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The Jewish Community of Zemun

Zemun

In Serbian: Земун; in German: Semlin

A town on the Sava river, opposite Belgrade, Serbia

Under Austrian rule Zemun was part of the so-called military area and subject to special regulations. It was therefore difficult for Jews to gain a foothold there, but once they succeeded in settling, they enjoyed relative safety in this protected doorway to the Balkans.

After the Austrian conquest of Belgrade in 1717, some Jews from Austria and Germany settled there, but when Belgrade fell to the Ottoman Turks again in 1739, a group of 20 Jewish families fled to Zemun. A small but lively community was thus created inside Croatia, which was exclusively administered by Austrians in view of frequent wars and bargaining with the Turks. In 1746 the Judengemeinde was officially recognized, but Maria Theresa granted the first known written privilege to a Jew (Raphael Salomon) to live permanently in Zemun only in 1753. A few years later there was a Judengasse (Jewish street, quarter), synagogue, and Jewish school. Jews paid a contribution of 150 florins to the authorities and were goldsmiths, barrel makers, glassworkers, ironmongers, etc. They also traded with Austria; as merchants they were in an unfavorable position compared with the Austro-Germans, Serbs, and Wallachians (they were forbidden to sell hides or spirits, and the Serbian merchants' guild submitted a petition to the authorities to limit Jewish trade to scrap iron only). In view of their protected situation and due to the commercial importance of Zemun - despite restrictions - the community enjoyed a rare opportunity in being within military areas, which were generally inaccessible to Jews. In 1772 a decree was issued permitting unlimited Jewish settlement - a striking proof of their usefulness. By 1773, however, the decree was revoked and residence was restricted for a long time to the descendants of the original Jewish settlers. Although checked in its growth, this first Croatian-based community - with its semiautonomous status - played an important role among Yugoslav Jewry.

After the Austrian occupation of Belgrade (1789) some Jews fled first to Zemun, where they found temporary asylum, and later went to Hungary. During an earlier siege of nearby Belgrade, many Jews were robbed and left homeless. On this occasion an aid committee was organized in Zemun and help was received from Hungary (Szeged, Budapest, Sombor, Baja), Croatia (Osijek, Varazdin), Transylvania (Temesvar), Austria (Vienna), and Germany (Leipzig). At the end of the 18th century there were 157 Jews in Zemun. In 1804 Jews manufactured ammunition for Serbian rebels (first uprising under Karageorge), and in 1806 Jewish craftsmen also did the same for the Turks, though under duress and surveillance. Almoslino, a Jew, was the Austrian diplomatic agent to the victorious Knyaz (prince) Karageorge. During the first half of the 19th century 30 new families were granted rights to settle in Zemun, but others migrated to Bosnia. In 1862 the Zemun magistrate asked the military authorities to permit more Jews to settle within the city walls in order to promote trade and replace the war-torn city of Belgrade as a main trading center. Jews were still subjected to a special tax until the abolition of military zone status in 1871; in 1881 the free city of Zemun abolished all restrictions on Jewish settlers and was attached to the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. In 1918 Zemun became part of Yugoslavia.

From 1825 to 1843 Judah Chai Alkalai, the famous rabbi and precursor of Zionism, was community leader (chakham) of Zemun. Among the first group of privileged Jews were the ancestors of Theodor Herzl; his grandfather, Simon Loew Herzl, was a follower of Rabbi Alkalai. He was imprisoned in 1849 for alleged Hungarian sympathies, but (according to the Belgrade city archives, document no. 552) was released at the community's request in order to celebrate the Jewish holidays. Herzl's grandfather and grandmother (Rebecca, née Billitz) were buried at the Zemun cemetery, while his father Jacob, who was also born in Zemun, moved to Budapest. In 1941 the community's 500 Jews and its institutions were quickly annihilated. Most of them perished in the barracks of the saymishte (fairground), which were prepared for an international exhibition. This was also used as a detention camp for Croatian Jews and others. Among those who were murdered was the writer and composer Erich (Elisha) Samlaic.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
139130
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Albert Vajs (1905-1964), jurist, community leader, born in Zemun, Serbia (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied philosophy and economics in Berlin and Paris and earned a Ph.D. in law in 1929 from the University of Zagreb, Croatia (then poart of Yugoslavia). During World War II he was a POW in Germany.

After the war, he became a member of the Yugoslav State Commission for the Investigation of the Crimes Committed by the Occupiers and their Collaborators. Vajs was a member of the Yugoslav delegation at the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi war criminals.

Vajs served as a Professor of Law in Belgrade, Serbia, and lectured on history of law and history of civilization from 1947 to 1964 at the Department of History of the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade.

Vajs served as President of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Yugoslavia from 1948 to 1964.

Albert Vajs (1905-1964), jurist, community leader, born in Zemun, Serbia (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied philosophy and economics in Berlin and Paris and earned a Ph.D. in law in 1929 from the University of Zagreb, Croatia (then poart of Yugoslavia). During World War II he was a POW in Germany.

After the war, he became a member of the Yugoslav State Commission for the Investigation of the Crimes Committed by the Occupiers and their Collaborators. Vajs was a member of the Yugoslav delegation at the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi war criminals.

Vajs served as a Professor of Law in Belgrade, Serbia, and lectured on history of law and history of civilization from 1947 to 1964 at the Department of History of the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade.

Vajs served as President of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Yugoslavia from 1948 to 1964.

Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl (1860-1904), journalist and founder of Political Zionism and of the World Zionist Organization, born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest, Hungary, Austrian Empire (now in Hungary), into a middle class Jewish family. Herzl attended a scientific oriented German language school, but because of local anti-Semitism, moved in 1875 to another school that was attended mostly by Jews. The family moved to Vienna, Austria, then the capital city of Austria-Hungary, where Herzl attended the university gaining a doctorate in law, in 1884. He worked for short periods in Vienna and Salzburg, but abandoned a career in law practice and dedicated himself to writing, especially plays; some of them enjoyed a fair amount of success. In 1889, Herzl married Julie Naschauer, daughter of a well-to-do Jewish businessman.

Having been appointed the Paris correspondent of the "Neue Freie Presse", a leading liberal Viennese newspaper, Herzl arrived in Paris, along with his wife in the fall of 1891, only to discover that France was haunted by the same anti-Semitism that he encountered in Austria. While in Paris, Herzl became preoccupied by politics. The Dreyfus affair convinced him that there should be only one solution to the Jewish question: mass emigration of Jews from Europe and the establishment of a Jewish homeland, preferably in the Land of Israel. His thoughts and ideas crystallized in an essay that initially he intended to send to the Rothschilds, but he published his proposals in 1896 as Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State"), a book that changed the course of the Jewish history. Herzl's ideas were received warmly especially in Eastern Europe countries where masses of persecuted Jews were eager to find a way out of the situation. The Hovevei Zion ("Lovers of Zion") movement called on Herzl to assume the leadership of the movement.

In 1897, the First Zionist Congress convened in Basel, Switzerland, and the Zionist movement was established. Herzl was chosen as life president of the World Zionist Organization. He also founded Die Welt, a Zionist weekly. Altneuland ("Old New Country"), Herzl's second book, a visionary novel describing the life in the future Jewish State to be established in the Land of Israel, was published in 1902. During the following years, Herzl traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East and conducted a long series of political meetings with prominent European leaders of the time trying to enlist them to the Zionist cause. He sought the support of the German Emperor, the King of Italy, and the Pope, tried to persuade the Sultan of Turkey to allow Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel, and met the Russian ministry with the aim of convincing him to stop the violence against the Jews of Russia. The most sympathetic offer of support came from Great Britain. However, the
Fourth Zionist Congress of 1903 rejected a British proposal calling for the establishment of a Jewish autonomy in East Africa that Herzl inclined to accept as a provisional refuge for the Jewish population of Eastern Europe. A year later, his heart condition aggravated and shortly afterwards, he died of pneumonia in a sanatorium in Edlach, Austria, on July 3, 1904 (20 Tammuz). Herzl was buried in Vienna and his funeral were attended by large crowds of bereaved Jews from all over Europe. In August 1949, in accordance to his will, the newly established State of Israel re-interred his remains in Jerusalem, on Mount Herzl, which was named in his honor, and 20 Tammuz has been declared a national memorial day in Israel.

Rahela Ferari (born Bella Rochelle Fraynd)(1911-1994), actress, born in Zemun, Serbia (then part of Austria-Hungary). Between 1930 and 1940 she performed at the Serbian National Theater in Novisad, and from 1940 until the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, at the Art Theater in Belgrade. She again performed at the Serbian National Theater in Novisad from 1945 to 1947, and then she was one of the first members of the Yugoslav Drama Theater founded in 1947. In addition, from 1951 until 1993 Ferari appeared in about 90 films, among them Arsenik i stare cipke (1967), Ivanov (1987) and Tako je ako vam se tako cini (1968). Recognized as one of the best Yugoslav actresses after the Second World War, during her lifetime Ferrari was awarded the most prestigious prizes, including Sterija, Sedmojulska and the Dobričin prsten – a prize granted to top actors for their life's achievements. She died in Belgrade

Eva Nahir (born Eva Kalman, aka Eva Panić) (1919-2015), activist, born in Čakovec, Croatia (then part of Austria-Hungary). Her father, Bela Kalman, was a wealthy textile merchant and her mother was an accountant who managed the budget of the family business. They lived in a large villa and Eva had a comfortable and happy childhood with private tutors, caregivers and maids. Already at the age of six she went on vacation to Venice followed by tours to the prestigious museums, theaters and opera houses of Budapest and Vienna. She became involved in the activities of the Zionist youth movements in in Čakovec.

She married the Serbian cavalry officer Radoslav (Rada) Panić and moved to Zemun in the outskirts of Belgrade. Through her husband she became involved into left-wing political activities. After the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, she took refuge in the village of Mali Kruševi, where her husband was born. She and her husband joined the partisans led by Iosip Broz Tito. Eva and her husband later moved to the town of Varvarin in Serbia. Their home was a place of refuge and hiding for Serbs who were wanted by the Germans. Eva, who acted as an agent in Tito's partisan service, transferred weapons, money, forged documents, and helped the fugitives escape deportation to concentration camps.

After the establishment of the Communist regime in Yugoslavia, her husband was appointed a senior officer in the cavalry battalion of the Ministry of the Interior, as a sign of appreciation for his contribution to the fight against the Nazis. However, in 1951 he was arrested on charges of being a “Stalinist”, “Soviet spy”, and an “enemy of the people”. While in prison he committed suicide. Eva, the mother of a six-year girl, was asked to sign a statement denouncing her husband. Following her refusal, she was arrested and deported to the Goli Otok women's penitentiary on Sveti Grgur island on the Adriatic coast. She was detained there for 20 months through November 1953.

She immigrated to Israel in 1966 following her daughter Tijana. She settled in the Kibbutz Shaar Haamakim and married Moshe Nahir, one of the founders of the kibbutz. She was active in the Socialist-oriented MAPAM party and in other left-wing organizations, especially those advocating co-operation with the Israeli Arabs and the neighboring Arab countries. She served as the nutritionist of the kibbutz for years, and then moved on to run the kibbutz club. She was also active in the Association of Jews from the former Yugoslavia.

In 1989, the Serbian novelist Danilo Kiš, accompanied by journalist Raoul Teitelbaum, made a documentary about her life for the Yugoslav television. Kiš died before the four-hour film, Naked Life, directed by Alexander Mandic, was screened during four consecutive evenings on TV in Yugoslavia. The film became the talk of the day in Yugoslavia. It was the first direct testimony to what happened in Tito's horrific women's prison at Goli Otok. In 2002 her story was reworked as Eva, a film shown on Israeli television.  

Hinko Urbah (born Heinrich Urbach) (1872-1960), rabbi, born in Morávka, Czech Republic (then part of Austria-Hungary). He was educated at a traditional heder and then attended high school in Budapest until 1891. Urbah studied at the yeshiva in Bratislava (now in Slovakia), where he worked as an educator until 1898. At the same time, he studied comparative philosophies of Semitic languages at the University of Budapest and earned a PhD in 1904. Urbah served as a rabbi in Tuzla in Bosnia, from 1906 to 1911, in Zemun in Serbia (then part of the newly established Yugoslavia), from 1911 to 1928, and then in Sarajevo, from 1928 to 1946.  He was a lecturer at the Theological Institute, that was opened in Sarajevo in 1938. After the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis Powers in 1941 and the establishment of the Fascist regime in Croatia, he fled to Italy, and at the end of 1943 managed to cross the border to Switzerland. After WW II, he returned to Sarajevo in 1945, and one year later he moved to Zagreb. Urbah, a supporter of the Zionist movement since he was a student, was instrumental in assisting the emigration of Yugoslav Jews to Israel in late 1940s. Eventually, he immigrated himself to Israel bringing with him eighty Torah scrolls from abandoned synagogues in Yugoslavia. He spent his last years in Jerusalem and died in Paris, France.  

Budapest

The capital of Hungary, became a city in 1872, following the union of the historic towns of Buda, Obuda, and Pest.

CONTEMPORARY BUDAPEST

Approximately 80,000 to 100,000 Jews live in Hungary, making it central Europe's largest Jewish community. More than 80% of Hungarian Jews live in the capital city of Budapest. Smaller Jewish communities can be found in the neighboring areas of Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged and Nyiregyhaza. Of the ten thousand Holocaust survivors living in Hungary, the vast majority live in Budapest. Since 2013, hundreds of Jews have left Hungary due to a rise in anti-Semitism, many of whom then settled in Vienna. The traditional Jewish Quarter of Budapest is located in District VII. Within it are several Jewish historical sites, stores and kosher restaurants.

Following the collapse of communism in 1989, several Jewish organizations were reopened. The largest organization serving the Jewish community of Budapest is MAZSIHISZ, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary. A variety of social services are provided by the Joint Distribution Committee, as well as the Lauder Foundation. Healthcare and medical services are provided by the Charity Jewish Hospital and Nursing Facility and two centers for elderly care. The city's many religious institutions include a historic mikvah (ritual bath) and a variety of kosher restaurants. Budapest also has over ten kosher butcher shops, bakeries, and even a matza factory.

Each year Budapest hosts several Jewish social and cultural events. The Jewish Summer Festival puts on a variety of shows including concerts, dance performances, and films. The Jewish community has also established many social and educational programs for children and young adults. The most popular organizations are B'nei Brith, WIZO, UJS, Bnei Akiva, and the Maccabi athletic club. Each summer, an estimated 1,500 campers from more than twenty countries attend Camp Szarvas.

Since the fall of communism, there has been a revival of Jewish religious life in Budapest. As of the beginning of the 21st century, there are as many as twenty synagogues throughout the city, representing a variety of movements including Orthodox, Chabad Lubavitch, Neolog (similar to the Conservative Movement) and Liberal. There are also synagogues located in the provincial cities of Miskolc and Debrecen. In 2003, Slomo Koves became the first Orthodox rabbi to be ordained in Hungary since the Holocaust.

Budapest boasts many Jewish kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools. The three Jewish high schools are Lauder Javne, Wesselenyi, and Anna Frank. Lauder Javne is located on a five-acre campus and was opened in 1990. It is non-denominational and is sponsored by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The Budapest University of Jewish Studies was established in 1877 as a Neolog Rabbinical seminary. Jewish studies programs are offered at several universities including Eotvos Lorand University, the largest school of higher education in Hungary, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the Central European University which was established by Hungarian-born George Soros. Jewish educational programming is also offered at the Beth Peretz Jewish Education Centre Foundation, the American Foundation School, and the Hillel Jewish Educational and Youth Center.

The capital city of Budapest is rich with culture and history, and is home to several buildings, monuments, and cultural centers, including several points of Jewish interest. One such place is the Holocaust Memorial Center, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust during World War II. The Center is situated outside the traditional Jewish quarter and is housed by the Pava Synagogue where it has been since 2004. In 2005, the institution was awarded the Nivo Prize of Architecture for the restoration and rehabilitation of a historic monument.

The city's Jewish Museum is the second-largest in all of Europe. It operates under the auspices of the Alliance of Jewish Communities in Hungary. In 1942, two employees hid valuable museum artifacts in the cellar of Budapest's National Museum. During the German occupation, the building served as an escape passage as its gate was situated outside the borders of the ghetto. Additionally, Theodor Herzl was born in the building which once stood at the present site of the museum.

One of the most significant Jewish cultural sites in Budapest is the Emanuel Holocaust 'Tree of Life' Memorial sculpture in Raoul Wallenberg Park. Engraved on the thirty thousand leaves are the names of Jews who were killed or had disappeared during the Holocaust.

Two other important sites which memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and the events of World War II are the statue of Raoul Wallenberg and the Shoes on the Danube Embankment. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved many Jewish lives by helping them escape deportation. The Shoes on the Danube Embankment is a memorial comprised of sixty pairs of metal shoes set in concrete. Created in 2005, it commemorates the Hungarian Jewish victims killed by militiamen of Arrow Cross, the pro-German national socialist party which was active in Hungary between 1944 and 1945.

In addition to cultural centers and memorials, Budapest contains a number of Jewish landmarks. Located in the heart of Budapest is the King's Hotel –one of the first private Jewish three-star hotels in Budapest. While the hotel has been renovated and modernized, the building itself is more than one hundred years old.

Northern Budapest contains the Medieval Jewish Chapel, a small Sephardic house of prayer which had been rebuilt from ruins in the 18th century. During the 1686 siege of Budapest many of the city's Jewish buildings were completely destroyed. The chapel's original function was not revealed until an excavation in the 1960s when the synagogue's keystone and tombstones engraved in Hebrew were unearthed. Another historic religious site is the Dohany Street Synagogue. Inaugurated in 1659, the synagogue is designed in a Moorish style and is the second-largest synagogue in the world.

Still serving the Jewish community of Budapest is the Kozma Street Cemetery. It is the largest Jewish cemetery in Budapest, and among the largest in Europe. Its unique monuments and mausoleums have drawn many visitors since it opened in 1891.

There are three major publications which serve the Jewish community of Budapest and Hungary. The biweekly Uj Elet (New Life) is the official journal of MAZSIHISZ; the Szombat (Saturday) provides news and information about Jewish life in Hungary as well international issues, and the Mult es Jovo (Past and Future) is a cultural and intellectual journal.


HISTORY

BUDA (also known as Ofen, Oven, Boden, Bodro)
The first Jewish settlers came to Buda from Germany and various Slavic countries during the second half of the 12th century. In 1279 they were isolated in a ghetto, and forced to wear a red badge. Over the course of the 14th century, the Jewish community was expelled twice: first in 1349 following anti-Semitic allegations that arose after the Black Death had swept through the region, and again in 1360 as a result of hostility from the church. In 1364 Jews were permitted to return, though with some restrictions imposed on them. After the establishment of Buda as the royal residence in the late 14th century, its Jewish community became prominent within the larger Hungarian Jewish community. During the 15th century, the Jewish community was recognized as an autonomous government, and the community leader of Buda became the leader of Hungarian Jewry at large. At this time, the Jews of Buda were mainly engaged in commerce and in exports to the German lands and Bohemia.

In 1526 the Turks captured Buda. The majority of the Jews, about 2,000 people, were expelled to the Ottoman Empire, while a minority escaped to communities in western Hungary which had not fallen to the Turks. Jews were able to resettle Buda in 1541 and despite the heavy taxes, the community grew and became the wealthiest and most important in Hungary. Jews occupied influential positions in the management of the treasury and were generally employed in commerce and finance. By 1660 the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities numbered about 1,000 Jews.

In 1686, the Austrians and their allies conducted a siege of Buda and subsequently defeated the Turks and conquered the town. The Jewish population had sided with the Turks and nearly half of them perished over the course of the fighting and its aftermath. The Jewish Quarter was ransacked, and the Torah scrolls were set on fire. Half of the remaining Jews, approximately 250 people, were taken as prisoners and exiled. These events are mentioned in Megilat Ofen, by Yitzhak ben Zalman Schulhof.

The new Austrian administration, in response to church demands, placed restrictions upon the Jews and the Jewish community was consequently subject to more restrictions and expulsions. The Jews of Buda were exiled in 1746 by Empress Maria Theresa, and were permitted to return in 1783, when Emperor Josef II allowed the Jews to reenter and settle in Hungarian towns. The community did not regain its former stature and prominence until the second half of the 19th century, at which time there were 7,000 Jewish families living in Buda.

During these turbulent times, Buda saw the formation of a number of Jewish institutions and the rise of several prominent figures. The latter half of the 18th century saw the establishment of a Hevra Kadisha. By 1869 four synagogues had been built, and were joined by two more at the end of the 19th century. The first known rabbi of the community was Akiva Ben Menahem Hacohen, also called "Nasi," who led the community during the 15th century. In the second half of the 17th century, during the lifetime of Rabbi Ephraim Ben Yaakov Hacohen, Buda was a focal point of the messianic movement of Shabbetai Zvi in Hungary. Moshe Kunitzer, a pioneer of the Haskalah movement in Hungary, was the chief rabbi from1828 until 1837.

OBUDA (also known as Alt-Ofen in German, and Oven Yashan, Old Buda, in Hebrew)
The Jewish community in Obuda vanished after the Turkish conquest in 1526 and was not resettled until 1712, under the leadership of Yaakov Lob. After the return of the Jewish community, by 1727 there were 24 Jewish families living in Obuda under the protection of the counts of Zichy. In a document recognized by the royal court in 1766, the Jews were granted freedom of religion, trading rights relating to the payment of special taxes, and permission to live anywhere in the town. This was a privilege granted in Obuda only.

The Jews of Obuda practiced agriculture, commerce and various trades. Textile factories established by the Jews of Obuda, among them the Goldberger Company, enjoyed favorable reputations throughout Hungary.

The first synagogue was built in 1738, a Hevra Kadisha was founded in 1770, and a Jewish hospital was established in 1772. In 1820 The old synagogue of Obuda underwent significant renovations. That same year, The Great Synagogue on Lajos Street was consecrated, and became one of the most well-known synagogues in the Habsburg Empire. Additionally,during the year 1820 an ultimately short-lived school was built at the demand of Emperor Josef II; since, however, Jewish parents did not want Christian teachers educating their children, the school was consequently closed. However, in spite of these impressive community projects, by the middle of the 19th century many Jewish families were moving to Pest.

PEST
Jews are first mentioned as living in Pest in 1406, and in 1504 there is mention of several Jewish home and landowners. Yet after the Austrian conquest in 1686 Jewish settlement in Pest ended. Although some sources mention a sporadic Jewish presence in Pest, it was not until 1746, when Jews expelled from Buda were looking for alternate places to live, that Jews once again began living in Pest in significant numbers. This community, however, was officially recognized only in 1783, when Emperor Josef II began allowing Jews into Hungarian towns, though they had to pay a special "tolerance tax" to the town. The first synagogue was opened in 1787 in Kiraly Street and later several more synagogues were built, including a Sephardi synagogue. The Great Synagogue on Dohany Street, which remains one of the largest in Europe, was built later, in 1859.

After the emperor’s death in 1790, limitations on Jewish settlement were re-imposed, and only a few Jews chosen by the town’s authorities were permitted to remain in Pest. The rest moved into the Erzsebetvaros Quarter, which maintained a large Jewish population until the Holocaust. During this period, the Jews set up factories and were engaged in commerce and trade.

In spite of the reimposition of restrictions on the Jewish community, they nonetheless were able to open the first Jewish school in Pest, in 1814. This school taught both religious and secular subjects in German. Additionally, there were several private Jewish schools. In later years, a girls’ school was opened in 1814 and a Jewish Teachers' training college was opened in 1859. The Orthodox community opened its first school in 1873.

The restrictions imposed after the death of Emperor Josef II were repealed in 1840. During the Hungarian National Revolution of 1848-1849, also known as the Revolution of Liberty against the Habsburg rule, many of the Jews from Pest volunteered to fight, and the community contributed considerable sums of money to the revolution. When the revolution failed, however, heavy taxes were imposed upon the Jews of Pest because of their participation. In 1867, following the formation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the new Hungarian government granted equal rights to the Jews of Hungary. This prompted a fruitful period of community-building; that same year the Jewish community of Pest opened an orphanage for girls, the first of its kind in Hungary, followed by a second orphanage for boys in 1869. In later years, several hospitals and welfare institutions for the elderly and sick were opened, as well as a home for the deaf and dumb, which was inaugurated in 1876.
Judaism was officially recognized as one of the accepted religions of Hungary in 1895.

The year 1867 also saw a new initiative from the Pest community: The Hungarian Jewish Congress. Its aim was to prompt a discussion of the schisms in the Jewish community, particularly between the Orthodox and the Neolog congregations. Following the first meeting of the congress in December 1868, the Orthodox appealed to the Hungarian government and in 1871 they were legally recognized as a distinct community. In 1889 Rabbi Koppel Reich was elected to be the head of the Hungarian Orthodox community; he later became a member of the upper house of the Hungarian parliament in 1927, when he was nearly 90 years old.

In 1877, the Rabbinical Seminary was opened in Budapest. Its aim was to integrate rabbinical studies with general education, and it became one of the world’s leading institutions for rabbinical training. Its founders and faculty members were well-known researchers and instructors. The seminar’s publications included journals such as the Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review). In spite of opposition and boycotts from the Orthodox community, the seminary played a central role in shaping modern Hungarian Jewry.

BUDAPEST
In 1873, Buda and Pest were officially merged with Obuda, creating the city of Budapest. Concurrently, the second half of the 19th century was a period of economic and cultural prosperity for the Jewish community of Budapest. The beginning of the 20th entury saw Budapest become an important center for Jewish journalism. The weekly Magyar Israelita became the first Jewish newspaper in Hungarian. In the broader community, Jews also assumed an important role in the founding and editing of leading newspapers in Hungary, such as Nyugat (West). During the interwar period, non-Orthodox Jewish educational institutions included 15 schools with 3,600 students. Meanwhile, the Orthodox community had a population of approximately 10,000 and was establishing its own welfare and educational institutions.

1919-1921 was the period of The White Terror in Hungary. After the fall of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, the new regime of Admiral Miklos Horthy organized army gangs to suppress and destroy any lingering communist elements in the country. Because a number of the communist leaders were Jewish, Hungarian Jews became the main victims of this “purification." From the time Admiral Horthy entered Budapest on November 14, 1919, Jewish officials in the army and government service were dismissed, Jews were forbidden to trade in tobacco and wine, and scientific institutions were closed to them. In 1920, the Numerus Clausus law was imposed, which determined admission to universities on a national basis and effectively established a quota for the number of Jews permitted to enter Hungarian universities.

In spite of government-endorsed anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence, by 1935 there were 201,069 Jews living in Budapest making it one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.

BUDAPEST JEWS OF NOTE
• Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921), the founder of the Academy for the Study of Modern Islam. He was the secretary of the Budapest Neolog community from 1874 to 1904. Goldziher helped found the Jewish-Hungarian Literary Society which worked to spread Jewish culture by means of lectures and publications. Among the Society's publications was the first Jewish translation of the Bible into Hungarian. Goldziher also founded the Jewish-Hungarian museum. He was a teacher in the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

• Arminius Vambery (1832-1913), a famous traveler and researcher. He was instrumental in introducing Theodor Herzl to the Sultan of Turkey.

• Ferenc Molnar (1878-1931), an outstanding dramatist and novelist. Molnar is best known today as the author of the famous children’s book The Paul Street Boys, published in 1927.

• Lengyel Menyhert (1880-1974 ), a dramatist and scriptwriter. His credits include Ninotchka (1940) and To Be or Not to Be (1942), celebrated films for which he wrote the screenplays.

• Professor Alexander (Sandor) Scheiber ( 1913-1985) was the director of the Rabbinical Seminary during the 1950s. He published research on the history of Hungarian Jewry, and in his last years was actively involved in the consolidation of communal life in Budapest.

ZIONISM
Budapest was the birthplace of Theodor (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl (1860-1904), the father of modern Zionism. The writer and physicist Max Nordau (1849-1932), a founding member of the World Zionist Congress and author of the Basel Platform at the First Zionist Congress (1897), was also born in Budapest. It is not surprising, therefore, that Budapest was a hotbed of Zionist activity at the turn of the 20th century. In 1903 the student Zionist association Makkabea was established; its first group of pioneers immigrated to Palestine before the end of World War I.The Zionist press in Budapest began in 1905 with the publication of Zsido Neplap (Jewish Popular Paper), which closed down two years later. Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review), another Zionist publication, began operating in 1911, the same year as the quarterly Mult es Jovo.

The Zionist activity in Budapest was strengthened by the arrival in the city in 1940 of Zionist leaders from Transylvania, among them Rudolf Kasztner (who would later play a controversial role during the Holocaust) and Erno Marton. The worsening situation of the Hungarian Jewry during the late 1930’s and during the Holocaust period led to a rise in the popularity of Zionism.

Another Budapest Zionist of note is Hanna Szenes (1921-1944), a native of Budapest who emigrated to Palestine. Szenes was a poetess and paratrooper in the Haganah an underground Jewish military organization in Palestine. During World War II, Szenes was sent on a mission to Hungary to help organize Jewish anti-Nazi resistance. Tragically, she was captured and executed by the Nazis.

Although Zionist organizations reemerged and were active after World War II, the Communist regime banned their activities after 1949, and a number of Zionist leaders were put on trial having been accused of “conspiracy”.

THE HOLOCAUST
Following the Discriminatory Laws of 1938-41, which limited Jewish participation in the economy and society, certain large institutions and factories were required to dismiss their Jewish employees. In 1940, Jews began to be drafted to be forced laborers, which meant that many families were left without any means of support. On November 20, 1940, Hungary signed a treaty with Italy and Japan, thereby officially joining the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany. During the period that followed Hungary's entry into the war against the Soviet Union in 1941, until the occupation of Hungary by the German army on March 19th, 1944, more than 15,000 Jews from Budapest were killed during deportations and in forced labor camps.

In March 1944, Adolph Eichmann ordered that the Jewish communal organizations be dissolved, and replaced by a Jewish council, Zsido Tanacs. Jews were forced to wear the yellow badge. Freedom of movement was restricted and many buildings were seized. The licenses of Jewish lawyers and newspapers were suspended. On June 30, 1944, the Germans started to concentrate the Jews in certain parts of the city and plans were made to begin their deportation.

The anti-Semitic Arrow Cross Party, led by Ferenc Szalasi, came to power in October 1944. The new government immediately began carrying out attacks against the Jews, killing 600 people during the first days. Papers and certificates that could allow Jews to stay and work in the city were no longer valid. On October 20th 1944 Eichmann ordered that all men aged 16-60 were to be sent to dig fortifications against the approaching Soviet army. 50,000 men marched on that Death March. Three days later the women and children were forced to join the men. These Jews were later transferred by the Germans at the border station at Hegyeshalom. The remaining Jews were concentrated into two ghettos.

At the end of December 1944 there were about 70,000 people in the central ghetto in Budapest; tens of thousands of others found shelter in the international ghetto, where diplomats of neutral nations, such as Carl Lutz of Switzerland and Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden, were issuing protective papers for Jews. Zionist organizations also forged documents in order to save Jews. The number of protective certificates, legal and forged, issued in Budapest was around 100,000; meanwhile, approximately 2,748 Jews were hidden in monasteries and in church cellars. By the time the Soviet army entered and occupied the city on January 17th, 1945, 76,000 Jews were handed over to the Germans, a number which includes victims of deportation and death marches. At the end of World War II there were approximately 90,000 Jews in Budapest. Meanwhile, over 100,000 Jews from Budapest, a majority of the population, perished.

THE COMMUNIST REGIME
After the Holocaust, many survivors emigrated to Palestine. Others remained in Hungary, where a large number abandoned the Jewish tradition and identity, either due to their traumatic experiences during the war, or due to the influence of the atheist government in Hungary. In 1956, after the Hungarian anti-Soviet uprising, about 25,000 Jews left the city.

During the communist period, the Jewish community of Budapest was controlled by the Department of Religious Affairs within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Starting in1968, each of the 18 administrative districts of Budapest contained at least one synagogue, a rabbi, a Talmud Torah, and a lecture hall. Additionally, there was a Jewish high school in the capital, with a student population of about 140 and the Orthodox community founded a yeshiva with 40 students. The Rabbinical Seminary, which was reconstructed after the war and was the only institution of its kind in any communist country, continued to be active thanks to the support of the Neolog movement.

Uj Elet (New Life), was a biweekly newspaper published by the Budapest Jewish community which reflected the changing ways in which the Jews of Hungary understood their identity. Other Jewish communal services included a Jewish hospital, an old age home, a kosher restaurant, the availability of kosher meat, and a matza bakery.

A city in Croatia

Until 1918 Osijek was located within Austria-Hungary, after which it was part of Yugoslavia. Since 1995 it has been part of independent Croatia.

 

21ST CENTURY

Osijek’s Jewish community center includes a museum, which contains objects rescued from the synagogue, when it was destroyed during World War II (1939-1945).

A memorial to the victims of the Holocaust is located in the city’s main square.  

Osijek’s Jewish cemetery has remained standing, and is still in use.

In 2001 there were approximately 100 Jews living in Osijek.

 

HISTORY

Jews were first mentioned in Osijek after the Austrian conquest of Belgrade in 1688. About 500 Jewish prisoners were taken to Osijek, where they had to wait until they were ransomed by European Jewish communities.

Jewish settlement in Osijek, however, began during the 18th century, when Jews from the Austrian Empire began arriving in the city. In 1792 they were officially granted the right to live in Osijek. Religious services were held in Osijek beginning in 1830, and the official community was founded in 1845. In 1849, the community had 40 members. The community founded a congregation school and chevra kaddisha in 1857, and built a synagogue in 1867.

When the Jews of Croatia were emancipated in 1873, the community blossomed, becoming the largest Jewish community in Croatia until 1890. In 1900 there were 1,600 Jews in Osijek, and during the 20th century Osijek became home to two Jewish communities, one in the upper and another one in the lower town. In 1940 there were 2,584 Jews in the two communities.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

After the German conquest of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Croatia became the Independent State of Croatia, led by the fascist and military dictator, Ante Pavelic. On April 13 ethnic Germans (a number of whom lived in the region) and Pavelic's Ustase (paramilitary collaborators) looted Jewish property, imposed a heavy fine on the Jewish community, and made all economic activity impossible for Jews. Additionally, Jewish families living in the center of town were evicted. Then, a mob of Germans, ethnic Germans, and Ustase burned the main synagogue and destroyed the Jewish cemetery.

In December of 1941 a camp for 2,000 Jewish women and children was established in an old mill in Djakovo, near Osijek. Approximately 1,200 women and children from the Stara Gradiska camp were transferred to Djakovo in February of 1942. The camp was eventually liquidated after the outbreak of an epidemic, and its inmates were sent to Jasenovac for execution.

In June of 1942 the community was ordered to build a settlement on the road to Tenje, a nearby village. Promises were made that the Jews would be allowed to live there in peace, and the leaders of the community built the settlement and organized life within it. 3,000 Jews from Osijek, and later from other places in the region, were ultimately confined there. By August of 1942 they had all been sent to Jasenovac or Auschwitz. Only Jews married to non-Jews, and those who were in hiding, remained in Osijek throughout the war. Ten ultimately returned from the camps.

 

POSTWAR

In 1947 there were 610 Jews in the community, which included both Osijek itself, and the surrounding area. Beginning in 1949, however, many immigrated to Israel; as a result, in 1949 Osijek’s Jewish community dropped to 220 members.

A monument to Jewish fighters and victims of Nazism from Osijek and Slavonia was dedicated in 1965 in a square in Osijek. The monument was created by Oscar Nemon of London, a native of Osijek.

 

Baja

A town in the Bacs-Bodrog district, southern Hungary.

The first Jews came to the town from Moravia in 1727. At the beginning, the majority earned a living from dealing in liquor, tobacco, leather, wool and in grains. There were also owners of large agricultural holdings and industrialists.
The first synagogue was consecrated in 1768. The community established a school, many charitable institutions and in 1882 a hospital which served the Hungarian army in the first world war. An old-aged home was built in 1901. There was even a special prison for religious criminals and tax evaders.
At the beginning of the 19th century the communities in the district were organized into two bodies. At the head of one body was the "head of state" who represented all the secular institutions, while the head of the second body was the "state rabbi", who had authority over all religious matters. One of the rabbis of the town, Elyakim Gotz Kohn-Schwerin, was chosen as chief rabbi of all the Hungarian communities and administered the changes in the prayer books; for example, the principles of secular subjects for the Sabbath sermon.
Two Jews reached the position of assistant to the mayor of the town. A young Jewish lawyer was even elected to parliament.
In World War I there were 365 Jews of Baja in the army, of them 36 fell in action.

In 1930 there were 1,648 Jews in the town. (in 1880 the 2,542 Jews comprised 13.2% of the inhabitants).

The Holocaust period

in 1939, with the publication of discriminatory laws which aimed at limiting Jewish participation in the economic and cultural fields, attempts were made by the "Volksbund" (an anti-Semitic association of residents of German origin) to organize against the Jews of the town. The mayor succeeded in preventing them. In the same year the community clinic was nationalized and Jewish doctors were dismissed. Libraries and historical documents of the community were plundered, and many Jews were imprisoned on charges of racial pollution.
Even until 1944, the Jews of Baja provided help to refugees from Poland to reach Yugoslavia on their way to England and France.

In 1944, following the occupation by the German army, the leaders of the community hid 40 sifrei Torah of the community in a well; they were returned in 1946. The Jewish hospital was expropriated by the German army. On April 14, 1944, 120 men over conscription age, including the chief rabbi, were sent to do forced labor (work on fortifications, and in services together with other Hungarian citizens whom the authorities would not allow to join the armed forces). Men over conscription age were sent to a labor camp in Bacstopolya. In May 1944, all the Jews were confined in a ghetto which was set up in the town, and after a short time some of them were transferred to Gansendorf in Austria, and from there to Auschwitz. The remainder were taken to Bacsalmas, and from there transported to Auschwitz in June. 130 Jewish residents remained in the town and were forced by the Germany army to work in sanitation and tailoring. In addition, a number of holders of outstanding military decorations
from the first world war remained. When the German army withdrew from Baja on October 13, 1944, the headquarters wanted to take with them the Jews left in the town, but the director of the municipal hospital was able to convince them that these Jews were necessary for work in the hospital. About 80 other Jews were compelled to leave the town with S.S. forces and were taken to a transit camp in Graz, Austria, but they managed to escape on the way.

After the war, some 400 survivors returned who renewed the life of the community. A memorial was erected for the 1,400 martyrs.
In 1953 there were 180 Jews still living in the town.

Sombor
 

Serbian: Сомбор (Sombor)

Hebrew: סומבור

Hungarian: Zombor

German: Zombor

Turkish: Sonbor

Other names: Czoborszentmihály, Ravangrad


A town in the district of Backa, Vojvodina, Serbia.

Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918.

 

21st Century

A study about the Jews in Serbia exists, mostly of the Backa and Vojvodina regions and Belgrade where Jews have predominantly lived in the period prior to, during World War II and after the war. Thematized are victims of the war, loss of Jewish heritage, various data and statistics, and history.

Victims of Fascist terror are recorded in a list of Jewish inhabitants of the town of Sombor police card file.

The city of Sombor has a Jewish community and a Jewish cemetery. The Jewish community has a prayer hall with a torah ark which belonged to the former Orthodox prayer location.

In 2011 the Jewish community of Sombor organized an event for the presentation of the book Righteous among the Nations – Serbia. Over 120 Serbs including two citizens of Sombor have been named Righteous of Serbia and decorated by Yad Vashem museum for their humanity and courage. This distinction is given by the Jewish community for courageous acts of saving lives of Jewish people during World War II and to preserve the memory of such acts.

 

History

The first (registered) Jewish families came to settle in the mid-18th century. By the middle of the 19th century, a Jewish school existed where teaching was done in Hebrew and Yiddish, the use of the latter language eventually being objected to by the authorities and prohibited.

The first synagogue in Sombor was consecrated in 1825 and the second in 1865. Among the founders of the kehillah was Jacob Stein. Conservative in doctrine, its first rabbi was David Kohn (d.1884). By the end of the 19th century there were 200 Jewish taxpayers, and 650 Jews out of a total population of 25,000. The community had a bikkur cholim society and during the century the town and its kehillah grew considerably.

In 1910 there were 1,000 Jews out of a population of 35,000, and by 1940 there were 1,200 out of 45,000 inhabitants in the city.

A Talmud torah was founded in 1925. In the 1920s and 1930s various youth and Zionist organizations opened chapters in Sombor. The last rabbi before the Holocaust was Michael Fischer.

 

The Holocaust Period

Like other places in Vojvodina, the Hungaro-German occupations of 1941-43 resulted in the extermination of this once active Jewish community. In 1953 a monument to the victims of the Holocaust was established.

Szeged

Yiddish, Serbian: Segedin
German: Szegedin

A city in Csongrad County, southern Hungary

Szeged is the third-largest city in Hungary. It is home to the University of Szeged, one of Hungary’s most prominent universities.

Szeged’s Great Synagogue is Hungary’s second-largest synagogue, after the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest, and the 4th largest synagogue in the world. It is used occasionally for religious purposes, as the center of Szeged’s Jewish community, and as an events center and concert hall. Restoration work on Szeged’s Great Synagogue is expected to be completed in 2017. The synagogue is open for visitors, Monday through Friday, except on Jewish holidays.

Szeged’s Jewish community includes a chevra kaddisha, an old age home, and a cemetery.

HISTORY

Szeged’s Jewish community was founded relatively late in comparison with other areas in Hungary, a result of the city’s status as a free crown town which had the right to forbid Jews to settle within it. After the first Jew was permitted to live in Szeged in 1781 the Jewish community grew. Five years after the first Jew came to live in Szeged, the Jewish population was 18. By 1792 there were 38 Jews living in Szeged, and in 1799 there were 58. In 1806 Szeged’s Jewish population was 62, and by 1840 it had jumped to 681.

Records dating from 1799 indicate that most of Szeged’s Jews worked mostly as merchants and peddlers, while two were goldsmiths, two were tailors, and one was a distiller. The economic progress of the Jews of Szeged can been seen in the mid to late 19th century, when a substantial number of Jews worked as entrepreneurs, establishing companies, banks, and various industries. By the 20th century Jews were also members of the professional classes, working as physicians, lawyers, judges, and the leaders of professional societies.

In 1825 it was determined that Szeged’s Jewish community would be led by an elected council consisting of 31 members; additionally, it was customary for a municipal representative to attend council meetings and participate in its discussions. This system lasted until 1867, when, instead of having a municipal representative participate in the community’s decision-making process, the community was required to present its decisions publically.

Following the nationwide Congress of Hungarian Jews (1868-1869) the Szeged community became affiliated with the Neolog movement. Additionally, the Jews of Kistelek and of the subdistrict towns along the Tisza River became subordinated to the Szeged community. By 1898 Szeged had became the center of the Neolog communities.

The community chevra kadisha was established in 1787. In 1868 the old cemetery was destroyed, and as a result the graves were transferred to a new cemetery outside of the city. A hospital established by the chevra kadisha in 1856 was destroyed during a major flood that hit Szeged in 1879. Other community welfare institutions included a Women's League, Society of Sponsors, Society of Our Town's Poor, Provision for Poor Brides, Supporters of the Poor, and a Bikkur Cholim Society. These institutions also served Szeged’s Christian residents, in addition to the Jewish community. The Jews of Szeged also contributed to funds for the poor in distant places, such as Palestine, Belgrade, Graz, Russia, Constantinople, Vienna and Persia. Later, those who became inclined towards Zionism also contributed to organizations that supported the study of Hebrew literature and to Keren Hayesod.

Szeged’s first synagogue was consecrated in 1803. This synagogue was ultimately destroyed in 1839; a new one was erected in its place in 1843 and consecrated by the chief Neolog Rabbi of Pest. Shortly after its consecration, however, it became clear that this new synagogue was not large enough to hold the number of worshippers, and it became necessary to build an additional synagogue. The Great Synagogue of Szeged was consecrated in 1903, and was funded by the municipality, as well as Christian philanthropists. Indeed, Szeged was an encouraging model of interreligious cooperation. It was customary in Szeged for priests to be welcomes into synagogues to preach, while rabbis were invited to give sermons in churches.

The first rabbi to serve the Jewish community of Szeged was Rabbi Yechiel (1789-1790), followed by Rabbi Hirsch Bak (1790-1843). Rabbi Bak was succeeded by Rabbi Daniel Politz, whose short tenure was marked by controversy; Rabbi Politz was appointed in 1843 and dismissed in 1847 due to his embrace of making reforms in halacha. Szeged’s next rabbi, Rabbi Leopold Loew (1850-1875), one of the most prominent leaders of Hungarian Jewry. He was one of the first Hungarian rabbis to deliver synagogue sermons in the Hungarian language, fought for securing full civil rights for the Jews of Hungary, researched and wrote about Hungarian Jewish history and Talmudic archeology, and edited the German-language quarterly Ben Hanania. A strong Hungarian nationalist, he was appointed as an army chaplain during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and encouraged the Jewish soldiers to fight for the Hungarian cause.

Rabbi Loew was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Dr. Emanuel Loew, a major leader and scholar in his own right. Rabbi Emanuel Loew initiated the construction of the Great Synagogue and designed the stained glass windows and the interior design. Additionally, Rabbi Loew was noted as a Hebrew and Aramaic philologist and was among the editors of a dictionary of the language of Genesis. In 1919, during the White Terror pogroms 1919-1921), when right-wing groups lashed out against Jews following the failure of the communist revolution, Rabbi Loew became a target. He was falsely charged with slandering Hungary’s ruler, Miklos Horthy, and placed under arrest. It was only through the intervention of European intellectuals that Rabbi Loew was eventually freed, after one year of imprisonment. In 1927 Rabbi Loew was chosen to represent the Neolog communities in the upper house of the Hungarian parliament.

Jeno Frankel was appointed as the community’s rabbi in 1926. He was a staunch Zionist and many of his activities centered around educating the community’s youth about Zionism. He established a library that provided Zionist books, and started a weekly publication, Library for Jewish Youth (Zsido Ifjusagi Konyvtar). In 1928 a local branch of the Hungarian Jewish Scouts Association was founded. Branches of WIZO, HeChalutz, and Barissia (Bar Kochba Association) were established in 1932.

A Jewish elementary school for boys, which consisted of four grades, was established in Szeged as early as 1820 and operated under the supervision of Rabbi Leopold Loew. However, because of his participation in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, he was no longer able to serve as the school’s principal, and a Christian principal was appointed in his place. Four grades for girls were added in 1851. The municipality began contributing to the school beginning in 1860. During the 1902-1903 school year the school enrolled 574 students; during the 1916-1917 school year there were 483 students in the school. There were also a number of Jewish students studying at the University of Szeged, exceeding even the legal quota placed on the number of Jews officially permitted to study there.

In 1900 Szeged’s Jewish population was 5,863. The Jewish population reached its peak in 1920, at 6,958. Subsequently Szeged’s Jewish population began to decline, a result of a rise in mortality and lower birthrates, as well as conversions. In 1930 Szeged’s Jewish population was 5,560.


When the Nazis rose to power in Germany in 1933 it precipitated a breakdown in the heretofore positive relations between the Jews and Christians in Szeged. Among the most noticeable changes were the frequent demonstrations held by Christian students against their Jewish classmates.

In 1941 there were 4,161 Jews in Szeged.

THE HOLOCAUST

Beginning in 1938 Hungary passed a number of anti-Jewish laws, modeled on German’s Nuremberg Laws. These laws aimed at curbing Jewish participation in Hungary’s economy, culture, and civic life. In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Jewish forced laborers were brought to Szeged from all over Hungary, and Jewish men from Szeged were drafted into the Hungarian Army’s labor battalions. In 1943 most of these forced laborers were assigned to the service of the Germans, while about 10,000 men were transferred to the mines in Bor, Yugoslavia.

On March 19, 1944 the German army occupied Hungary. That May, a ghetto was planned for the Jews of Szeged in an area that had been used for pig pens; following the intervention of the Catholic Bishop Endre Hamvas, the ghetto was relocated to the streets adjoining the synagogues. The community leaders were granted the authority to direct life in the ghetto, and they established a Jewish police force.

In mid-June the ghetto inhabitants were concentrated in the local brick-manufacturing plant, along with the Jews of Hodmezoevasarhely, Mako, Szentes, Csongrad, Kiskoros, Kistelek, and Kiskunhalas. Food and sanitation services were limited, property was confiscated, and the Jews were subject to a number of physical humiliations. Bishop Hamvas condemned the brutal treatment of the Jews and protested to state and church authorities.

On June 24 two trains left for Auschwitz. Rabbi Emanuel Loew, then 90 years old, was removed from the train in Budapest, where he was hospitalized; he died shortly thereafter. On June 26, two more trains left Szeged. One carried "the privileged,” and was meant to connect with another “privileged” train from Kecskemet, while the other was destined for Auschwitz. The former train was accidentally dispatched to Auschwitz, and in correcting the mistake both trains from Szeged were sent to Strasshof, Austria. From there the Jews were scattered throughout Austria and employed in forced labor, but most survived. Towards the end of the war, in April 1945, they were transferred from Austria to Theresienstadt, where they were liberated in May 1945.

About 3,000 Jews of Szeged were killed in Auschwitz.

POSTWAR

Szeged was liberated by the Red Army in October 1944. Those Jews who had survived in hiding, as well as the forced laborers within the Hungarian Army who had eventually escaped their units, began to return to the city. These Jews, together with the forced laborers who had remained in Szeged and were liberated there, began to revive the city’s Jewish life. Already by November 25th the community elected its new leadership, with the prewar community leader Dr. Robert Pap reinstated as its head.

In July 1945 about 750 survivors, former residents of Szeged, returned to Szeged from Theresienstadt and were joined by Jews from the surrounding areas. Rabbi Jeno Frankel returned to his post as Szeged’s rabbi. The Jewish school reopened in September 1945, with 44 students enrolled. With the help of the Joint Distribution Committee, the synagogue, the community's buildings, and the home for the aged were renovated. Among the community buildings that were renovated was the orphanage, which had taken in 400 Jewish children whose parents had perished in the Holocaust.

In 1946 the community buried two coffins in the cemetery in memory of the Jews of Szeged who had been murdered in the camps. One coffin contained soap prepared by the Germans from the fat of Jewish bodies; parchment remnants from a Torah scroll were placed in the other. In December 1947 the bodies of 99 Jews, natives of Szeged and its environs who had been murdered on April 15, 1945 were given a Jewish burial. In 1948, a Holocaust monument was erected in a hallway of the Great Synagogue with the names of 1,640 Jews of Szeged who had perished.

Rabbi Frankel eventually settled in Israel in 1949 and Rabbi Dr. Joseph Schindler was appointed in his place. Upon his death, the position was filled by Rabbi Thomas Raj.

In 1950 all of the community’s buildings, except for the synagogues, were nationalized. About a thousand Jews were living in Szeged in 1958. By the ‘70s the Jewish population was about 750.

The Great Synagogue was renovated at the end of the 1980s.

Serbia

Република Србија / Republika Srbija - Republic of Serbia

A country in southeastern Europe in the Balkan peninsula, a former Yugoslav republic.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 1,400 out of 7,000,000 (0.02%). Main umbrella organization of the Jewish communities:

Savez Jevrejskih Opština Srbije (Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia)
Phone: 381 11 262-1837
Fax: 381 11 262-2674
Email: office@savezjos.org
Website: www.savezjos.org

Belgrade

Serbian: Beograd / Београд

The capital of Serbia.

Belgrade is the largest city in Serbia. It is located where the Sava and Danube Rivers meet, as well as where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. Belgrade was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1521 an often changed hands between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs. After World War I (1918) Belgrade became the capital of Yugoslavia until the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Belgrade has been the capital of Serbia since the establishment of the independent Republic of Serbia in 2006.

The Belgrade Jewish community has an active community center, located in the Ashkenazi synagogue that was originally consecrated in 1925, and used as a brothel by the Nazis during World War II. The community center houses the Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia, the Jewish Historical Museum, and the Sukkat Shalom Synagogue, the only active synagogue remaining in Belgrade. Services are held regularly on Friday nights and Jewish holidays and are led by Rabbi Isak Asiel, the Chief Rabbi of Serbia. The Belgrade Jewish community offers a number of programs and services for Serbian Jews of all ages. Activities and programs have included Hebrew classes, youth groups, a choir, a theater troupe, and a kosher kitchen (established in 2005). Communal organizations include a Women's League, and a chevra kaddisha.

Belgrade's two Jewish cemeteries are located across the street from each other, at 1 Mije Kovacevica Street. The Sephardic cemetery, which has remained active, is the larger cemetery. It includes a Holocaust memorial, which was erected in 1952, as well as memorials to the Jewish victims of the Balkan Wars and World War I. Another monument marks the location where sacred books and texts are buried (shemos). The Ashkenazi cemetery includes approximately 200 tombstones.

The Fresco Gallery has a memorial plaque commemorating Belgrade's Jewish community. It stands where the Moorish-style synagogue once stood, from when it was built in 1908 until it was destroyed in 1941. The building that once housed the Oneg Shabbat organization has remained standing in what was once the Jewish Quarter, and Stars of David can still be seen on the building's exterior. The building currently houses the Cinema Rex.

HISTORY

Several Jews from Italy and Hungary settled in Belgrade during the 13th and 14th centuries. They were joined by Sephardi Jews, who arrived after the Turkish conquest in 1521. Most lived in the Jewish mahala ("quarter") near the citadel, and worked as physicians, blacksmiths, tanners, and merchants. Additionally, the community enjoyed a degree of judicial autonomy.

In 1663 there were 800 Jews living in Belgrade. Between 1642 and 1688, the yeshiva of Belgrade became more widely known, and operated under the tutelage of Rabbis Judah Lerma, Simchah b. Gershon Kohen, and Joseph Almosnino.

With the decline of the Turkish Empire beginning in the late 17th century, a series of tragedies befell the Jews of Belgrade. In 1688, as the Austrians approached the city, Turkish troops plundered and burned the Jewish Quarter. Once the Austrians captured the city, soldiers burned, looted, and killed both the Turkish and Jewish population. The community was totally destroyed; some Jews managed to flee to Bulgaria but the majority were taken prisoner and deported to Austria to be sold as slaves or offered to Jewish communities to be ransomed.

A number of Jews returned to the city shortly thereafter and rebuilt the synagogue. However, because Belgrade was the key fortress against the Turks, there were restrictions placed on the number of Jews permitted to live in the city. Belgrade was retaken by the Turks in 1739. A series of rebellions by the Serbs against the local Ottoman authorities began in 1803, continuing intermittently for nearly 30 years. Belgrade changed hands many times. In 1807 the Serbs expelled the Jews from Belgrade; it was only after Russian intervention that the anti-Jewish measures were revoked. Some returned between 1811 and 1813 but were forced to leave yet again when a failed rebellion broke out in 1813.

The situation of Belgrade's Jews improved in 1815, when Milosh Obrenovich became the ruler of Serbia. The Serbian state press that he founded in 1837 was also published in Hebrew. However, the freedoms that the Jews of Belgrade enjoyed under Obrenovich would not last. Milosh's successor Alexander Karageorgevich (1842-1858) introduced a series of economic and residence restrictions on Belgrade's Jews. Nonetheless, the Jewish community managed to establish a number of cultural and religious institutions, including a Hebrew school, which was founded during the 1850s.

In 1777 there were 800 Jews living in Belgrade. By 1831 there were approximately 1,300 Jews (200 of whom were Ashkenazim) in the city.

The Jews of Belgrade, as well as those throughout Serbia were granted full civil rights by the Serbian parliament in 1889. Subsequently, the community's wealthier Jews began to integrate into Serbian society. They spoke Serbian, their children went to state schools and universities, and many were able to study and work as physicians and civil servants, among other professions previously barred to them. Nonetheless, most Jews lived in the mahala until World War I, when it was partially destroyed. The community had its own press; the Ladino journal El Amigo del Pueblo began publishing in 1888 and appeared in Belgrade throughout the 1890s. In 1907 they built a new Sephardi synagogue, Bet Yisrael, in the upper town.

After World War I, when Belgrade became the capital of the independent Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the younger generation gradually left the mahala to take advantage of a wider range of economic opportunities. Many worked as physicians, bankers, and in the stock exchange and garment industry.

THE HOLOCAUST

There were 12,000 Jews living in Belgrade when the Germans invaded in April 1941. The invasion, coupled with the collaboration on the part of the city's Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) residents, ushered in a period of discrimination and violence against the city's Jews. Jews were evicted from their homes and their property was confiscated. The Ashkenazi synagogue was turned into a brothel; Bet Yisrael became a storehouse for looted Jewish property and was eventually blown up before the German retreat. All communal activities were forbidden, but the Vertretung (Representation) appointed by the Germans, organized public kitchens, medical services, and other forms of aid for the local Jewish community, as well as for the 2,500 Jews from the Banat region who were expelled to Belgrade.

All men between the ages of 14 and 60 and all women between the ages of 14 and 40 were compelled to work as forced laborers, and were not provided with money or food in exchange for their labor. When the Serbians started a campaign of armed resistance against the Nazis, the Germans began executing hostages, many of whom were Jews. The first mass execution took place on July 29, 1941 when 122 Communists and Jews were shot.

Between August and October, 1941 approximately 5,000 Jewish men were arrested. After being imprisoned they were taken in groups of 150 to 400 to the nearby forests and shot. The remaining 6,000 Jewish women and children were arrested in December 1941 and transported to the Saymishte camp, a former commercial fairground on the left bank of the Sava River. Food was scarce, and many froze to death in the winter of 1941-1942. Those who had remained alive were killed in gas vans between February and May 1942. Patients in the Jewish hospital in the mahala were also killed in 1942. Some Jews, primarily those who had participated in the Zionist youth movement HaShomer HaTzair, joined the resistance movement. They worked as saboteurs, disseminated propaganda, and collected funds and medical supplies.

About 95% of Serbia's Jewish population was killed during the war. Of the 12,000 living in Belgrade before the Nazi occupation, 1,115 survived.

POSTWAR

On October 22, 1944, two weeks after the liberation of Belgrade, the Jewish community began to resume its activities. Survivors opened a soup kitchen, a center to serve those who returned after the war, and provided medical services. The Ashkenazi synagogue was reconsecrated on December 2nd 1944 by Rabbi Albert Altarac; the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi communities merged. In 1947 the community had 2,271 members, half of whom emigrated to Israel shortly after. A monument to fallen Jewish fighters and victims of fascism was erected after the war in the central cemetery of Belgrade.

In 1969 there were 1,602 Jews in Belgrade. The community center ran an internationally known choir, a youth club, and a kindergarten. It also housed the Federation of Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia.

In 1995 a sculpture by Nandor Glid, titled "Menorah in Flames," was erected where the Jewish Quarter once stood.

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The Jewish Community of Zemun

Zemun

In Serbian: Земун; in German: Semlin

A town on the Sava river, opposite Belgrade, Serbia

Under Austrian rule Zemun was part of the so-called military area and subject to special regulations. It was therefore difficult for Jews to gain a foothold there, but once they succeeded in settling, they enjoyed relative safety in this protected doorway to the Balkans.

After the Austrian conquest of Belgrade in 1717, some Jews from Austria and Germany settled there, but when Belgrade fell to the Ottoman Turks again in 1739, a group of 20 Jewish families fled to Zemun. A small but lively community was thus created inside Croatia, which was exclusively administered by Austrians in view of frequent wars and bargaining with the Turks. In 1746 the Judengemeinde was officially recognized, but Maria Theresa granted the first known written privilege to a Jew (Raphael Salomon) to live permanently in Zemun only in 1753. A few years later there was a Judengasse (Jewish street, quarter), synagogue, and Jewish school. Jews paid a contribution of 150 florins to the authorities and were goldsmiths, barrel makers, glassworkers, ironmongers, etc. They also traded with Austria; as merchants they were in an unfavorable position compared with the Austro-Germans, Serbs, and Wallachians (they were forbidden to sell hides or spirits, and the Serbian merchants' guild submitted a petition to the authorities to limit Jewish trade to scrap iron only). In view of their protected situation and due to the commercial importance of Zemun - despite restrictions - the community enjoyed a rare opportunity in being within military areas, which were generally inaccessible to Jews. In 1772 a decree was issued permitting unlimited Jewish settlement - a striking proof of their usefulness. By 1773, however, the decree was revoked and residence was restricted for a long time to the descendants of the original Jewish settlers. Although checked in its growth, this first Croatian-based community - with its semiautonomous status - played an important role among Yugoslav Jewry.

After the Austrian occupation of Belgrade (1789) some Jews fled first to Zemun, where they found temporary asylum, and later went to Hungary. During an earlier siege of nearby Belgrade, many Jews were robbed and left homeless. On this occasion an aid committee was organized in Zemun and help was received from Hungary (Szeged, Budapest, Sombor, Baja), Croatia (Osijek, Varazdin), Transylvania (Temesvar), Austria (Vienna), and Germany (Leipzig). At the end of the 18th century there were 157 Jews in Zemun. In 1804 Jews manufactured ammunition for Serbian rebels (first uprising under Karageorge), and in 1806 Jewish craftsmen also did the same for the Turks, though under duress and surveillance. Almoslino, a Jew, was the Austrian diplomatic agent to the victorious Knyaz (prince) Karageorge. During the first half of the 19th century 30 new families were granted rights to settle in Zemun, but others migrated to Bosnia. In 1862 the Zemun magistrate asked the military authorities to permit more Jews to settle within the city walls in order to promote trade and replace the war-torn city of Belgrade as a main trading center. Jews were still subjected to a special tax until the abolition of military zone status in 1871; in 1881 the free city of Zemun abolished all restrictions on Jewish settlers and was attached to the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. In 1918 Zemun became part of Yugoslavia.

From 1825 to 1843 Judah Chai Alkalai, the famous rabbi and precursor of Zionism, was community leader (chakham) of Zemun. Among the first group of privileged Jews were the ancestors of Theodor Herzl; his grandfather, Simon Loew Herzl, was a follower of Rabbi Alkalai. He was imprisoned in 1849 for alleged Hungarian sympathies, but (according to the Belgrade city archives, document no. 552) was released at the community's request in order to celebrate the Jewish holidays. Herzl's grandfather and grandmother (Rebecca, née Billitz) were buried at the Zemun cemetery, while his father Jacob, who was also born in Zemun, moved to Budapest. In 1941 the community's 500 Jews and its institutions were quickly annihilated. Most of them perished in the barracks of the saymishte (fairground), which were prepared for an international exhibition. This was also used as a detention camp for Croatian Jews and others. Among those who were murdered was the writer and composer Erich (Elisha) Samlaic.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Belgrade
Serbia
Szeged
Sombor
Baja
Osijek
Budapest

Belgrade

Serbian: Beograd / Београд

The capital of Serbia.

Belgrade is the largest city in Serbia. It is located where the Sava and Danube Rivers meet, as well as where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. Belgrade was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1521 an often changed hands between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs. After World War I (1918) Belgrade became the capital of Yugoslavia until the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Belgrade has been the capital of Serbia since the establishment of the independent Republic of Serbia in 2006.

The Belgrade Jewish community has an active community center, located in the Ashkenazi synagogue that was originally consecrated in 1925, and used as a brothel by the Nazis during World War II. The community center houses the Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia, the Jewish Historical Museum, and the Sukkat Shalom Synagogue, the only active synagogue remaining in Belgrade. Services are held regularly on Friday nights and Jewish holidays and are led by Rabbi Isak Asiel, the Chief Rabbi of Serbia. The Belgrade Jewish community offers a number of programs and services for Serbian Jews of all ages. Activities and programs have included Hebrew classes, youth groups, a choir, a theater troupe, and a kosher kitchen (established in 2005). Communal organizations include a Women's League, and a chevra kaddisha.

Belgrade's two Jewish cemeteries are located across the street from each other, at 1 Mije Kovacevica Street. The Sephardic cemetery, which has remained active, is the larger cemetery. It includes a Holocaust memorial, which was erected in 1952, as well as memorials to the Jewish victims of the Balkan Wars and World War I. Another monument marks the location where sacred books and texts are buried (shemos). The Ashkenazi cemetery includes approximately 200 tombstones.

The Fresco Gallery has a memorial plaque commemorating Belgrade's Jewish community. It stands where the Moorish-style synagogue once stood, from when it was built in 1908 until it was destroyed in 1941. The building that once housed the Oneg Shabbat organization has remained standing in what was once the Jewish Quarter, and Stars of David can still be seen on the building's exterior. The building currently houses the Cinema Rex.

HISTORY

Several Jews from Italy and Hungary settled in Belgrade during the 13th and 14th centuries. They were joined by Sephardi Jews, who arrived after the Turkish conquest in 1521. Most lived in the Jewish mahala ("quarter") near the citadel, and worked as physicians, blacksmiths, tanners, and merchants. Additionally, the community enjoyed a degree of judicial autonomy.

In 1663 there were 800 Jews living in Belgrade. Between 1642 and 1688, the yeshiva of Belgrade became more widely known, and operated under the tutelage of Rabbis Judah Lerma, Simchah b. Gershon Kohen, and Joseph Almosnino.

With the decline of the Turkish Empire beginning in the late 17th century, a series of tragedies befell the Jews of Belgrade. In 1688, as the Austrians approached the city, Turkish troops plundered and burned the Jewish Quarter. Once the Austrians captured the city, soldiers burned, looted, and killed both the Turkish and Jewish population. The community was totally destroyed; some Jews managed to flee to Bulgaria but the majority were taken prisoner and deported to Austria to be sold as slaves or offered to Jewish communities to be ransomed.

A number of Jews returned to the city shortly thereafter and rebuilt the synagogue. However, because Belgrade was the key fortress against the Turks, there were restrictions placed on the number of Jews permitted to live in the city. Belgrade was retaken by the Turks in 1739. A series of rebellions by the Serbs against the local Ottoman authorities began in 1803, continuing intermittently for nearly 30 years. Belgrade changed hands many times. In 1807 the Serbs expelled the Jews from Belgrade; it was only after Russian intervention that the anti-Jewish measures were revoked. Some returned between 1811 and 1813 but were forced to leave yet again when a failed rebellion broke out in 1813.

The situation of Belgrade's Jews improved in 1815, when Milosh Obrenovich became the ruler of Serbia. The Serbian state press that he founded in 1837 was also published in Hebrew. However, the freedoms that the Jews of Belgrade enjoyed under Obrenovich would not last. Milosh's successor Alexander Karageorgevich (1842-1858) introduced a series of economic and residence restrictions on Belgrade's Jews. Nonetheless, the Jewish community managed to establish a number of cultural and religious institutions, including a Hebrew school, which was founded during the 1850s.

In 1777 there were 800 Jews living in Belgrade. By 1831 there were approximately 1,300 Jews (200 of whom were Ashkenazim) in the city.

The Jews of Belgrade, as well as those throughout Serbia were granted full civil rights by the Serbian parliament in 1889. Subsequently, the community's wealthier Jews began to integrate into Serbian society. They spoke Serbian, their children went to state schools and universities, and many were able to study and work as physicians and civil servants, among other professions previously barred to them. Nonetheless, most Jews lived in the mahala until World War I, when it was partially destroyed. The community had its own press; the Ladino journal El Amigo del Pueblo began publishing in 1888 and appeared in Belgrade throughout the 1890s. In 1907 they built a new Sephardi synagogue, Bet Yisrael, in the upper town.

After World War I, when Belgrade became the capital of the independent Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the younger generation gradually left the mahala to take advantage of a wider range of economic opportunities. Many worked as physicians, bankers, and in the stock exchange and garment industry.

THE HOLOCAUST

There were 12,000 Jews living in Belgrade when the Germans invaded in April 1941. The invasion, coupled with the collaboration on the part of the city's Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) residents, ushered in a period of discrimination and violence against the city's Jews. Jews were evicted from their homes and their property was confiscated. The Ashkenazi synagogue was turned into a brothel; Bet Yisrael became a storehouse for looted Jewish property and was eventually blown up before the German retreat. All communal activities were forbidden, but the Vertretung (Representation) appointed by the Germans, organized public kitchens, medical services, and other forms of aid for the local Jewish community, as well as for the 2,500 Jews from the Banat region who were expelled to Belgrade.

All men between the ages of 14 and 60 and all women between the ages of 14 and 40 were compelled to work as forced laborers, and were not provided with money or food in exchange for their labor. When the Serbians started a campaign of armed resistance against the Nazis, the Germans began executing hostages, many of whom were Jews. The first mass execution took place on July 29, 1941 when 122 Communists and Jews were shot.

Between August and October, 1941 approximately 5,000 Jewish men were arrested. After being imprisoned they were taken in groups of 150 to 400 to the nearby forests and shot. The remaining 6,000 Jewish women and children were arrested in December 1941 and transported to the Saymishte camp, a former commercial fairground on the left bank of the Sava River. Food was scarce, and many froze to death in the winter of 1941-1942. Those who had remained alive were killed in gas vans between February and May 1942. Patients in the Jewish hospital in the mahala were also killed in 1942. Some Jews, primarily those who had participated in the Zionist youth movement HaShomer HaTzair, joined the resistance movement. They worked as saboteurs, disseminated propaganda, and collected funds and medical supplies.

About 95% of Serbia's Jewish population was killed during the war. Of the 12,000 living in Belgrade before the Nazi occupation, 1,115 survived.

POSTWAR

On October 22, 1944, two weeks after the liberation of Belgrade, the Jewish community began to resume its activities. Survivors opened a soup kitchen, a center to serve those who returned after the war, and provided medical services. The Ashkenazi synagogue was reconsecrated on December 2nd 1944 by Rabbi Albert Altarac; the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi communities merged. In 1947 the community had 2,271 members, half of whom emigrated to Israel shortly after. A monument to fallen Jewish fighters and victims of fascism was erected after the war in the central cemetery of Belgrade.

In 1969 there were 1,602 Jews in Belgrade. The community center ran an internationally known choir, a youth club, and a kindergarten. It also housed the Federation of Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia.

In 1995 a sculpture by Nandor Glid, titled "Menorah in Flames," was erected where the Jewish Quarter once stood.

Serbia

Република Србија / Republika Srbija - Republic of Serbia

A country in southeastern Europe in the Balkan peninsula, a former Yugoslav republic.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 1,400 out of 7,000,000 (0.02%). Main umbrella organization of the Jewish communities:

Savez Jevrejskih Opština Srbije (Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia)
Phone: 381 11 262-1837
Fax: 381 11 262-2674
Email: office@savezjos.org
Website: www.savezjos.org

Szeged

Yiddish, Serbian: Segedin
German: Szegedin

A city in Csongrad County, southern Hungary

Szeged is the third-largest city in Hungary. It is home to the University of Szeged, one of Hungary’s most prominent universities.

Szeged’s Great Synagogue is Hungary’s second-largest synagogue, after the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest, and the 4th largest synagogue in the world. It is used occasionally for religious purposes, as the center of Szeged’s Jewish community, and as an events center and concert hall. Restoration work on Szeged’s Great Synagogue is expected to be completed in 2017. The synagogue is open for visitors, Monday through Friday, except on Jewish holidays.

Szeged’s Jewish community includes a chevra kaddisha, an old age home, and a cemetery.

HISTORY

Szeged’s Jewish community was founded relatively late in comparison with other areas in Hungary, a result of the city’s status as a free crown town which had the right to forbid Jews to settle within it. After the first Jew was permitted to live in Szeged in 1781 the Jewish community grew. Five years after the first Jew came to live in Szeged, the Jewish population was 18. By 1792 there were 38 Jews living in Szeged, and in 1799 there were 58. In 1806 Szeged’s Jewish population was 62, and by 1840 it had jumped to 681.

Records dating from 1799 indicate that most of Szeged’s Jews worked mostly as merchants and peddlers, while two were goldsmiths, two were tailors, and one was a distiller. The economic progress of the Jews of Szeged can been seen in the mid to late 19th century, when a substantial number of Jews worked as entrepreneurs, establishing companies, banks, and various industries. By the 20th century Jews were also members of the professional classes, working as physicians, lawyers, judges, and the leaders of professional societies.

In 1825 it was determined that Szeged’s Jewish community would be led by an elected council consisting of 31 members; additionally, it was customary for a municipal representative to attend council meetings and participate in its discussions. This system lasted until 1867, when, instead of having a municipal representative participate in the community’s decision-making process, the community was required to present its decisions publically.

Following the nationwide Congress of Hungarian Jews (1868-1869) the Szeged community became affiliated with the Neolog movement. Additionally, the Jews of Kistelek and of the subdistrict towns along the Tisza River became subordinated to the Szeged community. By 1898 Szeged had became the center of the Neolog communities.

The community chevra kadisha was established in 1787. In 1868 the old cemetery was destroyed, and as a result the graves were transferred to a new cemetery outside of the city. A hospital established by the chevra kadisha in 1856 was destroyed during a major flood that hit Szeged in 1879. Other community welfare institutions included a Women's League, Society of Sponsors, Society of Our Town's Poor, Provision for Poor Brides, Supporters of the Poor, and a Bikkur Cholim Society. These institutions also served Szeged’s Christian residents, in addition to the Jewish community. The Jews of Szeged also contributed to funds for the poor in distant places, such as Palestine, Belgrade, Graz, Russia, Constantinople, Vienna and Persia. Later, those who became inclined towards Zionism also contributed to organizations that supported the study of Hebrew literature and to Keren Hayesod.

Szeged’s first synagogue was consecrated in 1803. This synagogue was ultimately destroyed in 1839; a new one was erected in its place in 1843 and consecrated by the chief Neolog Rabbi of Pest. Shortly after its consecration, however, it became clear that this new synagogue was not large enough to hold the number of worshippers, and it became necessary to build an additional synagogue. The Great Synagogue of Szeged was consecrated in 1903, and was funded by the municipality, as well as Christian philanthropists. Indeed, Szeged was an encouraging model of interreligious cooperation. It was customary in Szeged for priests to be welcomes into synagogues to preach, while rabbis were invited to give sermons in churches.

The first rabbi to serve the Jewish community of Szeged was Rabbi Yechiel (1789-1790), followed by Rabbi Hirsch Bak (1790-1843). Rabbi Bak was succeeded by Rabbi Daniel Politz, whose short tenure was marked by controversy; Rabbi Politz was appointed in 1843 and dismissed in 1847 due to his embrace of making reforms in halacha. Szeged’s next rabbi, Rabbi Leopold Loew (1850-1875), one of the most prominent leaders of Hungarian Jewry. He was one of the first Hungarian rabbis to deliver synagogue sermons in the Hungarian language, fought for securing full civil rights for the Jews of Hungary, researched and wrote about Hungarian Jewish history and Talmudic archeology, and edited the German-language quarterly Ben Hanania. A strong Hungarian nationalist, he was appointed as an army chaplain during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and encouraged the Jewish soldiers to fight for the Hungarian cause.

Rabbi Loew was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Dr. Emanuel Loew, a major leader and scholar in his own right. Rabbi Emanuel Loew initiated the construction of the Great Synagogue and designed the stained glass windows and the interior design. Additionally, Rabbi Loew was noted as a Hebrew and Aramaic philologist and was among the editors of a dictionary of the language of Genesis. In 1919, during the White Terror pogroms 1919-1921), when right-wing groups lashed out against Jews following the failure of the communist revolution, Rabbi Loew became a target. He was falsely charged with slandering Hungary’s ruler, Miklos Horthy, and placed under arrest. It was only through the intervention of European intellectuals that Rabbi Loew was eventually freed, after one year of imprisonment. In 1927 Rabbi Loew was chosen to represent the Neolog communities in the upper house of the Hungarian parliament.

Jeno Frankel was appointed as the community’s rabbi in 1926. He was a staunch Zionist and many of his activities centered around educating the community’s youth about Zionism. He established a library that provided Zionist books, and started a weekly publication, Library for Jewish Youth (Zsido Ifjusagi Konyvtar). In 1928 a local branch of the Hungarian Jewish Scouts Association was founded. Branches of WIZO, HeChalutz, and Barissia (Bar Kochba Association) were established in 1932.

A Jewish elementary school for boys, which consisted of four grades, was established in Szeged as early as 1820 and operated under the supervision of Rabbi Leopold Loew. However, because of his participation in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, he was no longer able to serve as the school’s principal, and a Christian principal was appointed in his place. Four grades for girls were added in 1851. The municipality began contributing to the school beginning in 1860. During the 1902-1903 school year the school enrolled 574 students; during the 1916-1917 school year there were 483 students in the school. There were also a number of Jewish students studying at the University of Szeged, exceeding even the legal quota placed on the number of Jews officially permitted to study there.

In 1900 Szeged’s Jewish population was 5,863. The Jewish population reached its peak in 1920, at 6,958. Subsequently Szeged’s Jewish population began to decline, a result of a rise in mortality and lower birthrates, as well as conversions. In 1930 Szeged’s Jewish population was 5,560.


When the Nazis rose to power in Germany in 1933 it precipitated a breakdown in the heretofore positive relations between the Jews and Christians in Szeged. Among the most noticeable changes were the frequent demonstrations held by Christian students against their Jewish classmates.

In 1941 there were 4,161 Jews in Szeged.

THE HOLOCAUST

Beginning in 1938 Hungary passed a number of anti-Jewish laws, modeled on German’s Nuremberg Laws. These laws aimed at curbing Jewish participation in Hungary’s economy, culture, and civic life. In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Jewish forced laborers were brought to Szeged from all over Hungary, and Jewish men from Szeged were drafted into the Hungarian Army’s labor battalions. In 1943 most of these forced laborers were assigned to the service of the Germans, while about 10,000 men were transferred to the mines in Bor, Yugoslavia.

On March 19, 1944 the German army occupied Hungary. That May, a ghetto was planned for the Jews of Szeged in an area that had been used for pig pens; following the intervention of the Catholic Bishop Endre Hamvas, the ghetto was relocated to the streets adjoining the synagogues. The community leaders were granted the authority to direct life in the ghetto, and they established a Jewish police force.

In mid-June the ghetto inhabitants were concentrated in the local brick-manufacturing plant, along with the Jews of Hodmezoevasarhely, Mako, Szentes, Csongrad, Kiskoros, Kistelek, and Kiskunhalas. Food and sanitation services were limited, property was confiscated, and the Jews were subject to a number of physical humiliations. Bishop Hamvas condemned the brutal treatment of the Jews and protested to state and church authorities.

On June 24 two trains left for Auschwitz. Rabbi Emanuel Loew, then 90 years old, was removed from the train in Budapest, where he was hospitalized; he died shortly thereafter. On June 26, two more trains left Szeged. One carried "the privileged,” and was meant to connect with another “privileged” train from Kecskemet, while the other was destined for Auschwitz. The former train was accidentally dispatched to Auschwitz, and in correcting the mistake both trains from Szeged were sent to Strasshof, Austria. From there the Jews were scattered throughout Austria and employed in forced labor, but most survived. Towards the end of the war, in April 1945, they were transferred from Austria to Theresienstadt, where they were liberated in May 1945.

About 3,000 Jews of Szeged were killed in Auschwitz.

POSTWAR

Szeged was liberated by the Red Army in October 1944. Those Jews who had survived in hiding, as well as the forced laborers within the Hungarian Army who had eventually escaped their units, began to return to the city. These Jews, together with the forced laborers who had remained in Szeged and were liberated there, began to revive the city’s Jewish life. Already by November 25th the community elected its new leadership, with the prewar community leader Dr. Robert Pap reinstated as its head.

In July 1945 about 750 survivors, former residents of Szeged, returned to Szeged from Theresienstadt and were joined by Jews from the surrounding areas. Rabbi Jeno Frankel returned to his post as Szeged’s rabbi. The Jewish school reopened in September 1945, with 44 students enrolled. With the help of the Joint Distribution Committee, the synagogue, the community's buildings, and the home for the aged were renovated. Among the community buildings that were renovated was the orphanage, which had taken in 400 Jewish children whose parents had perished in the Holocaust.

In 1946 the community buried two coffins in the cemetery in memory of the Jews of Szeged who had been murdered in the camps. One coffin contained soap prepared by the Germans from the fat of Jewish bodies; parchment remnants from a Torah scroll were placed in the other. In December 1947 the bodies of 99 Jews, natives of Szeged and its environs who had been murdered on April 15, 1945 were given a Jewish burial. In 1948, a Holocaust monument was erected in a hallway of the Great Synagogue with the names of 1,640 Jews of Szeged who had perished.

Rabbi Frankel eventually settled in Israel in 1949 and Rabbi Dr. Joseph Schindler was appointed in his place. Upon his death, the position was filled by Rabbi Thomas Raj.

In 1950 all of the community’s buildings, except for the synagogues, were nationalized. About a thousand Jews were living in Szeged in 1958. By the ‘70s the Jewish population was about 750.

The Great Synagogue was renovated at the end of the 1980s.

Sombor
 

Serbian: Сомбор (Sombor)

Hebrew: סומבור

Hungarian: Zombor

German: Zombor

Turkish: Sonbor

Other names: Czoborszentmihály, Ravangrad


A town in the district of Backa, Vojvodina, Serbia.

Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918.

 

21st Century

A study about the Jews in Serbia exists, mostly of the Backa and Vojvodina regions and Belgrade where Jews have predominantly lived in the period prior to, during World War II and after the war. Thematized are victims of the war, loss of Jewish heritage, various data and statistics, and history.

Victims of Fascist terror are recorded in a list of Jewish inhabitants of the town of Sombor police card file.

The city of Sombor has a Jewish community and a Jewish cemetery. The Jewish community has a prayer hall with a torah ark which belonged to the former Orthodox prayer location.

In 2011 the Jewish community of Sombor organized an event for the presentation of the book Righteous among the Nations – Serbia. Over 120 Serbs including two citizens of Sombor have been named Righteous of Serbia and decorated by Yad Vashem museum for their humanity and courage. This distinction is given by the Jewish community for courageous acts of saving lives of Jewish people during World War II and to preserve the memory of such acts.

 

History

The first (registered) Jewish families came to settle in the mid-18th century. By the middle of the 19th century, a Jewish school existed where teaching was done in Hebrew and Yiddish, the use of the latter language eventually being objected to by the authorities and prohibited.

The first synagogue in Sombor was consecrated in 1825 and the second in 1865. Among the founders of the kehillah was Jacob Stein. Conservative in doctrine, its first rabbi was David Kohn (d.1884). By the end of the 19th century there were 200 Jewish taxpayers, and 650 Jews out of a total population of 25,000. The community had a bikkur cholim society and during the century the town and its kehillah grew considerably.

In 1910 there were 1,000 Jews out of a population of 35,000, and by 1940 there were 1,200 out of 45,000 inhabitants in the city.

A Talmud torah was founded in 1925. In the 1920s and 1930s various youth and Zionist organizations opened chapters in Sombor. The last rabbi before the Holocaust was Michael Fischer.

 

The Holocaust Period

Like other places in Vojvodina, the Hungaro-German occupations of 1941-43 resulted in the extermination of this once active Jewish community. In 1953 a monument to the victims of the Holocaust was established.

Baja

A town in the Bacs-Bodrog district, southern Hungary.

The first Jews came to the town from Moravia in 1727. At the beginning, the majority earned a living from dealing in liquor, tobacco, leather, wool and in grains. There were also owners of large agricultural holdings and industrialists.
The first synagogue was consecrated in 1768. The community established a school, many charitable institutions and in 1882 a hospital which served the Hungarian army in the first world war. An old-aged home was built in 1901. There was even a special prison for religious criminals and tax evaders.
At the beginning of the 19th century the communities in the district were organized into two bodies. At the head of one body was the "head of state" who represented all the secular institutions, while the head of the second body was the "state rabbi", who had authority over all religious matters. One of the rabbis of the town, Elyakim Gotz Kohn-Schwerin, was chosen as chief rabbi of all the Hungarian communities and administered the changes in the prayer books; for example, the principles of secular subjects for the Sabbath sermon.
Two Jews reached the position of assistant to the mayor of the town. A young Jewish lawyer was even elected to parliament.
In World War I there were 365 Jews of Baja in the army, of them 36 fell in action.

In 1930 there were 1,648 Jews in the town. (in 1880 the 2,542 Jews comprised 13.2% of the inhabitants).

The Holocaust period

in 1939, with the publication of discriminatory laws which aimed at limiting Jewish participation in the economic and cultural fields, attempts were made by the "Volksbund" (an anti-Semitic association of residents of German origin) to organize against the Jews of the town. The mayor succeeded in preventing them. In the same year the community clinic was nationalized and Jewish doctors were dismissed. Libraries and historical documents of the community were plundered, and many Jews were imprisoned on charges of racial pollution.
Even until 1944, the Jews of Baja provided help to refugees from Poland to reach Yugoslavia on their way to England and France.

In 1944, following the occupation by the German army, the leaders of the community hid 40 sifrei Torah of the community in a well; they were returned in 1946. The Jewish hospital was expropriated by the German army. On April 14, 1944, 120 men over conscription age, including the chief rabbi, were sent to do forced labor (work on fortifications, and in services together with other Hungarian citizens whom the authorities would not allow to join the armed forces). Men over conscription age were sent to a labor camp in Bacstopolya. In May 1944, all the Jews were confined in a ghetto which was set up in the town, and after a short time some of them were transferred to Gansendorf in Austria, and from there to Auschwitz. The remainder were taken to Bacsalmas, and from there transported to Auschwitz in June. 130 Jewish residents remained in the town and were forced by the Germany army to work in sanitation and tailoring. In addition, a number of holders of outstanding military decorations
from the first world war remained. When the German army withdrew from Baja on October 13, 1944, the headquarters wanted to take with them the Jews left in the town, but the director of the municipal hospital was able to convince them that these Jews were necessary for work in the hospital. About 80 other Jews were compelled to leave the town with S.S. forces and were taken to a transit camp in Graz, Austria, but they managed to escape on the way.

After the war, some 400 survivors returned who renewed the life of the community. A memorial was erected for the 1,400 martyrs.
In 1953 there were 180 Jews still living in the town.

A city in Croatia

Until 1918 Osijek was located within Austria-Hungary, after which it was part of Yugoslavia. Since 1995 it has been part of independent Croatia.

 

21ST CENTURY

Osijek’s Jewish community center includes a museum, which contains objects rescued from the synagogue, when it was destroyed during World War II (1939-1945).

A memorial to the victims of the Holocaust is located in the city’s main square.  

Osijek’s Jewish cemetery has remained standing, and is still in use.

In 2001 there were approximately 100 Jews living in Osijek.

 

HISTORY

Jews were first mentioned in Osijek after the Austrian conquest of Belgrade in 1688. About 500 Jewish prisoners were taken to Osijek, where they had to wait until they were ransomed by European Jewish communities.

Jewish settlement in Osijek, however, began during the 18th century, when Jews from the Austrian Empire began arriving in the city. In 1792 they were officially granted the right to live in Osijek. Religious services were held in Osijek beginning in 1830, and the official community was founded in 1845. In 1849, the community had 40 members. The community founded a congregation school and chevra kaddisha in 1857, and built a synagogue in 1867.

When the Jews of Croatia were emancipated in 1873, the community blossomed, becoming the largest Jewish community in Croatia until 1890. In 1900 there were 1,600 Jews in Osijek, and during the 20th century Osijek became home to two Jewish communities, one in the upper and another one in the lower town. In 1940 there were 2,584 Jews in the two communities.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

After the German conquest of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Croatia became the Independent State of Croatia, led by the fascist and military dictator, Ante Pavelic. On April 13 ethnic Germans (a number of whom lived in the region) and Pavelic's Ustase (paramilitary collaborators) looted Jewish property, imposed a heavy fine on the Jewish community, and made all economic activity impossible for Jews. Additionally, Jewish families living in the center of town were evicted. Then, a mob of Germans, ethnic Germans, and Ustase burned the main synagogue and destroyed the Jewish cemetery.

In December of 1941 a camp for 2,000 Jewish women and children was established in an old mill in Djakovo, near Osijek. Approximately 1,200 women and children from the Stara Gradiska camp were transferred to Djakovo in February of 1942. The camp was eventually liquidated after the outbreak of an epidemic, and its inmates were sent to Jasenovac for execution.

In June of 1942 the community was ordered to build a settlement on the road to Tenje, a nearby village. Promises were made that the Jews would be allowed to live there in peace, and the leaders of the community built the settlement and organized life within it. 3,000 Jews from Osijek, and later from other places in the region, were ultimately confined there. By August of 1942 they had all been sent to Jasenovac or Auschwitz. Only Jews married to non-Jews, and those who were in hiding, remained in Osijek throughout the war. Ten ultimately returned from the camps.

 

POSTWAR

In 1947 there were 610 Jews in the community, which included both Osijek itself, and the surrounding area. Beginning in 1949, however, many immigrated to Israel; as a result, in 1949 Osijek’s Jewish community dropped to 220 members.

A monument to Jewish fighters and victims of Nazism from Osijek and Slavonia was dedicated in 1965 in a square in Osijek. The monument was created by Oscar Nemon of London, a native of Osijek.

 

Budapest

The capital of Hungary, became a city in 1872, following the union of the historic towns of Buda, Obuda, and Pest.

CONTEMPORARY BUDAPEST

Approximately 80,000 to 100,000 Jews live in Hungary, making it central Europe's largest Jewish community. More than 80% of Hungarian Jews live in the capital city of Budapest. Smaller Jewish communities can be found in the neighboring areas of Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged and Nyiregyhaza. Of the ten thousand Holocaust survivors living in Hungary, the vast majority live in Budapest. Since 2013, hundreds of Jews have left Hungary due to a rise in anti-Semitism, many of whom then settled in Vienna. The traditional Jewish Quarter of Budapest is located in District VII. Within it are several Jewish historical sites, stores and kosher restaurants.

Following the collapse of communism in 1989, several Jewish organizations were reopened. The largest organization serving the Jewish community of Budapest is MAZSIHISZ, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary. A variety of social services are provided by the Joint Distribution Committee, as well as the Lauder Foundation. Healthcare and medical services are provided by the Charity Jewish Hospital and Nursing Facility and two centers for elderly care. The city's many religious institutions include a historic mikvah (ritual bath) and a variety of kosher restaurants. Budapest also has over ten kosher butcher shops, bakeries, and even a matza factory.

Each year Budapest hosts several Jewish social and cultural events. The Jewish Summer Festival puts on a variety of shows including concerts, dance performances, and films. The Jewish community has also established many social and educational programs for children and young adults. The most popular organizations are B'nei Brith, WIZO, UJS, Bnei Akiva, and the Maccabi athletic club. Each summer, an estimated 1,500 campers from more than twenty countries attend Camp Szarvas.

Since the fall of communism, there has been a revival of Jewish religious life in Budapest. As of the beginning of the 21st century, there are as many as twenty synagogues throughout the city, representing a variety of movements including Orthodox, Chabad Lubavitch, Neolog (similar to the Conservative Movement) and Liberal. There are also synagogues located in the provincial cities of Miskolc and Debrecen. In 2003, Slomo Koves became the first Orthodox rabbi to be ordained in Hungary since the Holocaust.

Budapest boasts many Jewish kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools. The three Jewish high schools are Lauder Javne, Wesselenyi, and Anna Frank. Lauder Javne is located on a five-acre campus and was opened in 1990. It is non-denominational and is sponsored by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The Budapest University of Jewish Studies was established in 1877 as a Neolog Rabbinical seminary. Jewish studies programs are offered at several universities including Eotvos Lorand University, the largest school of higher education in Hungary, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the Central European University which was established by Hungarian-born George Soros. Jewish educational programming is also offered at the Beth Peretz Jewish Education Centre Foundation, the American Foundation School, and the Hillel Jewish Educational and Youth Center.

The capital city of Budapest is rich with culture and history, and is home to several buildings, monuments, and cultural centers, including several points of Jewish interest. One such place is the Holocaust Memorial Center, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust during World War II. The Center is situated outside the traditional Jewish quarter and is housed by the Pava Synagogue where it has been since 2004. In 2005, the institution was awarded the Nivo Prize of Architecture for the restoration and rehabilitation of a historic monument.

The city's Jewish Museum is the second-largest in all of Europe. It operates under the auspices of the Alliance of Jewish Communities in Hungary. In 1942, two employees hid valuable museum artifacts in the cellar of Budapest's National Museum. During the German occupation, the building served as an escape passage as its gate was situated outside the borders of the ghetto. Additionally, Theodor Herzl was born in the building which once stood at the present site of the museum.

One of the most significant Jewish cultural sites in Budapest is the Emanuel Holocaust 'Tree of Life' Memorial sculpture in Raoul Wallenberg Park. Engraved on the thirty thousand leaves are the names of Jews who were killed or had disappeared during the Holocaust.

Two other important sites which memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and the events of World War II are the statue of Raoul Wallenberg and the Shoes on the Danube Embankment. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved many Jewish lives by helping them escape deportation. The Shoes on the Danube Embankment is a memorial comprised of sixty pairs of metal shoes set in concrete. Created in 2005, it commemorates the Hungarian Jewish victims killed by militiamen of Arrow Cross, the pro-German national socialist party which was active in Hungary between 1944 and 1945.

In addition to cultural centers and memorials, Budapest contains a number of Jewish landmarks. Located in the heart of Budapest is the King's Hotel –one of the first private Jewish three-star hotels in Budapest. While the hotel has been renovated and modernized, the building itself is more than one hundred years old.

Northern Budapest contains the Medieval Jewish Chapel, a small Sephardic house of prayer which had been rebuilt from ruins in the 18th century. During the 1686 siege of Budapest many of the city's Jewish buildings were completely destroyed. The chapel's original function was not revealed until an excavation in the 1960s when the synagogue's keystone and tombstones engraved in Hebrew were unearthed. Another historic religious site is the Dohany Street Synagogue. Inaugurated in 1659, the synagogue is designed in a Moorish style and is the second-largest synagogue in the world.

Still serving the Jewish community of Budapest is the Kozma Street Cemetery. It is the largest Jewish cemetery in Budapest, and among the largest in Europe. Its unique monuments and mausoleums have drawn many visitors since it opened in 1891.

There are three major publications which serve the Jewish community of Budapest and Hungary. The biweekly Uj Elet (New Life) is the official journal of MAZSIHISZ; the Szombat (Saturday) provides news and information about Jewish life in Hungary as well international issues, and the Mult es Jovo (Past and Future) is a cultural and intellectual journal.


HISTORY

BUDA (also known as Ofen, Oven, Boden, Bodro)
The first Jewish settlers came to Buda from Germany and various Slavic countries during the second half of the 12th century. In 1279 they were isolated in a ghetto, and forced to wear a red badge. Over the course of the 14th century, the Jewish community was expelled twice: first in 1349 following anti-Semitic allegations that arose after the Black Death had swept through the region, and again in 1360 as a result of hostility from the church. In 1364 Jews were permitted to return, though with some restrictions imposed on them. After the establishment of Buda as the royal residence in the late 14th century, its Jewish community became prominent within the larger Hungarian Jewish community. During the 15th century, the Jewish community was recognized as an autonomous government, and the community leader of Buda became the leader of Hungarian Jewry at large. At this time, the Jews of Buda were mainly engaged in commerce and in exports to the German lands and Bohemia.

In 1526 the Turks captured Buda. The majority of the Jews, about 2,000 people, were expelled to the Ottoman Empire, while a minority escaped to communities in western Hungary which had not fallen to the Turks. Jews were able to resettle Buda in 1541 and despite the heavy taxes, the community grew and became the wealthiest and most important in Hungary. Jews occupied influential positions in the management of the treasury and were generally employed in commerce and finance. By 1660 the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities numbered about 1,000 Jews.

In 1686, the Austrians and their allies conducted a siege of Buda and subsequently defeated the Turks and conquered the town. The Jewish population had sided with the Turks and nearly half of them perished over the course of the fighting and its aftermath. The Jewish Quarter was ransacked, and the Torah scrolls were set on fire. Half of the remaining Jews, approximately 250 people, were taken as prisoners and exiled. These events are mentioned in Megilat Ofen, by Yitzhak ben Zalman Schulhof.

The new Austrian administration, in response to church demands, placed restrictions upon the Jews and the Jewish community was consequently subject to more restrictions and expulsions. The Jews of Buda were exiled in 1746 by Empress Maria Theresa, and were permitted to return in 1783, when Emperor Josef II allowed the Jews to reenter and settle in Hungarian towns. The community did not regain its former stature and prominence until the second half of the 19th century, at which time there were 7,000 Jewish families living in Buda.

During these turbulent times, Buda saw the formation of a number of Jewish institutions and the rise of several prominent figures. The latter half of the 18th century saw the establishment of a Hevra Kadisha. By 1869 four synagogues had been built, and were joined by two more at the end of the 19th century. The first known rabbi of the community was Akiva Ben Menahem Hacohen, also called "Nasi," who led the community during the 15th century. In the second half of the 17th century, during the lifetime of Rabbi Ephraim Ben Yaakov Hacohen, Buda was a focal point of the messianic movement of Shabbetai Zvi in Hungary. Moshe Kunitzer, a pioneer of the Haskalah movement in Hungary, was the chief rabbi from1828 until 1837.

OBUDA (also known as Alt-Ofen in German, and Oven Yashan, Old Buda, in Hebrew)
The Jewish community in Obuda vanished after the Turkish conquest in 1526 and was not resettled until 1712, under the leadership of Yaakov Lob. After the return of the Jewish community, by 1727 there were 24 Jewish families living in Obuda under the protection of the counts of Zichy. In a document recognized by the royal court in 1766, the Jews were granted freedom of religion, trading rights relating to the payment of special taxes, and permission to live anywhere in the town. This was a privilege granted in Obuda only.

The Jews of Obuda practiced agriculture, commerce and various trades. Textile factories established by the Jews of Obuda, among them the Goldberger Company, enjoyed favorable reputations throughout Hungary.

The first synagogue was built in 1738, a Hevra Kadisha was founded in 1770, and a Jewish hospital was established in 1772. In 1820 The old synagogue of Obuda underwent significant renovations. That same year, The Great Synagogue on Lajos Street was consecrated, and became one of the most well-known synagogues in the Habsburg Empire. Additionally,during the year 1820 an ultimately short-lived school was built at the demand of Emperor Josef II; since, however, Jewish parents did not want Christian teachers educating their children, the school was consequently closed. However, in spite of these impressive community projects, by the middle of the 19th century many Jewish families were moving to Pest.

PEST
Jews are first mentioned as living in Pest in 1406, and in 1504 there is mention of several Jewish home and landowners. Yet after the Austrian conquest in 1686 Jewish settlement in Pest ended. Although some sources mention a sporadic Jewish presence in Pest, it was not until 1746, when Jews expelled from Buda were looking for alternate places to live, that Jews once again began living in Pest in significant numbers. This community, however, was officially recognized only in 1783, when Emperor Josef II began allowing Jews into Hungarian towns, though they had to pay a special "tolerance tax" to the town. The first synagogue was opened in 1787 in Kiraly Street and later several more synagogues were built, including a Sephardi synagogue. The Great Synagogue on Dohany Street, which remains one of the largest in Europe, was built later, in 1859.

After the emperor’s death in 1790, limitations on Jewish settlement were re-imposed, and only a few Jews chosen by the town’s authorities were permitted to remain in Pest. The rest moved into the Erzsebetvaros Quarter, which maintained a large Jewish population until the Holocaust. During this period, the Jews set up factories and were engaged in commerce and trade.

In spite of the reimposition of restrictions on the Jewish community, they nonetheless were able to open the first Jewish school in Pest, in 1814. This school taught both religious and secular subjects in German. Additionally, there were several private Jewish schools. In later years, a girls’ school was opened in 1814 and a Jewish Teachers' training college was opened in 1859. The Orthodox community opened its first school in 1873.

The restrictions imposed after the death of Emperor Josef II were repealed in 1840. During the Hungarian National Revolution of 1848-1849, also known as the Revolution of Liberty against the Habsburg rule, many of the Jews from Pest volunteered to fight, and the community contributed considerable sums of money to the revolution. When the revolution failed, however, heavy taxes were imposed upon the Jews of Pest because of their participation. In 1867, following the formation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the new Hungarian government granted equal rights to the Jews of Hungary. This prompted a fruitful period of community-building; that same year the Jewish community of Pest opened an orphanage for girls, the first of its kind in Hungary, followed by a second orphanage for boys in 1869. In later years, several hospitals and welfare institutions for the elderly and sick were opened, as well as a home for the deaf and dumb, which was inaugurated in 1876.
Judaism was officially recognized as one of the accepted religions of Hungary in 1895.

The year 1867 also saw a new initiative from the Pest community: The Hungarian Jewish Congress. Its aim was to prompt a discussion of the schisms in the Jewish community, particularly between the Orthodox and the Neolog congregations. Following the first meeting of the congress in December 1868, the Orthodox appealed to the Hungarian government and in 1871 they were legally recognized as a distinct community. In 1889 Rabbi Koppel Reich was elected to be the head of the Hungarian Orthodox community; he later became a member of the upper house of the Hungarian parliament in 1927, when he was nearly 90 years old.

In 1877, the Rabbinical Seminary was opened in Budapest. Its aim was to integrate rabbinical studies with general education, and it became one of the world’s leading institutions for rabbinical training. Its founders and faculty members were well-known researchers and instructors. The seminar’s publications included journals such as the Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review). In spite of opposition and boycotts from the Orthodox community, the seminary played a central role in shaping modern Hungarian Jewry.

BUDAPEST
In 1873, Buda and Pest were officially merged with Obuda, creating the city of Budapest. Concurrently, the second half of the 19th century was a period of economic and cultural prosperity for the Jewish community of Budapest. The beginning of the 20th entury saw Budapest become an important center for Jewish journalism. The weekly Magyar Israelita became the first Jewish newspaper in Hungarian. In the broader community, Jews also assumed an important role in the founding and editing of leading newspapers in Hungary, such as Nyugat (West). During the interwar period, non-Orthodox Jewish educational institutions included 15 schools with 3,600 students. Meanwhile, the Orthodox community had a population of approximately 10,000 and was establishing its own welfare and educational institutions.

1919-1921 was the period of The White Terror in Hungary. After the fall of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, the new regime of Admiral Miklos Horthy organized army gangs to suppress and destroy any lingering communist elements in the country. Because a number of the communist leaders were Jewish, Hungarian Jews became the main victims of this “purification." From the time Admiral Horthy entered Budapest on November 14, 1919, Jewish officials in the army and government service were dismissed, Jews were forbidden to trade in tobacco and wine, and scientific institutions were closed to them. In 1920, the Numerus Clausus law was imposed, which determined admission to universities on a national basis and effectively established a quota for the number of Jews permitted to enter Hungarian universities.

In spite of government-endorsed anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence, by 1935 there were 201,069 Jews living in Budapest making it one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.

BUDAPEST JEWS OF NOTE
• Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921), the founder of the Academy for the Study of Modern Islam. He was the secretary of the Budapest Neolog community from 1874 to 1904. Goldziher helped found the Jewish-Hungarian Literary Society which worked to spread Jewish culture by means of lectures and publications. Among the Society's publications was the first Jewish translation of the Bible into Hungarian. Goldziher also founded the Jewish-Hungarian museum. He was a teacher in the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

• Arminius Vambery (1832-1913), a famous traveler and researcher. He was instrumental in introducing Theodor Herzl to the Sultan of Turkey.

• Ferenc Molnar (1878-1931), an outstanding dramatist and novelist. Molnar is best known today as the author of the famous children’s book The Paul Street Boys, published in 1927.

• Lengyel Menyhert (1880-1974 ), a dramatist and scriptwriter. His credits include Ninotchka (1940) and To Be or Not to Be (1942), celebrated films for which he wrote the screenplays.

• Professor Alexander (Sandor) Scheiber ( 1913-1985) was the director of the Rabbinical Seminary during the 1950s. He published research on the history of Hungarian Jewry, and in his last years was actively involved in the consolidation of communal life in Budapest.

ZIONISM
Budapest was the birthplace of Theodor (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl (1860-1904), the father of modern Zionism. The writer and physicist Max Nordau (1849-1932), a founding member of the World Zionist Congress and author of the Basel Platform at the First Zionist Congress (1897), was also born in Budapest. It is not surprising, therefore, that Budapest was a hotbed of Zionist activity at the turn of the 20th century. In 1903 the student Zionist association Makkabea was established; its first group of pioneers immigrated to Palestine before the end of World War I.The Zionist press in Budapest began in 1905 with the publication of Zsido Neplap (Jewish Popular Paper), which closed down two years later. Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review), another Zionist publication, began operating in 1911, the same year as the quarterly Mult es Jovo.

The Zionist activity in Budapest was strengthened by the arrival in the city in 1940 of Zionist leaders from Transylvania, among them Rudolf Kasztner (who would later play a controversial role during the Holocaust) and Erno Marton. The worsening situation of the Hungarian Jewry during the late 1930’s and during the Holocaust period led to a rise in the popularity of Zionism.

Another Budapest Zionist of note is Hanna Szenes (1921-1944), a native of Budapest who emigrated to Palestine. Szenes was a poetess and paratrooper in the Haganah an underground Jewish military organization in Palestine. During World War II, Szenes was sent on a mission to Hungary to help organize Jewish anti-Nazi resistance. Tragically, she was captured and executed by the Nazis.

Although Zionist organizations reemerged and were active after World War II, the Communist regime banned their activities after 1949, and a number of Zionist leaders were put on trial having been accused of “conspiracy”.

THE HOLOCAUST
Following the Discriminatory Laws of 1938-41, which limited Jewish participation in the economy and society, certain large institutions and factories were required to dismiss their Jewish employees. In 1940, Jews began to be drafted to be forced laborers, which meant that many families were left without any means of support. On November 20, 1940, Hungary signed a treaty with Italy and Japan, thereby officially joining the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany. During the period that followed Hungary's entry into the war against the Soviet Union in 1941, until the occupation of Hungary by the German army on March 19th, 1944, more than 15,000 Jews from Budapest were killed during deportations and in forced labor camps.

In March 1944, Adolph Eichmann ordered that the Jewish communal organizations be dissolved, and replaced by a Jewish council, Zsido Tanacs. Jews were forced to wear the yellow badge. Freedom of movement was restricted and many buildings were seized. The licenses of Jewish lawyers and newspapers were suspended. On June 30, 1944, the Germans started to concentrate the Jews in certain parts of the city and plans were made to begin their deportation.

The anti-Semitic Arrow Cross Party, led by Ferenc Szalasi, came to power in October 1944. The new government immediately began carrying out attacks against the Jews, killing 600 people during the first days. Papers and certificates that could allow Jews to stay and work in the city were no longer valid. On October 20th 1944 Eichmann ordered that all men aged 16-60 were to be sent to dig fortifications against the approaching Soviet army. 50,000 men marched on that Death March. Three days later the women and children were forced to join the men. These Jews were later transferred by the Germans at the border station at Hegyeshalom. The remaining Jews were concentrated into two ghettos.

At the end of December 1944 there were about 70,000 people in the central ghetto in Budapest; tens of thousands of others found shelter in the international ghetto, where diplomats of neutral nations, such as Carl Lutz of Switzerland and Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden, were issuing protective papers for Jews. Zionist organizations also forged documents in order to save Jews. The number of protective certificates, legal and forged, issued in Budapest was around 100,000; meanwhile, approximately 2,748 Jews were hidden in monasteries and in church cellars. By the time the Soviet army entered and occupied the city on January 17th, 1945, 76,000 Jews were handed over to the Germans, a number which includes victims of deportation and death marches. At the end of World War II there were approximately 90,000 Jews in Budapest. Meanwhile, over 100,000 Jews from Budapest, a majority of the population, perished.

THE COMMUNIST REGIME
After the Holocaust, many survivors emigrated to Palestine. Others remained in Hungary, where a large number abandoned the Jewish tradition and identity, either due to their traumatic experiences during the war, or due to the influence of the atheist government in Hungary. In 1956, after the Hungarian anti-Soviet uprising, about 25,000 Jews left the city.

During the communist period, the Jewish community of Budapest was controlled by the Department of Religious Affairs within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Starting in1968, each of the 18 administrative districts of Budapest contained at least one synagogue, a rabbi, a Talmud Torah, and a lecture hall. Additionally, there was a Jewish high school in the capital, with a student population of about 140 and the Orthodox community founded a yeshiva with 40 students. The Rabbinical Seminary, which was reconstructed after the war and was the only institution of its kind in any communist country, continued to be active thanks to the support of the Neolog movement.

Uj Elet (New Life), was a biweekly newspaper published by the Budapest Jewish community which reflected the changing ways in which the Jews of Hungary understood their identity. Other Jewish communal services included a Jewish hospital, an old age home, a kosher restaurant, the availability of kosher meat, and a matza bakery.

Hinko Urbah
Eva Nahir
Rahela Ferari
Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl
Albert Vajs

Hinko Urbah (born Heinrich Urbach) (1872-1960), rabbi, born in Morávka, Czech Republic (then part of Austria-Hungary). He was educated at a traditional heder and then attended high school in Budapest until 1891. Urbah studied at the yeshiva in Bratislava (now in Slovakia), where he worked as an educator until 1898. At the same time, he studied comparative philosophies of Semitic languages at the University of Budapest and earned a PhD in 1904. Urbah served as a rabbi in Tuzla in Bosnia, from 1906 to 1911, in Zemun in Serbia (then part of the newly established Yugoslavia), from 1911 to 1928, and then in Sarajevo, from 1928 to 1946.  He was a lecturer at the Theological Institute, that was opened in Sarajevo in 1938. After the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis Powers in 1941 and the establishment of the Fascist regime in Croatia, he fled to Italy, and at the end of 1943 managed to cross the border to Switzerland. After WW II, he returned to Sarajevo in 1945, and one year later he moved to Zagreb. Urbah, a supporter of the Zionist movement since he was a student, was instrumental in assisting the emigration of Yugoslav Jews to Israel in late 1940s. Eventually, he immigrated himself to Israel bringing with him eighty Torah scrolls from abandoned synagogues in Yugoslavia. He spent his last years in Jerusalem and died in Paris, France.  

Eva Nahir (born Eva Kalman, aka Eva Panić) (1919-2015), activist, born in Čakovec, Croatia (then part of Austria-Hungary). Her father, Bela Kalman, was a wealthy textile merchant and her mother was an accountant who managed the budget of the family business. They lived in a large villa and Eva had a comfortable and happy childhood with private tutors, caregivers and maids. Already at the age of six she went on vacation to Venice followed by tours to the prestigious museums, theaters and opera houses of Budapest and Vienna. She became involved in the activities of the Zionist youth movements in in Čakovec.

She married the Serbian cavalry officer Radoslav (Rada) Panić and moved to Zemun in the outskirts of Belgrade. Through her husband she became involved into left-wing political activities. After the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, she took refuge in the village of Mali Kruševi, where her husband was born. She and her husband joined the partisans led by Iosip Broz Tito. Eva and her husband later moved to the town of Varvarin in Serbia. Their home was a place of refuge and hiding for Serbs who were wanted by the Germans. Eva, who acted as an agent in Tito's partisan service, transferred weapons, money, forged documents, and helped the fugitives escape deportation to concentration camps.

After the establishment of the Communist regime in Yugoslavia, her husband was appointed a senior officer in the cavalry battalion of the Ministry of the Interior, as a sign of appreciation for his contribution to the fight against the Nazis. However, in 1951 he was arrested on charges of being a “Stalinist”, “Soviet spy”, and an “enemy of the people”. While in prison he committed suicide. Eva, the mother of a six-year girl, was asked to sign a statement denouncing her husband. Following her refusal, she was arrested and deported to the Goli Otok women's penitentiary on Sveti Grgur island on the Adriatic coast. She was detained there for 20 months through November 1953.

She immigrated to Israel in 1966 following her daughter Tijana. She settled in the Kibbutz Shaar Haamakim and married Moshe Nahir, one of the founders of the kibbutz. She was active in the Socialist-oriented MAPAM party and in other left-wing organizations, especially those advocating co-operation with the Israeli Arabs and the neighboring Arab countries. She served as the nutritionist of the kibbutz for years, and then moved on to run the kibbutz club. She was also active in the Association of Jews from the former Yugoslavia.

In 1989, the Serbian novelist Danilo Kiš, accompanied by journalist Raoul Teitelbaum, made a documentary about her life for the Yugoslav television. Kiš died before the four-hour film, Naked Life, directed by Alexander Mandic, was screened during four consecutive evenings on TV in Yugoslavia. The film became the talk of the day in Yugoslavia. It was the first direct testimony to what happened in Tito's horrific women's prison at Goli Otok. In 2002 her story was reworked as Eva, a film shown on Israeli television.  

Rahela Ferari (born Bella Rochelle Fraynd)(1911-1994), actress, born in Zemun, Serbia (then part of Austria-Hungary). Between 1930 and 1940 she performed at the Serbian National Theater in Novisad, and from 1940 until the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, at the Art Theater in Belgrade. She again performed at the Serbian National Theater in Novisad from 1945 to 1947, and then she was one of the first members of the Yugoslav Drama Theater founded in 1947. In addition, from 1951 until 1993 Ferari appeared in about 90 films, among them Arsenik i stare cipke (1967), Ivanov (1987) and Tako je ako vam se tako cini (1968). Recognized as one of the best Yugoslav actresses after the Second World War, during her lifetime Ferrari was awarded the most prestigious prizes, including Sterija, Sedmojulska and the Dobričin prsten – a prize granted to top actors for their life's achievements. She died in Belgrade

Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl (1860-1904), journalist and founder of Political Zionism and of the World Zionist Organization, born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest, Hungary, Austrian Empire (now in Hungary), into a middle class Jewish family. Herzl attended a scientific oriented German language school, but because of local anti-Semitism, moved in 1875 to another school that was attended mostly by Jews. The family moved to Vienna, Austria, then the capital city of Austria-Hungary, where Herzl attended the university gaining a doctorate in law, in 1884. He worked for short periods in Vienna and Salzburg, but abandoned a career in law practice and dedicated himself to writing, especially plays; some of them enjoyed a fair amount of success. In 1889, Herzl married Julie Naschauer, daughter of a well-to-do Jewish businessman.

Having been appointed the Paris correspondent of the "Neue Freie Presse", a leading liberal Viennese newspaper, Herzl arrived in Paris, along with his wife in the fall of 1891, only to discover that France was haunted by the same anti-Semitism that he encountered in Austria. While in Paris, Herzl became preoccupied by politics. The Dreyfus affair convinced him that there should be only one solution to the Jewish question: mass emigration of Jews from Europe and the establishment of a Jewish homeland, preferably in the Land of Israel. His thoughts and ideas crystallized in an essay that initially he intended to send to the Rothschilds, but he published his proposals in 1896 as Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State"), a book that changed the course of the Jewish history. Herzl's ideas were received warmly especially in Eastern Europe countries where masses of persecuted Jews were eager to find a way out of the situation. The Hovevei Zion ("Lovers of Zion") movement called on Herzl to assume the leadership of the movement.

In 1897, the First Zionist Congress convened in Basel, Switzerland, and the Zionist movement was established. Herzl was chosen as life president of the World Zionist Organization. He also founded Die Welt, a Zionist weekly. Altneuland ("Old New Country"), Herzl's second book, a visionary novel describing the life in the future Jewish State to be established in the Land of Israel, was published in 1902. During the following years, Herzl traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East and conducted a long series of political meetings with prominent European leaders of the time trying to enlist them to the Zionist cause. He sought the support of the German Emperor, the King of Italy, and the Pope, tried to persuade the Sultan of Turkey to allow Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel, and met the Russian ministry with the aim of convincing him to stop the violence against the Jews of Russia. The most sympathetic offer of support came from Great Britain. However, the
Fourth Zionist Congress of 1903 rejected a British proposal calling for the establishment of a Jewish autonomy in East Africa that Herzl inclined to accept as a provisional refuge for the Jewish population of Eastern Europe. A year later, his heart condition aggravated and shortly afterwards, he died of pneumonia in a sanatorium in Edlach, Austria, on July 3, 1904 (20 Tammuz). Herzl was buried in Vienna and his funeral were attended by large crowds of bereaved Jews from all over Europe. In August 1949, in accordance to his will, the newly established State of Israel re-interred his remains in Jerusalem, on Mount Herzl, which was named in his honor, and 20 Tammuz has been declared a national memorial day in Israel.

Albert Vajs (1905-1964), jurist, community leader, born in Zemun, Serbia (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied philosophy and economics in Berlin and Paris and earned a Ph.D. in law in 1929 from the University of Zagreb, Croatia (then poart of Yugoslavia). During World War II he was a POW in Germany.

After the war, he became a member of the Yugoslav State Commission for the Investigation of the Crimes Committed by the Occupiers and their Collaborators. Vajs was a member of the Yugoslav delegation at the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi war criminals.

Vajs served as a Professor of Law in Belgrade, Serbia, and lectured on history of law and history of civilization from 1947 to 1964 at the Department of History of the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade.

Vajs served as President of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Yugoslavia from 1948 to 1964.

ALMOSLINO
Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl

Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl (1860-1904), journalist and founder of Political Zionism and of the World Zionist Organization, born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest, Hungary, Austrian Empire (now in Hungary), into a middle class Jewish family. Herzl attended a scientific oriented German language school, but because of local anti-Semitism, moved in 1875 to another school that was attended mostly by Jews. The family moved to Vienna, Austria, then the capital city of Austria-Hungary, where Herzl attended the university gaining a doctorate in law, in 1884. He worked for short periods in Vienna and Salzburg, but abandoned a career in law practice and dedicated himself to writing, especially plays; some of them enjoyed a fair amount of success. In 1889, Herzl married Julie Naschauer, daughter of a well-to-do Jewish businessman.

Having been appointed the Paris correspondent of the "Neue Freie Presse", a leading liberal Viennese newspaper, Herzl arrived in Paris, along with his wife in the fall of 1891, only to discover that France was haunted by the same anti-Semitism that he encountered in Austria. While in Paris, Herzl became preoccupied by politics. The Dreyfus affair convinced him that there should be only one solution to the Jewish question: mass emigration of Jews from Europe and the establishment of a Jewish homeland, preferably in the Land of Israel. His thoughts and ideas crystallized in an essay that initially he intended to send to the Rothschilds, but he published his proposals in 1896 as Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State"), a book that changed the course of the Jewish history. Herzl's ideas were received warmly especially in Eastern Europe countries where masses of persecuted Jews were eager to find a way out of the situation. The Hovevei Zion ("Lovers of Zion") movement called on Herzl to assume the leadership of the movement.

In 1897, the First Zionist Congress convened in Basel, Switzerland, and the Zionist movement was established. Herzl was chosen as life president of the World Zionist Organization. He also founded Die Welt, a Zionist weekly. Altneuland ("Old New Country"), Herzl's second book, a visionary novel describing the life in the future Jewish State to be established in the Land of Israel, was published in 1902. During the following years, Herzl traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East and conducted a long series of political meetings with prominent European leaders of the time trying to enlist them to the Zionist cause. He sought the support of the German Emperor, the King of Italy, and the Pope, tried to persuade the Sultan of Turkey to allow Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel, and met the Russian ministry with the aim of convincing him to stop the violence against the Jews of Russia. The most sympathetic offer of support came from Great Britain. However, the
Fourth Zionist Congress of 1903 rejected a British proposal calling for the establishment of a Jewish autonomy in East Africa that Herzl inclined to accept as a provisional refuge for the Jewish population of Eastern Europe. A year later, his heart condition aggravated and shortly afterwards, he died of pneumonia in a sanatorium in Edlach, Austria, on July 3, 1904 (20 Tammuz). Herzl was buried in Vienna and his funeral were attended by large crowds of bereaved Jews from all over Europe. In August 1949, in accordance to his will, the newly established State of Israel re-interred his remains in Jerusalem, on Mount Herzl, which was named in his honor, and 20 Tammuz has been declared a national memorial day in Israel.

Albert Vajs

Albert Vajs (1905-1964), jurist, community leader, born in Zemun, Serbia (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied philosophy and economics in Berlin and Paris and earned a Ph.D. in law in 1929 from the University of Zagreb, Croatia (then poart of Yugoslavia). During World War II he was a POW in Germany.

After the war, he became a member of the Yugoslav State Commission for the Investigation of the Crimes Committed by the Occupiers and their Collaborators. Vajs was a member of the Yugoslav delegation at the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi war criminals.

Vajs served as a Professor of Law in Belgrade, Serbia, and lectured on history of law and history of civilization from 1947 to 1964 at the Department of History of the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade.

Vajs served as President of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Yugoslavia from 1948 to 1964.