“Vác” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Hungary

47°47' / 19°08'

Translation of the “Vác” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Hungary

Edited by: Theodore Lavi

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1975


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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

Francine Shapiro

 

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for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Hungary: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Hungary,
Edited by Theodore Lavi, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. Pages 284-285.


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.


[Pages 284-285]

Vác

Translated by Shlomo Sneh with the assistance of Francine Shapiro

City in the Pest region located on the Danube River, 33 kilometers from Budapest.
It was called Weitzan by the Jews, a Hungarian name. Population in 1941; 22,130.

Jewish Population

Year Number % of Total
Population
1840 5 ---
1869 1,394 10.8
1880 1,543 11.7
1890 1,609 11.1
1900 1,875 11.2
1920 2,131 11.3
1930 2,059 10.6
1941 1,854 8.4
1946 377 1.7

Until the Second World War

Even during the period of Turkish rule, in the sixteenth century, there was Jewish settlement. After the expulsion of the Turks in 1684 the town was destroyed, and the Jews left it with the Turkish Army. Until the nineteenth century there were no Jews in Vác, and no trace of them in official reports. Only when settlement of Hungarian Jews was permitted in Hungarian towns in 1839-1840, did the first Jews settle in Vác. They were merchants who directed businesses in Vác, but they were forced to return every evening to the nearby village of Penc, where they were permitted to live.

The rapid growth of the number of Jews stopped in the First World War, and there was even a decrease of their numbers afterwards.

Most Jews were merchants, especially dealing in wine and wheat. 90% of the local trade was concentrated in the hands of Jews. A minority were estate owners, who owned textile factories, building supply factories, and wood-product plants.

The community was organized in 1841. After the split of Jewish communities in Hungary in 1869, the Vác community split also. The majority defined itself as Orthodox.

In 1875 the two parts united and declared itself Status Quo. Only a few of the most radical separated and established for themselves an Orthodox community. At last, 1930 the united community also defined itself as Orthodox. The community owned a library, and an organized archive. Welfare institutions of the community were: a Women's Organization (opened in 1868), and Malbish Arumim for clothing the poor.

There was an elementary school for boys, founded in 1857. In 1922 a junior high school (Paul Gari Iskola) for girls opened, and a similar one for boys, with provision for boarding. The Orthodox community opened an elementary school of its own in 1882, and with it a Talmud Torah. There were two yeshivas in Vác, one Orthodox, which was very famous, especially after the First World War, and had about 50 students. The second belonged to the Status Quo community, and was headed by Rabbi Shraga Feish Pollák.

Here we mention some of the famous rabbis of the Status Quo communities: Anshel Neiman (1800-1862) who made aliyah to Eretz Yisroel, and published his book, Kerem Ben Shemen (Jerusalem, 1910). Shraga Feish Pollák, was the author of the book Tishbi, which includes questions, answers, and sermons about the Torah (Vác 1927). He was also the rabbi of the Central Prison in Vác. He was murdered in the Holocaust. Famous Orthodox community rabbis were David Leib Silbershtain (1876-1884), the author of the book Shvilei David (Jerusalem, 1866, Munkach, 1873). His son, Yeshaiah Silbershtain (1856-1935), was the author of Ma'ase LaMelech, about the religious rules of sacrifices. It was about Hilchot Korbanot by the Rambam (part I, 1913, part II Ungvar 1930). He was also famous as a community activist for Orthodox Jews in Hungary, and also headed the Orthodox yeshiva in Vác. The next rabbi was his son, David Yehuda Silbershtain (1935-1944), who was murdered in Auschwitz. Zvi Hirsh Meisels, the author of the book Siach MeKadshei HaShem, who came to Vác from Novy Targ in Poland, was the rabbi of the local Hassidim.

Vác was one of the printing centers in Hungary. Two Hebrew printing presses were established there during the First World War. (One was owned by Moshe Eliahu Cohen, and the other belonged to Rabbi David Zvi Katzburg.) Some important Hungarian Hebrew periodicals came from these presses. One Torah-oriented bi-weekly, Tel Talpiot, was edited by Rabbi D.Z. Katzburg, during the years 1892-1938. The monthly Mazikei HeDat in the districts Nyitra and Pressburg (in Slovakia Pozsony), was edited by Rabbi Lichtensterin ; the Jewish Sciences Quarterly, HaTzofei Me Eretz Hagar, edited by Yehuda Blau; the weekly HaYehudi, edited by Avigdor (Feuershtein) HaMeiri, who printed in Vác his first volume of poems in 1912. Dozens of Torah-oriented books, booklets, and scientific papers were also published in Vác.

The Holocaust

A temporary ghetto was established in March 1944, after the entrance of the Germans into Hungary. All the Jews of Vác were transferred to the brick factory in the nearby town of Mono. Their transfer was done quickly, and they were permitted to take only a little food. Jewelry and valuables were taken from them. In the Mono ghetto there were also Jews from nearby settlements: Alag, Alsógöd, Dunakeszi and Veresegyház. Arrested Jews lived for four weeks outdoors, fed by their small supplies of food they brought. Finally they were taken to Auschwitz. Very few returned after the war, and they organized a new little Orthodox community, but little by little the numbers dwindled. Some immigrated to another country, others moved to Budapest, and the community ceased to exist. There are very few Jews who now remain in Vác. Many of the former Vác Jews returned to their community and prayed there during the High Holidays.


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

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