“Varpalota” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Hungary

47°12' / 18°08'

Translation of the “Varpalota” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Hungary

Edited by: Theodore Lavi

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1975


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Francine Shapiro

Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
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.


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 287-288]

Varpalota

Town in the region of Veszprem, at the foot of Mount Bakony, 11 kilometers from Szekesfehervar.
In 1941 the population was 8,807. In Jewish documents the town was called Palata.

Jewish Population

Year Number % of Total
Population
1869 160 2.2
1880 162 2.1
1890 226 2.6
1900 312 3.3
1910 304 3.1
1920 356 3.2
1930 273 2.5
1941 224 2.0
1946 126 1.2
1949 73  

Until the end of the First World War

A Jew was mentioned in 1542, whose profession was coining money, but real Jews settlement began at the beginning of the eighteenth century, under the auspices of the Zichy noble family who owned Varpalota more than 200 years, since 1650. The first Jews arrived there from Austria, after Kaiser Charles III expelled them. In 1848 the right to settle in Varpalota was given to the municipal council, and taken from the landlord. It transferred the right to settle to the Jewish community.

The majority of the Jews of Varpalota were merchants and tenants, who rented shops and butcher shops. Some were peddlers of all kinds of agricultural products.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, railroads which connected villages and towns. This made the farmers need the merchandise of the Jews of Varpalota less. Many of the local Jews moved to other cities, but when a coal mine was opened there, the importance of the place grew, and the number of Jews grew with it.

According to local Jewish tradition, the founding of the mine is connected with the halachic answers of the rabbi of Varpalota, Rabbi Abraham Singer. He called on the local authorities to note that there was a spring called Szenhely, which means “a place of coal.” Local attitudes to Jews were usually positive, and they were supported whenever the landlords or their representatives persecuted them.

There was an official document from 1831, which pointed out that the local Jews didn't cause harm to the city, but the opposite. They were useful as renters of apartments, or clever merchants who supplied goods to the place, taking only a small profit, and also as taxpayers. The Jews rewarded their non-Jewish neighbors as well as they could several times. When a plague broke out the Jews established a hospital, which served the whole city, and when the church bells wee injured by fire in 1860, the Jews collected money to restore them.

In 1878 the community defined itself as a status quo community.

It had a Hevra Kadisha, which was established in the first half of the nineteenth century, a Women's Association, and a society for helping poor Jews, established in 1890. It also had a yeshiva and Talmud Torah, established in 1850.

The synagogue was built in the middle of the eighteenth century. When the building became too cramped for everyone to pray in it, a glorious building was built. It was opened in 1840, in the presence of representative of church, district, and municipal authorities, a very rare phenomenon in this era in Hungary. The elementary Jewish school was established about the time of the construction of the first synagogue. In 1786 the school had a building of its own. In 1840 there were two teachers in it, Hungarian and German. In Varpalota there were a few famous scholars-rabbis. Of them we shall mention Rabbi Israel Ben -Yehuda Leib (1782-1808). During his time in office the majority of community institutions were established. He composed the community and burial society regulations, following the rules of the Prague community.

We have mentioned Rabbi Abraham Singer, (1849-1914), who was the rabbi of Varpalota, some dozens of years until his death. Rabbi Singer wrote a history of Hungarian Jewry, and the movement for religious reform in the nineteenth century (1899). His son, Rabbi Yehuda Leib (Leo) Singer followed him as rabbi of Varpalota from 1914. He wrote the history of the community, and translated the Psalms and an abridged version of the Shulchan Aruch into Hungarian, and prose. He was murdered in the Holocaust.

During the White Terror after the First World War, the Jews were not molested l because of good relations between the Jewish and non-Jewish population. This was one of the few places where the Jews were not harmed at all.

The Holocaust

In 1942 Jews doing forced labor were brought to Varpalota to uproot the trees of the forest in the vicinity, and the community helped them in many ways.

In the middle of May 1944 the Jews of Varpalota were concentrated in a ghetto situated in the old synagogue and its attached buildings. Afterwards they were taken to Sakashpahruer ghetto, and from June 17-21 were sent to Auschwitz. After the war only a few Jews returned to Varpalota, and community life was not renewed.


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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