berlin University. His area of expertise was the study of medieval Hebrew poetry and Sephardi piyyutim. His goal was to publish editions of all the major medieval Hebrew poets and he edited the diwans of some of them including Shelomo Ibn Gabirol, Shemuel ha-Nagid and Moshe Ibn Ezra. While rabbi in Nachod, Hungary, he became an ardent Zionist and headed the Hungarian Mizrachi organization. In 1905, Brody went to Prague where he became chief rabbi in 1912. In 1930, Salman Schocken founded the Institute for the Research of Hebrew Poetry and Brody went to Berlin to head it, moving with it to Jerusalem in 1933.
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph (1804-1886), rabbi and scholar, born in Ungvar (now Uzhorod, Ukraine), then part of Hungary. Orphaned in his childhood, he was brought up in the house of the local rabbi Zevi Hirsch Heller, one of the outstanding scholars of his time. From 1830 to 1849 he served as rabbi of Brezewicz and subsequently as head of the Beit Din of Ungvar. He was one of the chief speakers for orthodox Jewry at the Jewish congress which took place in Budapest in 1869. He had earlier published a treatise against the Reform movement.

Ganzfried’s first published work, "Keset-ha-Sofer" (1835 and again in 1871, with additions written by the author), concerned the laws of writing Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot. It was highly recommended by Moses Hatam Sofer. Ganzfried's main claim to fame, however, was his "Kitzur Shulhan Arukh" [Abridged Shulhan Arukh] based upon the "Shulhan Arukh" of Joseph Caro with the commentaries of Moses Isserless. Written in simple language and published in 1984, the work summarized all the laws relating to the everyday life of the ordinary Jew living outside Erez Israel. During its author's lifetime, the "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was published in 14 different editions and since then scores of further editions have been issued. The work replaced all previous abridgements of the "Shulhan Arukh". It became an authoritative work to which scholars added marginal notes and comments. It has been translated into many languages (The first English translation was made by H. E. Goldin in1918).

Ganzfried's other published works include a commentary on the prayer book with notes and supplements to the commentary "Derekh ha-Hayyim" written by Jacob Lorbeerbaum and first published in 1839; "Penei Shelomo" (1845), notes on "Bava Batra", "Torat Zevah" (1849) concerned with the laws of shchitah (ritual slaughter), "Lehem ve-Simlah" (1861) on the laws on menstruation and ritual immersion, "Appiryon" (1864, with the author's additions in 1876), commentaries on the Pentateuch and on some aggadot; "Oholei Shem" (1878), on the laws of names and bills of divorce and on the writing of deeds; and "Shem Shlomo" (1908), commentaries on various Talmudic themes. Remaining in manuscript form are "Leshon ha-Zahav", on Hebrew grammar, "Penei Adam", notes to "Hayyei Adam"; "Kelalim be-Hokhmat ha-Emet", a commentary on the Zohar;

Ganzfried died in his hometown, Ungvar.
Friedmann, Meir (pen name: Ish Shalom) (1831-1908), rabbinic scholar, born in Kraszna (now Horost) near Kassa (now Kosice), in Slovakia (then part of the Austrian Empire).

From 1843 to 1848 he studied at the Yeshivah at Ungvar (now Uzhgorod, in Ukraine). After 1848 his life went through several crises and many changes. For a time he lived as an ascetic Hasid preparing for immigration to Erez Israel, then he became under the influence of the Haskalah, before returning to the study of the Talmud and being ordained as a rabbi. When his wife died he became a farmer and then for a time he was a magid (wandering preacher). In 1858 he settled in Vienna, Austria, and attended the university as a student. From 1864 on he worked successively as a librarian, a Bible teacher for adults, and then teacher of the Talmud for the young at a beth midrash in Vienna. After 1894 he also taught at the rabbinical seminary there. Among his students were V. Aptowitzer, Z. P. Chajes, and S. Schechter.

Friedmann was known for his studies of and lectures on Aggadah, and even earned the title mara de-aggadeta ("master of Aggadah"). His most important contributions are concerned with the halachic midrashim. He discovered lost sources, determined correct versions, and explained difficult passages. His writing is exceptionally erudite, logical, and elegant. His influence on scholarship was considerable. Many of the commentaries and interpretations of later talmudic scholars and researchers originated in his work. Friedmann maintained that "the Talmud is the foundation of Judaism and whoever abandons it is abandoning life"; this conviction affected all his creative work and activities. At the height of the Haskallah, Friedmann was called for a strengthening of traditional education, drawing up plans for traditional Jewish secondary schools and universities. He was also active in the Zionist movement and founded the Association for the Dissemination of the Hebrew Language.

Friedmann edited many midrashic texts and added introductions and commentaries. The commentaries were entitled "Me'ir Ayin". His halachic midrashim include "Mekhilta" (1870), "Or Baraita de-Melekhet ha-Mishkan" (1908), and "Sifrei" (1864); a part of the Sifra, which he had begun editing, was published posthumously (1915). He published "Pesikta Rabbati" (1880) and "Tanna de-vei Eliyahu" (1902), aggadic texts; "Talmud Bavli; Massekhet Makkot" (1888) with a short interpretation as an example of a scientific edition of the Talmud; and a pamphlet about translating the Talmud, "Davar al Odot ha-Talmud" (Pressburg, 1885). He published many works on the literature of halakhah, its characteristics and principles, as well as books and articles on other Jewish subjects, including Bible, particularly commentaries on the Pentateuch, Judges, Samuel, Isaiah, Hosea, and Psalms; and the Targums of Onkelos and Akylas; (Vienna, 1896, in the third annual report of the Lehransnstalt); the Holy Land; and Jewish prayer and poetry. He produced a number of textbooks on the Talmud and Mishnah for schools, and several of his lectures and sermons were published, often as part of the works of his contemporaries. With Isaac Hirsch Weiss Friedman edited the periodical Beit ha-Talmud (1881-86). Most of his articles appeared under his pen name Ish Shalom.

Meir Friedmann died in Vienna.
Gonda, Henrik (1880-1942), lawyer and government official, born in Ugar, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary). Gonda studied at Ungvar (Uzhorod, now in Ukraine) and law at the University of Budapest. Working as a parliamentary stenographer he became active in the Independent Party. Being a talented writer and speaker, he was appointed executive editor of the party's official organ, the daily "Magyar Tudosito". Eventually, the ministry of commerce appointed him to be head of its press bureau, a post he held until the outbreak of World War I.

During World War I Gonda was war correspondent for the influential "Magyar Hirlap". During the tenure of Sandor Wekerle as prime minister, he became in 1918 press chief in the premier's office and also ministerial advisor. The following year Gonda reorganized the "Magyar Tavirati Iroda" as the official government news agency. On his recommendation, the cabinet council made his press service an independent unit, severing it from Austrian control.

Gonda represented the prime minister at the 1918 preliminary peace discussions in Bucharest, Romania, where he acquitted himself with distinction. In recognition he was sent on an official mission to Switzerland, from where he returned to Hungary only after the overthrow of the Bolshevik regime in 1919. Thereafter he practiced law and devoted himself to civic and communal affairs at Budapest.
Pasztor, Arpad (1877-1940), author and publicist,born in Ungvar, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Uzhhorod in Ukraine). He became a journalist in Budapest and traveled a great deal, being the first newspaperman to interview Lev Tolstoy for a foreign publication. In the United States he familiarized himself with the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman: he translated into Hungarian the latter's "Leaves of Grass".

The experiences of his jouneys around the world were told in the volumes: "Tengeren, tengeren tul" ("On and Across the Sea"); "Budapesttol a fold korul Budapestig" ("From Budapest around the World to Budapest"); "Kanadatol Panamaig" ("From Canada to Panama"); "Tolstoj Tragediaja" ("The Tragedy of Tolstoy"); "E. A. Poe; Walt Whitman; Talalkoztam Poe Edgarral" ("I Have Met Edgar Poe"); "Pinter Mari Amerikaba megy" ("Mari Pinter Goes to America"); "Newyork" ("New York"); "Szivek" ("Hearts"); "Jezus" ("Jesus"); "Versek" ("Poems"); "Uj versek" ("New Poems"); "Vegig az uton" ("All the Way on the Road") and others.

Pasztor also wrote fiction. His novel "Vengerkak", a poignant story about the victims of white slave traffic in Russia, was converted into a successful play. He wrote a dozen or more plays and operettas for the Hungarian stage. His play "Innocent" was performed in the United States. Pasztor converted to Christianity at some stage of his life
Kiss, Arnold (1869-1940), rabbi, author, poet and translator, born in Ungvar, then part of Austria-Hungary, (now Uzhgorod, Ukraine). He was a son of Rabbi Moric Klein, who translated Maimonides' "Moreh Nevochim" into Hungarian. He studied at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Budapest in 1894, and was ordained in 1895. The same year he became rabbi of Zsolna , then rabbi of Veszprem in 1897, and rabbi of Buda from 1901 to his death.

He compiled a prayer book for women, "Miriam", with a Hungarian language commentary, another for young girls, "Noemi", and a third for children, "Echod". Kiss translated medieval and modern Hebrew and Yiddish poetry into Hungarian. He was the author of several volumes of religious and lyrical poetry and of fiction. His novels and short stories, dealing with Jewish problems, employ a somewhat conventional psychology. His essays on Hebrew and Hungarian poetry appeared in the "Pesti Naplo", "Budapesti Hirlap", "Magyar Hirlap" and in literary periodicals. Kiss became professor of Hebrew literature at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

Kiss was a member of the Board of Governors of the Rabbinical Seminary and vice president of the Rabbinical Association of Hungary, co-president of the Yehudah Halevi association, and a member of the Board of Advisory Council of the "Zsido Lexikon". His works included (sermons) Gilead (poetry),1900, "A pap harfaja" ("The Priest's Harp") 1904, "Job", 1904; "Getto-dalok" ("Ghetto songs"; including the poems of Morris Rosenfeld),1908; "Elborult csillagok alatt" ("Under clouded Stars")` (short stories) "Az oszi haraszt muzsikal" (The Music of Autumn Leaves), 1932, "Barangolasok a kodben" ("Roaming in the Gloaming"), 1933, "Orok lang" ("Eternal Flame"), 1934), "Samuel Hanagid elete es munkai" ("Life and Work of Samuel Hanagid"),1893, "Gabirol elete es kolteszete" ("Gabirol's Life and Poetry"); "A heber kolteszet" ("Hebrew Poetry", 1924, "Martirok tortenete" (The History of Martyrs), 1924, "A spanyol-heber poezis" ("Spanish-Hebrew Poetry"),1926, "Kiss Jozsef elete es muvei" ("The Life and Works of Jozsef Kiss"), 1927, "Bialik a heber kolto",1930, and "Maimuni Mozes", 1934.
He was born in Schossberg but moved to Eisenstadt in his youth. He became head of the yeshiva of Nove Mesto and was known as Maharam Esh ( Hebrew acronoym for 'our teacher, the rabbi Eisenstadter). He was rabbi in Baja, Balassagyarmat (from 1815 to 1835) and of Ungvar from 1835. Eisenstadter was regarded as one of the outstanding rabbis in Hungary. In Ungvar he headed a large yeshiva and many distinguished rabbis emerged from among his students. He was also active and influential in the country's Jewish communal life. He was a strong opponent of Reform. His published books include responsa, sermons and novellae.

Moses Maimonides, also known as Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon or the acronym the Rambam, was born in Cordoba, Spain on March 30, 1135, and died in Egypt on December 13, 1204. He is buried in Tiberias, Eretz Israel.

One of the greatest Torah scholars of all time, he was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt during the Middle Ages. He was the preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher. With the contemporary Muslim sage Averroes, he promoted and developed the philosophical tradition of Aristotle. As a result, Maimonides and Averroes would gain a prominent and controversial influence in the West, where Aristotelian thought had been suppressed for centuries

Lewis Newman Rosenbaum (1881-1956), financing and business organizer, born in Ungvar (also known as Uzhhorod), a city in Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine),  The family immigrated to the United States in 1887 and, like many other Jewish immigrants, settled in the lower east side of New York City. He moved to Nashville, TN, where he hoped to work in his uncle's cigar manufacturing company. Instead he obtained work as a legal assistant for Nashville attorney Moreau Estes. He was 19 years old when admitted to the Tennessee Bar on March 4, 1901. In 1903 he settled in Seattle, WA, and consequently he was admitted to the bar of Washington State in 1905. Rosenbaum’s business financing operations included the organization of chain stores, chains of office buildings, and publishing enterprises, throughout the country. He was an honorary  trustee of the Columbia Basin Irrigation League, which preceded the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

After settling in New York, Rosenbaum was a self-effacing potent figure in endeavors to foster improved Christian-Jewish relations in America.  As such he was chairman of the ways and means committee of Religion and Welfare Recovery and during World War II he aided the Jewish Welfare Board in its cultural program for U. S. O. centers. From 1911 to 1914 he was the representative of the State of Washington on the American Jewish Committee.

Rosenbaum presented (under the auspices of the Herzl Conservative Congregation) a chapel in memory of his mother, Fani Rosenbaum, to Herzl Memorial Park in Seattle.

Velka Berezna

Ukranian: Великий Березний; Hungarian: Nagy Berezna; Yiddish: Groys Berezna; Czech: Velký Berezný; Slovakian: Velká Berezna; Russian: Великий Берёзный (Velyke Berezne)

A small town in north-west Carpatho-Russia, Ukraine.

Velka Berezna lies north-west of the town Uzhgorod (in Hungarian Ungvar). Until 1918 it was part of the Ung district of Austro-Hungaria, and then part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia. In 1938 the region was annexed to Hungary and in 1945 to Ukraine, at that time a republic of the Soviet Union.
 

History

The Jewish community in Velka Berezna was founded in 1797 by the Jewish merchants Shimon Ben Meir, Mathathiahu Zevi Ben Moshe, Zevi ben Yehiel Isaac, Meir ben Abraham, Ben Schreiber, Mordecai ben Elimelekh, and others. The first synagogue was built in 1802 and later renovated several times.

In the 1870’s following the Congress of the Jews of Hungary the community was identified as an orthodox community and Jews of 36 villages in the area were also affiliated with it. The first rabbi of the community, Rabbi Abraham Brody, the great grandson of Rabbi Brody of Prague, was in office until his death in 1882. Among the first heads of the community were Sigmund Weinberger, Mor Feldman, David Mittelman, and Jacob Hauber.

In 1921 there were some 3,500 members in the community, including the Jews living in the neighboring villages. The yeshiva was attended by some 70 students at the time. The rabbi was then Rabbi Solomon Schreiber and the President Adolf Moskovitz.

A new synagogue was consecrated in 1924 and there were also a number of smaller prayer houses in the town. Among the institutions of the community were: a hevra kaddisha (burial society), a bikkur holim (visiting the sick) society, and a women’s charity society. There were also a Talmud torah school and a yeshiva.

In the 1920’s there were 10 major merchants, 40 small merchants, 30 soldiers, 30 artisans, about 200 members of the professions, including doctors and lawyers, 25 manual workers, and 10 farmers. 25 families of the community were dependent on welfare and about one third of the community’s budget was spent on welfare and charity.

In 1930, 2,404 Jews were living in Velka Berezna and the area.

 

The Holocaust

Following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, about a year before the outbreak of World War II, the Republic of Czechoslovakia was dismembered. As a result of the Vienna arbitration of November 2, 1938, the south of Slovakia and part of east Slovakia were annexed to Hungary. As soon as the Hungarian army entered Velka Berezna the local inhabitants began to harass the Jews. Those without Hungarian citizenship papers were expelled, and expired trade permits of Jews were not renewed. When the war broke out (September 1939) Jewish men were conscripted into labor companies in the Hungarian army.  In late July, 1941, a number of Jewish families without Hungarian citizenship were deported to Kamenets-Podolski in the Ukraine, where they were murdered.

On March 19, 1944, the Germans entered Hungary. On April 5 the Jews were ordered to wear the yellow badge. A few weeks later the Jews were moved to assembly centers and from there to labor camps and extermination camps. The Jews of Velka Berezna were sent to the extermination camp of Auschwitz in May or June 1944.

Ukraine

Україна / Ukrayina

A country in eastern Europe, until 1991 part of the Soviet Union.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 50,000 out of 42,000,000 (0.1%). Main Jewish organizations:

Єврейська Конфедерація України - Jewish Confederation of Ukraine
Phone: 044 584 49 53
Email: jcu.org.ua@gmail.com
Website: http://jcu.org.ua/en

Ваад (Ассоциация еврейских организаций и общин) Украины (VAAD – Asssociation of Jewish Organizations & Communities of Ukraine)
Voloska St, 8/5
Kyiv, Kyivs’ka
Ukraine 04070
Phone/Fax: 38 (044) 248-36-70, 38 (044) 425-97-57/-58/-59/-60
Email: vaadua.office@gmail.com
Website: http://www.vaadua.org/

Hungary

Magyarország

A country in central Europe, member of the European Union (EU). 

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 47,000 out of 9,800,000 (0.4%).  Hungary has the largest Jewish population in central and eastern Europe. Most Jews live in Budapest, with a minority living in a number of other communities of them the largest are located in Debrecen, Szeged, and Miskolc. The umbrella organization of the Jewish communities:

Mazsihisz
Phone: 36 1 413 55 00
Email: info@mazsihisz.com
Website: www.mazsihisz.hu

 

HISTORY

The Jews of Hungary

1251 | In the Land of Hagar

In the second half of the 11th century, some Jews migrated from the regions of Bohemia and Moravia, in today's Czech Republic, and settled in a part of the Pannonia region located in what is now Hungary. Documents from the time show that the local church issued edicts prohibiting marriages between Christians and Jews, as well as employing Jews at festivals and fairs.
This attitude changed in 1251 when King Bela IV issued a bill of rights that regulated trade relations between Jews and Christians and protected the Jews from harassment by Christians. This royal act caused Jews from all over Europe to start immigrating to Hungary, “Land of Hagar”, as it was called in Rabbinical literature of the Middle Ages.
But not all was rosy in the land of goulash and blintzes. The reign of King Lajos I saw a rise in the influence of the Catholic Church, which was displeased with the rights given to the Jews, and in 1360 this king decreed that the Jews be expelled from his kingdom. Four years later the decree was annulled due to financial reasons, but many of those expelled never returned.

1526 | Three States for One People

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Hungarians, Turks and Habsburg emperors all fought over the coveted Hungarian real-estate. The people of Hungary – and the Jews among them – passed from hand to hand and from sovereign to sovereign like second-rate goods at a country fair.
The story begins with the Battle of Mohacs, which took place in 1526 and ended with a fateful defeat for the Hungarians at the hands of the Turks. Following this clash Hungary was divided into three parts: The southeastern part fell into Turkish control, the northwestern part under the rule of the Habsburgs, while the eastern part – the region of Transylvania, which remained under Turkish sovereignty (but not Turkish rule) – became an independent principality.
The Jews who lived under Turkish rule enjoyed relative freedom. The most significant community in this area lived in the city of Buda (later to become part of modern-day Budapest). This was a community of Jews from the west and east alike, and the blend of cultures enriched the Torah life of Buda Jews thanks to the fruitful mixture of the study techniques perfected by the sages of Spain and the Ashkenazi principles of 'pilpul' – the nuanced legalistic mechanism of Talmud study.
The economic situation of the Jews in the city, which sat on a major trade route, on the banks of the Danube, was likewise improved, and they traded in all goods – from hides and rugs to cattle and liquor.
The Jews living in the eastern part of the country – as explained, under Turkish sovereignty but not direct Turkish rule – enjoyed relative prosperity, influenced by the Calvinists of the Hungarian Reform Church, who were more tolerant than their Catholic predecessors were.
The state of the Jews who lived under the Habsburgs, however, went from bad to worse, and many of them were expelled from the Crown cities.

1781 | The Edict of Toleration

Many historians mark the day on which Emperor Joseph II issued the “Edict of Toleration” for the Jews as the day on which the walls of the ghetto came down, at least metaphorically, and Jews began to integrate into the European sphere. The edict, issued in the year 1781, abolished the residential restriction that had been placed on the Jews, granted them freedom of movement throughout the empire and allowed them to take part in commerce and the economy, to enroll in institutions of general studies and practice free professions.
At the same time, the edict prohibited the operation of synagogues, as well as the use of Yiddish and Hebrew in official documents. Jews lacking formal education were not allowed to marry until age 25, as a way to encourage education.
But despite the restrictions on religious freedom, many Jews immigrated to Hungary, mostly from the regions of Galicia (now southern Poland) and Moravia (now in the Czech Republic). In time, the Jewish community of Hungary would split into two opposite schools: most of the Jews arriving from Moravia were enamored with the ideas of progress and adopted the values of the Enlightenment, and within 100 years they produced many thinkers and intellectuals, among them Theodore (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl, many of whom left an indelible impression on European culture.
The Jews who came from Galicia, on the other hand, adhered to their traditional Judaism, and in time founded the Hasidic courts of Satmar, Munkacs and others.

1848 | Amen-cipation

The history of the Enlightenment and its attitude towards the Jews is complex and inconsistent. One the one hand, those upholding the values of equality, which are the very heart of the Enlightenment movement, could not exclude the Jews, lest they be accused of double standards. On the other, the ancient European aversion to the notion of the Jew as an equal among equals made it hard for the Europeans to put their ideals into practice.
Hungary was not unique in this regard. Between 1815-1840 the number of Jews in Hungary grew by approximately 80% due to accelerated immigration, stemming from the reforms of Joseph II and the Edict of Toleration. On the face of it, Jews integrated into Hungarian society and received equal treatment, but the excuses for Jew-hatred always found willing ears.
One of many examples can be found in the words of one of the leaders of the Liberal movement in the lower house of parliament regarding the production of alcohol, one of the main occupation of the Jews in that period: “Those who live in areas where every saloon is in the hands of the Jews know what danger they pose to the people […] as they constantly hold the white poison.”
Another expression of anti-Semitism which no “edict of toleration” could undo came in 1848, during the “Spring of Nations” revolution. Although Jews took an active part in the revolution, the Liberal-controlled National Assembly refused to grant them fully equal rights. Following this decision, which of course caused much disappointment, many Jews argued that this was proof that the integration into Hungarian life must be increased and Jewish national identity should be blurred.
Despite the hostile environment, in 1860 the steamroller of enlightenment overcame racism and almost all restrictions on the Jews were lifted. The revolution was completed in 1867, when the Jews were granted full equality.

1868 | The Triple thread

What does one do when one is told, one fine day, that he is free?
The ideas of Enlightenment and rationalism, which had spread through the Jewish communities in relatively short order, caused deep changes in them. While in the pre-modern era the community was the legal, political and social framework that shaped the life of the Jew, after emancipation it was left with only religious authority.
The “Problem of the Jews,” as Achad Ha'am (Asher Ginzberg) called it, was paradoxically expressed in their successful integration into European life. For now the Jewish community had to decide the greatest question of all: What shall the unique Jewish identity consist of, now that there was no ghetto? How to act when cultural and corporeal walls no longer separate Jew from Gentile?
In 1868 these questions were laid before the Jewish congress organized by the community of Pest (soon to become part of Budapest), one of the largest and most important communities in Hungary. Three major schools of thought faced off with each other at this congress: The Orthodox, who believed in religious conservatism, seclusion, and a minimum of religious reforms; the Neologists (reformists), who called to accept the social changes willingly, use the Hungarian language in sermons and open the synagogues to the winds of change blowing through the world; and the “Status Quo” group, which favored maintaining the existing arrangements.
The Neologists won the majority of the votes at the congress, representing the desire of most Hungarian Jews to integrate into general society. The other schools of thought refused to accept the result, and organized in separate communities. A Jew visiting a Hungarian city in those days could have prayed Shacharit at the Neologist temple, Mincha at an Orthodox shul, and Arvit at a synagogue affiliated with the “Status-Quo” group. Such sharp polarization among the members of a Jewish community was a phenomenon unique to Hungary, and scholars believe that the deep rift left such a lasting impression on the community that its impact continued to be felt until the community was destroyed in WW2.

1882 | Same Solution, Opposite Reasons

Before a Hungarian Jew named Theodore (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl even began to think of the first draft for his book “The State of the Jews”, another Hungarian, Victor Istoczi, a Member of Parliament from a noble family, suggested the establishment a separate state for the Jews. Unlike Herzl, who developed the idea of the Jewish state out of concern for his people, Istoczi formulated the idea due to his fear of the Jews. In other words, they both thought of the idea for the same reason: Anti-Semitism.
Istoczi argued that Judaism is not just a religious community, but a social sect which shared blood, ancient tradition, common interests as well as religion turn into a tight-knit, closed unit. To him, the Jews were nothing but clever parasites planning to take over Hungary, and the internal division among them was but a nefarious plot: The task of the Orthodox was to preserve Judaism and its religious lifestyle, whereas the Neologists were to cunningly make their way into the front lines of Hungarian politics.
Istoczi's words found receptive ears and laid the foundation for the dual experience of the Jews of Hungary: On one hand, escalating anti-Semitism that peaked in the affair of “the girl from Tisza Eszlar”, a famous blood libel that took place in 1882, in which a shamash (synagogue attendant) and a Jewish shochet (ritual slaughterer) were accused of murdering a girl (a charge of which they were acquitted at trial and on appeal as well); on the other hand, an accelerated increase in the number of Jews who moved to the cities and integrated into the general fabric of life. The lesson was unmistakable: Hungarian society was unwilling to accept the Jews as they were. In order to integrate into it, they must renounce their social and religious uniqueness and adapt to the ways and customs of the non-Jewish population.

1886 | The Hungarian-Jewish International

One of the common responses to the non-acceptance of Jews in Hungarian society was that of assimilation. But in accordance with the famous observation by French philosopher Sartre, that “A Jew is one recognized as a Jew,” the fact that they had assimilated among the Hungarians didn't really help the Jews. The prevalent view was that the Jew was a foreign race in Europe and even if he really wanted, he could not become one with the Slavic races. “Judaism is a malignant infection everywhere,” a respectable Catholic journal declared in those days, “and it ruins the mores most particularly in the world of trade, degrades morality and turns corruption into a general fashion.”
One of the solutions for the catch-22 in which the Jews found themselves was to be found in a new ideology that began to spread in Europe at the end of the 19th century: Socialism.
Socialist thought stated that national and religious categories are a capitalist invention designed to obfuscate the gap between the classes. The Jews, who paid a heavy price for their ethnic identity, joined the movement in droves.
One of the main socialists in Hungary was Bela Kun, who was born in Transylvania in 1886. His father was a converted Jew and his mother a protestant. Kun belonged to a circle of well-known Jewish artists and writers, among whom were literary critic Gyorgi Lukacs, novelist Lajos Biro and others – all adherents of the communist ideology and key officials of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. In 1919 Kun was appointed Foreign Minister in the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic that was established after WW1.

1903 | Got a Shekel?

It is ironic that of all people, the visionary of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, was born in a country where the majority of Jews firmly rejected the Zionist idea, as most Hungarian Jews indeed did. The Orthodox community saw Zionism as a false messiah movement that could hasten the end of days, whereas the Neologist community supported assimilation and defined its members as “Hungarians of Mosaic Faith”, which is to say, Hungarian patriots like any other, who just happen to be Jews.
And yet, seven Hungarian Jews, arriving in Basel as self-appointed delegates, took part in the first Zionist Congress. The most notable among them were Janos Ronai, who in 1897 founded the first Zionist association in Hungary, and Shmuel Bettleheim, who founded the Zionist Organization of Hungary along with Ronai in 1903.
Over the years the Zionist movement grew stronger in Hungary. Indication of this can be found in the number of those who purchased the Eretz Israel Shekel, which rose from 500 to 1,200 people. (The Shekel was the annual dues collected by the Zionist Organization and which bestowed upon the purchaser the right to vote and be elected at Zionist congresses.) “The cream of the crop,” in the words of Dr. Hajim Weissburg, one of the founders, were the members of the Makkabea Club in 1903. The aim of the founders of the Makkabea Club was to provide the members of the Zionist Organization with Jewish and Zionist cultural values and to arouse Jewish awareness, self-respect and national pride among the Jews. Their activities followed those of student organizations and was characterized by communal meals, symbols, slogans, and even dueling when Jewish pride so required.

1910 | The “Big Bang” of Hungarian Jews

At the end of the 19th century, an era when Enlightenment and modernization reached a peak in western and central Europe, an enormous amount of intellect, ability and talent, that had been cooped up for hundreds of years in the yeshivas and batei midrash, exploded into the Hungarian atmosphere.
Hungarian Jews recorded immense achievements in all fields: From the great inventors Laszlo Biro and David Gestetner, through talented mathematicians such as Mano Beck and Miklos Schweitzer, through Nobel-winning chemists George Olah and Michael Polanyi.
More than any other field, Jews stood out in the world of journalism. Among the most influential media personalities in Hungary a special mention should be made of the writer Adolf Agai, who edited the popular satirical Borsszem Janko and publisher Sandor Braun, who invented new color printing formats, including the daily “Az Est”. Strong Jewish roots can also be found in the famous “press halls” of Budapest, which for the first time concentrated the entire journalism production chain - writing, editing, proofreading, printing, marketing and distribution – under one roof.
The field of literature and the humanities was another in which the Jews gained much success. One of these for example was the poet Jozsef Kis, who founded “A-Het”, a periodical which served as a home for Jewish poets and writers, including short story master Tomas Kobor. Upon the decline of A-Het it was replaced by the leading literary periodical “Nyugat”, which featured the works of Hungarian prose pioneer Sandor Brody and novelist and playwright Dezső Szomory Hungarian Jews and Hungarians of Jewish descent made a crucial contribution to the local theater and film as well, including actor Bernard Schwartz, better known as Hollywood star Tony Curtis, who was born in New York to Hungarian parents, and Casablanca director Mihaly Kertesz, who changed his named to Michael Curtiz when he immigrated to America.
Even in sports, considered a quintessentially “non-Jewish” activity, Jews stood out, winning almost 33% of all Olympic medals awarded to Hungarian athletes in the early 20th century.

1920 | The Jewish Laws

After WW1 Hungary lost some two thirds of its territory. Many Jewish Hungarians found themselves overnight living under the sovereignty of new states: Romania, Yugoslavia, Austria and others.
During the Great War (1914-1918) approximately 10,000 Jewish Hungarian soldiers fell in the killing fields, but the patriotism they showed didn't stop the anti-Semitic winds blowing through the streets of Hungary, intensified by the many Jewish refugees streaming from Galicia in search of shelter in the Hungarian lands.
Like many countries attempting to forge a national identity between the two world wars, Hungary too tried to establish a communist regime, but it lasted only 133 days, followed by the regime of Miklos Horthy, a conservative national war hero with anti-Semitic tendencies. The suppression of the communist regime was accompanied by pogroms against the “cosmopolitan” Jews, in which the “white terror” fascist gangs murdered some 3.000 Jews.
During the 1920's Hungary was home to a sort of “soft anti-Semitism”. On one hand, discriminatory quotas on Jewish enrollment in universities, which stood at only 5%. On the other – the Jews were awarded a certain representation in the Hungarian parliament.
At the end of the 1930s the Jews of Hungary, numbering some 450,000, lived under an anti-Jewish assault. It was a slippery slope: In 1938 parliament passed the first “Jewish Law”, which restricted their freedom of occupation in many fields and broadened the definition of “Jew” to those who had converted after 1919. A year later the Hungarian parliament passed “The Second Jewish Law” which expanded the definition of “Jew” even further, to include another 100,000 people who had converted before 1919, as well as their children.
These moves were the barbaric constitutional foundation for the annihilation of the Jews of Hungary during WW2.

1944 | Goods For Blood

The Jewish community of Hungary had the dubious honor of being among the few which the Nazi extermination machine left for the end of the war; but when it did happen, the annihilation was deadly, methodical and quick, even for the Nazis.
Unlike the Jews of Poland, many of whom believed the lies of the Nazi propaganda machine, the prevalent view among scholars is that the Jews of Hungary were indeed aware of the horrible atrocities of the Nazis, but until the last moment could not believe that such barbarity could take place in a civilized country like Hungary.
When the Nazis conquered Hungary, in March 1944, there were some 750,000 Jews living in it, of whom about 300,000 were refugees and displaced persons from the east. Over the course of two months about half a million Jews wearing yellow stars were concentrated in ghettos established by the Nazis in every Hungarian city, and in May 1944 they began to be transported en masse to Auschwitz. It is estimated that within a few weeks approximately 450,000 of Hungary's Jews were murdered in this fashion.
In October 1944 the Nazis deposed the Hungarian Regent Horthy and appointed anti-Semitic fascist Ferenc Szalasi, head of the Iron Cross Party, as Prime Minister. As soon as Szalasi took office, the authorities no longer protected the Jews of Budapest. Death ran wild in the streets of the city, and the Danube turned red with the blood the elderly, women and children who were shot in the back and dumped in the river.
One of the most controversial episodes in the Holocaust of Hungary's Jews has to do with Israel Kastner, Deputy Head of the Zionist Organization in the country and one of the founders of the “Aid and Rescue Committee of Budapest”. Kastner saved some 1,700 Jews thanks to a deal he signed with Adolf Eichmann, which can be summed up in three terrible words: “Goods for blood”.
In the 1950s the “Kastner Affair” exploded in Israel after the latter was accused by District Court Judge Binyamin Halevy of “selling his soul to the devil”. Three years later the Supreme court cleared Kastner's name, but he didn't live to see it: A few months earlier, on March 4th, 1957, Kastner was gunned down by three Jewish assassins in Tel Aviv.

2001 | From the establishment of Israel until today

After the Holocaust approximately 145,000 Jews remained in Hungary. During these years the Zionist movement operated at full steam, and many of Hungary's Jews moved to Israel. Among the most prominent were journalist-cum-Justice Minister Yosef (“Tommy”) Lapid, satirical writer Ephraim Kishon and Bank of Israel Governor Moshe Zanbar. The Jews remaining in Hungary mostly turned their backs on Jewish tradition, whether due to the trauma of the Holocaust or the influence of the atheist communist regime. In the late 1940s the Communist Party came to power in Hungary. Jewish educational institutions were closed down, and all Zionist activity was banned. Jews who were of a clear communist bent found key positions in the party. One of these was the dictator Matyas Rakosi, who ruled the country from 1949 to 1956.
During the Communist era the Jewish community in Budapest was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Religious Affairs at the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior. Since 1968 each of the city's 18 districts had at least one synagogue. The one on Dohany Street is considered the largest synagogue in Europe. The disintegration of the Communist regime and the democratic reforms in Hungary rejuvenated the Jewish community. About 20 new synagogues opened, as well as community and social institutions. But anti-Semitism has not abated in Hungary, and has reached new heights in the second decade of the 21st century, with the nationalist Jobbik party receiving approximately 16.5% of the vote in 2010, and over 20% in 2014. Among the anti-Semitic incidents recorded was the throwing of a dead pig on the statue of Raoul Wallenberg, famous for saving Jews during the Holocaust, and naming a square after Albert Wass, a notorious anti-Semite accused of murdering Jewish women in Transylvania.
As of the early 21st century the Jewish community of Budapest numbered approximately 80,000 people – the largest Jewish community in Central Europe, operating 23 synagogues and places of worship, two colleges, three elementary schools, three kindergartens, a hospital, two nursing homes and several cemeteries.

Rachov

Other names: Rachovo, Rahovo, Rakhiv; in Hungarian: Raho
A sub-district town, west Carpatho-Russia, Ukraine.

Rachov is situated on the River Csorna Tisa. The town’s jurisdiction covers also the village Berlebas, some 9 kms south of it. Rachov had been part of the district of Maramaros in the Autro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I (1918), part of the district north of the River Tisa was given to the Republic of Czechoslovakia. From March 1939 to the spring of 1945 the region had been under Hungarian occupation and after the World War II (1945) was annexed to Ukraine, then a republic of the Soviet Union.

The majority of the inhabitants of Rachov are Ruthenians, some are Hungarian and Schwabs (Germans).

Two Jews are on record in Rachov in the year 1728, one of them leased a farming estate. In 1735 and again in 1746 two other Jews are mentioned in records. Later, for about 100 years, Jews were not permitted to live at Rachov. Only in the middle of the 19th century, when the restricting laws against the Jews were gradually annulled, a few dozen Jews from Galicia came to Rachov and founded a community. A community register was kept as from 1869. In the 1870’s following the congress of the Jews of Hungary, the community was registered as an orthodox community. Among its institutions were: a hevra kaddisha, two Torah study societies, a psalms society, and a number of charity funds. In 1920 a women’s charity society by the name of “Vered" was formed.

In 1880, 288 Jews lived in Rachov. A wooden synagogue was apparently built at that time, and the great brick synagogue followed some years later. There were also a beit midrash of the Mishnah study society, the small bet midrash at the rabbis house, and a kloiz of the Admor Rosenboim.

The first rabbi of the community, Rabbi Israel Haim Friedman, a scholar of the religious law, was appointed in 1888 and served until his death in 1922. He was succeeded by his son Rabbi Shelomo Zalman Friedman who was a Sighet hasid and headed a yeshiva at the place. Among his students, whose number sometimes reached 150, were also students of other Hasidic centres. They came from Maramaros and other places in Carpatho-Russia. The Admor Isaac Rosenboim had a beit midrash at his home. His brother, the Admor Mordecai Rosenboim, was the leader of the Hasidim of Rachov in the period between the two world wars. The community employed a mohel (circumciser) and shohatim (ritual slaughterers). Of the heads of the community are known Shelomo Abish and M. Davidovitz.

In 1921, there were 1,400 Jews in the community of Rachov, including the 50 Jews of Berlebas. Most of them were Hasidim of Vizhnitz and they spoke Yiddish.

In 1930, 1,234 Jews lived in Rachov, out of a total population of 8,893.

The majority of the Jews of Rachov were merchants and almost the whole of the town’s trade was in their hands. Among the artisans were: tailors, cobblers, carpenters, watchmakers, tanners, bakers, photographers, and others. Jews founded at Rachov 3 big sawmills, 3 flour mills, and a power station. These enterprises employed Jews as workers and clerks. Among the professionals were: a judge, 3 lawyers, 2 doctors, 3 dentists. Jews owned farm and forest lands and a few were owners of taxicabs. The secretary of the town was most of the time Jewish and there were Jews also on the staff of the municipal authority.

At the time of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, between the two world wars, the majority of the Rachov Jews were followers of "Agudat Israel", nevertheless there was a lively Zionist activity among the youth of the town. Mendel Davidovitz of the Zionist Revisionist movement founded at Rachov a branch of the Revisionist youth movement Betar. Davidovitz was a delegate to Zionist congresses. In addition, there were also local branches of "Hashomer Hazair", “Hehalutz", and "Hamizrachi". In 1926, prior to the elections to the 15th Zionist congress, 20 shekels (membership in the Zionist organization and a voting right) were acquired at Rachov.

A drama circle was active at Rachov and plays in Yiddish were performed during Hanukkah and Purim festivals at Rachov and neighbouring Jewish settlements. Jewish youth engaged also in sport and the two local sport clubs, football and tennis, were composed mainly of Jews.


The Holocaust period

The Munich Agreement was signed in September 1938, about a year before the outbreak of World War II and in November of that year the Ruthenians were given autonomy in part of Carpatho-Russia, including Rachov. In the pro-German Ruthenian regime the Jews were in constant danger of losing their lives and property. Ruthenians made plans to take over Jewish property and drew up lists of Jews to be killed. On 15.3.1939 the Hungarians occupied the region and liquidated the Ruthenian bands. But the relief was short-lived. The "Jewish laws" of the pro-German Hungarian government, which restricted the Jews in education, trade, and the professions, were applied also against the Jews of the occupied territory. Many young Jews escaped to the USSR, but most of them were arrested there as spies or suspect elements and sent to forced labour camps. Some of them died in Siberia, the others eventually volunteered to the Red Army or to the Czech units under General Svoboda which fought under Soviet command.

In July 1941 several dozens of Jews who did not possess Hungarian citizenship papers were expelled from Rachov. They were murdered in Kamenets Podolski together with scores of thousands of other Jews who had been similarly expelled from Hungary. Two families from Rachov and ten Jews from Berlebas managed however to escape and returned to Hungary. In that year Jewish men of the ages 18-48 were conscripted to labour companies in the Hungarian army.

On 19.3.44 the German army entered Hungary. On the 16th of April the Jews of Rachov were herded into the general school and kept there for 8 days. On the 9th day they were moved to the ghetto that had been set up in the town of Mate Szalka, were about 17,000 Jews were being kept without shelter over their heads, without food and without sanitary conditions. A month later all the Jews in the ghetto were sent to the extermination camp of Auschwitz in Poland. The number of the Jews of Rachov and the area who perished at Auschwitz and other camps was about 1,200.

In the autumn of 1944 when the Red Army liberated the town, the Jews of Rachov who had escaped from the labour camps returned to their homes. They revived the life of the community and in 1945, when the war ended, they were joined by survivors from the concentration camps in Germany. A steady minyan was organized at one of the Jewish houses. Rabbi Shelomo Zalman Friedman survived the war but did not return to Rachov. He was appointed as the head of the rabbinical court in the town of Satmar (Satu Mare), and in 1947 moved to Lugano in Switzerland. He spent the last years of his life in Bene-Berak in Israel. The shohet Rabbi Ze’ev Greif also survived, returned to Rachov and served in addition as the mohel (circumciser) for the whole neighbourhood, until his death in 1975. When Carpatho-Russia became part of Ukraine all the prayer houses were requisitioned from the Jews and the buildings were turned into warehouses. With the years, most of the Jews left the place and in the 1970’s there were less than a minyan Jews at Rachov.

Sobrance

In Hungarian: Szobranc

A small town in north-east Slovakia.

Sobrance lies near the border with Ukraine on the highway between Kosice and Uzhorod. Until 1918 it had been part of Hungary and at the end of World War I it was annexed to the Republic of Czechoslovakia. From 1993 it is part of Slovakia.

Jews had apparently lived at Sobrance already in the 17th century. This is testified by tombstones in the cemetery. A hevra kaddisha (burial society) was formed at the beginning of the 19th century. At first there was in Sobrance only a prayer house, later a synagogue was built. In the synagogue there was a chair decorated with appropriate inscriptions, which served for circumcision ceremonies. Sobrance also had a Talmud torah school. To the rabbinate of Sobrance were affiliated also Jews of 8 villages in the neighbourhood, but they had their own cemeteries. The last rabbi of Sobrance was Rabbi Menashe Friedman, who occupied the position for 40 years. Among the heads of the community were Lazar Lebovic, Jacob Schoenberger, Ignaz Weinberger and J. Berkovitz. In a cholera epidemic in 1873 most of the inhabitants of the town found their death, among them also Jews.

The fertile land of the area supplied plenty means of livelihood to the local inhabitants. Among the Jews of Sobrance were shopkeepers, innkeepers, and merchants who traded also in the markets of Uzhorod and Michalovce.

In 1867 Hungary granted its Jews full civil rights. Since then they adopted a wider range of occupations and became involved also in municipal affairs. The Republic of Czechoslovakia, between the two world wars, recognized the Jews as a national minority with appropriate rights. At that time some Zionist activity also developed at Sobrance. In 1924 prior to the elections to the 14th Zionist Congress, the local representatives of Hamizrachi reported the sale of Shekels, membership in the Zionist Organization and a voting right in Sobrance. In 1937, prior to the elections to the 20th Zionist Congress, 7 Shekels were acquired by Jews of the town.

In 1930, 336 Jews were living in Sobrance and 1,933 in the whole area of its jurisdiction. 1,298 of them declared themselves as belonging to the Jewish nation.


The Holocaust Period

Following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, about a year before World War II broke out, the Republic of Czechoslovakia disintegrated. Slovakia broke away from the republic on October 6, 1938, and under the encouragement of Nazi Germany established an independent Fascist regime. Gradually all the Jewish businesses were transferred to Aryan hands and the Jews remained without any means of livelihood. A local branch of a Jewish country-wide organization to help to impoverished Jews was opened at Sobrance.

In the spring of 1942 Jewish young women were deported to concentration camps in occupied Poland. The women were soon followed by young Jewish men and finally by whole families. Information as to the exact time of the deportation of the Jews of Sobrance is not available. They were apparently deported in the first 10 days of may 1942, via Michalovce, to the area of Lublin in Poland, where most of them found their death. A number of young Jews who had managed to escape joined the Slovak partisans in 1944 and fought the Germans.

After the war survivors of Sobrance returned to the town and revived the life of the community. They dedicated a prayer house and with the material of the ruined synagogue built a mikveh (purification bath) on the site of the synagogue.

In 1948, 396 Jews lived at Sobrance, with Ignaz Weinberger as president. Later most of the Jews left the place. Some of them went to Israel and some to other countries. In 1953 only 9 Jewish families remained at Sobrance. The prayer house and the mikveh were still used by them, although the ownership of the prayer house had been transferred to the union of Jewish communities in Bratislava.

In the 1980s there were no longer any Jews in Sobrance.

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The Jewish Community of Uzhgorod

Uzhgorod

 

Czech: Uzhorod

Hungarian: Ungvar

A town in Transcarpathian Oblast, Ukraine.

Part of Austro-Hungary until 1920, then in Czechoslovakia; between 1938 and 1945 in Hungary; and since then until 1991 in the Soviet Union.

 

21st Century

In 2005 there were about 600 Jews, mostly elderly, still living in the town and they received support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Community. They have a synagogue, Jewish community center, a Jewish Day school and they publish a magazine called Gut Shabbos which covers Jewish activities in the Carpathian Mountains. The nearby Jewish communities of Munkatch, Chust, Vinograda and Rachov participate in their activities. There is a Chabad which run a pre-school and mikvah.

The magnificent synagogue, built in 1904, has served as a concert hall Transcarpathian Philharmonic Hall since WWII. All Jewish symbols were removed from the building, but as of 2012 there is a plaque commemorating the 85,000 Jews from Zakarpattia Oblast murdered in the Holocaust.

 

History

The Jewish community of Uzhgorod, probably dated from the 16th century. There is some controversy about who were the original Jewish settlers. Some say Sephardic Jews came in the fifteenth century, some say survivors of the Chemilnitzki massacres (1648-1649) were the first to settle. At the end of the 1720s, approximately 30 Jewish families lived in the town, which at that time belonged to the Habsburg monarchy. In 1730, they employed Rabbi Bodek Raisman from Lviv who was considered the founder of the local community. In the 18th century, the local Jews lived primarily off winemaking and agriculture; the community was very poor. Jews from Galicia came in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and contributed to the growth of the town.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century a yeshiva was established. Some of the outstanding rabbis, disciples of the Hatam Sofer, of Hungary served in Uzhgorod, notably Rabbi Meir Eisenstadter (Maharam Esh; officiated until 1852), his son Menaḥem Esh (d. 1863), and Ḥayim Tsevi-Hirsh Mannheimer (1814–1886). They also played national roles and had great spiritual influence on Uzhgorod and Hungarian Jewry in general. Solomon Ganzfried, author of the Kitztzur Shulchan Arukh, served as dayyan in 1866.

In 1864 Karl Jaeger established a Hebrew printing press with types bought in Vienna. The first book printed was M. Eisenstadter's Responsa Imrei Esh, (part 2). Printing continued until 1878. In 1926 another press was set up by M. S. Gelles and continued to be active until World War II. About 70 works were printed in Uzhgorod. The city remained a center for the publication of traditional rabbinic works from the 1920s until the Holocaust.

During the Hungarian revolution in 1848–1849, Ungvár sent 14 Jewish men to serve in the army, and the congregation fully equipped a battalion of soldiers.

The concentration of secular intelligentsia, and large numbers of physicians, lawyers, printers, and clerks, contributed to both the rise of Magyar nationalism and the appearance of a more liberal Judaism. However, the efforts of this sector to develop modern education met with determined opposition by the Orthodox. When in the mid-1860s a debate developed around the establishment of a rabbinical seminary, Me’ir Eisenstadt led the opposition successfully. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, government authorities imposed secular schools on the population as part of its Magyarization program. In 1868 the community split to found a separate Neolog community, whose first rabbi was M. Klein, translator of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed into Hungarian. Soon after the establishment of the community, however, most of its members returned to Orthodox Judaism.

At the turn of the 20th century, Hasidism gained significant influence in Uzhgorod. Among the most prominent tzaddikim residing in the town were Yitzchak Teitelboim (1869–1944) and Issachar Ber Lifshitz (1889–1944), as well as the Leifer family (Issachar Ber Leifer and his sons Meir, Chaim Lejb and Reuwen Menachem), representing the Przemyśl dynasty, and Chaim Jakub Safrin of the Zhydachiv dynasty.

In 1890 a Jewish elementary school was established. The language of instruction was first Hungarian and later Czech.  The community also maintained a Talmud torah school and a yeshivah. In 1904 a central synagogue was established in a magnificent building. In 1909, a Chasiddic synagogue was built.  The community was vibrant with three women’s associations, a Jewish hospital, an old people’s home, and a free eatery.

In 1914, the town experienced an influx of thousands of Jewish refugees from Galicia, which had been seized by the Russian army. When the front line approached Uzhgorod, most of the local Jews escaped, but in 1915, when the danger passed, almost all of them returned.

Between the two world wars Uzhgorod became a center of intense Jewish national and Zionist (revisionist) activities. In 1930 the community numbered 7,357, about one-third of the total population.

In 1934, a Hebrew high school was founded; it upheld conservative religious values and encountered only minor rabbinical opposition. After the Hungarian occupation of the region, the high school underwent intensive Magyarization, and in April 1944, with the beginning of deportations to Auschwitz, it closed its doors.

In 1938 the Jewish population was 9,676. They were an important force in the local economy, and many Jewish politicians were elected to the local government. One of the town’s streets was named in honor of Theodore Herzl, and another in honor of local doctor W. London. In 1919, two Jewish primary schools were opened in Uzhgorod, one with Czech as the language of instruction and the other one with Hebrew, followed by a middle school with Yiddish in 1924. A branch of the Zionist Organisation was established in 1919, and in the 1930s the town became one of the centres of the revisionist movement. In the interwar period, the Zsidó Néplap Zionist weekly was published in Uzhgorod.

Before WWII, Uzhgorod was a busy trading center with shops, workshops, restaurants and banks - primarily operated by Jews. The vast majority were employed in small trade and about 25-30% in major and minor commerce. There were also Jewish doctors and lawyers. Jews worked in government offices, health organizations, court houses, banks and cultural institutions. There were also wealthy Jews - the Moskovits family who owned brick factories - and others.

 

The Holocaust

Following the Munich pact (1938), Uzhgorod was annexed by Hungary, which immediately implemented anti-Jewish legislation. Local Magyars spearheaded the persecution of the Jews in the community. In the winter of 1939/40, all Jews of Polish citizenship or Czech citizens originally from Poland were expelled to Poland, and many died under the severe conditions. The young were conscripted into forced labor and sent to the Russian front, never to return.

With the Nazi occupation in March, 1944, the situation became much worse. On Passover (April 21-23) 1944, all the Jews of Uzhgorod and the surroundings (25,000 persons) were concentrated in a ghetto located outside the town in a brick factory and a lumber yard. There was not enough food or water and there was an outbreak of an epidemic. Three weeks later all were deported to Auschwitz. The first transport left on May 17 and the fifth and last on May 31. 

 

Postwar

Following the war, several hundred survivors returned, but many left for Czechoslovakia and Israel.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Sobrance
Rachov
CARPATHIAN MOUN
Hungary
Ukraine
Velka Berezna

Sobrance

In Hungarian: Szobranc

A small town in north-east Slovakia.

Sobrance lies near the border with Ukraine on the highway between Kosice and Uzhorod. Until 1918 it had been part of Hungary and at the end of World War I it was annexed to the Republic of Czechoslovakia. From 1993 it is part of Slovakia.

Jews had apparently lived at Sobrance already in the 17th century. This is testified by tombstones in the cemetery. A hevra kaddisha (burial society) was formed at the beginning of the 19th century. At first there was in Sobrance only a prayer house, later a synagogue was built. In the synagogue there was a chair decorated with appropriate inscriptions, which served for circumcision ceremonies. Sobrance also had a Talmud torah school. To the rabbinate of Sobrance were affiliated also Jews of 8 villages in the neighbourhood, but they had their own cemeteries. The last rabbi of Sobrance was Rabbi Menashe Friedman, who occupied the position for 40 years. Among the heads of the community were Lazar Lebovic, Jacob Schoenberger, Ignaz Weinberger and J. Berkovitz. In a cholera epidemic in 1873 most of the inhabitants of the town found their death, among them also Jews.

The fertile land of the area supplied plenty means of livelihood to the local inhabitants. Among the Jews of Sobrance were shopkeepers, innkeepers, and merchants who traded also in the markets of Uzhorod and Michalovce.

In 1867 Hungary granted its Jews full civil rights. Since then they adopted a wider range of occupations and became involved also in municipal affairs. The Republic of Czechoslovakia, between the two world wars, recognized the Jews as a national minority with appropriate rights. At that time some Zionist activity also developed at Sobrance. In 1924 prior to the elections to the 14th Zionist Congress, the local representatives of Hamizrachi reported the sale of Shekels, membership in the Zionist Organization and a voting right in Sobrance. In 1937, prior to the elections to the 20th Zionist Congress, 7 Shekels were acquired by Jews of the town.

In 1930, 336 Jews were living in Sobrance and 1,933 in the whole area of its jurisdiction. 1,298 of them declared themselves as belonging to the Jewish nation.


The Holocaust Period

Following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, about a year before World War II broke out, the Republic of Czechoslovakia disintegrated. Slovakia broke away from the republic on October 6, 1938, and under the encouragement of Nazi Germany established an independent Fascist regime. Gradually all the Jewish businesses were transferred to Aryan hands and the Jews remained without any means of livelihood. A local branch of a Jewish country-wide organization to help to impoverished Jews was opened at Sobrance.

In the spring of 1942 Jewish young women were deported to concentration camps in occupied Poland. The women were soon followed by young Jewish men and finally by whole families. Information as to the exact time of the deportation of the Jews of Sobrance is not available. They were apparently deported in the first 10 days of may 1942, via Michalovce, to the area of Lublin in Poland, where most of them found their death. A number of young Jews who had managed to escape joined the Slovak partisans in 1944 and fought the Germans.

After the war survivors of Sobrance returned to the town and revived the life of the community. They dedicated a prayer house and with the material of the ruined synagogue built a mikveh (purification bath) on the site of the synagogue.

In 1948, 396 Jews lived at Sobrance, with Ignaz Weinberger as president. Later most of the Jews left the place. Some of them went to Israel and some to other countries. In 1953 only 9 Jewish families remained at Sobrance. The prayer house and the mikveh were still used by them, although the ownership of the prayer house had been transferred to the union of Jewish communities in Bratislava.

In the 1980s there were no longer any Jews in Sobrance.

Rachov

Other names: Rachovo, Rahovo, Rakhiv; in Hungarian: Raho
A sub-district town, west Carpatho-Russia, Ukraine.

Rachov is situated on the River Csorna Tisa. The town’s jurisdiction covers also the village Berlebas, some 9 kms south of it. Rachov had been part of the district of Maramaros in the Autro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I (1918), part of the district north of the River Tisa was given to the Republic of Czechoslovakia. From March 1939 to the spring of 1945 the region had been under Hungarian occupation and after the World War II (1945) was annexed to Ukraine, then a republic of the Soviet Union.

The majority of the inhabitants of Rachov are Ruthenians, some are Hungarian and Schwabs (Germans).

Two Jews are on record in Rachov in the year 1728, one of them leased a farming estate. In 1735 and again in 1746 two other Jews are mentioned in records. Later, for about 100 years, Jews were not permitted to live at Rachov. Only in the middle of the 19th century, when the restricting laws against the Jews were gradually annulled, a few dozen Jews from Galicia came to Rachov and founded a community. A community register was kept as from 1869. In the 1870’s following the congress of the Jews of Hungary, the community was registered as an orthodox community. Among its institutions were: a hevra kaddisha, two Torah study societies, a psalms society, and a number of charity funds. In 1920 a women’s charity society by the name of “Vered" was formed.

In 1880, 288 Jews lived in Rachov. A wooden synagogue was apparently built at that time, and the great brick synagogue followed some years later. There were also a beit midrash of the Mishnah study society, the small bet midrash at the rabbis house, and a kloiz of the Admor Rosenboim.

The first rabbi of the community, Rabbi Israel Haim Friedman, a scholar of the religious law, was appointed in 1888 and served until his death in 1922. He was succeeded by his son Rabbi Shelomo Zalman Friedman who was a Sighet hasid and headed a yeshiva at the place. Among his students, whose number sometimes reached 150, were also students of other Hasidic centres. They came from Maramaros and other places in Carpatho-Russia. The Admor Isaac Rosenboim had a beit midrash at his home. His brother, the Admor Mordecai Rosenboim, was the leader of the Hasidim of Rachov in the period between the two world wars. The community employed a mohel (circumciser) and shohatim (ritual slaughterers). Of the heads of the community are known Shelomo Abish and M. Davidovitz.

In 1921, there were 1,400 Jews in the community of Rachov, including the 50 Jews of Berlebas. Most of them were Hasidim of Vizhnitz and they spoke Yiddish.

In 1930, 1,234 Jews lived in Rachov, out of a total population of 8,893.

The majority of the Jews of Rachov were merchants and almost the whole of the town’s trade was in their hands. Among the artisans were: tailors, cobblers, carpenters, watchmakers, tanners, bakers, photographers, and others. Jews founded at Rachov 3 big sawmills, 3 flour mills, and a power station. These enterprises employed Jews as workers and clerks. Among the professionals were: a judge, 3 lawyers, 2 doctors, 3 dentists. Jews owned farm and forest lands and a few were owners of taxicabs. The secretary of the town was most of the time Jewish and there were Jews also on the staff of the municipal authority.

At the time of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, between the two world wars, the majority of the Rachov Jews were followers of "Agudat Israel", nevertheless there was a lively Zionist activity among the youth of the town. Mendel Davidovitz of the Zionist Revisionist movement founded at Rachov a branch of the Revisionist youth movement Betar. Davidovitz was a delegate to Zionist congresses. In addition, there were also local branches of "Hashomer Hazair", “Hehalutz", and "Hamizrachi". In 1926, prior to the elections to the 15th Zionist congress, 20 shekels (membership in the Zionist organization and a voting right) were acquired at Rachov.

A drama circle was active at Rachov and plays in Yiddish were performed during Hanukkah and Purim festivals at Rachov and neighbouring Jewish settlements. Jewish youth engaged also in sport and the two local sport clubs, football and tennis, were composed mainly of Jews.


The Holocaust period

The Munich Agreement was signed in September 1938, about a year before the outbreak of World War II and in November of that year the Ruthenians were given autonomy in part of Carpatho-Russia, including Rachov. In the pro-German Ruthenian regime the Jews were in constant danger of losing their lives and property. Ruthenians made plans to take over Jewish property and drew up lists of Jews to be killed. On 15.3.1939 the Hungarians occupied the region and liquidated the Ruthenian bands. But the relief was short-lived. The "Jewish laws" of the pro-German Hungarian government, which restricted the Jews in education, trade, and the professions, were applied also against the Jews of the occupied territory. Many young Jews escaped to the USSR, but most of them were arrested there as spies or suspect elements and sent to forced labour camps. Some of them died in Siberia, the others eventually volunteered to the Red Army or to the Czech units under General Svoboda which fought under Soviet command.

In July 1941 several dozens of Jews who did not possess Hungarian citizenship papers were expelled from Rachov. They were murdered in Kamenets Podolski together with scores of thousands of other Jews who had been similarly expelled from Hungary. Two families from Rachov and ten Jews from Berlebas managed however to escape and returned to Hungary. In that year Jewish men of the ages 18-48 were conscripted to labour companies in the Hungarian army.

On 19.3.44 the German army entered Hungary. On the 16th of April the Jews of Rachov were herded into the general school and kept there for 8 days. On the 9th day they were moved to the ghetto that had been set up in the town of Mate Szalka, were about 17,000 Jews were being kept without shelter over their heads, without food and without sanitary conditions. A month later all the Jews in the ghetto were sent to the extermination camp of Auschwitz in Poland. The number of the Jews of Rachov and the area who perished at Auschwitz and other camps was about 1,200.

In the autumn of 1944 when the Red Army liberated the town, the Jews of Rachov who had escaped from the labour camps returned to their homes. They revived the life of the community and in 1945, when the war ended, they were joined by survivors from the concentration camps in Germany. A steady minyan was organized at one of the Jewish houses. Rabbi Shelomo Zalman Friedman survived the war but did not return to Rachov. He was appointed as the head of the rabbinical court in the town of Satmar (Satu Mare), and in 1947 moved to Lugano in Switzerland. He spent the last years of his life in Bene-Berak in Israel. The shohet Rabbi Ze’ev Greif also survived, returned to Rachov and served in addition as the mohel (circumciser) for the whole neighbourhood, until his death in 1975. When Carpatho-Russia became part of Ukraine all the prayer houses were requisitioned from the Jews and the buildings were turned into warehouses. With the years, most of the Jews left the place and in the 1970’s there were less than a minyan Jews at Rachov.

Hungary

Magyarország

A country in central Europe, member of the European Union (EU). 

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 47,000 out of 9,800,000 (0.4%).  Hungary has the largest Jewish population in central and eastern Europe. Most Jews live in Budapest, with a minority living in a number of other communities of them the largest are located in Debrecen, Szeged, and Miskolc. The umbrella organization of the Jewish communities:

Mazsihisz
Phone: 36 1 413 55 00
Email: info@mazsihisz.com
Website: www.mazsihisz.hu

 

HISTORY

The Jews of Hungary

1251 | In the Land of Hagar

In the second half of the 11th century, some Jews migrated from the regions of Bohemia and Moravia, in today's Czech Republic, and settled in a part of the Pannonia region located in what is now Hungary. Documents from the time show that the local church issued edicts prohibiting marriages between Christians and Jews, as well as employing Jews at festivals and fairs.
This attitude changed in 1251 when King Bela IV issued a bill of rights that regulated trade relations between Jews and Christians and protected the Jews from harassment by Christians. This royal act caused Jews from all over Europe to start immigrating to Hungary, “Land of Hagar”, as it was called in Rabbinical literature of the Middle Ages.
But not all was rosy in the land of goulash and blintzes. The reign of King Lajos I saw a rise in the influence of the Catholic Church, which was displeased with the rights given to the Jews, and in 1360 this king decreed that the Jews be expelled from his kingdom. Four years later the decree was annulled due to financial reasons, but many of those expelled never returned.

1526 | Three States for One People

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Hungarians, Turks and Habsburg emperors all fought over the coveted Hungarian real-estate. The people of Hungary – and the Jews among them – passed from hand to hand and from sovereign to sovereign like second-rate goods at a country fair.
The story begins with the Battle of Mohacs, which took place in 1526 and ended with a fateful defeat for the Hungarians at the hands of the Turks. Following this clash Hungary was divided into three parts: The southeastern part fell into Turkish control, the northwestern part under the rule of the Habsburgs, while the eastern part – the region of Transylvania, which remained under Turkish sovereignty (but not Turkish rule) – became an independent principality.
The Jews who lived under Turkish rule enjoyed relative freedom. The most significant community in this area lived in the city of Buda (later to become part of modern-day Budapest). This was a community of Jews from the west and east alike, and the blend of cultures enriched the Torah life of Buda Jews thanks to the fruitful mixture of the study techniques perfected by the sages of Spain and the Ashkenazi principles of 'pilpul' – the nuanced legalistic mechanism of Talmud study.
The economic situation of the Jews in the city, which sat on a major trade route, on the banks of the Danube, was likewise improved, and they traded in all goods – from hides and rugs to cattle and liquor.
The Jews living in the eastern part of the country – as explained, under Turkish sovereignty but not direct Turkish rule – enjoyed relative prosperity, influenced by the Calvinists of the Hungarian Reform Church, who were more tolerant than their Catholic predecessors were.
The state of the Jews who lived under the Habsburgs, however, went from bad to worse, and many of them were expelled from the Crown cities.

1781 | The Edict of Toleration

Many historians mark the day on which Emperor Joseph II issued the “Edict of Toleration” for the Jews as the day on which the walls of the ghetto came down, at least metaphorically, and Jews began to integrate into the European sphere. The edict, issued in the year 1781, abolished the residential restriction that had been placed on the Jews, granted them freedom of movement throughout the empire and allowed them to take part in commerce and the economy, to enroll in institutions of general studies and practice free professions.
At the same time, the edict prohibited the operation of synagogues, as well as the use of Yiddish and Hebrew in official documents. Jews lacking formal education were not allowed to marry until age 25, as a way to encourage education.
But despite the restrictions on religious freedom, many Jews immigrated to Hungary, mostly from the regions of Galicia (now southern Poland) and Moravia (now in the Czech Republic). In time, the Jewish community of Hungary would split into two opposite schools: most of the Jews arriving from Moravia were enamored with the ideas of progress and adopted the values of the Enlightenment, and within 100 years they produced many thinkers and intellectuals, among them Theodore (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl, many of whom left an indelible impression on European culture.
The Jews who came from Galicia, on the other hand, adhered to their traditional Judaism, and in time founded the Hasidic courts of Satmar, Munkacs and others.

1848 | Amen-cipation

The history of the Enlightenment and its attitude towards the Jews is complex and inconsistent. One the one hand, those upholding the values of equality, which are the very heart of the Enlightenment movement, could not exclude the Jews, lest they be accused of double standards. On the other, the ancient European aversion to the notion of the Jew as an equal among equals made it hard for the Europeans to put their ideals into practice.
Hungary was not unique in this regard. Between 1815-1840 the number of Jews in Hungary grew by approximately 80% due to accelerated immigration, stemming from the reforms of Joseph II and the Edict of Toleration. On the face of it, Jews integrated into Hungarian society and received equal treatment, but the excuses for Jew-hatred always found willing ears.
One of many examples can be found in the words of one of the leaders of the Liberal movement in the lower house of parliament regarding the production of alcohol, one of the main occupation of the Jews in that period: “Those who live in areas where every saloon is in the hands of the Jews know what danger they pose to the people […] as they constantly hold the white poison.”
Another expression of anti-Semitism which no “edict of toleration” could undo came in 1848, during the “Spring of Nations” revolution. Although Jews took an active part in the revolution, the Liberal-controlled National Assembly refused to grant them fully equal rights. Following this decision, which of course caused much disappointment, many Jews argued that this was proof that the integration into Hungarian life must be increased and Jewish national identity should be blurred.
Despite the hostile environment, in 1860 the steamroller of enlightenment overcame racism and almost all restrictions on the Jews were lifted. The revolution was completed in 1867, when the Jews were granted full equality.

1868 | The Triple thread

What does one do when one is told, one fine day, that he is free?
The ideas of Enlightenment and rationalism, which had spread through the Jewish communities in relatively short order, caused deep changes in them. While in the pre-modern era the community was the legal, political and social framework that shaped the life of the Jew, after emancipation it was left with only religious authority.
The “Problem of the Jews,” as Achad Ha'am (Asher Ginzberg) called it, was paradoxically expressed in their successful integration into European life. For now the Jewish community had to decide the greatest question of all: What shall the unique Jewish identity consist of, now that there was no ghetto? How to act when cultural and corporeal walls no longer separate Jew from Gentile?
In 1868 these questions were laid before the Jewish congress organized by the community of Pest (soon to become part of Budapest), one of the largest and most important communities in Hungary. Three major schools of thought faced off with each other at this congress: The Orthodox, who believed in religious conservatism, seclusion, and a minimum of religious reforms; the Neologists (reformists), who called to accept the social changes willingly, use the Hungarian language in sermons and open the synagogues to the winds of change blowing through the world; and the “Status Quo” group, which favored maintaining the existing arrangements.
The Neologists won the majority of the votes at the congress, representing the desire of most Hungarian Jews to integrate into general society. The other schools of thought refused to accept the result, and organized in separate communities. A Jew visiting a Hungarian city in those days could have prayed Shacharit at the Neologist temple, Mincha at an Orthodox shul, and Arvit at a synagogue affiliated with the “Status-Quo” group. Such sharp polarization among the members of a Jewish community was a phenomenon unique to Hungary, and scholars believe that the deep rift left such a lasting impression on the community that its impact continued to be felt until the community was destroyed in WW2.

1882 | Same Solution, Opposite Reasons

Before a Hungarian Jew named Theodore (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl even began to think of the first draft for his book “The State of the Jews”, another Hungarian, Victor Istoczi, a Member of Parliament from a noble family, suggested the establishment a separate state for the Jews. Unlike Herzl, who developed the idea of the Jewish state out of concern for his people, Istoczi formulated the idea due to his fear of the Jews. In other words, they both thought of the idea for the same reason: Anti-Semitism.
Istoczi argued that Judaism is not just a religious community, but a social sect which shared blood, ancient tradition, common interests as well as religion turn into a tight-knit, closed unit. To him, the Jews were nothing but clever parasites planning to take over Hungary, and the internal division among them was but a nefarious plot: The task of the Orthodox was to preserve Judaism and its religious lifestyle, whereas the Neologists were to cunningly make their way into the front lines of Hungarian politics.
Istoczi's words found receptive ears and laid the foundation for the dual experience of the Jews of Hungary: On one hand, escalating anti-Semitism that peaked in the affair of “the girl from Tisza Eszlar”, a famous blood libel that took place in 1882, in which a shamash (synagogue attendant) and a Jewish shochet (ritual slaughterer) were accused of murdering a girl (a charge of which they were acquitted at trial and on appeal as well); on the other hand, an accelerated increase in the number of Jews who moved to the cities and integrated into the general fabric of life. The lesson was unmistakable: Hungarian society was unwilling to accept the Jews as they were. In order to integrate into it, they must renounce their social and religious uniqueness and adapt to the ways and customs of the non-Jewish population.

1886 | The Hungarian-Jewish International

One of the common responses to the non-acceptance of Jews in Hungarian society was that of assimilation. But in accordance with the famous observation by French philosopher Sartre, that “A Jew is one recognized as a Jew,” the fact that they had assimilated among the Hungarians didn't really help the Jews. The prevalent view was that the Jew was a foreign race in Europe and even if he really wanted, he could not become one with the Slavic races. “Judaism is a malignant infection everywhere,” a respectable Catholic journal declared in those days, “and it ruins the mores most particularly in the world of trade, degrades morality and turns corruption into a general fashion.”
One of the solutions for the catch-22 in which the Jews found themselves was to be found in a new ideology that began to spread in Europe at the end of the 19th century: Socialism.
Socialist thought stated that national and religious categories are a capitalist invention designed to obfuscate the gap between the classes. The Jews, who paid a heavy price for their ethnic identity, joined the movement in droves.
One of the main socialists in Hungary was Bela Kun, who was born in Transylvania in 1886. His father was a converted Jew and his mother a protestant. Kun belonged to a circle of well-known Jewish artists and writers, among whom were literary critic Gyorgi Lukacs, novelist Lajos Biro and others – all adherents of the communist ideology and key officials of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. In 1919 Kun was appointed Foreign Minister in the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic that was established after WW1.

1903 | Got a Shekel?

It is ironic that of all people, the visionary of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, was born in a country where the majority of Jews firmly rejected the Zionist idea, as most Hungarian Jews indeed did. The Orthodox community saw Zionism as a false messiah movement that could hasten the end of days, whereas the Neologist community supported assimilation and defined its members as “Hungarians of Mosaic Faith”, which is to say, Hungarian patriots like any other, who just happen to be Jews.
And yet, seven Hungarian Jews, arriving in Basel as self-appointed delegates, took part in the first Zionist Congress. The most notable among them were Janos Ronai, who in 1897 founded the first Zionist association in Hungary, and Shmuel Bettleheim, who founded the Zionist Organization of Hungary along with Ronai in 1903.
Over the years the Zionist movement grew stronger in Hungary. Indication of this can be found in the number of those who purchased the Eretz Israel Shekel, which rose from 500 to 1,200 people. (The Shekel was the annual dues collected by the Zionist Organization and which bestowed upon the purchaser the right to vote and be elected at Zionist congresses.) “The cream of the crop,” in the words of Dr. Hajim Weissburg, one of the founders, were the members of the Makkabea Club in 1903. The aim of the founders of the Makkabea Club was to provide the members of the Zionist Organization with Jewish and Zionist cultural values and to arouse Jewish awareness, self-respect and national pride among the Jews. Their activities followed those of student organizations and was characterized by communal meals, symbols, slogans, and even dueling when Jewish pride so required.

1910 | The “Big Bang” of Hungarian Jews

At the end of the 19th century, an era when Enlightenment and modernization reached a peak in western and central Europe, an enormous amount of intellect, ability and talent, that had been cooped up for hundreds of years in the yeshivas and batei midrash, exploded into the Hungarian atmosphere.
Hungarian Jews recorded immense achievements in all fields: From the great inventors Laszlo Biro and David Gestetner, through talented mathematicians such as Mano Beck and Miklos Schweitzer, through Nobel-winning chemists George Olah and Michael Polanyi.
More than any other field, Jews stood out in the world of journalism. Among the most influential media personalities in Hungary a special mention should be made of the writer Adolf Agai, who edited the popular satirical Borsszem Janko and publisher Sandor Braun, who invented new color printing formats, including the daily “Az Est”. Strong Jewish roots can also be found in the famous “press halls” of Budapest, which for the first time concentrated the entire journalism production chain - writing, editing, proofreading, printing, marketing and distribution – under one roof.
The field of literature and the humanities was another in which the Jews gained much success. One of these for example was the poet Jozsef Kis, who founded “A-Het”, a periodical which served as a home for Jewish poets and writers, including short story master Tomas Kobor. Upon the decline of A-Het it was replaced by the leading literary periodical “Nyugat”, which featured the works of Hungarian prose pioneer Sandor Brody and novelist and playwright Dezső Szomory Hungarian Jews and Hungarians of Jewish descent made a crucial contribution to the local theater and film as well, including actor Bernard Schwartz, better known as Hollywood star Tony Curtis, who was born in New York to Hungarian parents, and Casablanca director Mihaly Kertesz, who changed his named to Michael Curtiz when he immigrated to America.
Even in sports, considered a quintessentially “non-Jewish” activity, Jews stood out, winning almost 33% of all Olympic medals awarded to Hungarian athletes in the early 20th century.

1920 | The Jewish Laws

After WW1 Hungary lost some two thirds of its territory. Many Jewish Hungarians found themselves overnight living under the sovereignty of new states: Romania, Yugoslavia, Austria and others.
During the Great War (1914-1918) approximately 10,000 Jewish Hungarian soldiers fell in the killing fields, but the patriotism they showed didn't stop the anti-Semitic winds blowing through the streets of Hungary, intensified by the many Jewish refugees streaming from Galicia in search of shelter in the Hungarian lands.
Like many countries attempting to forge a national identity between the two world wars, Hungary too tried to establish a communist regime, but it lasted only 133 days, followed by the regime of Miklos Horthy, a conservative national war hero with anti-Semitic tendencies. The suppression of the communist regime was accompanied by pogroms against the “cosmopolitan” Jews, in which the “white terror” fascist gangs murdered some 3.000 Jews.
During the 1920's Hungary was home to a sort of “soft anti-Semitism”. On one hand, discriminatory quotas on Jewish enrollment in universities, which stood at only 5%. On the other – the Jews were awarded a certain representation in the Hungarian parliament.
At the end of the 1930s the Jews of Hungary, numbering some 450,000, lived under an anti-Jewish assault. It was a slippery slope: In 1938 parliament passed the first “Jewish Law”, which restricted their freedom of occupation in many fields and broadened the definition of “Jew” to those who had converted after 1919. A year later the Hungarian parliament passed “The Second Jewish Law” which expanded the definition of “Jew” even further, to include another 100,000 people who had converted before 1919, as well as their children.
These moves were the barbaric constitutional foundation for the annihilation of the Jews of Hungary during WW2.

1944 | Goods For Blood

The Jewish community of Hungary had the dubious honor of being among the few which the Nazi extermination machine left for the end of the war; but when it did happen, the annihilation was deadly, methodical and quick, even for the Nazis.
Unlike the Jews of Poland, many of whom believed the lies of the Nazi propaganda machine, the prevalent view among scholars is that the Jews of Hungary were indeed aware of the horrible atrocities of the Nazis, but until the last moment could not believe that such barbarity could take place in a civilized country like Hungary.
When the Nazis conquered Hungary, in March 1944, there were some 750,000 Jews living in it, of whom about 300,000 were refugees and displaced persons from the east. Over the course of two months about half a million Jews wearing yellow stars were concentrated in ghettos established by the Nazis in every Hungarian city, and in May 1944 they began to be transported en masse to Auschwitz. It is estimated that within a few weeks approximately 450,000 of Hungary's Jews were murdered in this fashion.
In October 1944 the Nazis deposed the Hungarian Regent Horthy and appointed anti-Semitic fascist Ferenc Szalasi, head of the Iron Cross Party, as Prime Minister. As soon as Szalasi took office, the authorities no longer protected the Jews of Budapest. Death ran wild in the streets of the city, and the Danube turned red with the blood the elderly, women and children who were shot in the back and dumped in the river.
One of the most controversial episodes in the Holocaust of Hungary's Jews has to do with Israel Kastner, Deputy Head of the Zionist Organization in the country and one of the founders of the “Aid and Rescue Committee of Budapest”. Kastner saved some 1,700 Jews thanks to a deal he signed with Adolf Eichmann, which can be summed up in three terrible words: “Goods for blood”.
In the 1950s the “Kastner Affair” exploded in Israel after the latter was accused by District Court Judge Binyamin Halevy of “selling his soul to the devil”. Three years later the Supreme court cleared Kastner's name, but he didn't live to see it: A few months earlier, on March 4th, 1957, Kastner was gunned down by three Jewish assassins in Tel Aviv.

2001 | From the establishment of Israel until today

After the Holocaust approximately 145,000 Jews remained in Hungary. During these years the Zionist movement operated at full steam, and many of Hungary's Jews moved to Israel. Among the most prominent were journalist-cum-Justice Minister Yosef (“Tommy”) Lapid, satirical writer Ephraim Kishon and Bank of Israel Governor Moshe Zanbar. The Jews remaining in Hungary mostly turned their backs on Jewish tradition, whether due to the trauma of the Holocaust or the influence of the atheist communist regime. In the late 1940s the Communist Party came to power in Hungary. Jewish educational institutions were closed down, and all Zionist activity was banned. Jews who were of a clear communist bent found key positions in the party. One of these was the dictator Matyas Rakosi, who ruled the country from 1949 to 1956.
During the Communist era the Jewish community in Budapest was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Religious Affairs at the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior. Since 1968 each of the city's 18 districts had at least one synagogue. The one on Dohany Street is considered the largest synagogue in Europe. The disintegration of the Communist regime and the democratic reforms in Hungary rejuvenated the Jewish community. About 20 new synagogues opened, as well as community and social institutions. But anti-Semitism has not abated in Hungary, and has reached new heights in the second decade of the 21st century, with the nationalist Jobbik party receiving approximately 16.5% of the vote in 2010, and over 20% in 2014. Among the anti-Semitic incidents recorded was the throwing of a dead pig on the statue of Raoul Wallenberg, famous for saving Jews during the Holocaust, and naming a square after Albert Wass, a notorious anti-Semite accused of murdering Jewish women in Transylvania.
As of the early 21st century the Jewish community of Budapest numbered approximately 80,000 people – the largest Jewish community in Central Europe, operating 23 synagogues and places of worship, two colleges, three elementary schools, three kindergartens, a hospital, two nursing homes and several cemeteries.

Ukraine

Україна / Ukrayina

A country in eastern Europe, until 1991 part of the Soviet Union.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 50,000 out of 42,000,000 (0.1%). Main Jewish organizations:

Єврейська Конфедерація України - Jewish Confederation of Ukraine
Phone: 044 584 49 53
Email: jcu.org.ua@gmail.com
Website: http://jcu.org.ua/en

Ваад (Ассоциация еврейских организаций и общин) Украины (VAAD – Asssociation of Jewish Organizations & Communities of Ukraine)
Voloska St, 8/5
Kyiv, Kyivs’ka
Ukraine 04070
Phone/Fax: 38 (044) 248-36-70, 38 (044) 425-97-57/-58/-59/-60
Email: vaadua.office@gmail.com
Website: http://www.vaadua.org/

Velka Berezna

Ukranian: Великий Березний; Hungarian: Nagy Berezna; Yiddish: Groys Berezna; Czech: Velký Berezný; Slovakian: Velká Berezna; Russian: Великий Берёзный (Velyke Berezne)

A small town in north-west Carpatho-Russia, Ukraine.

Velka Berezna lies north-west of the town Uzhgorod (in Hungarian Ungvar). Until 1918 it was part of the Ung district of Austro-Hungaria, and then part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia. In 1938 the region was annexed to Hungary and in 1945 to Ukraine, at that time a republic of the Soviet Union.
 

History

The Jewish community in Velka Berezna was founded in 1797 by the Jewish merchants Shimon Ben Meir, Mathathiahu Zevi Ben Moshe, Zevi ben Yehiel Isaac, Meir ben Abraham, Ben Schreiber, Mordecai ben Elimelekh, and others. The first synagogue was built in 1802 and later renovated several times.

In the 1870’s following the Congress of the Jews of Hungary the community was identified as an orthodox community and Jews of 36 villages in the area were also affiliated with it. The first rabbi of the community, Rabbi Abraham Brody, the great grandson of Rabbi Brody of Prague, was in office until his death in 1882. Among the first heads of the community were Sigmund Weinberger, Mor Feldman, David Mittelman, and Jacob Hauber.

In 1921 there were some 3,500 members in the community, including the Jews living in the neighboring villages. The yeshiva was attended by some 70 students at the time. The rabbi was then Rabbi Solomon Schreiber and the President Adolf Moskovitz.

A new synagogue was consecrated in 1924 and there were also a number of smaller prayer houses in the town. Among the institutions of the community were: a hevra kaddisha (burial society), a bikkur holim (visiting the sick) society, and a women’s charity society. There were also a Talmud torah school and a yeshiva.

In the 1920’s there were 10 major merchants, 40 small merchants, 30 soldiers, 30 artisans, about 200 members of the professions, including doctors and lawyers, 25 manual workers, and 10 farmers. 25 families of the community were dependent on welfare and about one third of the community’s budget was spent on welfare and charity.

In 1930, 2,404 Jews were living in Velka Berezna and the area.

 

The Holocaust

Following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, about a year before the outbreak of World War II, the Republic of Czechoslovakia was dismembered. As a result of the Vienna arbitration of November 2, 1938, the south of Slovakia and part of east Slovakia were annexed to Hungary. As soon as the Hungarian army entered Velka Berezna the local inhabitants began to harass the Jews. Those without Hungarian citizenship papers were expelled, and expired trade permits of Jews were not renewed. When the war broke out (September 1939) Jewish men were conscripted into labor companies in the Hungarian army.  In late July, 1941, a number of Jewish families without Hungarian citizenship were deported to Kamenets-Podolski in the Ukraine, where they were murdered.

On March 19, 1944, the Germans entered Hungary. On April 5 the Jews were ordered to wear the yellow badge. A few weeks later the Jews were moved to assembly centers and from there to labor camps and extermination camps. The Jews of Velka Berezna were sent to the extermination camp of Auschwitz in May or June 1944.

CARPATHIAN MOUN
Lewis Newman Rosenbaum
Maimonides - Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (Rambam)
Eisenstadter, Meir ben Yehuda Leib
Gonda, Henrik
Friedmann, Meir
Silberstein, David Yehuda Leib
Pasztor, Arpad
Kiss, Arnold
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph
Brody, Heinrich Hayim
Roth, Aharon

Lewis Newman Rosenbaum (1881-1956), financing and business organizer, born in Ungvar (also known as Uzhhorod), a city in Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine),  The family immigrated to the United States in 1887 and, like many other Jewish immigrants, settled in the lower east side of New York City. He moved to Nashville, TN, where he hoped to work in his uncle's cigar manufacturing company. Instead he obtained work as a legal assistant for Nashville attorney Moreau Estes. He was 19 years old when admitted to the Tennessee Bar on March 4, 1901. In 1903 he settled in Seattle, WA, and consequently he was admitted to the bar of Washington State in 1905. Rosenbaum’s business financing operations included the organization of chain stores, chains of office buildings, and publishing enterprises, throughout the country. He was an honorary  trustee of the Columbia Basin Irrigation League, which preceded the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

After settling in New York, Rosenbaum was a self-effacing potent figure in endeavors to foster improved Christian-Jewish relations in America.  As such he was chairman of the ways and means committee of Religion and Welfare Recovery and during World War II he aided the Jewish Welfare Board in its cultural program for U. S. O. centers. From 1911 to 1914 he was the representative of the State of Washington on the American Jewish Committee.

Rosenbaum presented (under the auspices of the Herzl Conservative Congregation) a chapel in memory of his mother, Fani Rosenbaum, to Herzl Memorial Park in Seattle.

Moses Maimonides, also known as Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon or the acronym the Rambam, was born in Cordoba, Spain on March 30, 1135, and died in Egypt on December 13, 1204. He is buried in Tiberias, Eretz Israel.

One of the greatest Torah scholars of all time, he was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt during the Middle Ages. He was the preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher. With the contemporary Muslim sage Averroes, he promoted and developed the philosophical tradition of Aristotle. As a result, Maimonides and Averroes would gain a prominent and controversial influence in the West, where Aristotelian thought had been suppressed for centuries

He was born in Schossberg but moved to Eisenstadt in his youth. He became head of the yeshiva of Nove Mesto and was known as Maharam Esh ( Hebrew acronoym for 'our teacher, the rabbi Eisenstadter). He was rabbi in Baja, Balassagyarmat (from 1815 to 1835) and of Ungvar from 1835. Eisenstadter was regarded as one of the outstanding rabbis in Hungary. In Ungvar he headed a large yeshiva and many distinguished rabbis emerged from among his students. He was also active and influential in the country's Jewish communal life. He was a strong opponent of Reform. His published books include responsa, sermons and novellae.
Gonda, Henrik (1880-1942), lawyer and government official, born in Ugar, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary). Gonda studied at Ungvar (Uzhorod, now in Ukraine) and law at the University of Budapest. Working as a parliamentary stenographer he became active in the Independent Party. Being a talented writer and speaker, he was appointed executive editor of the party's official organ, the daily "Magyar Tudosito". Eventually, the ministry of commerce appointed him to be head of its press bureau, a post he held until the outbreak of World War I.

During World War I Gonda was war correspondent for the influential "Magyar Hirlap". During the tenure of Sandor Wekerle as prime minister, he became in 1918 press chief in the premier's office and also ministerial advisor. The following year Gonda reorganized the "Magyar Tavirati Iroda" as the official government news agency. On his recommendation, the cabinet council made his press service an independent unit, severing it from Austrian control.

Gonda represented the prime minister at the 1918 preliminary peace discussions in Bucharest, Romania, where he acquitted himself with distinction. In recognition he was sent on an official mission to Switzerland, from where he returned to Hungary only after the overthrow of the Bolshevik regime in 1919. Thereafter he practiced law and devoted himself to civic and communal affairs at Budapest.
Friedmann, Meir (pen name: Ish Shalom) (1831-1908), rabbinic scholar, born in Kraszna (now Horost) near Kassa (now Kosice), in Slovakia (then part of the Austrian Empire).

From 1843 to 1848 he studied at the Yeshivah at Ungvar (now Uzhgorod, in Ukraine). After 1848 his life went through several crises and many changes. For a time he lived as an ascetic Hasid preparing for immigration to Erez Israel, then he became under the influence of the Haskalah, before returning to the study of the Talmud and being ordained as a rabbi. When his wife died he became a farmer and then for a time he was a magid (wandering preacher). In 1858 he settled in Vienna, Austria, and attended the university as a student. From 1864 on he worked successively as a librarian, a Bible teacher for adults, and then teacher of the Talmud for the young at a beth midrash in Vienna. After 1894 he also taught at the rabbinical seminary there. Among his students were V. Aptowitzer, Z. P. Chajes, and S. Schechter.

Friedmann was known for his studies of and lectures on Aggadah, and even earned the title mara de-aggadeta ("master of Aggadah"). His most important contributions are concerned with the halachic midrashim. He discovered lost sources, determined correct versions, and explained difficult passages. His writing is exceptionally erudite, logical, and elegant. His influence on scholarship was considerable. Many of the commentaries and interpretations of later talmudic scholars and researchers originated in his work. Friedmann maintained that "the Talmud is the foundation of Judaism and whoever abandons it is abandoning life"; this conviction affected all his creative work and activities. At the height of the Haskallah, Friedmann was called for a strengthening of traditional education, drawing up plans for traditional Jewish secondary schools and universities. He was also active in the Zionist movement and founded the Association for the Dissemination of the Hebrew Language.

Friedmann edited many midrashic texts and added introductions and commentaries. The commentaries were entitled "Me'ir Ayin". His halachic midrashim include "Mekhilta" (1870), "Or Baraita de-Melekhet ha-Mishkan" (1908), and "Sifrei" (1864); a part of the Sifra, which he had begun editing, was published posthumously (1915). He published "Pesikta Rabbati" (1880) and "Tanna de-vei Eliyahu" (1902), aggadic texts; "Talmud Bavli; Massekhet Makkot" (1888) with a short interpretation as an example of a scientific edition of the Talmud; and a pamphlet about translating the Talmud, "Davar al Odot ha-Talmud" (Pressburg, 1885). He published many works on the literature of halakhah, its characteristics and principles, as well as books and articles on other Jewish subjects, including Bible, particularly commentaries on the Pentateuch, Judges, Samuel, Isaiah, Hosea, and Psalms; and the Targums of Onkelos and Akylas; (Vienna, 1896, in the third annual report of the Lehransnstalt); the Holy Land; and Jewish prayer and poetry. He produced a number of textbooks on the Talmud and Mishnah for schools, and several of his lectures and sermons were published, often as part of the works of his contemporaries. With Isaac Hirsch Weiss Friedman edited the periodical Beit ha-Talmud (1881-86). Most of his articles appeared under his pen name Ish Shalom.

Meir Friedmann died in Vienna.
Rabbi

He was a native of Bonyhad and studied in Ungvar. He served as rabbi in Ujhely (Satoraljaujhely), Senta (Yugoslavia) and Vacs. Between 1859 and 1867 he lived in Jerusalem. Silberstein wrote Shevilei David on the Pentateuch and four other volumes with the same title on the Shulhan Arukh.
Pasztor, Arpad (1877-1940), author and publicist,born in Ungvar, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Uzhhorod in Ukraine). He became a journalist in Budapest and traveled a great deal, being the first newspaperman to interview Lev Tolstoy for a foreign publication. In the United States he familiarized himself with the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman: he translated into Hungarian the latter's "Leaves of Grass".

The experiences of his jouneys around the world were told in the volumes: "Tengeren, tengeren tul" ("On and Across the Sea"); "Budapesttol a fold korul Budapestig" ("From Budapest around the World to Budapest"); "Kanadatol Panamaig" ("From Canada to Panama"); "Tolstoj Tragediaja" ("The Tragedy of Tolstoy"); "E. A. Poe; Walt Whitman; Talalkoztam Poe Edgarral" ("I Have Met Edgar Poe"); "Pinter Mari Amerikaba megy" ("Mari Pinter Goes to America"); "Newyork" ("New York"); "Szivek" ("Hearts"); "Jezus" ("Jesus"); "Versek" ("Poems"); "Uj versek" ("New Poems"); "Vegig az uton" ("All the Way on the Road") and others.

Pasztor also wrote fiction. His novel "Vengerkak", a poignant story about the victims of white slave traffic in Russia, was converted into a successful play. He wrote a dozen or more plays and operettas for the Hungarian stage. His play "Innocent" was performed in the United States. Pasztor converted to Christianity at some stage of his life
Kiss, Arnold (1869-1940), rabbi, author, poet and translator, born in Ungvar, then part of Austria-Hungary, (now Uzhgorod, Ukraine). He was a son of Rabbi Moric Klein, who translated Maimonides' "Moreh Nevochim" into Hungarian. He studied at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Budapest in 1894, and was ordained in 1895. The same year he became rabbi of Zsolna , then rabbi of Veszprem in 1897, and rabbi of Buda from 1901 to his death.

He compiled a prayer book for women, "Miriam", with a Hungarian language commentary, another for young girls, "Noemi", and a third for children, "Echod". Kiss translated medieval and modern Hebrew and Yiddish poetry into Hungarian. He was the author of several volumes of religious and lyrical poetry and of fiction. His novels and short stories, dealing with Jewish problems, employ a somewhat conventional psychology. His essays on Hebrew and Hungarian poetry appeared in the "Pesti Naplo", "Budapesti Hirlap", "Magyar Hirlap" and in literary periodicals. Kiss became professor of Hebrew literature at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

Kiss was a member of the Board of Governors of the Rabbinical Seminary and vice president of the Rabbinical Association of Hungary, co-president of the Yehudah Halevi association, and a member of the Board of Advisory Council of the "Zsido Lexikon". His works included (sermons) Gilead (poetry),1900, "A pap harfaja" ("The Priest's Harp") 1904, "Job", 1904; "Getto-dalok" ("Ghetto songs"; including the poems of Morris Rosenfeld),1908; "Elborult csillagok alatt" ("Under clouded Stars")` (short stories) "Az oszi haraszt muzsikal" (The Music of Autumn Leaves), 1932, "Barangolasok a kodben" ("Roaming in the Gloaming"), 1933, "Orok lang" ("Eternal Flame"), 1934), "Samuel Hanagid elete es munkai" ("Life and Work of Samuel Hanagid"),1893, "Gabirol elete es kolteszete" ("Gabirol's Life and Poetry"); "A heber kolteszet" ("Hebrew Poetry", 1924, "Martirok tortenete" (The History of Martyrs), 1924, "A spanyol-heber poezis" ("Spanish-Hebrew Poetry"),1926, "Kiss Jozsef elete es muvei" ("The Life and Works of Jozsef Kiss"), 1927, "Bialik a heber kolto",1930, and "Maimuni Mozes", 1934.
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph (1804-1886), rabbi and scholar, born in Ungvar (now Uzhorod, Ukraine), then part of Hungary. Orphaned in his childhood, he was brought up in the house of the local rabbi Zevi Hirsch Heller, one of the outstanding scholars of his time. From 1830 to 1849 he served as rabbi of Brezewicz and subsequently as head of the Beit Din of Ungvar. He was one of the chief speakers for orthodox Jewry at the Jewish congress which took place in Budapest in 1869. He had earlier published a treatise against the Reform movement.

Ganzfried’s first published work, "Keset-ha-Sofer" (1835 and again in 1871, with additions written by the author), concerned the laws of writing Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot. It was highly recommended by Moses Hatam Sofer. Ganzfried's main claim to fame, however, was his "Kitzur Shulhan Arukh" [Abridged Shulhan Arukh] based upon the "Shulhan Arukh" of Joseph Caro with the commentaries of Moses Isserless. Written in simple language and published in 1984, the work summarized all the laws relating to the everyday life of the ordinary Jew living outside Erez Israel. During its author's lifetime, the "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was published in 14 different editions and since then scores of further editions have been issued. The work replaced all previous abridgements of the "Shulhan Arukh". It became an authoritative work to which scholars added marginal notes and comments. It has been translated into many languages (The first English translation was made by H. E. Goldin in1918).

Ganzfried's other published works include a commentary on the prayer book with notes and supplements to the commentary "Derekh ha-Hayyim" written by Jacob Lorbeerbaum and first published in 1839; "Penei Shelomo" (1845), notes on "Bava Batra", "Torat Zevah" (1849) concerned with the laws of shchitah (ritual slaughter), "Lehem ve-Simlah" (1861) on the laws on menstruation and ritual immersion, "Appiryon" (1864, with the author's additions in 1876), commentaries on the Pentateuch and on some aggadot; "Oholei Shem" (1878), on the laws of names and bills of divorce and on the writing of deeds; and "Shem Shlomo" (1908), commentaries on various Talmudic themes. Remaining in manuscript form are "Leshon ha-Zahav", on Hebrew grammar, "Penei Adam", notes to "Hayyei Adam"; "Kelalim be-Hokhmat ha-Emet", a commentary on the Zohar;

Ganzfried died in his hometown, Ungvar.
Scholar

Born in Ungvar (Uzhgorod), Hungary (now in the Ukraine), he studied at the Pressburg (now Bratislava, in Slovakia) yeshiva, the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary and Berlin University. His area of expertise was the study of medieval Hebrew poetry and Sephardi piyyutim. His goal was to publish editions of all the major medieval Hebrew poets and he edited the diwans of some of them including Shelomo Ibn Gabirol, Shemuel ha-Nagid and Moshe Ibn Ezra. While rabbi in Nachod, Hungary, he became an ardent Zionist and headed the Hungarian Mizrachi organization. In 1905, Brody went to Prague where he became chief rabbi in 1912. In 1930, Salman Schocken founded the Institute for the Research of Hebrew Poetry and Brody went to Berlin to head it, moving with it to Jerusalem in 1933.
Hasidic rabbi

Born in Ungvar, he attended yeshivot and as a young man was attracted to Hasidism. His teacher Tsevi Elimelekh of Blazowa instructed him to found a hasidic community even though he was not a descendant of the traditional hasidic leaders. He gathered round him hasidim in Satu Mare and Beregszasz (Beregovo) who practised a simple faith and rejected any form of modernism. They supported themselves by their own labor. Towards the end of his life he settled in Palestine where he established a small hasidic community. He wrote a number of books in the spirit of his teachings.
Solomon ben Josef Ganzfried
Maimonides - Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (Rambam)

Moses Maimonides, also known as Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon or the acronym the Rambam, was born in Cordoba, Spain on March 30, 1135, and died in Egypt on December 13, 1204. He is buried in Tiberias, Eretz Israel.

One of the greatest Torah scholars of all time, he was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt during the Middle Ages. He was the preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher. With the contemporary Muslim sage Averroes, he promoted and developed the philosophical tradition of Aristotle. As a result, Maimonides and Averroes would gain a prominent and controversial influence in the West, where Aristotelian thought had been suppressed for centuries

The Great Synagogue in Uzhgorod, Ukraine, 1990
The Great Synagogue in Uzhgorod (Ozhhorod), Transcarpathian Oblast, Ukraine, 1990
The synagogue was built in the Moorish style in 1904.
It is now a concert hall.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Zipporah Eker)
GELLES
GELLES Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name derives from a personal characteristic or nickname. Gelles is a variant of the German Heller. Heller/Hell, literally "bright" in German. It is also a personal nickname for persons with fair or reddish hair and a light complexion. Similar Jewish surnames comprise Geller and Gellman.

Distinguished 20th century bearers of the Jewish family name Gelles include the Polish-born British Rabbi Benjamin J. Gelles and the Austrian attorney and consultant David Gelles.
Pasztor, Arpad
Kiss, Arnold
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph
Brody, Heinrich Hayim
Roth, Aharon
Pasztor, Arpad (1877-1940), author and publicist,born in Ungvar, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Uzhhorod in Ukraine). He became a journalist in Budapest and traveled a great deal, being the first newspaperman to interview Lev Tolstoy for a foreign publication. In the United States he familiarized himself with the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman: he translated into Hungarian the latter's "Leaves of Grass".

The experiences of his jouneys around the world were told in the volumes: "Tengeren, tengeren tul" ("On and Across the Sea"); "Budapesttol a fold korul Budapestig" ("From Budapest around the World to Budapest"); "Kanadatol Panamaig" ("From Canada to Panama"); "Tolstoj Tragediaja" ("The Tragedy of Tolstoy"); "E. A. Poe; Walt Whitman; Talalkoztam Poe Edgarral" ("I Have Met Edgar Poe"); "Pinter Mari Amerikaba megy" ("Mari Pinter Goes to America"); "Newyork" ("New York"); "Szivek" ("Hearts"); "Jezus" ("Jesus"); "Versek" ("Poems"); "Uj versek" ("New Poems"); "Vegig az uton" ("All the Way on the Road") and others.

Pasztor also wrote fiction. His novel "Vengerkak", a poignant story about the victims of white slave traffic in Russia, was converted into a successful play. He wrote a dozen or more plays and operettas for the Hungarian stage. His play "Innocent" was performed in the United States. Pasztor converted to Christianity at some stage of his life
Kiss, Arnold (1869-1940), rabbi, author, poet and translator, born in Ungvar, then part of Austria-Hungary, (now Uzhgorod, Ukraine). He was a son of Rabbi Moric Klein, who translated Maimonides' "Moreh Nevochim" into Hungarian. He studied at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Budapest in 1894, and was ordained in 1895. The same year he became rabbi of Zsolna , then rabbi of Veszprem in 1897, and rabbi of Buda from 1901 to his death.

He compiled a prayer book for women, "Miriam", with a Hungarian language commentary, another for young girls, "Noemi", and a third for children, "Echod". Kiss translated medieval and modern Hebrew and Yiddish poetry into Hungarian. He was the author of several volumes of religious and lyrical poetry and of fiction. His novels and short stories, dealing with Jewish problems, employ a somewhat conventional psychology. His essays on Hebrew and Hungarian poetry appeared in the "Pesti Naplo", "Budapesti Hirlap", "Magyar Hirlap" and in literary periodicals. Kiss became professor of Hebrew literature at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

Kiss was a member of the Board of Governors of the Rabbinical Seminary and vice president of the Rabbinical Association of Hungary, co-president of the Yehudah Halevi association, and a member of the Board of Advisory Council of the "Zsido Lexikon". His works included (sermons) Gilead (poetry),1900, "A pap harfaja" ("The Priest's Harp") 1904, "Job", 1904; "Getto-dalok" ("Ghetto songs"; including the poems of Morris Rosenfeld),1908; "Elborult csillagok alatt" ("Under clouded Stars")` (short stories) "Az oszi haraszt muzsikal" (The Music of Autumn Leaves), 1932, "Barangolasok a kodben" ("Roaming in the Gloaming"), 1933, "Orok lang" ("Eternal Flame"), 1934), "Samuel Hanagid elete es munkai" ("Life and Work of Samuel Hanagid"),1893, "Gabirol elete es kolteszete" ("Gabirol's Life and Poetry"); "A heber kolteszet" ("Hebrew Poetry", 1924, "Martirok tortenete" (The History of Martyrs), 1924, "A spanyol-heber poezis" ("Spanish-Hebrew Poetry"),1926, "Kiss Jozsef elete es muvei" ("The Life and Works of Jozsef Kiss"), 1927, "Bialik a heber kolto",1930, and "Maimuni Mozes", 1934.
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph (1804-1886), rabbi and scholar, born in Ungvar (now Uzhorod, Ukraine), then part of Hungary. Orphaned in his childhood, he was brought up in the house of the local rabbi Zevi Hirsch Heller, one of the outstanding scholars of his time. From 1830 to 1849 he served as rabbi of Brezewicz and subsequently as head of the Beit Din of Ungvar. He was one of the chief speakers for orthodox Jewry at the Jewish congress which took place in Budapest in 1869. He had earlier published a treatise against the Reform movement.

Ganzfried’s first published work, "Keset-ha-Sofer" (1835 and again in 1871, with additions written by the author), concerned the laws of writing Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot. It was highly recommended by Moses Hatam Sofer. Ganzfried's main claim to fame, however, was his "Kitzur Shulhan Arukh" [Abridged Shulhan Arukh] based upon the "Shulhan Arukh" of Joseph Caro with the commentaries of Moses Isserless. Written in simple language and published in 1984, the work summarized all the laws relating to the everyday life of the ordinary Jew living outside Erez Israel. During its author's lifetime, the "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was published in 14 different editions and since then scores of further editions have been issued. The work replaced all previous abridgements of the "Shulhan Arukh". It became an authoritative work to which scholars added marginal notes and comments. It has been translated into many languages (The first English translation was made by H. E. Goldin in1918).

Ganzfried's other published works include a commentary on the prayer book with notes and supplements to the commentary "Derekh ha-Hayyim" written by Jacob Lorbeerbaum and first published in 1839; "Penei Shelomo" (1845), notes on "Bava Batra", "Torat Zevah" (1849) concerned with the laws of shchitah (ritual slaughter), "Lehem ve-Simlah" (1861) on the laws on menstruation and ritual immersion, "Appiryon" (1864, with the author's additions in 1876), commentaries on the Pentateuch and on some aggadot; "Oholei Shem" (1878), on the laws of names and bills of divorce and on the writing of deeds; and "Shem Shlomo" (1908), commentaries on various Talmudic themes. Remaining in manuscript form are "Leshon ha-Zahav", on Hebrew grammar, "Penei Adam", notes to "Hayyei Adam"; "Kelalim be-Hokhmat ha-Emet", a commentary on the Zohar;

Ganzfried died in his hometown, Ungvar.
Scholar

Born in Ungvar (Uzhgorod), Hungary (now in the Ukraine), he studied at the Pressburg (now Bratislava, in Slovakia) yeshiva, the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary and Berlin University. His area of expertise was the study of medieval Hebrew poetry and Sephardi piyyutim. His goal was to publish editions of all the major medieval Hebrew poets and he edited the diwans of some of them including Shelomo Ibn Gabirol, Shemuel ha-Nagid and Moshe Ibn Ezra. While rabbi in Nachod, Hungary, he became an ardent Zionist and headed the Hungarian Mizrachi organization. In 1905, Brody went to Prague where he became chief rabbi in 1912. In 1930, Salman Schocken founded the Institute for the Research of Hebrew Poetry and Brody went to Berlin to head it, moving with it to Jerusalem in 1933.
Hasidic rabbi

Born in Ungvar, he attended yeshivot and as a young man was attracted to Hasidism. His teacher Tsevi Elimelekh of Blazowa instructed him to found a hasidic community even though he was not a descendant of the traditional hasidic leaders. He gathered round him hasidim in Satu Mare and Beregszasz (Beregovo) who practised a simple faith and rejected any form of modernism. They supported themselves by their own labor. Towards the end of his life he settled in Palestine where he established a small hasidic community. He wrote a number of books in the spirit of his teachings.
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph
Ganzfried, Solomon ben Joseph (1804-1886), rabbi and scholar, born in Ungvar (now Uzhorod, Ukraine), then part of Hungary. Orphaned in his childhood, he was brought up in the house of the local rabbi Zevi Hirsch Heller, one of the outstanding scholars of his time. From 1830 to 1849 he served as rabbi of Brezewicz and subsequently as head of the Beit Din of Ungvar. He was one of the chief speakers for orthodox Jewry at the Jewish congress which took place in Budapest in 1869. He had earlier published a treatise against the Reform movement.

Ganzfried’s first published work, "Keset-ha-Sofer" (1835 and again in 1871, with additions written by the author), concerned the laws of writing Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot. It was highly recommended by Moses Hatam Sofer. Ganzfried's main claim to fame, however, was his "Kitzur Shulhan Arukh" [Abridged Shulhan Arukh] based upon the "Shulhan Arukh" of Joseph Caro with the commentaries of Moses Isserless. Written in simple language and published in 1984, the work summarized all the laws relating to the everyday life of the ordinary Jew living outside Erez Israel. During its author's lifetime, the "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was published in 14 different editions and since then scores of further editions have been issued. The work replaced all previous abridgements of the "Shulhan Arukh". It became an authoritative work to which scholars added marginal notes and comments. It has been translated into many languages (The first English translation was made by H. E. Goldin in1918).

Ganzfried's other published works include a commentary on the prayer book with notes and supplements to the commentary "Derekh ha-Hayyim" written by Jacob Lorbeerbaum and first published in 1839; "Penei Shelomo" (1845), notes on "Bava Batra", "Torat Zevah" (1849) concerned with the laws of shchitah (ritual slaughter), "Lehem ve-Simlah" (1861) on the laws on menstruation and ritual immersion, "Appiryon" (1864, with the author's additions in 1876), commentaries on the Pentateuch and on some aggadot; "Oholei Shem" (1878), on the laws of names and bills of divorce and on the writing of deeds; and "Shem Shlomo" (1908), commentaries on various Talmudic themes. Remaining in manuscript form are "Leshon ha-Zahav", on Hebrew grammar, "Penei Adam", notes to "Hayyei Adam"; "Kelalim be-Hokhmat ha-Emet", a commentary on the Zohar;

Ganzfried died in his hometown, Ungvar.