We have already left Vaszar. It is time to get ready to get off quickly because the Győr-Graz express stops at Pápa for only a minute. We have arrived! So this is our home town about which we have so many cherished memories.
Come brother, let's wander the streets and read the names on the signboards. Come and see the creation of Jewish hands here, let us recall their memory.
Have a look: opposite the railway station you can see the textile factory of the Perutz brothers; it provided livelihood for several hundreds of workers. The founders of the factory came from Bohemia and became taxpayers of the Pápa Jewish community.
The First Mechanical Weaving Mill, founded by Ármin Leipnik is not far from there. It had 250 workers and produced high quality goods well-known all over the country.
The chemical works of Dr. Pál Breuer, a young engineer and the son of the highly respected community president Lázár Breuer, is also in the same neighbourhood. It provided chemical products for the whole of Transdanubia.
Let's walk into town. On one side of Eszterházy Road we go along the garden wall of the Count's castle, lined with ancient trees.
On the other side, there are cottages with beautiful gardens, including the villa of alcohol distributor and wholesaler Steiner from Gyömöre, which houses a temple and a beit hamidrash as well. Next to it you can find the tombstone yard and millstone factory of the company Albert Krausz and Son. This is one of the largest workshops in Transdanubia for engraving tombstones. The signature Krausz, Pápa, can be read on a great number of monuments dedicated to war heroes throughout the country, in addition to tombstones in Jewish and Christian cemeteries. The large business is managed by the owner József H. Krausz and his two sons. Despite the size of his enterprise, the owner found time for public affairs as well: he was the president of the school board for a long time, then worked in the Shiur Association as one of its leaders, and participated in the shiur in the evening as an outstanding scholar.
As we cross the bridge of Bakonyér, we pass the statue of Flórián: Retailer and Wholesaler Samu Grünbaum can be read on the sign of the grocery store. The shop has been kept closed on Shabbat since the doctor Sándor Buxbaum became his son-in-law. You see, brother, this is characteristic of Pápa: the father-in-law observes Shabbat at the request of his son-in-law, who is a doctor.
Just a few steps and we get to the salt-depository of Bodanszky. This business sells nothing but salt. Then we pass the leather shop of János Preisach. Don't be surprised at the name János; the man is a saintly Talmud scholar. Varga [cobbler] Street is nearby, and most of the customers are in the area: shoemakers and cobblers live in this neighbourhood. Leather trade and tanning were Jewish professions. Pelt dealers and tanners were Jewish. The only Jewish Tanners' Guild of the country used to be here once. In our childhood Uncle Grünbaum used to soak leather in the stream of the Cinca, and the Ungárs in Szent László Street worked in the tanners' trade. Kive Schreiber in Szent László Street was also a leather dealer; his shop was in his apartment. Leather dealer! In fact he was such a Talmudic scholar that the Jewish community of Krakow offered him the post of chief rabbi, which he refused. Koth in Corvin Street was also a leather dealer, and he used to be the chief gabbai of the community, which entitled him to be called a Temple father. The Hofmann firm had its shop in Kossuth Street, Árpád Steiner opened his leather store in another section of the town. They provided leather for a host of Pápa artisans: cobblers, slipper and shoemakers.
Let's go on. We won't stop at the Schwarcz bar to have a glass of light beer, for fear of memories making the well-chilled drink too bitter. Instead, we are going to pass the large beer and wine store of Goldschmied and the hardware store of Vilmos Rapoch, which was the largest and oldest hardware store. Then we shall walk by the grocery store of wholesaler Vilmos Korein. Carts come and go. Village groceries and country stores get their supplies from here. Although we are not tired yet, we should stop at the Hungária Hotel and Cafe. In front of it there are enough Jews standing around to fill a few minyanim.You would think they are a bunch of idle loafers, Luftmensch, so to say. In fact, they are hard-working agents, exporters, cattle dealers, exchanging their experiences about markets. Dealers without goods! However, there are no weekly markets or annual fairs without them. They travel from village to village by cart or buggy, buying calves and exporting them to Vienna. At the market, it is enough for them to take a look at the cattle for sale to know exactly how much it weighs. They know which estate needs what young cattle or ox and also which butcher wants what cattle for slaughter. It is also characteristic that none of the Pápa livestock dealers would trade in pigs, even though Jewish livestock dealers in the Great Hungarian Plain do that as well.
Next to the hotel there is a two-storey building, housing the haberdashery of wholesalers Günsberger and Goldberger. A similar store selling buttons, buckles and miscellaneous copperware, can be found in Corvin Street, owned by Zsigmond Steiner, and another one in Bástya Street, owned by wholesaler Zsigmond Beck. They provide goods for marketing retailers and also for Slovak traveling salesmen, loading their goods on small dog-drawn carts. The above-mentioned firms all stayed closed on Shabbat.
From the main square we turn into Corvin Street at Hoffmann's hardware store on the corner. In one of the stores a hard-working Jewish family the Engels - sells brushes of their own making. (In contrast to the saying he drinks like a brush-maker - they are most sober.) The products of their craftsmanship are well-known in the country.
The Lunczer bakery is only a few steps from here, next to the private bank of Lőwy and the Lőwenstein mansion. Adolf Lőwenstein lived there, a highly respected man who filled the position of community president for a long time. Later on, his son Jakab Lőwenstein, the first gabbai of the temple, took over the flour business. We had to go upstairs to the shop where you could buy flour from their own mill for 10 fillérs and finely ground semolina for 11 fillérs. They had many customers because in Jewish houses noodles and pasta were kneaded at home, bread and challah for Shabbat were also home-made, so that women could observe the sacred mitzva of taking challah
(Flour dealers ground the wheat, barley, rye and corn themselves. There were water-mills along the Tapolca there were no steam-mills in Pápa.) Only flour was sold by Benő Seelenfreund, the Lunczer bakery in Corvin Street, the family of community notary Simon Bőhm, Herman Deutsch in Bástya Street, Herczog in Haltér, and Jakab Guth in Főtér.
The storehouses of Pápa grain dealers were in the yard of the Lőwenstein mansion. Jakab Krausz, Adolf Drach and other contractors ordered the corn for the market to be brought here. The large wine-cellar of spirit dealer and wholesaler Steiner from Gyömöre was also in this street. On the other side of the street, customers were attracted by the shop windows of Dezső Apfel's fashion store, which was in the monument-like Lloyd building. (It was a two-storey building in Baroque style, with arcades in its courtyard, and beautiful wrought iron grating.) Lloyd! It was the casino for Pápa Jews. The upstairs room was reserved for members only. Here, old men played tarot, intellectuals read the papers and talked about politics, grain dealers conducted business; it was a miniature stock exchange. And of course, they drank, admittedly the best, coffee in town made by Náci Lang, later by Rosenfeld. The president is József Krausz, court councillor and a bachelor, the only bachelor who is called up to the Torah.
Let us continue our walk. On Fő Tér [Main Square], opposite the old church, you can find the largest provincial glass shop, owned by community president Mór Eisler. The storehouse is under the arcades of Ruszek Street. If you want to enjoy a multitude of colours, you can find it in a Jewish store as well. You should go to the paint shop of the Kardos brothers at the corner.
The office of the cement works owned by József Kohn is in the Elephant House, next to the Eislers. The factory is in Korona Street; they produce tiles, cement-plates, concrete pipes and tombstones there. Later on the management of the factory was taken over by his son M. Jenő Kohn. The textile store of Ignác Pfeiffer and the linen store of Náthán Rechnitzer is also on Fő Tér. Anyway, we should not waste much time here, let's turn into the gateway and we shall find a long series of textile stores in Kossuth Street, or as they say in Pápa dialect, rőfös-bótok (drapers). Rosenberg, Walenstein, Tornyos Krausz, Lázár Breuer, Manó Weltner, the Saudek Brothers (the Sas boys), the Willners and Jenő Balogh compete with one another to satisfy their customers ranging from villagers to townspeople with more refined needs.
On Shabbat and holidays you try in vain to buy textile goods. The closed shutters indicate that the owners are Jewish. Lo and behold, businessmen who are made fun of as money lovers leave the golden calf, put on their Shabbat clothes, top hat or bowler hat, and go to the temple for worship. They listen to the singing of the chazan Lázár Lőwy and to the reading of the Torah. The monotony of textile stores is broken here and there by a fashion shop (Süsz, Sebők, Simon Kiss, Ferenc Kiss) or a furrier (Gutstein-Laufer-Spielmann).
Ready-made clothes can also be found in this street, in the store owned by Bernáth Altmann. In the same street you can pick from the most fashionable footwear if you go to Neumann's shoe shop. Mrs. Neumann gives a hearty welcome to customers in their storehouse full of goods, at the corner of Deák Ferenc Street. In the narrow Kossuth Street, amid an infinite number of business houses, you can find the book and stationery store of Ármin Nobel, and also his printing house. The Pápai Közlöny is also printed here rumour has it that there is a certain column in it that readers look forwards to, feeling curious to find out who is singled out this time by the editor Frici Polacsek for his arrows dipped in irony.
We are not called the People of the Book for nothing: Pápai Lapok, a paper of a much higher quality, is also printed in a Jewish printing house, at Goldberger's.
The printing house of Ernő Stern on the Main Square is equipped with the most up-to-date machinery. Their products satisfy the highest requirements and the same can be said about the printing houses of Weisz and Drach.
We have not finished with the stores in Kossuth Street. There's the elegant tailor's shop of Miksa Braun and at the corner of Eötvös Street there's the wild game store of Schlesinger where you can get pheasants, guinea fowl and hare. On the other side, the (carpentry workshop of Samu Böhm maintains its good name; few can compete with the products of this old reputable firm. The glassware store of Lipót Breuer is next to the head post office. Opposite there is a two-storey building on the corner, which houses the Parisien Department Store since the owner is Jenő Steiner, it is kept closed on Shabbat. Turn at the corner and you will see the second-hand book store of Lajos Baum in Deák Ferenc Street. The personnel is made up of strictly observant girls whose knowledge of world literature can be envied by the educated as well.
If you feel like having something nice to drink while enjoying your book, you can stop by at the bar of Antal Singer for a shot of brandy.
When artisans belonged to guilds, Jews were not allowed to enter these professions. Emancipation opened up this opportunity for them, and in a short time the ridiculed Jews who used to wander around villages with their whistles, collecting rags, bottles or buying feathers, were transformed into hard-working, skilful artisans. In Pápa you could find tailors, shoemakers, woodturners, carpenters, tinmen, locksmiths, stocking-makers, furriers, hairdressers, wig makers, bakers, confectioners, glaziers, butchers and electricians who were Jewish. If you want clothes not made of shatnez, you should order them in the workshop of Adolf Schiffer in Bástya Street. The bearded, lean tailor works there together with his two sons until late at night. He stops his work only when the Chevra Kadisha calls him to conduct the ritual of tahara, for which he volunteers. He reads the Torah in the Tiferet Bachurim Association and on Shabbat also for the minyan at the Berger timber yard.
If you need a tailored suit, you should go to Móric Stern in Rákóczi Street, the always cheerful tailor and adept storyteller, who wanted to raise the spirits of those on the death transport with funny tales, even in Kassa, the last railway station in Hungary, when they were about to set out on their way to face almost certain death.
In addition to business and artisanship, the manufacturing industry also profited greatly from Jewish work and talent.
Workshops and factories smaller than the large factories of Perutz and Leipnik were the following:
the chemical plant of Dr. Pál Breuer
the cement factory of József Kohn
the brick factory of Ignác Wittmann in Kéttornyúlak
the brick factory of Steiner in Tapolcafő
the pipe factory of Boskowitz
the calico factory of Blum
the weaving mill of Jenő Balogh
the vinegar factory of József Schőnfeld
the soap factory of Horovitz
the locksmith's workshop of József Toch
the soda-water bottling plant of Rapaport
the soda-water bottling plant of Grosz in Kuruc Street
the saddlery and leathergoods workshop of the Ungárs in Viasz Street
and earlier, the majolica kitchenware factory of Móric Fischer, which was famous all over the country, <[> They were all founded by Pápa Jews.
We should not forget the timber yards:
The business of Bodanszky and Hirsch selling wood and hardwood is near the River Tapolca, Friebert's is next to the Jókai-house, Imre Grünwald's is in Árok Street, Berger's on Széna Square.
It is not enough to read names from the signs. Feather collectors did not have a sign at all. These Jews made the rounds of villages all week long, stooping under their bundles, rain or shine. Snow and storms did not deter them because they believed that their children would have a better life. They were right; their children became doctors, lawyers and teachers, and even if they had a degree, they were not ashamed that their fathers were hard-working, low-income Jews. We should not forget those who worked in healthcare either: even midwives in Pápa were Jewish. Mrs. Bernstein, Mrs. Blau, Mrs. Donáth and Auntie Singer attended not only to Jewish women in confinement; they were invited to help by most Christians as well.
Let's continue our trip. We turn into a typical Jewish street, named after the immortal poet, Sándor Petőfi, who lived in this street when he was a Pápa student. The sound of hammering in the first house should not disturb you; it is the most beautiful symphony of labour. Samu Mayersberg, the most widely-known plumber and tinman works here, together with his journeymen.
The steeple of the Catholic Church and its roof were re-done by a Jewish master as well. Samu Mayersberg got this job when abbé Kriszt forbade Jewish midwives to take Catholic babies for the christening. However, he did not raise objections to the employment of a Jewish tinman to do the dangerous task of re-doing in copper the roof of the temple.
Come on, let's go further. This street is a Jewish neighborhood, with Jews living in almost every house. Let us remember the great poet who defended Jews in 1848 when the Germans started with their antisemitic attacks. Petőfi, the High School student, lived here. However, the location of the bar owned by the Jew Frommer is wrapped in mystery: there the comet used to sing happily, joke around, make plans cheerfully, encircled by his friends. [the monograph of Gyula Illyés about Sándor Petőfi, p.74 ]
In a second, you will see the bakery of Salzer-Friedmann: in addition to keeping the cholent with stuffed goose-neck hot for Shabbat, they baked kosher pastry here for export as well. There were a lot of Jewish bakers: Lajos Buchsbaum, then József Buchsbaum in Rákóczi Street, Lázár the baker in Kuruc Street, who made excellent potato bread, Pollák and Lunczer in Corvin Street, the Turms in Jókai Street they saw to it that people in Pápa had fresh rolls and croissants for their coffee in the morning, and salted crescents and pretzels for their foaming beer.
The bar of former Talmud teacher Ore Weisz is next to the Salzer bakery, willingly frequented by the faithful to have a shot of plum brandy. This bar was not noisy except on Fridays when they had more customers: the kids who were sent to get wine for the Kiddush. The matzah-house was opposite the bar. Before the age of electricity, the machines were hand driven by peasant lads from Borsosgyőr. After Pesach, when the machines were quiet, yeshiva students took over the place. Already at dawn you could hear the sound of hai Abaye, hai Rove coming from here. Later on the yeshiva was housed in the Chevra Kadisha building where they had more space.
The matzah mill was in the home of Blau the sofer, next to the matzo-house. Matzo flour was ground here for the unforgettable matzo-ball soup of the seder dinner. The matzoball soup was called knédli-leves; knedle was a familiar term. Er meint nicht die Gode (Haggadah), nur die Knedle, as the saying goes. (He doesn't care for the Haggadah, only for the knedle.)
The left side of the street is lined by kosher butcher shops, under the inspection of Fürszt the powerful mashgiach in charge of kashrut.
On the upper floor of the Jewish community building, you can find the rabbi's apartment and the community office. Ritual poultry slaughter takes place in the yard. We are in the centre of Pápa Jews, at the temple. Let's sit on the marble steps for a while. It was so nice to play here with carob seeds and it is so good to sit on the cool steps and day-dream. Soft sounding chords reach us from the upstairs room of the house across the street. It is Elza playing, the young and talented piano teacher from the Neumann family, who stayed faithful to the religious traditions of their grandparents' home. She is playing the Moonlight Sonata beautifully. The melody rises through the air and comes to naught (Maybe at this hour in the capital of Argentina, thousands of kilometers from here, somebody will resonate to the sound of this melody )
The old song has been silenced .You can no longer hear any piano playing in the Jewish homes of Pápa. Let us return to the present and continue our trip.
The Bet Hamidrash (or as they say in Pápa, the Besemedresh), housing the Shiur Association, is opposite the temple. If you are late for the synagogue, you can always find here a mingy (that is, a minyan). After the minchah prayers, Talmudic scholars like Horovitz, Hoffmann, Rechnitzer, Krausz, Biedermann and others study here, conducting a lively discussion of the text.
We have not yet reached the end of Petőfi Street.
The kosher salami factory of Eisen is near the corner of Bástya Street. Their hot dogs are very popular; at the annual fair even non- Jewish artisans from the provinces eat them with pleasure.
We have arrived at Bástya Street, on account of its spaciousness it is a popular playground for Jewish children. Only Jews live there and nobody disturbs their games. The dry riverbed of the Cinca was the most suitable place for hide-and-seek. Second-hand dealers were selling repaired second-hand clothes to poor cottars, to the proletarians of the neighbourhood here. Also in this street you could buy giblets (stamps for sale is announced by a humble hand-written notice-board, not by neon lights or an advertising pillar).
Across the street, the liver dealer Haas bought fat goose-liver and then exported it to Vienna. In nearby Salétrom Street there was another large export firm owned by Mihály and Béla Ungár: in their spacious yard they collected and sorted feathers and hides.
There is a winding street leading down from Bástya Street called Büdös-köz (meaning Stinky-lane): hides are soaked and cleaned here by Jewish tanner apprentices and skin-dressers. In about 1850, there were already so many Jewish tanners and tailors in Pápa that they formed a guild, refuting in this way the antisemitic argument that Jews were reluctant to do hard physical labour.
A typical Jewish trade of Pápa should be remembered here: the copper engraving for pipes. In the Boskovitz pipe factory they engraved the copper pipe-bowl lid with great artistic talent.
Bástya Street leads into Kiss Street. You could find there the large-scale grocery store of S. L. Toch, the salt depot of Süss, the hardware store of Dávid Hoffmann and the machine depot of Antal Weber. The ceramics and porcelain factory of Fischer, whose products are popular all over the country, operated in the Sepauer House, near the Honvéd barracks.
We got tired, had enough of walking a cab could be ordered here: Ignácz Gold cab owner was nearby. If you needed transportation of goods, Jewish carriers would undertake it: Spiegel in Korvin Street, the Koritschoners in Jókai Street. For smaller cargoes Jakobovits in Petőfi Street was at your service.
We still run up the wooden steps to the Jewish elementary and higher elementary school, and take a short look at the two-storey building of the Chevra Kadisha and at Etz Chayim next to it.
We do not have much time; nevertheless, we shall pop into Korona Street to see the old people in the Jewish nursing home (Zsidó Ápolda).
From there, passing the winding Zrínyi Street, the Köves store and the Thurms bakery we get to the end of our pilgrimage: the Jewish cemetery of Pápa.
Brother, were you nostalgic about our home town? Well, I have shown it to you, taking you around to see every corner, all the streets and squares. We have been searching in vain along the old and new buildings. We have found only stones. There is not even one familiar face, there is nobody coming to greet us with a friendly sholem aleichem. To our question where the old friends have gone Jewish youths, girls, fathers, mothers, old people - only the echo of Red Bridge in Várkert echoes where, where?.
Let us turn back and say farewell forever to our home town, from where 2030 brothers and sisters were taken to be killed. Let us preserve and cherish the memory of our dear martyrs.
The mutual influence of county episcopates founded by King Stephen I and the Benedictine Order hindered the formation of royal towns where Jews could have settled as chamber servants.
Count Antal Eszterházy was the first to permit Jewish settlement in Veszprém County in the first quarter of the 18th century.
The 1736 census mentions 11 Jewish families in Pápa.
In subsequent periods the number of Jews in Pápa was as follows:
In 1740, 73
In 1785-87, 445
In 1830-35, 2645
In 1880, 3550, 24 % of the population
In 1884-94, 3140, 22 % of the population
In 1910, 3076, 15.3 % of the population
In 1941, 2613, 11 % of the population.
The situation of villages surrounding the Pápa community was interesting but sad.
In the village of Tevel in 1830 there were 149 Jews earning their living. They had their own temple, mikva, rabbi and shochet. Their number gradually decreased to 55, then to 19, and in 1941 there were only 18 left. Most of them moved to Pápa.
In Pápateszér the first census mentions 39 Jews. No one was left.
In Homokbödög in 1880 there were 101. However, in 1941 they numbered only 14.
In Nagydém there was once a large community - the census mentioned 149 Jews at the time of the War of Independence [1848/49] which finally decreased to 11.
In the villages closer to Pápa things were not different in Tapolcafő, where once there had been 86 Jews, merely 13 were left in 1941.
In Marcaltő even in 1910 there were 37 Jews, while in 1941 only 15.
Statistics clearly prove that the reforms under the rule of Joseph II the hatted king [he was called the hatted king because he was never actually crowned as King of Hungary the translator] opened a new era in the life of Hungarian Jews as well. Jewish settlement was made possible by giving the right to change residence.
Taking into account the proportion of Jews in the country, one comes to the conclusion that Pápa was the largest Jewish settlement in Hungary after Pest and Buda in the beginning of the 19th century.
These are the figures from 1830:
Pest, 6031, 2.5 % of the population
Pápa, 2645, 25 % of the population
Vágújhely, 2495, 57 % of the population
Óbuda, 3130, 42.3 % of the population
Pozsony, 2602, 43.6 % of the population
Nagykároly, 1786, 15.8 % of the population
There lived in Pápa a travelling optician of modest means, the pious Lazar Willner. He was well-known in the community, not so much as a scholar, rather as a widely respected, deeply pious man. He encouraged and persuaded coreligionists on the local train from Pápa to Csorna travelling to the weekly fair to participate in the minyan to be held on board the train. When his call 'yiden zu minyan in the fifth car' was heard, believers hurried not to miss services. They found it natural that the ticket-inspector allowed only Jews to enter that car and during services he did not even show up to check their tickets. Along the way, Willner kept an eye on people getting on and when he spotted a co-religionist, he immediately invited him to join the minyan.
The following story is told about him:
Collecting charity to marry off a poor orphan girl, he once called at the store on the Main Square, owned by Salamon, a wealthy jeweller and watchmaker.
'I won't give,' the rich man said coldly.
'Listen, Mr. Salamon, I am asking for your modest contribution to marry off a Jewish girl who is an orphan. Do you realize how great the mitzva of hachnosas kale is?!' The answer was negative again.
'Mr. Salamon, let me tell you a short story,' the modest, pious man made another attempt.
'As long as there is no customer, I can listen.'
'A faithless and miserly Jew suddenly died,' Willner started to recount. 'When his soul came to the Heavenly Tribunal, his actions on earth were put on scales. The scale of sins was full in no time, while the scale of good deeds remained empty. He was about to be pronounced doomed forever at the proposal of Satan the Accuser, when all of a sudden a talit descended from above on the scale of good deeds, tipping the scales in balance. The verdict was acquittal.
The talit has a story of its own. On one occasion a poor widow, living in a shack next door, knocked at the door of the miser, who had never given charity for any cause. In a whining voice she complained to him that her daughter was a bride without dowry, and the bridegroom wanted only a festive talit to enter the marriage canopy, but she did not have the money to buy it. She was asking for help in order to buy the talit.
The miser replied:
'I have never given charity; however, my beautiful wedding talit lies in the wardrobe. I have not worn it since my chuppa, I don't need it. You know what? You can have it '
So this is how he helped the poor woman to marry off her daughter and that same talit saved his soul from condemnation. That's the end of the story,' Willner finished his parable.
'It is indeed a beautiful story, Willner, but I am not moved at all. I am not going to give a penny for my share in the world to come. Moreover, I would sell it to the first customer for one forint. Ha-ha-ha!!'
Willner the Pious was shocked to hear this blasphemy. 'If you offer it for sale, I shall take it,' he said, reaching for his pocket. He took a forint out of his flat and shabby wallet, muttering 'here you are.'
'Gemacht,' said Salamon. 'I take it, it's a deal!'
'Wait a minute, I want a written statement about the deal.'
'If that's what you want, all right.' Salamon started to write at once:
I, undersigned Ferenc Salamon, have hereby sold my share in the world-to-come to Pápa resident Lazar Willner, for the sum of 1 forint, that is one forint, the value of which I have fully received.
At home, bursting with laughter, Salamon told his family about his great joke. However, the family considered it a crude one; friends and acquaintances were shaking their heads in disapproval hearing about this vile chilul Hashem. As a result, Salamon started to feel remorseful. He could not even sleep at night. Next day he sent for Willner and said to him:
'Listen, my friend, I have changed my mind. Give the paper back, here's your forint, if you want I can double it, on account of the cancelled business.'
'Oh no, Mr. Salamon. Business is business. I have purchased it, and I won't return it.' The case finally ended up at the rabbinical court, which decided that the statement should be returned for two hundred forints, which Salamon the jeweller had to give in order to marry off the bride.
This is the story of how Aranka R. became a happy bride!
Once Dr. Adolf Schwarcz, Rector of the Rabbinical Seminary in Vienna, came to visit his relatives in Pápa at Shavuot. Coming out of the temple he went up to Akiva Schreiber, who was admittedly the most outstanding Talmudic scholar, and greeted him in the traditional way:
- Güt Yontev Reb Kive!
-Ah, Guten Tag, Herr Direktor! was the friendly answer.
The rector was surprised by the way he was greeted and turned to Reb Kive attentively. This was R. Kive's reply:
-I have been reading recently about the visit of the German emperor Wilhelm to Vienna to see Franz Joseph. The German emperor put on the uniform of the general of the Hussars from Székesfehérvár, while His Majesty was wearing the full dress uniform of a German uhlan. I have learnt that this reciprocity is the highest expression of politeness. So when you greeted me the way that we traditional Jews greet one another Güt Yontev R. Kive I assumed your attire when in my reply I greeted you like a modern gentleman, Guten Tag, Herr Direktor.
When the Jewish higher elementary school was opened in Pápa, many students left the Talmud-Torah, the small Yeshiva, and enrolled in the new school.
The head of the Yeshiva, Leml R. Spitzer, who later became the rabbi of Szepesváralja, said the following to the deserting students:
Du gest ach in die Bargerschul wos lernste dort: Kőmives Kálmán, wieviel Agn Vak Béla hat gehat. Küm lern do bei mir Chümesh, Rashe, ünd Gemora! So you go to the higher elementary. What do you learn there? [Kőmives Kálmán, he mixed up king Könyves Kálmán with Kőmûves Kelemen, a bricklayer from a folk ballad the translator], how many eyes Vak (blind) Béla had [he was also a king, who was blinded vak meaning blind in Hungarian the translator]. Come and learn with me Torah, Rashi and Gemora!
Spirit dealer and wholesaler Gyula Fischer, owner of the firm A. Fischer was counted among the most distinguished members of the community. There is a story about him that once he ordered pastries for Pesach from Frankfurt, on the basis of an ad he saw in the Frankfurter orthodox paper. Although he knew that not far from his home in Petőfi Street, excellent and strictly kosher pastries are baked for Pesach in the Salzer bakery, he considered it beneath his dignity to buy cakes from a small Pápa bakery when he had an option to get delicacies from Frankfurt produced under the supervision of the European Orthodox Centre. He was greatly surprised when opening the packet, he found in it excellent pastries bearing the tag of Salzer from Pápa, the baker next door.
In those days in Pápa Tikun (meaning brandy and pastry) was not served on anniversaries of death (at Jahrzeit). Ashkenazi believers were keeping the minhag prescribed by the Shulchan Aruch instead, fasting being more appropriate to painful memories. Later on, chassidic customs spread in Pápa as well. When Gyula Fischer had a Jahrzeit, a chassidische believer of this kind asked him:
Nu, Herr Fischer, where is the Tikun? I will bring it tomorrow.
And he brought along the prayer-book that the pious pray from on the night of Shavuot entitled Tikun leyl Shavuot. Here is your Tikun!
Principal Henrik Blau was known for his witticisms. Once on a Shabbat morning walk he said to his friends:
Could you wait five minutes for me? I am going to my pupil to give him an hour lesson.
On another occasion, on a Shabbat afternoon after minchah he witnessed that one of his friends greeted ironmonger Rapoch with great respect. Now I can see why you pay so much respect. In Pirkei Avot it is written: Maire Raboh k'maire Shomaim. (Respect your teacher as you fear God.) Or with a slight modification: Maire Rapoch kmaire Shomaim.
The witty toast of teacher Károly Láng at the family celebration of Dr. Sándor Buxbaum was recalled several times. He said the following: And I wish our beloved host sickness! (That is, patients to visit his office.)
Items on the agenda:
Adar 13, Monday. Taanit Esther. Rumbling stomach all day long. At 8 o'clock in the evening comedy performance in the Jewish elementary, with superb attractions, first class hospitality, and cheap seats.
Adar 14, Tuesday. PURIM. Community party all day. Shlachmones on the way. Feasting on roasted turkey and kindli at noon. (Get your sodium bicarbonate ready.)
At 8 in the evening, the second show by Jewish youth. Tidbits of the Wahrmann Association at the café.
At 9.30 in the evening, a noch nicht dagevezene [unprecedented, literally unseen] fancy-dress party at the Griff, organized by the Girls' Association.
Wednesday: Polishing off the leftovers.
Thursday: wieder das schwere, bittere Leben, mit Lad und Tzores. Again this hard, bitter life with sorrow and trouble.
The cast of the Purim performance of Tiferet-Bachurim
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