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Hayim Pollak

Hayim Pollak (1834-1905), author and educator, born in Liptoszentmiklos, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now Liptovski Svaty Mikulas, Slovakia). After receiving a Talmudic education in his native town, Pollack studied at the Yeshivot of Pozsony, (Pressburg, now Bratislava, Slovakia), Sateraljaujhely, Hungary, and also at Prague (now in Czech Republic). He taught at various Jewish public schools in Hungary, including that of Obuda (Altofen), where he was retained on the staff after the city of Budapest took over the school.

Pollak was the author of a Hebrew-Hungarian dictionary (1880), the first of its kind. In addition he published "Valogatott Gyongyok" ("Choice of Pearls"),a translation of Solomon ibn Gabirol's "Mivhar Hapeninim"; "Megillath Antiochus" (1886), with Hebrew notes; "Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh" (1895); "Izrael nepenek multjabol" (1898; German translation, "Die Erinnerung an die Vorfahren", 1902), a history of mourning customs; "Josefinische Aktenstuecke ueber Alt-Ofen" (1902). From 1882 to 1883, he edited the journal "Jesurun", founded to combat anti-Semitism.

Date of birth:
1834
Date of death:
1905
Place of birth:
Liptovsky Mikulas
Place of death:
Budapest
Personality type:
Educator
,
author
ID Number:
200533
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:
Related items:
POLLAK

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The surname Pollak is a form of Polack meaning "Polish", and one of numerous names applied to Poles. A striking example of a place name from which family names are derived is Poland, with one of the biggest and most important Jewish populations in the European Diaspora until the Holocaust. The terms Pollak (German), Polacco (Italian), Polonais (French), Polacek (Czech), were used to describe a person from that country. Polsky (the adjective in Polish) and their derivatives - including abbreviations and extensions influenced by the languages spoken by the ethnic majorities among whom Jews lived at the time - produced numerous variants of family names, all of which mean "Pole" or "Polish". The family name Pollack is documented in the 15th century in northern Bohemia, where it also appears as Polak in the 16th century. Benedikt Pollak of Prague attended the Leipzig fair in Germany in 1675, as did several Jews calling themselves Polack in 1676. The form Poll (which could be an abbreviation of Pollak or Pole) is found in the 1693 list of Jewish Leipzig fair visitors. Pohlack is documented in 1697 in Mannheim, Germany; Polacke in 1739 in Metz, France, and Pollyak in 1746 in Pressburg (Bratislava) in Slovakia. In 1751 the Jews attending the Leipzig fair included Lazarus Polazcsik, and in 1761 Enoch Polatschik. Polonais is documented in Paris in 1780 and Pollonais in 1798 in Nice, France. The variants Bolac, Bol(l)ack, Bol(l)ach and Bolackin were current in Alsace in the late 18th century. Polyakov/Poliakof(f), Polonsky and Polsky became frequent in 19th century Russia and America. Lengyel, the Hungarian term for "Pole"/"Polish" was often adopted in the 19th century. The mid 20th century witnessed the birth of new French forms Bollack; Poulain from Pollak, and Poliet from Poliakof.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Pollak include the Russian-born American physicist, Simon Pollak (1816-1903); the Hungarian educator and author of a Hebrew-Hungarian dictionary, Hayim Pollak (1835-1905), and Walter Heilprin Pollak (1887-1940), a prominent American defence lawyer.

Prague

Capital of the Czech Republic. Formerly the capital of Czechoslovakia.

It has the oldest Jewish community in Bohemia and one of the oldest communities in Europe, for some time the largest and most revered. Jews may have arrived in Prague in late roman times, but the first document mentioning them is a report by Ibrahim Ibn Ya'qub from about 970. The first definite evidence for the existence of a Jewish community in Prague dates to 1091. Jews arrived in Prague from both the east and west around the same time. It is probably for this reason that two Jewish districts came into being there right at the beginning.

The relatively favorable conditions in which the Jews at first lived in Prague were disrupted at the time of the first crusade in 1096. The crusaders murdered many of the Jews in Prague, looted Jewish property, and forced many to accept baptism. During the siege of Prague castle in 1142, the oldest synagogue in Prague and the Jewish quarter below the castle were burned down and the Jews moved to the right bank of the river Moldau (vltava), which was to become the future Jewish quarter, and founded the "Altschul" ("old synagogue") there.

The importance of Jewish culture in Prague is evidenced by the works of the halakhists there in the 11th to 13th centuries. The most celebrated was Isaac B. Moses of Vienna (d. C. 1250) author of "Or Zaru'a". Since the Czech language was spoken by the Jews of Prague in the early middle ages, the halakhic writings of that period also contain annotations in Czech. From the 13th to 16th centuries the Jews of Prague increasingly spoke German. At the time of persecutions which began at the end of the 11th century, the Jews of Prague, together with all the other Jews of Europe, lost their status as free people. From the 13th century on, the Jews of Bohemia were considered servants of the royal chamber (servi camerae regis). Their residence in Prague was subject to the most humiliating conditions (the wearing of special dress, segregation in the ghetto, etc.). The only occupation that Jews were allowed to adopt was moneylending, since this was forbidden to Christians and considered dishonest. Socially the Jews were in an inferior position.

The community suffered from persecutions accompanied by bloodshed in the 13th and 14th centuries, particularly in 1298 and 1338. Charles IV (1346- 1378) protected the Jews, but after his death the worst attack occurred in 1389, when nearly all the Jews of Prague fell victims. The rabbi of Prague and noted kabbalist Avigdor Kara, who witnessed and survived the outbreak, described it in a selichah. Under Wenceslaus IV the Jews of Prague suffered heavy material losses following an order by the king in 1411 canceling all debts owed to Jews.

At the beginning of the 15th century the Jews of Prague found themselves at the center of the Hussite wars (1419- 1436). The Jews of Prague also suffered from mob violence (1422) in this period. The unstable conditions in Prague compelled many Jews to emigrate.

Following the legalization, at the end of the 15th century, of moneylending by non-Jews in Prague, the Jews of Prague lost the economic significance which they had held in the medieval city, and had to look for other occupations in commerce and crafts. The position of the Jews began to improve at the beginning of the 16th century, mainly owing to the assistance of the king and the nobility. The Jews found greater opportunities in trading commodities and monetary transactions with the nobility. As a consequence, their economic position improved. In 1522 there were about 600 Jews in Prague, but by 1541 they numbered about 1,200. At the same time the Jewish quarters were extended. At the end of the 15th century the Jews of Prague founded new communities.

Under pressure of the citizens, king Ferdinand I was compelled in 1541 to approve the expulsion of the Jews. The Jews had to leave Prague by 1543, but were allowed to return in 1545. In 1557 Ferdinand I once again, this time upon his own initiative, ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Prague. They had to leave the city by 1559. Only after the retirement of Ferdinand I from the government of Bohemia were the Jews allowed to return to Prague in 1562.

The favorable position of the Jewish community of Prague during the reign of Rudolf II is reflected also in the flourishing Jewish culture. Among illustrious rabbis who taught in Prague at that time were Judah Loew B. Bezalel (the "maharal"); Ephraim Solomon B. Aaron of Luntschitz; Isaiah B. Abraham ha-levi Horowitz, who taught in Prague from 1614 to 1621; and Yom Tov Lipmann Heller, who became chief rabbi in 1627 but was forced to leave in 1631. The chronicler and astronomer David Gans also lived there in this period. At the beginning of the 17th century about 6,000 Jews were living in Prague.

In 1648 the Jews of Prague distinguished themselves in the defense of the city against the invading swedes. In recognition of their acts of heroism the Emperor presented them with a special flag which is still preserved in the Altneuschul. Its design with a Swedish cap in the center of the Shield of David became the official emblem of the Prague Jewish community.

After the thirty years' war, government policy was influenced by the church counter-reformation, and measures were taken to limit the Jews' means of earning a livelihood. A number of anti-Semitic resolutions and decrees were promulgated. Only the eldest son of every family was allowed to marry and found a family, the others having to remain single or leave Bohemia.

In 1680, more than 3,000 Jews in Prague died of the plague. Shortly afterward, in 1689, the Jewish quarter burned down, and over 300 Jewish houses and 11 synagogues were destroyed. The authorities initiated and partially implemented a project to transfer all the surviving Jews to the village of Lieben (Liben) north of Prague. Great excitement was aroused in 1694 by the murder trial of the father of Simon Abeles, a 12-year-old boy, who, it was alleged, had desired to be baptized and had been killed by his father. Simon was buried in the Tyn (Thein) church, the greatest and most celebrated cathedral of the old town of Prague. Concurrently with the religious incitement against the Jews an economic struggle was waged against them.

The anti-Jewish official policy reached its climax after the accession to the throne of Maria Theresa (1740-1780), who in 1744 issued an order expelling the Jews from Bohemia and Moravia. Jews were banished but were subsequently allowed to return after they promised to pay high taxes. In the baroque period noted rabbis were Simon Spira; Elias Spira; David Oppenheim; and Ezekiel Landau, chief rabbi and rosh yeshivah (1755-93(.

The position of the Jews greatly improved under Joseph II (1780-1790), who issued the Toleranzpatent of 1782. The new policy in regard to the Jews aimed at gradual abolition of the limitations imposed upon them, so that they could become more useful to the state in a modernized economic system. At the same time, the new regulations were part of the systematic policy of germanization pursued by Joseph II. Jews were compelled to adopt family names and to establish schools for secular studies; they became subject to military service, and were required to cease using Hebrew and Yiddish in business transactions. Wealthy and enterprising Jews made good use of the advantages of Joseph's reforms. Jews who founded manufacturing enterprises were allowed to settle outside the Jewish quarter of Prague.

Subsequently the limitations imposed upon Jews were gradually removed. In 1841 the prohibition on Jews owning land was rescinded. In 1846 the Jewish tax was abolished. In 1848 Jews were granted equal rights, and by 1867 the process of legal emancipation had been completed. In 1852 the ghetto of Prague was abolished. Because of the unhygienic conditions in the former Jewish quarter the Prague municipality decided in 1896 to pull down the old quarter, with the exception of important historical sites. Thus the Altneuschul, the Pinkas and Klaus, Meisel and Hoch synagogues, and some other places of historical and artistic interest remained intact.

In 1848 the community of Prague, numbering over 10,000, was still one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe (Vienna then numbered only 4,000 Jews). In the following period of the emancipation and the post- emancipation era the Prague community increased considerably in numbers, but did not keep pace with the rapidly expanding new Jewish metropolitan centers in western, central, and Eastern Europe.

After emancipation had been achieved in 1867, emigration from Prague abroad ceased as a mass phenomenon; movement to Vienna, Germany, and Western Europe continued. Jews were now represented in industry, especially the textile, clothing, leather, shoe, and food industries, in wholesale and retail trade, and in increasing numbers in the professions and as white-collar employees. Some Jewish bankers, industrialists and merchants achieved considerable wealth. The majority of Jews in Prague belonged to the middle class, but there also remained a substantial number of poor Jews.

Emancipation brought in its wake a quiet process of secularization and assimilation. In the first decades of the 19th century Prague Jewry, which then still led its traditionalist orthodox way of life, had been disturbed by the activities of the followers of Jacob Frank. The situation changed in the second half of the century. The chief rabbinate was still occupied by outstanding scholars, like Solomon Judah Rapoport, the leader of the Haskalah movement; Markus Hirsch (1880-1889) helped to weaken the religious influence in the community. Many synagogues introduced modernized services, a shortened liturgy, the organ and mixed choir, but did not necessarily embrace the principles of the reform movement.

Jews availed themselves eagerly of the opportunities to give their children a higher secular education. Jews formed a considerable part of the German minority in Prague, and the majority adhered to liberal movements. David Kuh founded the "German liberal party of Bohemia and represented it in the Bohemian diet (1862-1873). Despite strong Germanizing factors, many Jews adhered to the Czech language, and in the last two decades of the 19th century a Czech assimilationist movement developed which gained support from the continuing influx of Jews from the rural areas. Through the influence of German nationalists from the Sudeten districts anti-Semitism developed within the German population and opposed Jewish assimilation. At the end of the 19th century Zionism struck roots among the Jews of Bohemia, especially in Prague.

Growing secularization and assimilation led to an increase of mixed marriages and abandonment of Judaism. At the time of the Czechoslovak republic, established in 1918, many more people registered their dissociation of affiliation to the Jewish faith without adopting another. The proportion of mixed marriages in Bohemia was one of the highest in Europe. The seven communities of Prague were federated in the union of Jewish religious communities of greater Prague and cooperated on many issues. They established joint institutions; among these the most important was the institute for social welfare, established in 1935. The "Afike Jehuda society for the Advancement of Jewish Studies" was founded in 1869. There were also the Jewish museum and "The Jewish historical society of Czechoslovakia". A five-grade elementary school was established with Czech as the language of instruction. The many philanthropic institutions and associations included the Jewish care for the sick, the center for social welfare, the aid committee for refugees, the aid committee for Jews from Carpatho- Russia, orphanages, hostels for apprentices, old-age homes, a home for abandoned children, free-meal associations, associations for children's vacation centers, and funds to aid students. Zionist organizations were also well represented. There were three B'nai B'rith lodges, women's organizations, youth movements, student clubs, sports organizations, and a community center. Four Jewish weeklies were published in Prague (three Zionist; one Czech- assimilationist), and several monthlies and quarterlies. Most Jewish organizations in Czechoslovakia had their headquarters in Prague.

Jews first became politically active, and some of them prominent, within the German orbit. David Kuh and the president of the Jewish community, Arnold Rosenbacher, were among the leaders of the German Liberal party in the 19th century. Bruno Kafka and Ludwig Spiegel represented its successor in the Czechoslovak republic, the German Democratic Party, in the chamber of deputies and the senate respectively. Emil Strauss represented that party in the 1930s on the Prague Municipal Council and in the Bohemian diet. From the end of the 19th century an increasing number of Jews joined Czech parties, especially T. G. Masaryk's realists and the social democratic party. Among the latter Alfred Meissner, Lev Winter, and Robert Klein rose to prominence, the first two as ministers of justice and social welfare respectively.

Zionists, though a minority, soon became the most active element among the Jews of Prague. "Barissia" - Jewish Academic Corporation, was founded in Prague in 1903, it was one of the leading academic organizations for the advancement of Zionism in Bohemia. Before World War I the students' organization "Bar Kochba", under the leadership of Samuel Hugo Bergman, became one of the centers of cultural Zionism. The Prague Zionist Arthur Mahler was elected to the Austrian parliament in 1907, though as representative of an electoral district in Galicia. Under the leadership of Ludvik Singer the "Jewish National Council" was formed in 1918. Singer was elected in 1929 to the Czechoslovak parliament, and was succeeded after his death in 1931 by Angelo Goldstein. Singer, Goldstein, Frantisek Friedmann, and Jacob Reiss represented the Zionists on the Prague municipal council also. Some important Zionist conferences took place in Prague, among them the founding conference of hitachadut in 1920, and the
18th Zionist congress in 1933.

The group of Prague German-Jewish authors which emerged in the 1880s, known as the "Prague Circle" ('der Prager Kreis'), achieved international recognition and included Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Oskar Baum, Ludwig Winder, Leo Perutz, Egon Erwin Kisch, Otto Klepetar, and Willy Haas.

During the Holocaust period, the measures e.g., deprivation of property rights, prohibition against religious, cultural, or any other form of public activity, expulsion from the professions and from schools, a ban on the use of public transportation and the telephone, affected Prague Jews much more than those still living in the provinces. Jewish organizations provided social welfare and clandestinely continued the education of the youth and the training in languages and new vocations in preparation for emigration. The Palestine office in Prague, directed by Jacob Edelstein, enabled about 19,000 Jews to emigrate legally or otherwise until the end of 1939.

In March 1940, the Prague zentralstelle extended the area of its jurisdiction to include all of Bohemia and Moravia. In an attempt to obviate the deportation of the Jews to "the east", Jewish leaders, headed by Jacob Edelstein, proposed to the zentralstelle the establishment of a self- administered concentrated Jewish communal body; the Nazis eventually exploited this proposal in the establishment of a ghetto at Theresienstadt (Terezin). The Prague Jewish community was forced to provide the Nazis with lists of candidates for deportation and to ensure that they showed up at the assembly point and boarded deportation trains. In the period from October 6, 1941, to March 16, 1945, 46,067 Jews were deported from Prague to "the east" or to Theresienstadt. Two leading officials of the Jewish community, H. Bonn and Emil Kafka were dispatched to Mauthausen concentration camp and put to death after trying to slow down the pace of the deportations. The Nazis set up a treuhandstelle ("trustee Office") over evacuated Jewish apartments, furnishings, and possessions. This office sold these goods and forwarded the proceeds to the German winterhilfe ("winter aid"). The treuhandstelle ran as many as 54 warehouses, including 11 synagogues (as a result, none of the synagogues was destroyed). The zentralstelle brought Jewish religious articles from 153 Jewish communities to Prague on a proposal by Jewish scholars. This collection, including 5,400 religious objects, 24,500 prayer books, and 6,070 items of historical value the Nazis intended to utilize for a "central museum of the defunct Jewish race". Jewish historians engaged in the creation of the museum were deported to extermination camps just before the end of the war. Thus the Jewish museum had acquired at the end of the war one of the richest collections of Judaica in the world.


Prague had a Jewish population of 10,338 in 1946, of whom 1,396 Jews had not been deported (mostly of mixed Jewish and Christian parentage); 227 Jews had gone underground; 4,986 returned from prisons, concentration camps, or Theresienstadt; 883 returned from Czechoslovak army units abroad; 613 were Czechoslovak Jewish emigres who returned; and 2,233 were Jews from Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine), which had been ceded to the U.S.S.R. who decided to move to Czechoslovakia. The communist takeover of 1948 put an end to any attempt to revive the Jewish community and marked the beginning of a period of stagnation. By 1950 about half of the Jewish population had gone to Israel or immigrated to other countries. The Slansky trials and the officially promoted anti-Semitism had a destructive effect upon Jewish life. Nazi racism of the previous era was replaced by political and social discrimination. Most of the Jews of Prague were branded as "class enemies of the working people". During this
Period (1951-1964) there was no possibility of Jewish emigration from the country. The assets belonging to the Jewish community had to be relinquished to the state. The charitable organizations were disbanded, and the budget of the community, provided by the state, was drastically reduced. The general anti-religious policy of the regime resulted in the cessation, for all practical purposes, of such Jewish religious activities as bar-mitzvah religious instruction and wedding ceremonies. In 1964 only two cantors and two ritual slaughterers were left. The liberalization of the regime during 1965-1968 held out new hope for a renewal of Jewish life in Prague.

At the end of March 1967 the president of "The World Jewish Congress", Nahum Goldmann, was able to visit Prague and give a lecture in the Jewish town hall. Among the Jewish youth many tended to identify with Judaism. Following the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 there was an attempt to put an end to this trend, however the Jewish youth, organized since 1965, carried on with their Jewish cultural activities until 1972. In the late 6os the Jewish population of Prague numbered about 2,000.

On the walls of the Pinkas synagogue, which is part of the central Jewish museum in Prague, are engraved the names of 77,297 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis in 1939-1945.

In 1997 some 6,000 Jews were living in the Czech Republic, most of them in Prague. The majority of the Jews of Prague were indeed elderly, but the Jewish community's strengthened in 1990's by many Jews, mainly American, who had come to work in the republic, settled in Prague, and joined the community.

In April 2000 the central square of Prague was named Franz Kafka square. This was done thanks to the unflinching efforts and after years of straggle with the authorities, of Professor Eduard Goldstucker, a Jew born in Prague, the initiator of the idea.

Liptovsky (Svaty) Mikulas


Hungarian: Lipto Szent Miklos

ליפטובסקי סוואטי מיקולאש :Yiddish


A town in northern Slovakia.

 

21st Century

If you visit Liptovsky Mikulas today, you can see a former magnificent synagogue built in the neoclassical style with an interior which reveals traces of an ornate ark and sumptuous interior. There are very few Jews left in the community and one cannot help but wonder what kind of Jewish community once lived and prayed here.


History

The Jewish settlement in Liptovsky was founded by peddlers and merchants from Holesov, who were avoiding the 1726 familiants laws. These were laws designed to limit the Jewish population to only one son per family who was allowed to marry. They had commercial relations with the owner of the town, Count Pongrac, who granted his sponsorship to the Jews.  In addition, he rented them houses and businesses in the town center.

The local nobility that benefitted from the sponsorship fees paid by the Jews, regarded their settlement there favorably. Even the population willingly opened the gates of the town to them, since the Jews filled an important role in the cultural growth of the town. They had the freedom to participate in widespread economic activities and the community grew and flourished. Among the Jews were some important merchants who developed trade relations that branched out throughout the kingdom, and exported leather and fine leather goods, wool and cheese. They also dealt in wood, because of the high quality of the forests. Wood and wood products were a characteristic part of the trade of Slovakian Jews

The first synagogue was built in 1731 and enlarged in 1770. The office of rabbi was first held by a layman merchant, who established the Talmud torah, followed by Rabbi Loeb Kunitz, who founded a yeshivah in 1776 which was in existence till 1862. The period of Rabbi Lob Kunitz’s leadership established the basis for intellectual activity, for which Mikulas was named "the Jewish Athens".

 From 1821 to 1830 Eleazar Loew was rabbi and the community became an important Torah center in Hungary. He was recognized as one of the luminaries of his generation and was the author of the book of responsa, Shemen Rokeach. During the latter part of the 1820s there was a dispute between the rabbi and the parnasim of the community over the opening of a basic school. Rabbi Loew opposed the idea, but his advice was rejected and he left the community. Rabbi Yissachar Bar Mikulas took over his position.

The Jewish community numbered approximately 300 families in 1840. In 1845 the community established a German-language Jewish elementary school where Simon Bacher taught.

It was the first Slovakian community in which a dispute arose over religious reform in 1843 when the controversy centered around the location of the bimah (raised area where the Torah is read) in the new synagogue. The episode created waves in Slovakia and three well known rabbinic arbiters were called upon to settle the dispute: Rabbi S.Y.L. Rappaport of Prague, Rabbi S.S. Luzatto of Padua and Rabbi Nathan Adler of London. They ruled according to the majority decision of the kehilla (community) to move the bima to the front of the synagogue. This was vehemently opposed by Rabbi Bar Mikulas and the verdict of the orthodox court which deemed the synagogue unacceptable. The orthodox custom was to have the bima in the middle and moving it to the front was an innovation regarded as an imitation of the churches. The synagogue was built in the classic style at a cost of 100,000 Florins. Its dedication was attended by representatives of the kingdom, town officials, non-Jews as well as Jews.

The Jewish community had organizations for welfare and mutual aid, bikur cholim (visiting the sick; established at the beginning of the 19th century); agudat nashim yehudiot (Jewish Women's Association; established in 1845) that supplied a soup kitchen; the societies of halanat orchim (providing accommodations for travelers) and gemilut chasadim (free loan). In the second half of the 19th century the following were established: a Jewish hospital, a savings bank, Association of Jewish Young Women, Jewish Socialist Society, Clothing the Poor, Charitable Workers, and the cultural association Zion.

In the 1848-1849 revolution, most of the Jews supported the Hungarian rebels. After the suppression of the revolution, a sum of 20,000 Florins was levied against the Jews, but part of this sum was returned to the kehila and used to start a fund to care for education and culture.

In 1860, a Jewish Reali high school was opened under the administration of Dr. Adolf Friedman.  Its excellent reputation attracted non-Jewish students as well. Although it existed for only 15 years it had a number of outstanding students, including the scholars E. Baneth and W. Bacher, the publisher Samuel Fischer, the journalist Albert Sturm, and Simon Goldstein, the first Jewish lawyer in Hungary

Relations between Jews and the other inhabitants of the town were good and the Jews were involved in community life even before they were granted the rights of Hungarian citizenship. In 1865, the Parnas Yitzchak Dinar was elected as mayor of the town and was the first Jew in the Hungarian kingdom to carry this role. His service lasted until 1872. After him, Joseph Stern, Moritz Ring, and Dr. Emanuel Steiner were elected to this highest office. Another Jew, V. Friedman, was among the heads of the Firemen's Association in the town. William Schick, a teacher in the Jewish basic school, was chosen to be the district supervisor of schools. Prior to the First World War, a Jewish drama circle was established in the town, putting on performances for the general audience in German, Slovak, and Hungarian. Many of the Jews in the town were educated and practiced the free professions.

In the great fire of 1887, the great synagogue and additional communal buildings were damaged. The synagogue was refurbished (1904-1906) and enlarged (it was 22 x 40 meters), its facade was beautified and became one of the most beautiful synagogues in Slovakia. The ark was designed by the prolific synagogue architect, Lipot Baumhorn. A spacious community center was built nearby that had offices, an auditorium, library, accommodations for the rabbi and sexton, butcher shops and abattoir. The kehila and chevra kadisha partnered in maintaining an old-age home and soup kitchen.

Jews had important roles in the town's economy, and a few were among the pioneers of local industry. In 1890, M. Strauss set up a textile factory, P. Stark set up an alcohol refinery and a power station that supplied electricity to large sections of the town. Jews also owned several large tanneries, and most of the commercial businesses in the town

During the Czech Republic, Jewish involvement increased in the life of the town and local society and in the 1920s they had six seats in the town council. Jews also worked in public administration, some even at senior levels. Emil Neuman served as town treasurer and Rabbi Zeev Singer was a member of the town's education committee. Dr. Albert Kokas served as district physician, Dr. Nathan Schlesinger served as the main public notary, and engineer Alexander Fodor was the administrator of public works for the Liptov district.

In the 1930 census only 368 out of 902 Jews listed themselves as Jewish for their nationality; the rest defined themselves as Slovaks or Germans. The National Jewish Party had great support in the town. The head of the local branch, Dr. Mati Weiner, was a leading member of the Jewish National Party in Czechoslovakia. In the 1928 municipal elections, the Jewish National Party received more than 400 votes (16% of the total), similar to the number of votes for the Slovak National Party and both of them were the largest parties in the town. Four representatives of the Jewish National Party sat on the town council. In the 1930s the Jewish National Party retained its numerical strength.

Zionist activity also reached its peak in the same years, and also left its mark on the cultural and communal life. The Zionist Association, headed by Isidor Strauss, was among the biggest and most active in Slovakia, and the branch of WIZO in the town comprised hundreds of women who participated in a variety of social activities. In 1929, they donated 4,000 Kronen to plant a forest in Israel named for T.G. Masaryk, president of Czechoslovakia.

The Maccabi Sports Association, founded in 1919, maintained an exercise hall, tennis courts and football field, and hundreds of young people and adults were members there. Most of the young generation were members in Zionist youth movements. In 1922, a branch of Hashomer Kadima (the forward guard) which later became Hashomer Hatsair (the young guard) was established, followed by Maccabi Hatzair (young Maccabi) and Bnei Akiva (sons of Akiva). These youth movements in the town had their own clubs. The Youth Circle for Self-Education and Zionist Association conducted lively cultural activities in the Zionist spirit

During this period the influence of Jews in the local economy grew especially in business, production, and banking affairs. The economic situation for Jews was good and most of the businesses in the town were owned by them. Among the Jews, 12 were industrialists, 81 were merchants, 25 tradesmen, four out of seven were doctors, six out of seven were lawyers, a veterinarian, some engineers, and large number of clerks, in both public and private practice.

The community totaled about 1,200 persons in 1933.

 

The Holocaust

In August 1941, dozens of Jews who were discharged from their former businesses were sent to camps for hard labor. In the fall of 1941, 540 Jews who were deported from Bratislava were brought to Liptovsky and the number of Jews reached its highest with more than 1500 souls. The refugees had nothing with them and they received aid from the kehila and the Jewish Center. On November 4, 1941, dozens of villagers broke into the synagogue, broke furniture and destroyed books and holy artifacts. Afterward they broke into Jewish homes and damaged their property.

At the beginning of 1942, on the eve of deportations, there were 1605 Jews in the town and its surroundings. At the end of March 1942, 120 young men and women were rounded up in the town's district government building. The young women were sent to the transit camp in Poprad and from there, at the beginning of April they joined the transport to Auschwitz. The young men were taken to the Zilina collection camp and from there sent to the Majdanek camp near Lublin, Poland. Mass deportations of families began on April 2, 1942, and in its process, 596 Jews from Liptovsky and its surroundings were rounded up and sent with the transport to the Lublin area. After the Nazis performed their selections, able-bodied men were sent to the Majdanek work camp, while women with children and the elderly were sent to the Sobibor extermination camp. On October 11, 1942, some more local families were sent to the Zilina camp, after the authorities rejected their exemption permits. 95 members of the community managed to escape and some even reached Palestine. In general, some Jews were allowed to remain who were intermarried, or worked in vital job. There were also Jews in hiding. 

On August 29, 1944, an uprising broke out in central Slovakia against the Fascist regime. Many of the rebels retreated to the mountains and forests around Mikulash. The Protestant population there was hostile to the Fascist regime and helped Jews hide in the villages and provided them with food. Thus, many Jewish families were saved. In September the Germans conquered Slovakia to suppress the uprising. Jews who hid in the woods who were caught were shot and the Protestant priest of the city, who was accused of helping Jews was also shot.

 

Postwar

After liberation, about 350 Jews returned from the forests or Slovak villages. At the initiative of Rabbi Yitzchak Alboim, the life of the kehila was renewed. The old cemetery had been destroyed during the war, but the synagogue and newer cemetery were cleaned and quickly refurbished and returned to use. Even the Zionist branch returned to work and at its head was Dr. A. Teichner. In 1947, Jews of the town donated 115,000 Kronen to the Keren Kayemet fund to plant Forest for the Czechoslovakian Martyrs in the hills of Jerusalem. The Young Maccabi youth movement also renewed its activities. In 1948, 336 Jews lived in the town, and after 1949, when many Jews either immigrated to Israel or other countries, 242 Jews remained. In the new cemetery, memorial plaques were set in place to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to the 12 members of the community who fell as fighters during the Slovak rebellion.

The synagogue was in use until 1953 and afterward was converted to a warehouse. The organized Jewish community continued until the 1980s, and public prayer was held in an improvised prayer room; the cemetery was in use until then and the school, the mikvah (purification bath), and community building remained in their places. In the 1990s, a few Jewish families still lived in Liptovsky. Finally, the great synagogue was renovated and it serves for cultural events.

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.

Bratislava

German: Pressburg, Hungarian: Pozsony

Capital of Slovakia. Part of Hungary until 1918

Bratislava was the chartered capital of the kings of Hungary. It was one of the most ancient and important Jewish centers in the Danube region. The first Jews probably arrived with the Roman legions, but the first documented evidence of their presence in the city dates from the 13th century. In 1291 the community was granted a charter by King Andrew the III and a synagogue is first mentioned in 1335.

The Jews of Bratislava mainly engaged in moneylending, but there were also merchants, artisans, vineyard owners, and vintners. The Jews were expelled from Hungary in 1360, but returned in 1367. In 1371 the municipality introduced the Judenbuch, which regulated financial dealings between Jews and Christians.

Money matters between Jews and Christians, however, could unexpectedly take complicated turns. King Sigismund granted Christians an exemption for the year 1392 from paying interest on loans borrowed from Jews. Later, in 1441 and 1450, all outstanding debts owed to Jews were cancelled, and in 1475 Jews were forbidden from accepting real estate as security. Ladislas II prevented Jews from attempting to leave Bratislava in 1506 by confiscating the property of those who had already left. This proved to be somewhat ironic since the Jews were eventually expelled from Bratislava, and Hungary as a whole, in 1526. Instead, the Jews began settling in the surrounding areas of Shlossberg and Zuckermandel. A Jewish community was not reestablished in Bratislava until the end of the seventeenth century when Samuel Oppenheimer resettled the city. He was followed by other Jews, some of whom were born locally and others who came from Vienna, which had expelled its Jews in 1670, Bohemia and Moravia, as well as a small number from Poland. A synagogue was built in 1695 where the first known rabbi to work there was Yom Tov Lipmann. In 1699 the court Jew Simon Michael, who had settled in Bratislava in 1693, was appointed as head of the community. He built a beit midrash and bought land to build a cemetery.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the Jews of Bratislava were leaders in both the business and religious worlds. In business they were among the leaders of the textile trade, while the religious leader Rabbi Moses Sofer (better known as the Hatam Sofer) turned Bratislava into a center of Jewish life. The Hatam Sofer became a leader of Orthodoxy, and is perhaps best known for his (ironically radical) statement that "He-hadash asur min haTorah," "Innovation is forbidden according to the Torah." His status as a rabbi, teacher, scholar, rosh yeshiva, and halakhist was unparalleled. Upon his death his son, Avraham Shmuel Binyamin (otherwise known as the Ketav Sofer) and then his grandson Simcha Bumen, and his great-grandson Akiva succeeded him in turn. Other outstanding rabbis that served in the city before the Hatam Sofer were Moshe Harif of Lemberg, Akiva Eger (the elder), Yitzhak Landau of Kukla, Meir Barbi of Halberstadt, and Meshulam Igra of Tymenitsa. Each was an outstanding Talmudic scholar, and Landau and Barbi established large and prestigious yeshivas.

In spite of the Hatam Sofer's uncompromising Orthodoxy, the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) made important inroads, particularly among the wealthy merchants and intellectuals in the city. In 1820 those who were in favor of the Haskalah succeeded in establishing an elementary school that combined religious and secular studies. Shortly thereafter the community's Orthodox majority also built a Talmud Torah that combined religious and secular studies, under the supervision of the city's chief rabbi.

The community was also split during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. While those who were in favor of reform, led by Adolf Neustadt, enthusiastically supported the revolution, joining the National Guard and advocating for Jewish emancipation, the Orthodox leadership distanced themselves from these actions. Anti-Jewish riots subsequently broke out during the revolution around Easter; the Jews of Bratislava suffered the worst violence. While no Bratislavan Jews were killed, there were many who were severely beaten, and there was enormous damage done to property. The Jewish Quarter was placed under military protection, and Jews who lived elsewhere had to move within it. The violence prompted calls to emigrate to the US.

The Revolution of 1848 would not be the last time that the Jews of Bratislava were the victims of pogroms and anti-Jewish violence. 1850 saw more anti-Jewish riots around the holiday of Easter. Further outbreaks of anti-Jewish violence followed the Tiszaeszlar blood libel in 1882 and 1883, as well as after other blood libels in 1887 and 1889.

Tensions continued to grow between the Orthodox and the maskilim within the community. After 1869 the Orthodox, Neologist, and Status Quo Ante factions in Bratislava formed separate congregations. The Orthodox provincial office (Landseskanzlei) later became notorious for its opposition to Zionism. The Neolog and Status Quo Ante congregations united in 1928 as the Jeshurun Federation.

Jewish institutions in Bratislava included religious schools, charitable organizations, and a Jewish hospital. The Hungarian Zionist organization was founded in Bratislava in 1902, and the World Mizrachi Organization was founded in 1904; the latter sparked protests from over 100 rabbis. The first Hungarian Zionist Congress was held in Bratislava in March 1903 and the city became the Hungarian center for the Zionist Organization in Hungary.

With the establishment of Czechoslovakia, Bratislava also became the center of Agudas Yisroel in Czechoslovakia, in addition to remaining a Zionist center. Several Jewish newspapers and a Hebrew weekly, "HaYehudi," were printed in the city. There were also over 300 Hebrew and Yiddish books printed in the city between 1831 and 1930. The Orthodox Jewish Communities of Slovakia was established in the city, enabling the Orthodox community to cut ties with Hungary.

The German army occupied Czechoslovakia in March, 1938 and soon established an independent Slovak state. Even before the declaration of the independent state, there were attacks on the synagogue and yeshiva on November 11, 1938. Nearly 1,000 Jewish students were expelled from the university and anti-Jewish terror, restrictive measures, and pogroms increased. With the establishment of the Slovak state, Jews continued to suffer from discrimination. Akiva Shreiber and a number of his yeshiva students succeeded in leaving Bratislava for Palestine at the end of 1939.

Nonetheless, the Jewish population of Bratislava peaked in 1940 at 18,000 people (13% of the total population of the city). This was in spite of the fact that Jewish organizations, with the exception of religious communal activities, were prohibited from organizing activities. Additionally, Jews were evicted from various neighborhoods, Jewish students were expelled from public schools, and Jewish properties were confiscated. By the fall of 1941 about half of the city's population had been forcibly sent from the city to the provinces; by the summer of 1942 two-thirds of the Jews of Bratislava were sent to concentration or extermination camps. Gisi Fleischmann of WIZO and Mikhael Dov Ber Weissmandel began organizing an underground resistance movement. They contacted international Jewish organizations, in the hopes that they could save the Jews who remained in the city and the surrounding area. August 1944 saw a Slovak uprising, and the country was subsequently occupied by the Germans. At that point, the remaining Jews in Bratislava were deported.

In the end, approximately 13,000 Jews from Bratislava were killed during the Holocaust. After the war, the city was an important transit point for the thousands of displaced Jews who were making their way to other countries and began to rebuild. The Orthodox and Neolog communities united and maintained two cemetaries, a mikvah, a slaughterhouse, a soup kitchen, a matzah bakery, a Jewish hospital, an old age home, and a Jewish orphanage. Zionist activity resumed; HaShomer HaTzair and Bnei Akiva led activities for orphans preparing to emigrate to Mandate Palestine. Maccabi HaTzair and Beitar were also active. Though there was an attempt to reopen the Pressburg Yeshiva, it ultimately failed.

After the communist takeover, thousands more Jews left the city, most of whom went to Israel. According to an agreement made with Israel, 4,000 Jews were permitted to leave and enter Israel at the end of the 1940s while 2,000 remained in Bratislava. In 1969 there were 1,500 Jews in the city.

The 1990s saw the opening of a number of memorials and places of Jewish interest. A Jewish cultural heritage museum was opened in the old Jewish Quarter. A memorial plaque was added to the Orthodox cemetery in memory of the 13,000 Jewish victims of Bratislava who were killed during the Holocaust. Additionally, in 1997 a monument commemorating the Slovakian Jewish victims of the Nazis was erected on the site where the Pressburg Yeshiva once stood. Jewish organizations and municipal authorities worked together to renovate and reopen the grave of the Hatam Sofer, among other rabbis, to the public.

In the year 2000 there were 800 Jews living in Bratislava.
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Hayim Pollak

Hayim Pollak (1834-1905), author and educator, born in Liptoszentmiklos, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now Liptovski Svaty Mikulas, Slovakia). After receiving a Talmudic education in his native town, Pollack studied at the Yeshivot of Pozsony, (Pressburg, now Bratislava, Slovakia), Sateraljaujhely, Hungary, and also at Prague (now in Czech Republic). He taught at various Jewish public schools in Hungary, including that of Obuda (Altofen), where he was retained on the staff after the city of Budapest took over the school.

Pollak was the author of a Hebrew-Hungarian dictionary (1880), the first of its kind. In addition he published "Valogatott Gyongyok" ("Choice of Pearls"),a translation of Solomon ibn Gabirol's "Mivhar Hapeninim"; "Megillath Antiochus" (1886), with Hebrew notes; "Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh" (1895); "Izrael nepenek multjabol" (1898; German translation, "Die Erinnerung an die Vorfahren", 1902), a history of mourning customs; "Josefinische Aktenstuecke ueber Alt-Ofen" (1902). From 1882 to 1883, he edited the journal "Jesurun", founded to combat anti-Semitism.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Bratislava
Budapest
Liptovsky Mikulas
Prague
Bratislava

German: Pressburg, Hungarian: Pozsony

Capital of Slovakia. Part of Hungary until 1918

Bratislava was the chartered capital of the kings of Hungary. It was one of the most ancient and important Jewish centers in the Danube region. The first Jews probably arrived with the Roman legions, but the first documented evidence of their presence in the city dates from the 13th century. In 1291 the community was granted a charter by King Andrew the III and a synagogue is first mentioned in 1335.

The Jews of Bratislava mainly engaged in moneylending, but there were also merchants, artisans, vineyard owners, and vintners. The Jews were expelled from Hungary in 1360, but returned in 1367. In 1371 the municipality introduced the Judenbuch, which regulated financial dealings between Jews and Christians.

Money matters between Jews and Christians, however, could unexpectedly take complicated turns. King Sigismund granted Christians an exemption for the year 1392 from paying interest on loans borrowed from Jews. Later, in 1441 and 1450, all outstanding debts owed to Jews were cancelled, and in 1475 Jews were forbidden from accepting real estate as security. Ladislas II prevented Jews from attempting to leave Bratislava in 1506 by confiscating the property of those who had already left. This proved to be somewhat ironic since the Jews were eventually expelled from Bratislava, and Hungary as a whole, in 1526. Instead, the Jews began settling in the surrounding areas of Shlossberg and Zuckermandel. A Jewish community was not reestablished in Bratislava until the end of the seventeenth century when Samuel Oppenheimer resettled the city. He was followed by other Jews, some of whom were born locally and others who came from Vienna, which had expelled its Jews in 1670, Bohemia and Moravia, as well as a small number from Poland. A synagogue was built in 1695 where the first known rabbi to work there was Yom Tov Lipmann. In 1699 the court Jew Simon Michael, who had settled in Bratislava in 1693, was appointed as head of the community. He built a beit midrash and bought land to build a cemetery.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the Jews of Bratislava were leaders in both the business and religious worlds. In business they were among the leaders of the textile trade, while the religious leader Rabbi Moses Sofer (better known as the Hatam Sofer) turned Bratislava into a center of Jewish life. The Hatam Sofer became a leader of Orthodoxy, and is perhaps best known for his (ironically radical) statement that "He-hadash asur min haTorah," "Innovation is forbidden according to the Torah." His status as a rabbi, teacher, scholar, rosh yeshiva, and halakhist was unparalleled. Upon his death his son, Avraham Shmuel Binyamin (otherwise known as the Ketav Sofer) and then his grandson Simcha Bumen, and his great-grandson Akiva succeeded him in turn. Other outstanding rabbis that served in the city before the Hatam Sofer were Moshe Harif of Lemberg, Akiva Eger (the elder), Yitzhak Landau of Kukla, Meir Barbi of Halberstadt, and Meshulam Igra of Tymenitsa. Each was an outstanding Talmudic scholar, and Landau and Barbi established large and prestigious yeshivas.

In spite of the Hatam Sofer's uncompromising Orthodoxy, the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) made important inroads, particularly among the wealthy merchants and intellectuals in the city. In 1820 those who were in favor of the Haskalah succeeded in establishing an elementary school that combined religious and secular studies. Shortly thereafter the community's Orthodox majority also built a Talmud Torah that combined religious and secular studies, under the supervision of the city's chief rabbi.

The community was also split during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. While those who were in favor of reform, led by Adolf Neustadt, enthusiastically supported the revolution, joining the National Guard and advocating for Jewish emancipation, the Orthodox leadership distanced themselves from these actions. Anti-Jewish riots subsequently broke out during the revolution around Easter; the Jews of Bratislava suffered the worst violence. While no Bratislavan Jews were killed, there were many who were severely beaten, and there was enormous damage done to property. The Jewish Quarter was placed under military protection, and Jews who lived elsewhere had to move within it. The violence prompted calls to emigrate to the US.

The Revolution of 1848 would not be the last time that the Jews of Bratislava were the victims of pogroms and anti-Jewish violence. 1850 saw more anti-Jewish riots around the holiday of Easter. Further outbreaks of anti-Jewish violence followed the Tiszaeszlar blood libel in 1882 and 1883, as well as after other blood libels in 1887 and 1889.

Tensions continued to grow between the Orthodox and the maskilim within the community. After 1869 the Orthodox, Neologist, and Status Quo Ante factions in Bratislava formed separate congregations. The Orthodox provincial office (Landseskanzlei) later became notorious for its opposition to Zionism. The Neolog and Status Quo Ante congregations united in 1928 as the Jeshurun Federation.

Jewish institutions in Bratislava included religious schools, charitable organizations, and a Jewish hospital. The Hungarian Zionist organization was founded in Bratislava in 1902, and the World Mizrachi Organization was founded in 1904; the latter sparked protests from over 100 rabbis. The first Hungarian Zionist Congress was held in Bratislava in March 1903 and the city became the Hungarian center for the Zionist Organization in Hungary.

With the establishment of Czechoslovakia, Bratislava also became the center of Agudas Yisroel in Czechoslovakia, in addition to remaining a Zionist center. Several Jewish newspapers and a Hebrew weekly, "HaYehudi," were printed in the city. There were also over 300 Hebrew and Yiddish books printed in the city between 1831 and 1930. The Orthodox Jewish Communities of Slovakia was established in the city, enabling the Orthodox community to cut ties with Hungary.

The German army occupied Czechoslovakia in March, 1938 and soon established an independent Slovak state. Even before the declaration of the independent state, there were attacks on the synagogue and yeshiva on November 11, 1938. Nearly 1,000 Jewish students were expelled from the university and anti-Jewish terror, restrictive measures, and pogroms increased. With the establishment of the Slovak state, Jews continued to suffer from discrimination. Akiva Shreiber and a number of his yeshiva students succeeded in leaving Bratislava for Palestine at the end of 1939.

Nonetheless, the Jewish population of Bratislava peaked in 1940 at 18,000 people (13% of the total population of the city). This was in spite of the fact that Jewish organizations, with the exception of religious communal activities, were prohibited from organizing activities. Additionally, Jews were evicted from various neighborhoods, Jewish students were expelled from public schools, and Jewish properties were confiscated. By the fall of 1941 about half of the city's population had been forcibly sent from the city to the provinces; by the summer of 1942 two-thirds of the Jews of Bratislava were sent to concentration or extermination camps. Gisi Fleischmann of WIZO and Mikhael Dov Ber Weissmandel began organizing an underground resistance movement. They contacted international Jewish organizations, in the hopes that they could save the Jews who remained in the city and the surrounding area. August 1944 saw a Slovak uprising, and the country was subsequently occupied by the Germans. At that point, the remaining Jews in Bratislava were deported.

In the end, approximately 13,000 Jews from Bratislava were killed during the Holocaust. After the war, the city was an important transit point for the thousands of displaced Jews who were making their way to other countries and began to rebuild. The Orthodox and Neolog communities united and maintained two cemetaries, a mikvah, a slaughterhouse, a soup kitchen, a matzah bakery, a Jewish hospital, an old age home, and a Jewish orphanage. Zionist activity resumed; HaShomer HaTzair and Bnei Akiva led activities for orphans preparing to emigrate to Mandate Palestine. Maccabi HaTzair and Beitar were also active. Though there was an attempt to reopen the Pressburg Yeshiva, it ultimately failed.

After the communist takeover, thousands more Jews left the city, most of whom went to Israel. According to an agreement made with Israel, 4,000 Jews were permitted to leave and enter Israel at the end of the 1940s while 2,000 remained in Bratislava. In 1969 there were 1,500 Jews in the city.

The 1990s saw the opening of a number of memorials and places of Jewish interest. A Jewish cultural heritage museum was opened in the old Jewish Quarter. A memorial plaque was added to the Orthodox cemetery in memory of the 13,000 Jewish victims of Bratislava who were killed during the Holocaust. Additionally, in 1997 a monument commemorating the Slovakian Jewish victims of the Nazis was erected on the site where the Pressburg Yeshiva once stood. Jewish organizations and municipal authorities worked together to renovate and reopen the grave of the Hatam Sofer, among other rabbis, to the public.

In the year 2000 there were 800 Jews living in Bratislava.

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.

Liptovsky (Svaty) Mikulas


Hungarian: Lipto Szent Miklos

ליפטובסקי סוואטי מיקולאש :Yiddish


A town in northern Slovakia.

 

21st Century

If you visit Liptovsky Mikulas today, you can see a former magnificent synagogue built in the neoclassical style with an interior which reveals traces of an ornate ark and sumptuous interior. There are very few Jews left in the community and one cannot help but wonder what kind of Jewish community once lived and prayed here.


History

The Jewish settlement in Liptovsky was founded by peddlers and merchants from Holesov, who were avoiding the 1726 familiants laws. These were laws designed to limit the Jewish population to only one son per family who was allowed to marry. They had commercial relations with the owner of the town, Count Pongrac, who granted his sponsorship to the Jews.  In addition, he rented them houses and businesses in the town center.

The local nobility that benefitted from the sponsorship fees paid by the Jews, regarded their settlement there favorably. Even the population willingly opened the gates of the town to them, since the Jews filled an important role in the cultural growth of the town. They had the freedom to participate in widespread economic activities and the community grew and flourished. Among the Jews were some important merchants who developed trade relations that branched out throughout the kingdom, and exported leather and fine leather goods, wool and cheese. They also dealt in wood, because of the high quality of the forests. Wood and wood products were a characteristic part of the trade of Slovakian Jews

The first synagogue was built in 1731 and enlarged in 1770. The office of rabbi was first held by a layman merchant, who established the Talmud torah, followed by Rabbi Loeb Kunitz, who founded a yeshivah in 1776 which was in existence till 1862. The period of Rabbi Lob Kunitz’s leadership established the basis for intellectual activity, for which Mikulas was named "the Jewish Athens".

 From 1821 to 1830 Eleazar Loew was rabbi and the community became an important Torah center in Hungary. He was recognized as one of the luminaries of his generation and was the author of the book of responsa, Shemen Rokeach. During the latter part of the 1820s there was a dispute between the rabbi and the parnasim of the community over the opening of a basic school. Rabbi Loew opposed the idea, but his advice was rejected and he left the community. Rabbi Yissachar Bar Mikulas took over his position.

The Jewish community numbered approximately 300 families in 1840. In 1845 the community established a German-language Jewish elementary school where Simon Bacher taught.

It was the first Slovakian community in which a dispute arose over religious reform in 1843 when the controversy centered around the location of the bimah (raised area where the Torah is read) in the new synagogue. The episode created waves in Slovakia and three well known rabbinic arbiters were called upon to settle the dispute: Rabbi S.Y.L. Rappaport of Prague, Rabbi S.S. Luzatto of Padua and Rabbi Nathan Adler of London. They ruled according to the majority decision of the kehilla (community) to move the bima to the front of the synagogue. This was vehemently opposed by Rabbi Bar Mikulas and the verdict of the orthodox court which deemed the synagogue unacceptable. The orthodox custom was to have the bima in the middle and moving it to the front was an innovation regarded as an imitation of the churches. The synagogue was built in the classic style at a cost of 100,000 Florins. Its dedication was attended by representatives of the kingdom, town officials, non-Jews as well as Jews.

The Jewish community had organizations for welfare and mutual aid, bikur cholim (visiting the sick; established at the beginning of the 19th century); agudat nashim yehudiot (Jewish Women's Association; established in 1845) that supplied a soup kitchen; the societies of halanat orchim (providing accommodations for travelers) and gemilut chasadim (free loan). In the second half of the 19th century the following were established: a Jewish hospital, a savings bank, Association of Jewish Young Women, Jewish Socialist Society, Clothing the Poor, Charitable Workers, and the cultural association Zion.

In the 1848-1849 revolution, most of the Jews supported the Hungarian rebels. After the suppression of the revolution, a sum of 20,000 Florins was levied against the Jews, but part of this sum was returned to the kehila and used to start a fund to care for education and culture.

In 1860, a Jewish Reali high school was opened under the administration of Dr. Adolf Friedman.  Its excellent reputation attracted non-Jewish students as well. Although it existed for only 15 years it had a number of outstanding students, including the scholars E. Baneth and W. Bacher, the publisher Samuel Fischer, the journalist Albert Sturm, and Simon Goldstein, the first Jewish lawyer in Hungary

Relations between Jews and the other inhabitants of the town were good and the Jews were involved in community life even before they were granted the rights of Hungarian citizenship. In 1865, the Parnas Yitzchak Dinar was elected as mayor of the town and was the first Jew in the Hungarian kingdom to carry this role. His service lasted until 1872. After him, Joseph Stern, Moritz Ring, and Dr. Emanuel Steiner were elected to this highest office. Another Jew, V. Friedman, was among the heads of the Firemen's Association in the town. William Schick, a teacher in the Jewish basic school, was chosen to be the district supervisor of schools. Prior to the First World War, a Jewish drama circle was established in the town, putting on performances for the general audience in German, Slovak, and Hungarian. Many of the Jews in the town were educated and practiced the free professions.

In the great fire of 1887, the great synagogue and additional communal buildings were damaged. The synagogue was refurbished (1904-1906) and enlarged (it was 22 x 40 meters), its facade was beautified and became one of the most beautiful synagogues in Slovakia. The ark was designed by the prolific synagogue architect, Lipot Baumhorn. A spacious community center was built nearby that had offices, an auditorium, library, accommodations for the rabbi and sexton, butcher shops and abattoir. The kehila and chevra kadisha partnered in maintaining an old-age home and soup kitchen.

Jews had important roles in the town's economy, and a few were among the pioneers of local industry. In 1890, M. Strauss set up a textile factory, P. Stark set up an alcohol refinery and a power station that supplied electricity to large sections of the town. Jews also owned several large tanneries, and most of the commercial businesses in the town

During the Czech Republic, Jewish involvement increased in the life of the town and local society and in the 1920s they had six seats in the town council. Jews also worked in public administration, some even at senior levels. Emil Neuman served as town treasurer and Rabbi Zeev Singer was a member of the town's education committee. Dr. Albert Kokas served as district physician, Dr. Nathan Schlesinger served as the main public notary, and engineer Alexander Fodor was the administrator of public works for the Liptov district.

In the 1930 census only 368 out of 902 Jews listed themselves as Jewish for their nationality; the rest defined themselves as Slovaks or Germans. The National Jewish Party had great support in the town. The head of the local branch, Dr. Mati Weiner, was a leading member of the Jewish National Party in Czechoslovakia. In the 1928 municipal elections, the Jewish National Party received more than 400 votes (16% of the total), similar to the number of votes for the Slovak National Party and both of them were the largest parties in the town. Four representatives of the Jewish National Party sat on the town council. In the 1930s the Jewish National Party retained its numerical strength.

Zionist activity also reached its peak in the same years, and also left its mark on the cultural and communal life. The Zionist Association, headed by Isidor Strauss, was among the biggest and most active in Slovakia, and the branch of WIZO in the town comprised hundreds of women who participated in a variety of social activities. In 1929, they donated 4,000 Kronen to plant a forest in Israel named for T.G. Masaryk, president of Czechoslovakia.

The Maccabi Sports Association, founded in 1919, maintained an exercise hall, tennis courts and football field, and hundreds of young people and adults were members there. Most of the young generation were members in Zionist youth movements. In 1922, a branch of Hashomer Kadima (the forward guard) which later became Hashomer Hatsair (the young guard) was established, followed by Maccabi Hatzair (young Maccabi) and Bnei Akiva (sons of Akiva). These youth movements in the town had their own clubs. The Youth Circle for Self-Education and Zionist Association conducted lively cultural activities in the Zionist spirit

During this period the influence of Jews in the local economy grew especially in business, production, and banking affairs. The economic situation for Jews was good and most of the businesses in the town were owned by them. Among the Jews, 12 were industrialists, 81 were merchants, 25 tradesmen, four out of seven were doctors, six out of seven were lawyers, a veterinarian, some engineers, and large number of clerks, in both public and private practice.

The community totaled about 1,200 persons in 1933.

 

The Holocaust

In August 1941, dozens of Jews who were discharged from their former businesses were sent to camps for hard labor. In the fall of 1941, 540 Jews who were deported from Bratislava were brought to Liptovsky and the number of Jews reached its highest with more than 1500 souls. The refugees had nothing with them and they received aid from the kehila and the Jewish Center. On November 4, 1941, dozens of villagers broke into the synagogue, broke furniture and destroyed books and holy artifacts. Afterward they broke into Jewish homes and damaged their property.

At the beginning of 1942, on the eve of deportations, there were 1605 Jews in the town and its surroundings. At the end of March 1942, 120 young men and women were rounded up in the town's district government building. The young women were sent to the transit camp in Poprad and from there, at the beginning of April they joined the transport to Auschwitz. The young men were taken to the Zilina collection camp and from there sent to the Majdanek camp near Lublin, Poland. Mass deportations of families began on April 2, 1942, and in its process, 596 Jews from Liptovsky and its surroundings were rounded up and sent with the transport to the Lublin area. After the Nazis performed their selections, able-bodied men were sent to the Majdanek work camp, while women with children and the elderly were sent to the Sobibor extermination camp. On October 11, 1942, some more local families were sent to the Zilina camp, after the authorities rejected their exemption permits. 95 members of the community managed to escape and some even reached Palestine. In general, some Jews were allowed to remain who were intermarried, or worked in vital job. There were also Jews in hiding. 

On August 29, 1944, an uprising broke out in central Slovakia against the Fascist regime. Many of the rebels retreated to the mountains and forests around Mikulash. The Protestant population there was hostile to the Fascist regime and helped Jews hide in the villages and provided them with food. Thus, many Jewish families were saved. In September the Germans conquered Slovakia to suppress the uprising. Jews who hid in the woods who were caught were shot and the Protestant priest of the city, who was accused of helping Jews was also shot.

 

Postwar

After liberation, about 350 Jews returned from the forests or Slovak villages. At the initiative of Rabbi Yitzchak Alboim, the life of the kehila was renewed. The old cemetery had been destroyed during the war, but the synagogue and newer cemetery were cleaned and quickly refurbished and returned to use. Even the Zionist branch returned to work and at its head was Dr. A. Teichner. In 1947, Jews of the town donated 115,000 Kronen to the Keren Kayemet fund to plant Forest for the Czechoslovakian Martyrs in the hills of Jerusalem. The Young Maccabi youth movement also renewed its activities. In 1948, 336 Jews lived in the town, and after 1949, when many Jews either immigrated to Israel or other countries, 242 Jews remained. In the new cemetery, memorial plaques were set in place to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to the 12 members of the community who fell as fighters during the Slovak rebellion.

The synagogue was in use until 1953 and afterward was converted to a warehouse. The organized Jewish community continued until the 1980s, and public prayer was held in an improvised prayer room; the cemetery was in use until then and the school, the mikvah (purification bath), and community building remained in their places. In the 1990s, a few Jewish families still lived in Liptovsky. Finally, the great synagogue was renovated and it serves for cultural events.

Prague

Capital of the Czech Republic. Formerly the capital of Czechoslovakia.

It has the oldest Jewish community in Bohemia and one of the oldest communities in Europe, for some time the largest and most revered. Jews may have arrived in Prague in late roman times, but the first document mentioning them is a report by Ibrahim Ibn Ya'qub from about 970. The first definite evidence for the existence of a Jewish community in Prague dates to 1091. Jews arrived in Prague from both the east and west around the same time. It is probably for this reason that two Jewish districts came into being there right at the beginning.

The relatively favorable conditions in which the Jews at first lived in Prague were disrupted at the time of the first crusade in 1096. The crusaders murdered many of the Jews in Prague, looted Jewish property, and forced many to accept baptism. During the siege of Prague castle in 1142, the oldest synagogue in Prague and the Jewish quarter below the castle were burned down and the Jews moved to the right bank of the river Moldau (vltava), which was to become the future Jewish quarter, and founded the "Altschul" ("old synagogue") there.

The importance of Jewish culture in Prague is evidenced by the works of the halakhists there in the 11th to 13th centuries. The most celebrated was Isaac B. Moses of Vienna (d. C. 1250) author of "Or Zaru'a". Since the Czech language was spoken by the Jews of Prague in the early middle ages, the halakhic writings of that period also contain annotations in Czech. From the 13th to 16th centuries the Jews of Prague increasingly spoke German. At the time of persecutions which began at the end of the 11th century, the Jews of Prague, together with all the other Jews of Europe, lost their status as free people. From the 13th century on, the Jews of Bohemia were considered servants of the royal chamber (servi camerae regis). Their residence in Prague was subject to the most humiliating conditions (the wearing of special dress, segregation in the ghetto, etc.). The only occupation that Jews were allowed to adopt was moneylending, since this was forbidden to Christians and considered dishonest. Socially the Jews were in an inferior position.

The community suffered from persecutions accompanied by bloodshed in the 13th and 14th centuries, particularly in 1298 and 1338. Charles IV (1346- 1378) protected the Jews, but after his death the worst attack occurred in 1389, when nearly all the Jews of Prague fell victims. The rabbi of Prague and noted kabbalist Avigdor Kara, who witnessed and survived the outbreak, described it in a selichah. Under Wenceslaus IV the Jews of Prague suffered heavy material losses following an order by the king in 1411 canceling all debts owed to Jews.

At the beginning of the 15th century the Jews of Prague found themselves at the center of the Hussite wars (1419- 1436). The Jews of Prague also suffered from mob violence (1422) in this period. The unstable conditions in Prague compelled many Jews to emigrate.

Following the legalization, at the end of the 15th century, of moneylending by non-Jews in Prague, the Jews of Prague lost the economic significance which they had held in the medieval city, and had to look for other occupations in commerce and crafts. The position of the Jews began to improve at the beginning of the 16th century, mainly owing to the assistance of the king and the nobility. The Jews found greater opportunities in trading commodities and monetary transactions with the nobility. As a consequence, their economic position improved. In 1522 there were about 600 Jews in Prague, but by 1541 they numbered about 1,200. At the same time the Jewish quarters were extended. At the end of the 15th century the Jews of Prague founded new communities.

Under pressure of the citizens, king Ferdinand I was compelled in 1541 to approve the expulsion of the Jews. The Jews had to leave Prague by 1543, but were allowed to return in 1545. In 1557 Ferdinand I once again, this time upon his own initiative, ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Prague. They had to leave the city by 1559. Only after the retirement of Ferdinand I from the government of Bohemia were the Jews allowed to return to Prague in 1562.

The favorable position of the Jewish community of Prague during the reign of Rudolf II is reflected also in the flourishing Jewish culture. Among illustrious rabbis who taught in Prague at that time were Judah Loew B. Bezalel (the "maharal"); Ephraim Solomon B. Aaron of Luntschitz; Isaiah B. Abraham ha-levi Horowitz, who taught in Prague from 1614 to 1621; and Yom Tov Lipmann Heller, who became chief rabbi in 1627 but was forced to leave in 1631. The chronicler and astronomer David Gans also lived there in this period. At the beginning of the 17th century about 6,000 Jews were living in Prague.

In 1648 the Jews of Prague distinguished themselves in the defense of the city against the invading swedes. In recognition of their acts of heroism the Emperor presented them with a special flag which is still preserved in the Altneuschul. Its design with a Swedish cap in the center of the Shield of David became the official emblem of the Prague Jewish community.

After the thirty years' war, government policy was influenced by the church counter-reformation, and measures were taken to limit the Jews' means of earning a livelihood. A number of anti-Semitic resolutions and decrees were promulgated. Only the eldest son of every family was allowed to marry and found a family, the others having to remain single or leave Bohemia.

In 1680, more than 3,000 Jews in Prague died of the plague. Shortly afterward, in 1689, the Jewish quarter burned down, and over 300 Jewish houses and 11 synagogues were destroyed. The authorities initiated and partially implemented a project to transfer all the surviving Jews to the village of Lieben (Liben) north of Prague. Great excitement was aroused in 1694 by the murder trial of the father of Simon Abeles, a 12-year-old boy, who, it was alleged, had desired to be baptized and had been killed by his father. Simon was buried in the Tyn (Thein) church, the greatest and most celebrated cathedral of the old town of Prague. Concurrently with the religious incitement against the Jews an economic struggle was waged against them.

The anti-Jewish official policy reached its climax after the accession to the throne of Maria Theresa (1740-1780), who in 1744 issued an order expelling the Jews from Bohemia and Moravia. Jews were banished but were subsequently allowed to return after they promised to pay high taxes. In the baroque period noted rabbis were Simon Spira; Elias Spira; David Oppenheim; and Ezekiel Landau, chief rabbi and rosh yeshivah (1755-93(.

The position of the Jews greatly improved under Joseph II (1780-1790), who issued the Toleranzpatent of 1782. The new policy in regard to the Jews aimed at gradual abolition of the limitations imposed upon them, so that they could become more useful to the state in a modernized economic system. At the same time, the new regulations were part of the systematic policy of germanization pursued by Joseph II. Jews were compelled to adopt family names and to establish schools for secular studies; they became subject to military service, and were required to cease using Hebrew and Yiddish in business transactions. Wealthy and enterprising Jews made good use of the advantages of Joseph's reforms. Jews who founded manufacturing enterprises were allowed to settle outside the Jewish quarter of Prague.

Subsequently the limitations imposed upon Jews were gradually removed. In 1841 the prohibition on Jews owning land was rescinded. In 1846 the Jewish tax was abolished. In 1848 Jews were granted equal rights, and by 1867 the process of legal emancipation had been completed. In 1852 the ghetto of Prague was abolished. Because of the unhygienic conditions in the former Jewish quarter the Prague municipality decided in 1896 to pull down the old quarter, with the exception of important historical sites. Thus the Altneuschul, the Pinkas and Klaus, Meisel and Hoch synagogues, and some other places of historical and artistic interest remained intact.

In 1848 the community of Prague, numbering over 10,000, was still one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe (Vienna then numbered only 4,000 Jews). In the following period of the emancipation and the post- emancipation era the Prague community increased considerably in numbers, but did not keep pace with the rapidly expanding new Jewish metropolitan centers in western, central, and Eastern Europe.

After emancipation had been achieved in 1867, emigration from Prague abroad ceased as a mass phenomenon; movement to Vienna, Germany, and Western Europe continued. Jews were now represented in industry, especially the textile, clothing, leather, shoe, and food industries, in wholesale and retail trade, and in increasing numbers in the professions and as white-collar employees. Some Jewish bankers, industrialists and merchants achieved considerable wealth. The majority of Jews in Prague belonged to the middle class, but there also remained a substantial number of poor Jews.

Emancipation brought in its wake a quiet process of secularization and assimilation. In the first decades of the 19th century Prague Jewry, which then still led its traditionalist orthodox way of life, had been disturbed by the activities of the followers of Jacob Frank. The situation changed in the second half of the century. The chief rabbinate was still occupied by outstanding scholars, like Solomon Judah Rapoport, the leader of the Haskalah movement; Markus Hirsch (1880-1889) helped to weaken the religious influence in the community. Many synagogues introduced modernized services, a shortened liturgy, the organ and mixed choir, but did not necessarily embrace the principles of the reform movement.

Jews availed themselves eagerly of the opportunities to give their children a higher secular education. Jews formed a considerable part of the German minority in Prague, and the majority adhered to liberal movements. David Kuh founded the "German liberal party of Bohemia and represented it in the Bohemian diet (1862-1873). Despite strong Germanizing factors, many Jews adhered to the Czech language, and in the last two decades of the 19th century a Czech assimilationist movement developed which gained support from the continuing influx of Jews from the rural areas. Through the influence of German nationalists from the Sudeten districts anti-Semitism developed within the German population and opposed Jewish assimilation. At the end of the 19th century Zionism struck roots among the Jews of Bohemia, especially in Prague.

Growing secularization and assimilation led to an increase of mixed marriages and abandonment of Judaism. At the time of the Czechoslovak republic, established in 1918, many more people registered their dissociation of affiliation to the Jewish faith without adopting another. The proportion of mixed marriages in Bohemia was one of the highest in Europe. The seven communities of Prague were federated in the union of Jewish religious communities of greater Prague and cooperated on many issues. They established joint institutions; among these the most important was the institute for social welfare, established in 1935. The "Afike Jehuda society for the Advancement of Jewish Studies" was founded in 1869. There were also the Jewish museum and "The Jewish historical society of Czechoslovakia". A five-grade elementary school was established with Czech as the language of instruction. The many philanthropic institutions and associations included the Jewish care for the sick, the center for social welfare, the aid committee for refugees, the aid committee for Jews from Carpatho- Russia, orphanages, hostels for apprentices, old-age homes, a home for abandoned children, free-meal associations, associations for children's vacation centers, and funds to aid students. Zionist organizations were also well represented. There were three B'nai B'rith lodges, women's organizations, youth movements, student clubs, sports organizations, and a community center. Four Jewish weeklies were published in Prague (three Zionist; one Czech- assimilationist), and several monthlies and quarterlies. Most Jewish organizations in Czechoslovakia had their headquarters in Prague.

Jews first became politically active, and some of them prominent, within the German orbit. David Kuh and the president of the Jewish community, Arnold Rosenbacher, were among the leaders of the German Liberal party in the 19th century. Bruno Kafka and Ludwig Spiegel represented its successor in the Czechoslovak republic, the German Democratic Party, in the chamber of deputies and the senate respectively. Emil Strauss represented that party in the 1930s on the Prague Municipal Council and in the Bohemian diet. From the end of the 19th century an increasing number of Jews joined Czech parties, especially T. G. Masaryk's realists and the social democratic party. Among the latter Alfred Meissner, Lev Winter, and Robert Klein rose to prominence, the first two as ministers of justice and social welfare respectively.

Zionists, though a minority, soon became the most active element among the Jews of Prague. "Barissia" - Jewish Academic Corporation, was founded in Prague in 1903, it was one of the leading academic organizations for the advancement of Zionism in Bohemia. Before World War I the students' organization "Bar Kochba", under the leadership of Samuel Hugo Bergman, became one of the centers of cultural Zionism. The Prague Zionist Arthur Mahler was elected to the Austrian parliament in 1907, though as representative of an electoral district in Galicia. Under the leadership of Ludvik Singer the "Jewish National Council" was formed in 1918. Singer was elected in 1929 to the Czechoslovak parliament, and was succeeded after his death in 1931 by Angelo Goldstein. Singer, Goldstein, Frantisek Friedmann, and Jacob Reiss represented the Zionists on the Prague municipal council also. Some important Zionist conferences took place in Prague, among them the founding conference of hitachadut in 1920, and the
18th Zionist congress in 1933.

The group of Prague German-Jewish authors which emerged in the 1880s, known as the "Prague Circle" ('der Prager Kreis'), achieved international recognition and included Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Oskar Baum, Ludwig Winder, Leo Perutz, Egon Erwin Kisch, Otto Klepetar, and Willy Haas.

During the Holocaust period, the measures e.g., deprivation of property rights, prohibition against religious, cultural, or any other form of public activity, expulsion from the professions and from schools, a ban on the use of public transportation and the telephone, affected Prague Jews much more than those still living in the provinces. Jewish organizations provided social welfare and clandestinely continued the education of the youth and the training in languages and new vocations in preparation for emigration. The Palestine office in Prague, directed by Jacob Edelstein, enabled about 19,000 Jews to emigrate legally or otherwise until the end of 1939.

In March 1940, the Prague zentralstelle extended the area of its jurisdiction to include all of Bohemia and Moravia. In an attempt to obviate the deportation of the Jews to "the east", Jewish leaders, headed by Jacob Edelstein, proposed to the zentralstelle the establishment of a self- administered concentrated Jewish communal body; the Nazis eventually exploited this proposal in the establishment of a ghetto at Theresienstadt (Terezin). The Prague Jewish community was forced to provide the Nazis with lists of candidates for deportation and to ensure that they showed up at the assembly point and boarded deportation trains. In the period from October 6, 1941, to March 16, 1945, 46,067 Jews were deported from Prague to "the east" or to Theresienstadt. Two leading officials of the Jewish community, H. Bonn and Emil Kafka were dispatched to Mauthausen concentration camp and put to death after trying to slow down the pace of the deportations. The Nazis set up a treuhandstelle ("trustee Office") over evacuated Jewish apartments, furnishings, and possessions. This office sold these goods and forwarded the proceeds to the German winterhilfe ("winter aid"). The treuhandstelle ran as many as 54 warehouses, including 11 synagogues (as a result, none of the synagogues was destroyed). The zentralstelle brought Jewish religious articles from 153 Jewish communities to Prague on a proposal by Jewish scholars. This collection, including 5,400 religious objects, 24,500 prayer books, and 6,070 items of historical value the Nazis intended to utilize for a "central museum of the defunct Jewish race". Jewish historians engaged in the creation of the museum were deported to extermination camps just before the end of the war. Thus the Jewish museum had acquired at the end of the war one of the richest collections of Judaica in the world.


Prague had a Jewish population of 10,338 in 1946, of whom 1,396 Jews had not been deported (mostly of mixed Jewish and Christian parentage); 227 Jews had gone underground; 4,986 returned from prisons, concentration camps, or Theresienstadt; 883 returned from Czechoslovak army units abroad; 613 were Czechoslovak Jewish emigres who returned; and 2,233 were Jews from Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine), which had been ceded to the U.S.S.R. who decided to move to Czechoslovakia. The communist takeover of 1948 put an end to any attempt to revive the Jewish community and marked the beginning of a period of stagnation. By 1950 about half of the Jewish population had gone to Israel or immigrated to other countries. The Slansky trials and the officially promoted anti-Semitism had a destructive effect upon Jewish life. Nazi racism of the previous era was replaced by political and social discrimination. Most of the Jews of Prague were branded as "class enemies of the working people". During this
Period (1951-1964) there was no possibility of Jewish emigration from the country. The assets belonging to the Jewish community had to be relinquished to the state. The charitable organizations were disbanded, and the budget of the community, provided by the state, was drastically reduced. The general anti-religious policy of the regime resulted in the cessation, for all practical purposes, of such Jewish religious activities as bar-mitzvah religious instruction and wedding ceremonies. In 1964 only two cantors and two ritual slaughterers were left. The liberalization of the regime during 1965-1968 held out new hope for a renewal of Jewish life in Prague.

At the end of March 1967 the president of "The World Jewish Congress", Nahum Goldmann, was able to visit Prague and give a lecture in the Jewish town hall. Among the Jewish youth many tended to identify with Judaism. Following the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 there was an attempt to put an end to this trend, however the Jewish youth, organized since 1965, carried on with their Jewish cultural activities until 1972. In the late 6os the Jewish population of Prague numbered about 2,000.

On the walls of the Pinkas synagogue, which is part of the central Jewish museum in Prague, are engraved the names of 77,297 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis in 1939-1945.

In 1997 some 6,000 Jews were living in the Czech Republic, most of them in Prague. The majority of the Jews of Prague were indeed elderly, but the Jewish community's strengthened in 1990's by many Jews, mainly American, who had come to work in the republic, settled in Prague, and joined the community.

In April 2000 the central square of Prague was named Franz Kafka square. This was done thanks to the unflinching efforts and after years of straggle with the authorities, of Professor Eduard Goldstucker, a Jew born in Prague, the initiator of the idea.
POLLAK
POLLAK

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The surname Pollak is a form of Polack meaning "Polish", and one of numerous names applied to Poles. A striking example of a place name from which family names are derived is Poland, with one of the biggest and most important Jewish populations in the European Diaspora until the Holocaust. The terms Pollak (German), Polacco (Italian), Polonais (French), Polacek (Czech), were used to describe a person from that country. Polsky (the adjective in Polish) and their derivatives - including abbreviations and extensions influenced by the languages spoken by the ethnic majorities among whom Jews lived at the time - produced numerous variants of family names, all of which mean "Pole" or "Polish". The family name Pollack is documented in the 15th century in northern Bohemia, where it also appears as Polak in the 16th century. Benedikt Pollak of Prague attended the Leipzig fair in Germany in 1675, as did several Jews calling themselves Polack in 1676. The form Poll (which could be an abbreviation of Pollak or Pole) is found in the 1693 list of Jewish Leipzig fair visitors. Pohlack is documented in 1697 in Mannheim, Germany; Polacke in 1739 in Metz, France, and Pollyak in 1746 in Pressburg (Bratislava) in Slovakia. In 1751 the Jews attending the Leipzig fair included Lazarus Polazcsik, and in 1761 Enoch Polatschik. Polonais is documented in Paris in 1780 and Pollonais in 1798 in Nice, France. The variants Bolac, Bol(l)ack, Bol(l)ach and Bolackin were current in Alsace in the late 18th century. Polyakov/Poliakof(f), Polonsky and Polsky became frequent in 19th century Russia and America. Lengyel, the Hungarian term for "Pole"/"Polish" was often adopted in the 19th century. The mid 20th century witnessed the birth of new French forms Bollack; Poulain from Pollak, and Poliet from Poliakof.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Pollak include the Russian-born American physicist, Simon Pollak (1816-1903); the Hungarian educator and author of a Hebrew-Hungarian dictionary, Hayim Pollak (1835-1905), and Walter Heilprin Pollak (1887-1940), a prominent American defence lawyer.