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[Page 92]

A TRUE STORY

I have been liberated...I am at home again. Bending under heavy memories I am walking down the streets, passing houses that I know. There are no familiar faces; nobody stretches out a hand to greet me. It seems like a strange place. Is it really my birthplace?

I am looking for our family home where we used to be happy; I want to see it. Here we are, finally I have managed to find it. I am standing broken-hearted in front of 32 Jókai Street, Pápa.

As if in a dream, I can see my father's face. The head of our family, a man in the prime of his life, worked for us tirelessly day and night. Despite working hard, he was able to contribute his time to public affairs as well; he participated in the leadership of the illustrious community as a representative in the 80-member board of representatives.

I can picture my mother, who was a real Yiddische Mame, caring only for the welfare of her children.

The vision has disappeared…I am shaking as I open the gate where carts used to leave one after the other when I was a child: the huge carts of the Koritschoner firm, the screeching of the wheels still ring in my ears…

Entering the yard, I want to see the rooms of our sweet home. After a few steps I begin to sway. I turn back with tearful eyes, sobbing. Our nest has been occupied by strangers, people I have never seen before. Voices of strangers can be heard from our dear old home. Nobody recognizes me. And then…listen! All of a sudden I can hear a familiar voice. Bodri! Bodri! Is that you? You also survived!? My dear dog, can you recognize me?

It is me, Kató-Kató! Do you remember how much we played together?

He is drawn to me, wagging his tail, barking and groaning, licking my hand.

He has recognized me!

What do you want from me? Why are you pulling me? He seems to understand the question and goes on dragging me along. I follow him reluctantly along the huge yard. Where is he taking me?

To the garden at the end of the yard. Stopping under a tree my faithful dog starts digging with all his might. With his paws, he is digging a hole – until the hidden treasure is revealed: a small box, containing valuables, the family jewels hidden by my parents…

I did not know about it, since I lived in Sopron in the years before the deportation. Dear Bodri! You guarded the family jewels and for years you kept the secret from strangers so that you could reveal it to me only, the daughter of your dear master!

Bodri! In an age when humans turned into beasts, you, the beast, behaved like a person!

May these few lines commemorate your fidelity!

(On the basis of the recollections related by Kató Koritschoner, written by Gyula Láng.)

 

[Page 93]

MEMORIES

By Eliezer Shisha

Tel Aviv in the afternoon of August 3, 1910. The shutters of the small single-storey buildings were closed; there was not a living soul in the street. It would have been so nice to be greeted warmly, to have a friendly handshake on the day of my homecoming.

In Achad Ha'am Street somebody was calling to me “choletz, choletz“. There was a man leaning against the fence of the gymnasia, he must have been the caller. Turning to him happily, I wanted to say shalom to him, but the irony in his voice held me back from doing so.

“Why did you come, choletz?” he asked me in Yiddish. “Palestine is full of chalutzim. Where can you find work, what will you live on?” I have not seen this man since; however, his voice can be heard all the time: the voice of stubborn half-heartedness and defeatism. It is the dark shadow of the great faith.

*

The employment agency of the Hapoel Hatzair was in Shachar Street. Shengalovsky, the Botany teacher of the gymnasia was in charge of allocating jobs. Newcomers turned to him to find out on which road they should work. (There were hardly any other opportunities for work at that time.) Shengalovsky (later Zohar Even) asked everyone a few questions about his occupation, age, and level of Hebrew. Well, in my case he added a question which seemed to be superfluous: he asked me where I had come from. The question seemed superfluous since all the chalutzim came from Russia at that time. “ I am from Hungary”, I answered. “From Hungary?” repeated Shengalovsky in surprise. “Are there Zionists there also?” “Yes, there are”, I nodded. “Wait a minute”, he said staring at me for a long time, surprised. When he finished allotting jobs, he said: “If you are really a Hungarian Jew, I will introduce you to Yitzhak Epstein, because he has not seen such an oddity.” And he took me to Epstein, the great linguist, who was the principal of the teacher training college at the time. There was a large company of people assembled in his office when Shangalovsky introduced me: “Here is a Hungarian chalutz!” They stared at me as if I were a queer fish. I felt a bit embarrassed, but I got over it with the help of Epstein's encouraging words. So I was able to answer the multitude of questions about Hungarian Jewry and Hungarian Zionism. Then it was my turn to be surprised. Those present knew as much about Hungarian Jewry as about the Jews of China.

I was trying enthusiastically to save the honour of Hungarian Jewry. Whether my attempt was successful I do not know, but at least I managed to make my first acquaintance in Tel Aviv. It was highly important since I was the first Hungarian Jew in Tel Aviv

“I will not send you to work on the road”, Shengalovsky said. “I will assign you to a more important job. In a month or two we are going to open our schools, but we don't have teachers. You should be one!“ That is how I became a teacher at the Tachkemoni School in 1920, before the High Holidays.

*

Achad Ha'am Street was closed to traffic. Between the sidewalks, two little wooden posts were set up, holding a wine-red string. Achad Ha'am is sick, he needs rest. The rumble of wheels and the honking of cars should not disturb him. (It was ordered by the municipality of Tel Aviv.)

After 4 p.m. the red string was removed, signalling the end of the great writer's afternoon siesta. So I went to see him in order to disclose my plan. It concerned the bazaar to be organized by Keren Kayemet and getting articles for the lottery. Members of the Vaad were competing with one another as to the value of the articles. I had the idea of visiting Achad Ha'am and asking for a copy of Al Parashat Had'rachim with his autograph. The old man gave me a warm welcome and granted my request with a smile. I left happily with the book, which is connected to the memory of the great intellectual leader. His image is imprinted in my brain with his small feet, huge skull, high brow, and lips with a delicate smile.

*

I had to visit Vladimir Zev Jabotinsky on behalf of the Vaad of Keren Kayemet Leyisrael, asking him to give a lecture. It was before the foundation of the Revisionist Zionist Alliance. I was sure he would my request. I was disappointed. Jabotinsky refused. He also gave reasons for doing so: he felt that he did not get the respect he deserved from Keren Kayemet Leyisrael. At that point I realized why this East-European, brilliant, highly gifted Jew with European culture running in his blood did not become the ideal of the chalutzim.

*

The mother of Chaim Weizmann lived in a single-storey building in Yehuda Halevy Street. It was a quiet little house, with not many visitors crossing its threshold. It was like that all year long, with the exception of the time when Chayimka – as the old lady used to call her favorite child – came home to see his mother. It usually happened before the holidays. This is what happened at Pesach 1923, when Weizmann came to have Seder together with his mother and siblings. We felt that Weizmann came not only to his family, but to all of us. With this in mind the young people of Tel Aviv set out to greet Weizmann at a late hour on the holiday night. The greeting meant dancing hora and singing aloud in front of his house, which drew Weizmann to the balcony to greet us. But we were not satisfied with that. We went in and asked him to come and join in the dancing. At first he showed some reluctance, but then he came and joined us dancing hora tirelessly. Since then we have been bragging about having danced hora with the president of the State.

*

On Tammuz 14, 1924 I left Tel Aviv to visit my brother in Rome and my parents in Bratislava. In the compartment of the Tel Aviv-Alexandria train I met four men who were also on their way to Europe, to the Congress of Tzeirei Tzion. They were Ben Gurion, Shkolnik (Eshkol), Kaplan and Miriminsky. We checked in together at the Hotel de France in Alexandria and travelled together to Naples on a boat called Europe. Who could have guessed at the time that three out of the four would become ministers in the Jewish state?

I met Kaplan several times after that. He was the leading engineer of Solel-Boneh, who signed my contract for the construction of a two-room apartment (for 260 pounds!) in the future Chovevei Tzion Street, which was a vast expanse of sand in those days. The text of the contract was typed by no other person than GOLDA (Meirsohn) MEIR!

*

I met Bialik on the boat in the summer of 1924 when I was coming home after a trip to Europe. The first meeting was a disappointment for me. Is it possible that this man looking like a business agent is in fact our great national poet? It cannot be. Actually, the silent Bialik was not the real one! I got acquainted with the real Bialik when I listened to him joking around with the chalutzim, telling anecdotes. Even his looks changed then. Unfortunately, he liked telling his stories in Yiddish, which I did not understand very well, so I had to ask a chalutz to translate it for me into Hebrew. Bialik noticed it, and from that point on, he told us every anecdote twice – first in Yiddish, and then he turned to me, saying “and now for your sake in Hebrew”, repeating the story in our eloquent national language. This method worked beautifully during the voyage, to the satisfaction of all the chalutzim. Why not? Laughing twice at the same joke? So much the better!

As a result, I became a frequent visitor at Bialik's house.

*

The family of the poet Noach Pines, the principal of the teacher training college in Tel Aviv was one of the families in Tel Aviv with whom we became close friends. Noah's wife Elisheva was the daughter of Shaul Pinchas Rabinovits. In 1888 his father translated into Hebrew The History of the Jewish People by Graetz. This book was so highly esteemed that a street in Tel Aviv was named after it.

Their house was a true literary center, a meeting place for Bialik, Frischmann, Schneur, Sokolov, and almost all the Hebrew poets and writers in the beginning of the 20th century.

This happened at the beginning of the 1920s: I was taking a walk with Elisheva on Rothschild Boulevard. All of a sudden Elisheva stopped and I noticed that there was a third person in our company. “Meet Rachel Bluwstein from Degania”, said Elisheva. I had a look at the girl whose huge, dreaming black eyes dominated her face. We sat down on a bench. Our conversation with Rachel was about trifling everyday matters. One year later she was recognized as one of the greatest poets of the Hebrew literary renaissance.

At the time I seem to have missed out on something: to take a deeper look into the profound poetic soul of Rachel.

*

We got the news that Avigdor Feuerstein had left Odessa and was on his way to the Land of Israel. He arrived, was welcomed appropriately, however, there were no Hungarian chalutzim to greet him then. We thought it was not fair. Who can claim Feuerstein but us? We have specific things to tell him: Feuerstein is a Hungarian Jew, he will understand our problems. We can tell him everything; even share our complaints with him.

I decided to visit him, despite the fact that I had never met him personally before. At that time I had no opportunity to go and see him. Later on I had the chance. I heard that he was sick, lying in the Hadassah Hospital. The mitzvah of bikur holim is valid for all. Therefore, I made up my mind to visit him and if his state of health permitted, I would tell him more than wishing him refuah shlemah. I put on my holiday clothes, and on the way to the hospital, I prepared in my mind what to tell him. I arrived at the beginning of visiting hours.

Feuerstein was sitting at his bedside reading. I could recognize the book from its cover, he was holding the One Thousand and One Miracles by Moskovsky in his hand. I went up to him, introduced myself, and was about to start what I had to say when he interrupted me. He said that I should believe that Einstein's space had bent; this was the greatest idea of human culture, and the farthest nebula in the starry sky was, in fact, right here. Then he talked about the microcosmos, the macrocosmos, the world of bacilli, the mammoth, Siamese twins, the Pope in Rome, the Gaon of Vilna and a lot more. About Marx, Jesus, Jeanne D'Arc, Freud, Ady, The Tragedy of Man

(When he got to that point, the nurse politely pushed me out of the ward, saying visiting hours were over.)

I left with mixed feelings. I got acquainted with Feuerstein .He always did the talking and I could hardly get a word in edgeways. We were close friends for decades, but he talked all the time.

Only on a very sad day in the cemetery of Kiryat Shaul did I have the liberty to recount at the bier of Hameiri who this great Messianistic Hebrew poet really was.

*

Memories…Is it possible not to remember the many enthusiastic chalutzim who were building the country, searching for God, searching for truth, who came here from all the corners of the world? People with a great secret in their heart, who came here to forget, just as Christians hide in the seclusion of their monasteries. An infinite number of shining spots in the flood of memories:

Who could forget Darida, the Christian chalutz, who was among the first fighting back Arab attackers during the May Day riots in 1921? Where is the Transylvanian ger, who came here, led by his new belief? However, he broke down when he had to face secular life, and went into exile.

What happened to Wolf from Bratislava/Pozsony, the patron of the Hungarian group of chalutzim, who wanted to see the hill where the Torah had been given, so he went on a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai in the beginning of the 1920s?

Who could forget Moshkovitz, the Tolstoyan artist from Hungary, who used to be the director of the gallery in Florence? Here he first became a simple labourer, then bought a piece of land on Mount Carmel and tilled it with his own hands.

There were so many enthusiasts of Zion, beautiful souls, taken by cruel fate from our ranks. Rabbi Mordechai Asodi came from Debrecen, together with his old parents, wife and five young children, and the next day following his arrival he was killed defending his family from Arab hordes. It happened near the house of Yosef Chaim Brenner, who was also murdered on the same day. [during the Jaffa riots of 1921 – the translator]

Lawyer candidate Dr. Alexander Frisch, a pleasant, cheerful man became a victim of rebuilding the country. He was a worker in the Salpeters yeast factory when the boiler exploded in November 1923, killing him together with Simcha Salpeter and his wife, who was like a mother for the chalutzim.

There is a name emerging from the memories of the Jewish aliyah after the First World War: the engineer Ármin Winkler, who settled in Jerusalem in 1919 and became the victim of overwork.

There were many more olim from Hungary, devoted, enthusiastic and brave people who paid with their lives for their contribution to the awakening to a new life and the realization of the great dream!

 

[Page 98]

OUR OUTSTANDING SONS

Professor Dr. JACOB KATZ, Rector

He was born in 1904 at Magyargencs, near Pápa. He spent his childhood in this village where there were hardly enough Jews for a minyan. They lived on the modest income supplied by their grocery store. The rising star of the village child was marked by the following stations: after elementary and higher elementary studies he went to the yeshiva in Pozsony/Pressburg, and then continued his studies at the yeshiva of Frankfurt where he received his smichah as a rabbi, but he did not want to work as a rabbi.

He received his doctorate at the University of Frankfurt.

In 1936, he worked in England as a teacher at a high school and a teacher training college, both religious institutions.

In 1950 he taught in the Departments of Sociology and Jewish History of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1956-57 he was a visiting professor at the Institute of Jewish Studies in Manchester.

From 1958 on, he was Dean at the Hebrew University for four years. In 1961, he became a full professor at the department in memoriam Bella and Israel Unterberg.

In 1969, he was elected rector of the Hebrew University.

(His books published in Hebrew and English: Tradition and Crisis, Jewish Society at the End of the Middle Ages, Exclusiveness and Tolerance: studies about Jewish-Christian relations, Out of the Ghetto.

DEZSŐ KOREIN

An outstanding figure of Hungarian orthodoxy, he was born in 1870 in Pápa into a distinguished family of the Pápa Jewish community. Even in his youth he gave signs of his ability as an excellent organizer. When he was a student, he organized a torchlight procession of Jewish youth, in honour of the election of Dr. Salamon Breuer, who became a famous chief rabbi. Dr. Breuer later occupied the rabbinical seat of Frankfurt that had become vacant after the death of his father-in-law and the founder of German orthodoxy, Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch. Korein remained life-long friends with chief rabbi Dr. Breuer. After finishing his studies, he set out in business; he married the daughter of the highly respected community president, Adolf Lőwenstein, and opened a textile business in Szombathely where he soon became the president of the Jewish community. He had connections with distinguished figures in the county and on a national scale. He visited the PM Kálmán Széll several times on his estate in Vas County. His wife, who was the daughter of the great national poet Mihály Vörösmarty, also received him with great respect. The PM honoured his guest and had a great regard for the strictly traditional, educated Jew. Subsequently, he moved to the capital and there also participated in Jewish public life. He was a national dignitary. After the lost war, he was sent to Sopron by the right-wing government before the referendum [when the citizens of Sopron had the right to decide whether to stay with Hungary or join Austria – the translator], to campaign for the Hungarians. He refused the decoration that he was about to receive for this, saying he would not accept being decorated by Miklós Horthy [Regent and Head of State in Hungary between 1920-1944 – the translator].

For three decades he was a member of the National Central Committee, the top leadership of Hungarian Orthodox Jewry. He had an educated mind, a pleasant appearance, and good manners; moreover, he was an excellent orator and a skilled writer; he had a fortunate combination of all these exceptional qualities. He was militantly orthodox, true to his principles. He was the only orthodox member of the City Council of Székesfehérvár. He fought for decades for the observance of Shabbat, which was in danger. He organized the Alliance of Shomrei Shabbat, and edited the almanac Szombat. His articles for the observance of Shabbat would fill a whole library. He managed to change payday to Wednesday instead of Saturday for the tens of thousands of workers in the workshops of the capital.

It was adopted by many factories as well. It also helped retailers and stallholders who kept their business closed on Shabbat. In addition to his political and religious activities, he was an exceptional activist of sheer goodness. He was a tireless fighter for the rights of the man-in-the-street, for the stallholder to get back his stall that had been taken away under the White regime, or for the cancellation of an unfair fine. He talked patiently to the poor in trouble. He knew how to encourage people who turned to him and to give back their hope. He was a father-like figure, a patron for little Jews and for all the poor without discrimination of faith. Even during the White regime he managed to ensure that the aid for Jewish communities and charitable associations was paid by the Municipality of Budapest, which would not have been an easy job even in more peaceful times. In the interwar period without this aid, most Jewish charitable associations would have been forced to close down or to cut their beneficial activities to almost nothing.

At the age of 79, in 1949, his noble heart stopped beating. Hungarian Jewry lost a very worthy citizen with his death.

ELIEZER (LÁSZLÓ) SHISHA,

the pride of Pápa Jews, the son of the highly educated elementary school teacher of Pápa Adolf Shisha, was born in 1900. After getting his teaching diploma, he passed the matriculation exams at a secondary school for modern languages and sciences in Kecskemét. Then he was a student at the technical universities of Budapest and Vienna. He could feel early the storm coming to wipe out European Jewry and had immigrated to Palestine in 1920. Only a month following his arrival, he was appointed a teacher at the Tachkemoni School. The following year, in recognition of his excellent professional knowledge, he started to work at the National Institute of Geodesy: there he received an award for his patent of the planimeter from the British mandate government. The College of Geodesy in Holon was founded in 1949; its management was entrusted to him, in addition to his teaching of mathematics.

In the meantime, he was writing books and translating into Hebrew the great mathematical work of Professor Brodetzky. His popular science books written in Hebrew were published by Am-Oved: Archimedes and Newton (two editions), Abao Ziffer Harofe (two editions), Textbook on the Theory of Errors in Measurement.

Dr. MIKLÓS SHISHA,

the son of Pápa teacher Adolf Shisha, was born on November 15, 1893. The highly educated teacher, who also learnt English and French in his spare time, in addition to studying mathematics at an advanced level, gave his son an excellent education. At his bar-mitzva, Miklós gave his audience a surprise with the drashah that he had written and his festive address in French, which was understood probably only by his father. After finishing elementary school he was an excellent, eminent student at the local Protestant High School. He showed an inclination to write at a young age. He was in the sixth grade of the High School when one of his short stories was published in the daily paper Pápai Hírlap. He was in the seventh grade when he met the world-famous psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi, who was temporarily staying in Pápa as an officer of the seventh hussar regiment. He lived in the same street as Miklós, in Eötvös Street; Ferenczi employed the intelligent student who knew Western languages as his secretary. That is how Miklós got acquainted with the teachings of Freud at quite a young age. Later on, he wrote Freudian articles on a very high level, which were published in the Nyugat, a social and literary periodical. (War and Psycho-Sexuality, The Soul of the Crowd) Subsequently he had personal contact with Freud as well. After the matriculation, he moved to Kecskemét, where he stayed with his married sister Helén and went to the local law school. The young law student attracted attention with his erudition and original thinking. He was 19 when he won a prize with his 75-page excellent essay “On the Impact of Darwinism on Philosophy”. In addition to scholarly work, he was interested in literature, theatre, and the arts. . He was the editor of a student newspaper called Diáklap. Later on, his play Mr. Wry in Heaven was accepted by the literary advisor of Vígszínház, Jenő Heltai, who also paid him for it, but the war prevented the performance of the play.

After the outbreak of the First World War he did his military service in Pozsony/Pressburg/Bratislava, and received his law degree there. Subsequently he moved to Pest, where in 1916 he became the chairman of the radical Galilei Circle. In 1919 he gave the funeral address for Endre Ady [1877-1919, great Hungarian poet, idolized by contemporary radical youth –the translator] on behalf of the Galilei Circle, in front of the bier of the great poet in the assembly hall of the university. The events of the world war plunged him into political life. His socialist views were expressed by the periodical Szabad Gondolat, which he edited. He tried to win over Count Mihály Károlyi to the idea of organizing Békeblokk (a Coalition of Peace). Mihály Károlyi in his reply on September 23, 1917 wrote that he agreed with the idea propagated by Dr. Shisha and invited him to talk it over together with Oszkár Jászi and Zsigmond Kunfi. The meeting took place, but nothing came of it.

In those days, Shisha was in the centre of an anti-war action organized by the Galilei Circle. They wrote pamphlets. Shisha distributed his pamphlet against bloodshed “Katona-Testvérekhez” (To Soldier-Brothers) in the barracks in Üllői Road. The police suspected the Galilei Circle of the action and banned it from January 1, 1918. Dr. Shisha was arrested also. He was imprisoned in Conti Street, then in the transit prison, and was released before the autumn revolution. During the Commune of 1919 Shisha did not ask for an appointment, and did not get any. Nevertheless, he frequently met state leaders then, many of whom made use of his advice. In those days he had to travel to the parents of his wife in Fiume because his wife was ill. The news about the downfall of the Commune reached him in Fiume. At the time Fiume was under the dictatorship of D'Annunzio, the famous poet, who had occupied the town. Shisha got in contact with D'Annunzio, which was not approved of by the citizens of the town. One day Shisha was kidnapped from his apartment at gun-point by reactionaries; he was forced into a car, and was driven away. D'Annunzio was informed about it, saved Shisha's life, and advised him to leave the town. First, he worked in the organisation of the Italian Socialist Party in Civita Vecchia, and then he moved to Rome where he worked as an official in charge of the press for the Soviet Embassy. In 1927 he was transferred to Milano where he fell mortally ill, and died there at the age of 34 on July 13, 1927.

Dr. Miklós Shisha was an idealist with a pure soul and an amazingly intelligent person. His attitude to being a Jew is demonstrated in his letters written to his brother who settled in Palestine in 1920. He was not religious, but he was a self-respecting Jew who never denied his identity.

He highly valued the building of Eretz Yisrael. In his letters, he drew a parallel between his humanistic socialism and Zionism which was building the country. He yearned to see Eretz Yisrael being rebuilt, but his dream could not be realized. Fate decided otherwise. The fact that the builders of the new world highly appreciated the activities of Dr. Shisha is attested by the following books written about him:

1.Galilei per a XX. században [The Trial of Galilei in the 20th century] by Jolán Kelen, Kossuth, 1957.

2.Új vizeken járok. A Galilei Kör története [I Walk on New Waters. The History of the Galilei Circle] by Márta Tömöry, Gondolat, Budapest, 1960.

3.Sisa Miklós. 'Forrás', Irodalom, Mûvészet, Tudomány by Nándor Heltai, Kecskemét, July 1969.

ALBERT SHELLEY

Albert Seelenfreund, born in Pápa, was a later successor of the Abaújszántó rabbi Shemen Rokeach. He was a student in the days of Herzl when he founded the Tzeirei Tzion Youth Association in Pápa. He received his diploma as a teacher and a chazan at the National Teacher Training College of Pápa with an excellent record. He was a student at the Teacher Training College and only 19 when, in recognition of his talents, he was invited by the Szeged Jewish Community to take the post of secretary. Chief Rabbi Immanuel Lőw loved this musical genius, whose pleasant baritone voice elevated the ritual of the priestly blessing (Albert was a Cohen) to an artistic level. While working as secretary at Szeged, several of his poems were published in the most intellectual Jewish periodical, Múlt és Jövő, under the name Albert Baráth. During the First World War, in which he was injured, he reached the rank of lieutenant. After the war, he returned to Szeged. He left his secretarial job and worked for a wholesale business firm where he was in charge of exporting paprika

Many years before the Second World War, he travelled with his family to Cuba, then to Mexico, and soon won himself a name as the representative of chemical factories. A series of his articles were published in Spanish in the technical literature. He was in charge of the temple frequented by Hungarians in Mexico City, and his holiday sermons were the highlights of the services.

On the occasion of his 70th birthday, he visited Israel and presented the Bnei Herzl Lodge with a beautiful silver goblet in memory of Immanuel Lőw.

With his vast Jewish learning and faithful religious sentiment, he conquered the hearts of Mexican Jews so much that at his funeral, addresses were given in Spanish, Hebrew and Hungarian. The orators from different Jewish communities eulogized his tireless work for the public. It was a great loss for the Jews of Pápa.

DR. MIKLÓS STERN

He was born in Tab, Somogy County. His father was an engineer who died young. His mother married Lipót Buxbaum, who was a teacher and a school principal at Pápa. The young boy found a real home in Pápa; Lipót Buxbaum gave him an excellent education and he was adored by his new siblings, the Buxbaum children.

He attended the local Protestant High School and passed the matriculation exams there. Then he became a student at the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, where he attracted great attention by his talent as a young scholar of Eastern studies. In 1939 he made aliya and continued his studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He became an orientalist and went to England. First he was a researcher in a college at Oxford, and then he became a professor of eastern languages at Oxford University. He became world-famous in scholarly circles in 1948 on account of a debate he held with the Arab delegates at a Paris conference. He defeated the Arabs by proving on the basis of a verse in the Quran, that the Al-Aqsa mosque cannot have been in Jerusalem. It must have been in the city of Medina, near Mecca. The Arab delegates from the Middle-East created a scandal, but Muslim scholars from more distant countries congratulated him in private.

He is considered among the best orientalists. Unfortunately, the great scholar died young, in 1969.

If you want to get acquainted with real talmidei hachamim from Pápa, you should meet

REV KIVE SCHREIBER,

who was an outstanding Talmudic scholar.

He was the son of the Krakkower rebbe and the grandson of the Chatam Sofer, and dealt with leather. He did not have a shop, his flat was his storehouse. He spoke of it somewhat bitterly, pointing out the rooms in his apartment:

“This is the place where I sleep. This is where my family sleeps. And this is where my business sleeps.”

It was recorded that he received a dowry that was considered unusually large in those days, 5000 gold pieces. On the day of his wedding, he distributed one tenth of it among the poor. When his father-in-law found out, he became angry and questioned him, saying that it was his fortune that Kive dissipated. The chatan's uncle Ktav Sofer was there; he tried to calm him down, saying “Don't worry about our Kive, he will die a rich man.” Later on when he became the owner of a cookware factory and had serious problems because of the bad economic situation, his friends could not see any outward signs of his worries.

On one occasion he was asked by his friend Horovitz (the soap manufacturer he used to study Talmud with in the evenings), how come he gave no signs of worries concerning his serious business difficulties. “I believe in the words of my uncle who said I would not die poor”, replied Kive. Indeed, the encouraging prediction of the great rabbi came true: he left a huge fortune to his son Mordechai Berl, on condition that he would do nothing but study Torah for 10 years.

In fact, Kive himself paid little attention to his business; he lived for the study of the Torah. It was written about him that he knew the 24 books of the Tanach by heart. When he was in business, he used to study in the storeroom all year round. He did not even heat his room in the winter, he was so careful not to spend money on himself. When he had to travel on public business, he did not accept costs from the community treasury. (The budget item accepted in Israel indicated by the acronym eshel – food, drink, lodging for the night - did not exist then.) As a measure of economy, however, he took only dry bread for the trip. Since his life was dedicated to learning, he did not accept the post of the chief rabbi in Krakow that was offered to him when his father died.

“I know how much my father regretted that public affairs and the private matters of his believers distracted him from learning the Torah”, remarked reb Kive.

His folios of the Talmud were filled with marginal notes from his studies.

His letters written to his son, studying at Hunsdorf, were full of witty Biblical commentaries.

It is a credit to his wisdom that he drafted the rules and regulations of the Pápa Jewish community in such a way as to prevent a neolog take-over. According to the rules, the community was to be directed by an 80-member body of representatives and a 23-member religious organization. The first was the result of elections by the community. The 23 members were all learned men in religious studies and they were not chosen by the community. If one of them died or moved to another place, his place was filled by someone invited by the Religious Committee. Candidates for the post of the rabbi, dayan and shochet were nominated by this organ. The body of representatives or the regular community member was authorized to choose only from the functionaries who were recommended by it.

His witticisms were recorded by Albert Neumann, a school principal from Nyíregyháza, in a book entitled Reb Kive Pope.

YECHEZKIEL JENŐ PANETH

He was one of the many excellent teachers who came from Pápa.

He was the son of Talmud instructor Arye Paneth, a descendent of the famous rabbinical dynasty from Dés, who moved to Pápa. Yechezkiel was named after the first Chief Rabbi of Transylvania.

He brought with him the finest virtues and merits of his home town. His work and his attitude towards life were exemplary; he was a truly religious instructor. His self-respecting behaviour and pedantic appearance drew attention in the Jewish teacher training college of Budapest. He remained a stickler for detail inside and outside all his life. He was the favorite student of Professor Bánóczi, the great educator and humanist. He himself was a humanist as well; during 27 years that he spent at the renowned Orthodox School of Budapest, he not only taught the students, he also educated them and provided social care for them. Many of his former students living in Israel remembered how he used to give away his own sandwich to poor students.

Shoah survivors from Pest who were deported together with him told stories about his wonderful behaviour in the camp: how he got for himself new t'filin in place of the ones taken from him by sacrificing his bread for it.

After the war and the tribulations he had gone through in the camp on Cyprus, he reached Israel. He settled in Nitzanim where his daughter lived. He lived in the kibbutz during the hard days of the War of Independence, when he was in charge of the weapons. He remained faithful and continued to live a traditional, religious life in the non-religious kibbutz as well, creating for himself the customary religious atmosphere by his conduct.

At the age of 66, this noble instructor left us forever. The memory of this just man is cherished by the circle of Pápa expatriates.

ZEEV SCHÜKK

The grandson of our dayan Rav Tzvi Eckstein was educated in the traditional spirit of his parents and grandparents, and studied at various yeshivas. After the World War he joined the movement of the Hashomer Hatzair and made aliya. In Israel he was among the founders of the kibbutz Lehavot Chaviva and was active in Mapam. He was a gifted poet. For his collections of poems The Great Night and the Eyes of Sinful Times, he was posthumously awarded the Charchas prize in Kibbutz Eilon. The poems in these collections recalled the Shoah.

 

[Page 105]

THE MOTHER TONGUE OF PÁPA JEWS

The first Jewish settlers who moved there in the 18th century spoke German. Most of them came from Moravia, where they spoke the Silesian dialect. Together with the language, they also brought along German culture. They spoke it not only with one another; they could also use it to talk to the landowner or his steward. The artisans in town were Germans and the majority of villagers nearby were ethnic Germans, so they did not have a language problem. Only rabbis, dayanim and some Talmud scholars wrote in Hebrew; they did not actually speak it. The Hebrew correspondence of rabbis can be traced in collections of responsa. The rabbis of Pápa are mentioned by Rabbi Yehuda Asad, the Chatam Sofer and the Ktav Sofer. Hebrew books were written by secular people as well, mostly doctors.

Until the middle of the 19th century, the spoken language for everyday life remained German; it was also used in business and in family correspondence. Yiddish was unknown in Pápa, even in the most religious circles; you could not hear take zai instead of wirklich so, beshüm aifen was also unheard of. The connection to the Hebrew language was preserved by believers through letters: they wrote Hochdeutsch in Hebrew letters.

Rabbis started their sermons by Andächtige Zuhörer, teaching at school was in German until 1860. At the turn of the century, the Bible and the Psalms were taught in their classical German translations. In the upper grades of the higher elementary school, Uncle Marton used to teach psalms in the Hochdeutsh translation of Frankfurt chief rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch.

The following Jews were excellent Hebraists:

Ármin Schor, principal of the higher elementary school and the son of the Alsókubin rabbi. After losing his father at the age of two, he was taken to his maternal uncle rabbi Groszmann, who was the rabbi of Nagybicse and the author of the halachic book Bet Yakov. He learnt Hebrew so well that at the age of 12 he could write and speak Hebrew perfectly.

Mór Pfeiffer, principal, author of a Hebrew grammar.

Henrik Blau, principal.

Lipót Buxbaum, teacher.

Izsó Várhelyi, teacher, who promoted modern Hebrew, teaching youth the living language.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Hungarian took the place of the German language; Jews became magyarized completely. It became their beloved mother tongue, the language spoken at home. You might accidently find some family heads reading the Pester Lloyd or the Pester Journal, but soon they were displaced by Újság and Pesti Hírlap.

In the beginning of the 1900s, the enthusiasm for the Hungarian language triggered a demonstration of Pápa Jewish students against the performance of the Purim Spiel in German by yeshiva students; windows were broken to stop the performance. On another occasion, at a service for youth, inaugurating a new Torah scroll, the demand was raised to change the word Mittelschule embroidered with gold on the parochet for középiskola.

At that time, the sermons of the rabbi in German drew only few listeners. The Zionist youth attended Hebrew courses, but the spirit of the Hungarian language accompanied the Jewish survivors of Pápa to all corners of the world. As the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 took with them the ancient Sephardic language through the Balkans and to South America, and preserved it for centuries, the Jews from Hungary, at least their first generation, became the missionaries of Hungarian language and culture. Even among the believers of Neturei Karta, the most fanatical Jews, the Hungarian language dominates. The ghettoization, the bitterness of the Jewish laws, the horrors of the forced labour camps and death camps, and all the painful memories caused negative feelings against people only, but not against the innocent language of Petőfi, Arany, Jókai and Ady. As a result, this commemorative book was written in Hungarian about the life of Pápa Jews.

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