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The Jewish Community of Berehove/Berehovo/Beregszasz

Berehove/Berehovo

Yiddish: Beregsaz, Czech: Berehovo, Hungarian: Beregszasz, Russian: Beregovo

A city in Transcarpathia, western Ukraine, near the Hungarian border. A cultural center for ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine.

Timeline:

Until 1919: part of Hungary, called Beregszasz
1919-1938: part of Czechoslovakia, called Berehovo
End of 1938-1944: part of Hungary, called Beregszasz
After World War II: annexed to Soviet Union, called Beregovo
Post-Soviet era: part of Ukraine, called Berehove or Berehovo

For clarity, this article will refer to the city consistently as Berehove.

The Shalom Foundation of Beregszasz/Berehove was established in 2000 and works to protect and promote the cultural heritage of the Jewish people, to serve the city's current Jewish population, as well as to protect and preserve the cultural, religious, and historical monuments of the historical Jewish population. Many of the 21st-century plans to renovate and restore Jewish sites in the city are initiated by The Shalom Foundation

There is a small synagogue in the city that holds weekly services on the Sabbath, followed by a kiddush. The synagogue has no rabbi, and is sustained through donations. Local leaders have undertaken a project to renovate and restore the small synagogue. There are also plans to establish a Museum of Sub-Carpathian Jewry on the synagogue's second floor.

What was once the Grand Synagogue has been used as a cultural center in Berehove since the building was expropriated by the Soviet authorities in the 1960s. The building that once housed the mikvah was turned into a bank.

A project to renovate the Jewish cemetery was undertaken in 1991 and completed in 1996. As of 2016 there have been additional plans to establish a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust from Berehove.

HISTORY

The first Jews who settled in the city, then called Beregszasz, arrived during the 18th century, mainly from Poland. They lived on the estates of the nobles of the House of Schoenborn. In 1768, when Jews first arrived, there were four Jewish families living in Berehove; by 1830 there were 200 Jews living in the city. In 1795 the community had a prayer house, as well as a hevra kaddisha.

By 1838 the Jews living in Berehove had established an organized community. The first rabbi was Rabbi Yitzchok Rochlitz, a descendant of the Maharal of Prague; he served for 21 years until his death on June 10, 1859. From 1861 until 1881 Abraham Judah Leib HaKohen Schwartz was the community's rabbi. Rabbi Solomon Schreiber, the grandson of the Hatam Sofer, led the community from 1884 until 1930. From 1930 until 1944, when the community was liquidated by the Nazis, the rabbi was Abraham Solomon Hirsch, Rabbi Schreiber's son-in-law.

The community owned a piece of land in the center of the town and the community's major institutions were built there: the big synagogue, the beit midrash, the mikvah, the community's offices, and the elementary school. The homes of the community's employees were also located there, including the head of the beit din (religious court), the cantor, the beadle, and the ritual slaughterers. The area was also home to a matzah bakery, a poultry slaughterhouse, and butcher shops. Religious services and Torah lessons were held on weekdays at the various prayer houses located throughout the city; on Sabbaths and festivals they were also held in the homes of the rabbis who lived in Berehove. The hevra kaddisha, in addition to its regular work as a burial society, also founded a soup kitchen to provide hot meals for the needy, and established a hostel for poor visitors. Shalom Schwartz was the chairman of the hevra kaddisha for many years; he was succeeded by Saul Weiss. The women's society organized weekly visits to Jewish patients at the local hospitals and provided them with kosher food. They were assisted by a youth group for girls.

The city had a Jewish elementary school as well as a Talmud Torah. These were in addition to a number of small yeshivas and the Yeshiva Bnei Asher under Rabbi Asher Steinmetz, which enrolled approximately 100 students from the area. During the 1930s an elementary Hebrew school was also founded. Because the community denied the school access to regular classrooms, it operated out of rented private rooms. Only in its final years did the community submit to public pressure and grant the school necessary recognition.

The majority of Jews in the city spoke Hungarian, while many also spoke Yiddish and German.

Following the emancipation of 1867 the Jews of Berehove began to prosper economically. A number of Jews worked as vintners. Among the businesses established by local Jews were a workshop for embroideries, a workshop for footwear, three brick kilns, two barrel factories, three flour mills, a quarry, and a sawmill. They owned inns and most of the shops in the bazaars. Jews were the managers of four out of the six banks of Berehove, and they also held high public posts. Others worked as artisans or farmers. There were also Jewish professionals who worked as engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, and physicians; in 1940 all 25 of the city's private physicians were Jewish. There were also Jewish movers and day laborers.

Among the presidents of the community, from the beginning of the 20th century, were Dr. Shimon Reismann, Schandor Vari, Lajos Herschkowitz, Fischl Hartmann, Albert Fodor, Jacob Marmelstein, and Dr. Bela Szekely. Mor Greenboim was a senior secretary of the community.

In 1914 there were 4,800 Jews living in Berehove. Forty-six men from the community who had enlisted in the army were killed in action during World War I. After the war, the number of Jews in Berehove rose considerably and Jews took an active part in the social and cultural activities of the city. In fact, the president of the local society for the promotion of art and literature was Jewish, and

Zionism arrived in the city relatively late, but it quickly became popular. In 1928 a convention of HaShomer Kadimah was held in Berehove. Two years later most of the local youth participated in the Betar movement, as well as in HaShomer HaTzair, Bnei Akiva, HaPoel HaMizrachi, and HeHalutz. Revisionist Zionists, as well as general Zionists, were active, as was the women's Zionist organization WIZO. In 1937 there were 104 Jews from Berehove who took part in the elections for the 20th Zionist Congress.

In addition to the Zionist movements, there were other organizations that were active in the city. These included Agudas Yisroel, communist organizations, as well as Zionist sports organizations such as HaKoach, HaNoar, and Maccabi. Most of the tennis players in the city were Jewish, and in 1934 HaKoach's football team won the local championship.

The organized community was Orthodox, but also relatively modern. At the beginning of the 1930s a controversy arose regarding the appointment of Rabbi Hirsch, resulting in a split in the community. Because state laws forbade two communities of the same denomination in one town, the dissenters were compelled to establish a Neolog community, in spite of the fact that most of them were actually followers of the Chassidic movement. This misnamed community formed its own institutions including a mikvah, a slaughterhouse, and butcher shops. Rabbi Asher Steinmetz was appointed as the new community's rabbi and Shmuel Schoenfeld and David Weiss were elected as its leaders. Haim Isaac Altmann served as the secretary and when he emigrated to Eretz Yisrael his son Moshe Altmann replaced him.

In 1938 there were about 6,500 Jews living in Berehove.

THE HOLOCAUST

About a year before World War II broke out, following the First Vienna Arbitration (and the subsequent First Vienna Award treaty) of 1938, the region encompassing Berehove returned to Hungarian control. The relationship between the Jews and their neighbors soon deteriorated. Anti-Semitism and harassment increased. Trade permits were withdrawn from Jewish businessmen and men were forcibly drafted into labor battalions. During this period many Zionist leaders left the city for Mandate Palestine.

After the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939), the Hungarians expelled many Jews who could not prove their Hungarian citizenship to Nazi-occupied Poland. Local branches of two Jewish institutions based in Budapest were active in Berehove during this time. The first was Omzsa, which collected funds, and the other was Parteogo Iroda, whose function was to assist Jews in obtaining citizenship documents, to extend legal aid, to represent Jews at government offices, and to help the needy. These institutions were aided by Dr. Sandor Kroo and Feri Weiss and the secretary was Bela Gross.

In 1941 about 500 Jews were expelled from Berehove to the USSR. At the end of 1942 all of the men in the community were forcibly mobilized and sent to the Ukrainian front (Hungary at that point was an ally of Germany) where they were treated badly by the Hungarian troops accompanying them. At the front, the men were sent in to clear minefiends. Those who survived were marched along the River Don at the beginning of 1943 and died in the frost and snow. The Berehove men also served in the Czechoslovak forces of General Ludvik Svoboda, who fought against the Germans outside of the Republic.

On March 19, 1944 the Germans occupied Hungary; they entered Berehove on March 31. At that time the community consisted almost entirely of old men, women, and children; most of the young men had either fled or had been taken for forced labor in the Hungarian army. The following day the Germans appointed a Judenrat, whose task was to carry out the German orders against the Jews. A curfew was imposed on the Jews of the city, their telephone lines were cut, and their radio sets and vehicles were confiscated. On Saturday, the 8th day of Passover 1944, a ghetto was set up at the brick factory of Vari; 12,000 Jews from Berehove and the surrounding area were transferred there. In the ghetto there was insufficient water, and the sanitary conditions were poor. All of the inmates were sent to the concentration camp Auschwitz after a series of aktions on May 15th, 17th, and 19th, 1944. About 80% of the Jews of Berehove perished in the Holocaust.

POSTWAR

After the war, survivors attempted to restore the community. However, they met with a hostile reception from the city's inhabitants, prompting most to emigrate to other countries.

During the 1960s the Soviet authorities seized the Grand Synagogue and built a "shell" around the original building; though the original exterior was not destroyed, the Soviets built around it so that it cannot be seen. The interior was converted into a cultural center.

There were about 300 Jewish families left in Berehove in 1970. In the 1980s there were only a few dozen Jews living in Berehove.
Place Type:
City
ID Number:
264024
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
Members of the Betar movement in Berehovo,
Carpathian Ruthenia, Czechoslovakia, 1930.
From: "Berehovo- Bergszasz Zsidosaga Kerpekben",
by Jehoshua Halevy, 1989.
The Great Synagogue in Beregszasz
Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia, Hungary, 1920s
(now Beregovo, Ukraine(
The Synagogue was confiscated in 1959, in order to house the local theater
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dr. Bela Stark, England)
Hahalutz Branch in Berehove,
Czechoslovakia (today Ukraine), 1935
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Sarah Golan)
Schwartz, Abraham Judah Ha-Kohen (1824-1883), rabbi, born in Mad, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). At the age of fourteen, he started to study under Moses Sofer and Benjamin Wolf Levi at Pozsony, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now Bratislava, Slovakia), from where he moved to the yeshiva at Verbo. From 1861 to 1881 he served as rabbi at Beregszasz (Berehovo, now in Ukraine), and from 1861 until his death, in 1883, he was rabbi at his home town of Mad.

He was an active participant in the rabbinical gathering in Nagymihaly (Mihalovce) in 1866 and at the congress held in Budapest in 1868-69. Although his personality was molded by the atmosphere of Pozsony, which was opposed to Hasidism, after a visit which he made to the head of the Hasidic dynasty of Zanz (Novy Sacz), Chaim Halberstam, he became deeply attached to him and to Hasidism. He spent the festival of Shavuot in Zanz for 26 successive years. He also had connections with Isaac Meir Alter, the head of the Hasidic dynasty of Gur (Gora Kalwaria).

Although he left only one work, responsa "Kol Aryeh" (1904), its influence on the rabbis of Hungary was very great. One of his grandchildren, Dov Beer Spitzer, wrote his biography – "Toledot Kol Aryeh" (1940). Schwartz had five sons and six daughters. Many of his descendants serves as rabbis of various Jewish communities in Hungary.
Hasidic rabbi

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

Yiddish: Beregsaz, Czech: Berehovo, Hungarian: Beregszasz, Russian: Beregovo

A city in Transcarpathia, western Ukraine, near the Hungarian border. A cultural center for ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine.

Timeline:

Until 1919: part of Hungary, called Beregszasz
1919-1938: part of Czechoslovakia, called Berehovo
End of 1938-1944: part of Hungary, called Beregszasz
After World War II: annexed to Soviet Union, called Beregovo
Post-Soviet era: part of Ukraine, called Berehove or Berehovo

For clarity, this article will refer to the city consistently as Berehove.

The Shalom Foundation of Beregszasz/Berehove was established in 2000 and works to protect and promote the cultural heritage of the Jewish people, to serve the city's current Jewish population, as well as to protect and preserve the cultural, religious, and historical monuments of the historical Jewish population. Many of the 21st-century plans to renovate and restore Jewish sites in the city are initiated by The Shalom Foundation

There is a small synagogue in the city that holds weekly services on the Sabbath, followed by a kiddush. The synagogue has no rabbi, and is sustained through donations. Local leaders have undertaken a project to renovate and restore the small synagogue. There are also plans to establish a Museum of Sub-Carpathian Jewry on the synagogue's second floor.

What was once the Grand Synagogue has been used as a cultural center in Berehove since the building was expropriated by the Soviet authorities in the 1960s. The building that once housed the mikvah was turned into a bank.

A project to renovate the Jewish cemetery was undertaken in 1991 and completed in 1996. As of 2016 there have been additional plans to establish a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust from Berehove.

HISTORY

The first Jews who settled in the city, then called Beregszasz, arrived during the 18th century, mainly from Poland. They lived on the estates of the nobles of the House of Schoenborn. In 1768, when Jews first arrived, there were four Jewish families living in Berehove; by 1830 there were 200 Jews living in the city. In 1795 the community had a prayer house, as well as a hevra kaddisha.

By 1838 the Jews living in Berehove had established an organized community. The first rabbi was Rabbi Yitzchok Rochlitz, a descendant of the Maharal of Prague; he served for 21 years until his death on June 10, 1859. From 1861 until 1881 Abraham Judah Leib HaKohen Schwartz was the community's rabbi. Rabbi Solomon Schreiber, the grandson of the Hatam Sofer, led the community from 1884 until 1930. From 1930 until 1944, when the community was liquidated by the Nazis, the rabbi was Abraham Solomon Hirsch, Rabbi Schreiber's son-in-law.

The community owned a piece of land in the center of the town and the community's major institutions were built there: the big synagogue, the beit midrash, the mikvah, the community's offices, and the elementary school. The homes of the community's employees were also located there, including the head of the beit din (religious court), the cantor, the beadle, and the ritual slaughterers. The area was also home to a matzah bakery, a poultry slaughterhouse, and butcher shops. Religious services and Torah lessons were held on weekdays at the various prayer houses located throughout the city; on Sabbaths and festivals they were also held in the homes of the rabbis who lived in Berehove. The hevra kaddisha, in addition to its regular work as a burial society, also founded a soup kitchen to provide hot meals for the needy, and established a hostel for poor visitors. Shalom Schwartz was the chairman of the hevra kaddisha for many years; he was succeeded by Saul Weiss. The women's society organized weekly visits to Jewish patients at the local hospitals and provided them with kosher food. They were assisted by a youth group for girls.

The city had a Jewish elementary school as well as a Talmud Torah. These were in addition to a number of small yeshivas and the Yeshiva Bnei Asher under Rabbi Asher Steinmetz, which enrolled approximately 100 students from the area. During the 1930s an elementary Hebrew school was also founded. Because the community denied the school access to regular classrooms, it operated out of rented private rooms. Only in its final years did the community submit to public pressure and grant the school necessary recognition.

The majority of Jews in the city spoke Hungarian, while many also spoke Yiddish and German.

Following the emancipation of 1867 the Jews of Berehove began to prosper economically. A number of Jews worked as vintners. Among the businesses established by local Jews were a workshop for embroideries, a workshop for footwear, three brick kilns, two barrel factories, three flour mills, a quarry, and a sawmill. They owned inns and most of the shops in the bazaars. Jews were the managers of four out of the six banks of Berehove, and they also held high public posts. Others worked as artisans or farmers. There were also Jewish professionals who worked as engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, and physicians; in 1940 all 25 of the city's private physicians were Jewish. There were also Jewish movers and day laborers.

Among the presidents of the community, from the beginning of the 20th century, were Dr. Shimon Reismann, Schandor Vari, Lajos Herschkowitz, Fischl Hartmann, Albert Fodor, Jacob Marmelstein, and Dr. Bela Szekely. Mor Greenboim was a senior secretary of the community.

In 1914 there were 4,800 Jews living in Berehove. Forty-six men from the community who had enlisted in the army were killed in action during World War I. After the war, the number of Jews in Berehove rose considerably and Jews took an active part in the social and cultural activities of the city. In fact, the president of the local society for the promotion of art and literature was Jewish, and

Zionism arrived in the city relatively late, but it quickly became popular. In 1928 a convention of HaShomer Kadimah was held in Berehove. Two years later most of the local youth participated in the Betar movement, as well as in HaShomer HaTzair, Bnei Akiva, HaPoel HaMizrachi, and HeHalutz. Revisionist Zionists, as well as general Zionists, were active, as was the women's Zionist organization WIZO. In 1937 there were 104 Jews from Berehove who took part in the elections for the 20th Zionist Congress.

In addition to the Zionist movements, there were other organizations that were active in the city. These included Agudas Yisroel, communist organizations, as well as Zionist sports organizations such as HaKoach, HaNoar, and Maccabi. Most of the tennis players in the city were Jewish, and in 1934 HaKoach's football team won the local championship.

The organized community was Orthodox, but also relatively modern. At the beginning of the 1930s a controversy arose regarding the appointment of Rabbi Hirsch, resulting in a split in the community. Because state laws forbade two communities of the same denomination in one town, the dissenters were compelled to establish a Neolog community, in spite of the fact that most of them were actually followers of the Chassidic movement. This misnamed community formed its own institutions including a mikvah, a slaughterhouse, and butcher shops. Rabbi Asher Steinmetz was appointed as the new community's rabbi and Shmuel Schoenfeld and David Weiss were elected as its leaders. Haim Isaac Altmann served as the secretary and when he emigrated to Eretz Yisrael his son Moshe Altmann replaced him.

In 1938 there were about 6,500 Jews living in Berehove.

THE HOLOCAUST

About a year before World War II broke out, following the First Vienna Arbitration (and the subsequent First Vienna Award treaty) of 1938, the region encompassing Berehove returned to Hungarian control. The relationship between the Jews and their neighbors soon deteriorated. Anti-Semitism and harassment increased. Trade permits were withdrawn from Jewish businessmen and men were forcibly drafted into labor battalions. During this period many Zionist leaders left the city for Mandate Palestine.

After the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939), the Hungarians expelled many Jews who could not prove their Hungarian citizenship to Nazi-occupied Poland. Local branches of two Jewish institutions based in Budapest were active in Berehove during this time. The first was Omzsa, which collected funds, and the other was Parteogo Iroda, whose function was to assist Jews in obtaining citizenship documents, to extend legal aid, to represent Jews at government offices, and to help the needy. These institutions were aided by Dr. Sandor Kroo and Feri Weiss and the secretary was Bela Gross.

In 1941 about 500 Jews were expelled from Berehove to the USSR. At the end of 1942 all of the men in the community were forcibly mobilized and sent to the Ukrainian front (Hungary at that point was an ally of Germany) where they were treated badly by the Hungarian troops accompanying them. At the front, the men were sent in to clear minefiends. Those who survived were marched along the River Don at the beginning of 1943 and died in the frost and snow. The Berehove men also served in the Czechoslovak forces of General Ludvik Svoboda, who fought against the Germans outside of the Republic.

On March 19, 1944 the Germans occupied Hungary; they entered Berehove on March 31. At that time the community consisted almost entirely of old men, women, and children; most of the young men had either fled or had been taken for forced labor in the Hungarian army. The following day the Germans appointed a Judenrat, whose task was to carry out the German orders against the Jews. A curfew was imposed on the Jews of the city, their telephone lines were cut, and their radio sets and vehicles were confiscated. On Saturday, the 8th day of Passover 1944, a ghetto was set up at the brick factory of Vari; 12,000 Jews from Berehove and the surrounding area were transferred there. In the ghetto there was insufficient water, and the sanitary conditions were poor. All of the inmates were sent to the concentration camp Auschwitz after a series of aktions on May 15th, 17th, and 19th, 1944. About 80% of the Jews of Berehove perished in the Holocaust.

POSTWAR

After the war, survivors attempted to restore the community. However, they met with a hostile reception from the city's inhabitants, prompting most to emigrate to other countries.

During the 1960s the Soviet authorities seized the Grand Synagogue and built a "shell" around the original building; though the original exterior was not destroyed, the Soviets built around it so that it cannot be seen. The interior was converted into a cultural center.

There were about 300 Jewish families left in Berehove in 1970. In the 1980s there were only a few dozen Jews living in Berehove.
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Roth, Aharon
Schwartz, Abraham Judah Ha-Kohen
Hasidic rabbi

Born in Ungvar, he attended yeshivot and as a young man was attracted to Hasidism. His teacher Tsevi Elimelekh of Blazowa instructed him to found a hasidic community even though he was not a descendant of the traditional hasidic leaders. He gathered round him hasidim in Satu Mare and Beregszasz (Beregovo) who practised a simple faith and rejected any form of modernism. They supported themselves by their own labor. Towards the end of his life he settled in Palestine where he established a small hasidic community. He wrote a number of books in the spirit of his teachings.
Schwartz, Abraham Judah Ha-Kohen (1824-1883), rabbi, born in Mad, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). At the age of fourteen, he started to study under Moses Sofer and Benjamin Wolf Levi at Pozsony, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now Bratislava, Slovakia), from where he moved to the yeshiva at Verbo. From 1861 to 1881 he served as rabbi at Beregszasz (Berehovo, now in Ukraine), and from 1861 until his death, in 1883, he was rabbi at his home town of Mad.

He was an active participant in the rabbinical gathering in Nagymihaly (Mihalovce) in 1866 and at the congress held in Budapest in 1868-69. Although his personality was molded by the atmosphere of Pozsony, which was opposed to Hasidism, after a visit which he made to the head of the Hasidic dynasty of Zanz (Novy Sacz), Chaim Halberstam, he became deeply attached to him and to Hasidism. He spent the festival of Shavuot in Zanz for 26 successive years. He also had connections with Isaac Meir Alter, the head of the Hasidic dynasty of Gur (Gora Kalwaria).

Although he left only one work, responsa "Kol Aryeh" (1904), its influence on the rabbis of Hungary was very great. One of his grandchildren, Dov Beer Spitzer, wrote his biography – "Toledot Kol Aryeh" (1940). Schwartz had five sons and six daughters. Many of his descendants serves as rabbis of various Jewish communities in Hungary.
Hahalutz Branch in Berehove, Czechoslovakia (today Ukraine), 1935
The Great Synagogue in Beregszasz (Beregovo), Hungary, 1920's
Members of the Betar Movement, Berehovo, Czechoslovakia, 1930
Hahalutz Branch in Berehove,
Czechoslovakia (today Ukraine), 1935
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Sarah Golan)
The Great Synagogue in Beregszasz
Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia, Hungary, 1920s
(now Beregovo, Ukraine(
The Synagogue was confiscated in 1959, in order to house the local theater
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dr. Bela Stark, England)
Members of the Betar movement in Berehovo,
Carpathian Ruthenia, Czechoslovakia, 1930.
From: "Berehovo- Bergszasz Zsidosaga Kerpekben",
by Jehoshua Halevy, 1989.