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CURRENT CZECH NAME: Humpolec
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The following text was adapted
from the History of Jews in Humpolec by Adolf Brock, from "Die Juden
und Judengemeinden Bohmens in Vergangheit und Gegenwart" by Hugo Gold.
1934. The translator for this text is Rita McLeod.
It is not known when the first Jews settled in Humpolec. According to the
oldest known document kept in the archives of the Zeliv monastery, dated
May 15 1385, there were already several Jewish families living in Humpolec
in 1385. Later, however, there is no mention of them and data from the
1618 census does not refer to a single Jewish inhabitant. It is however
possible that the Jews were included under Heralec estate.
First census list (1719) archived
in the Jewish Community offices in Humpolec, indicates the presence of
10 families with 49 members. The census lists as chairman of the
community one Isaak Mark Falg, a cloth merchant. The successor
to Falg was Isaak Michal Neumann. All we know about him is that he resigned
in 1787 and died in 1801.
There were 24 Jewish families living in Humpolec in 1787. The same year
Kopelman Bondy was elected chairman. He remained in office till 1801, and
died in 1838. In 1801 Lowy Bauer became the chairman. He was probably the
most influential chairman of the Jewish community. He was highly educated,
a hard worker and renown for his charity. He founded a foundation of 10
000 guilders for poor brides from the Bauer family, and also a foundation
for the poor members of the Humpolec Jewish community.
Both these foundations are to this day overseen by the city hall (according
to Bauer's last testament of June 22, 1810). He also bought a house called
"Flusovna" for 275 guilders. In 1801 he established a hospital and public
bath in that building. To the synagogue he donated a new Torah with the
entire silverware, and a velvet cover with gold embroidery, as well as
the screen for the holy container (see the gift certificate of 1807).
After him came the chairman Salomon Beck (died 1824). During his chairmanship
Isaak Kern of Ledec founded the foundation for the Jewish poor in Humpolec.
After S. Beck came Benjamin Stiassny, and after him came Simon Horner (died
1842). A great disaster struck our community during his chairmanship. A
fire in 1825 demolished 10 houses belonging to our members. Gabriel Hellmann
was chairman after Horner (died 1852), and then came Rubin Bauer (died
1857), Aron Lowy and Emanuel Pollak (1846-1857).
During this period two charitable branches of the community were established:
in 1851 "Kupos anijim" by Michal Lowy and Elias Hellmann, to support local
and foreign Jewish poor, and in 1852 "Bikkur cholim" by dr. Salomon Frank
for the purchase of medicine for the poor, and/or providing food to the
In 1854 the former chairman Rubin Bauer donated a new Torah to the community,
kuppah and the capital of 105 guilders, the interest of which is used for
the maintenance of these objects.
At the same time a great benefactor Jakub Beck founded several foundations
for the poor, donated grants for students, endowments for schools. Altogether
he donated 1312 guilders and 50 crowns.
The same year for the first time a Jew was elected to the town council
-- Dr. Salomon Frank. The following year brought our community a new gift
of a Torah with its covering and silverware.
In 1857 Emanuel Pollak resigned and was replaced by Albert Bauer, who resigned
in 1858. In 1857 two more foundations were created: the Rubin Bauer
Foundation (capital of 420 guilders), and Isaak Lowy Foundation (capital
of 420 guilders, as well as synagogue seats number 26, 33, 40 and 15.)
After Albert Bauer came Leopold Lowy, who was in office only for one year.
Ignac Hellmann was elected chairman in 1859. In 1861 he founded and
built a two-class Hebrew-German school. This school was approved by the
council on September 15, 1861 (permit #46.516) and it opened in 1862.
In 1861 the citizens elected Ignaz Hellmann and Albert Bauer to the council,
as well as Filip Stiassny as replacement. This was a proof of the religious
tolerance and progress of the Christian citizens, who did not examine religion
when electing councilors, but looked more at the individual's ability and
suitability for an elected office. In 1864 many Jews received the rights
of town citizens, this is an additional proof of religious tolerance. During
that time Abraham Hellmann, Leopold Haller and Albert Bauer were elected
to the town council and Emanuel Pollak was made a judge. Thus Ignac Hellmann
elevated our community and earned for us the respect and appreciation of
our Christian co-citizens. He resigned after five, for us blessed years,
After Hellman's resignation, Marek Bauer was called as the chairman. This
was a man of unusually high education (1864-1879). Many foundations
were established under his chairmanship -- "Ner Tomid" (eternal light),
a metal safe was bought together with Chevrah Kadisha, and a regular payment
from the "beer money" was requested and obtained for the maintenance of
the school. Under the direction of Solomon Klein he founded "Talmud Tora"
(school supporting division of the community), foundation supporting poor
women (1867). He also proposed a new set of bylaws for our community
(1874), which was approved in 1875.
Although on the surface Bauer was an excellent chairman, so much so that
he was elected President of the State Jewish Organization, as well as a
member of Humpolec town council, he did not understand and maintain the
internal economy of our community. After his death the community was in
such sorrow state that its financial resurrection was hardly possible.
Not only was there no money, but the community was faced with many debts.
An emergency general meeting of the community was called on July 6, 1879
and Leopold Haller (1879-1881) was elected chairman. Haller
ruled energetically and with a steady hand he brought affairs under control.
In 1880, last day of the "Podzelene" holidays, the synagogue was robbed
of its silver ware, part of which was later recovered from the chimney
and from the gutter. When Chairman Heller wanted to expand the school by
two rooms, he met with opposition and therefore resigned.
After Heller, Moric Bondy became the chairman on August 15, 1881 (1881-1887).
Moric Bondy's leadership of our community was careful and he anxiously
took care to keep order in financial matters.
During the next election, held on August 7 1887, JUDr. [Doctor of Law]
Alexander Frank (1887-1902) was elected. He was well known for his good
heartedness. He was generous to the poor, and supported all things beautiful,
not only in our community, but also in the wider public, where he was held
in high esteem. On the other hand, he did not pay too much attention to
the matters of the community and neglected many things. Under his leadership,
a choir "Shir Sion" was founded in 1890.
In 1896, new bylaws and regulations of our community, as a self-governing
corporation, were developed, and approved by the regional imperial government
of Czech lands. These were based on the law of March 21, 1890, which established
new rules of governing Jewish communities. The school, established in 1861,
was abolished at the end of 1900 school year. After the death of Dr. Frank
in June 1902, the community was chaired briefly by Emanuel Mandler, and
then, in elections on July 27, 1902, Dr. Zibrid Lederer was elected. At
that time our community had 63 members and 320 family members, and the
incorporated area of the community included Humpolec district, and the
Vez and Lipnice villages. Apart from the synagogue and the school, the
community owned house # 494 in Humpolec and had funds of 32 000 crowns
for charitable purposes. There were four independent groups active in our
community: 1. The funeral brotherhood of Chevrah Kadisha, 2. Group for
supporting poor Israelite women, 3. Group for supporting poor girls, and
4. Choir group "Shir Sion". Other departments of the community included
a) "Kupas Anijim" for the poor, b) educational "Talmud Torah", c) "Bikur
Cholim" for the sick, d) "Zedaka", and e) Ner Tomid" for keeping the eternal
The new board of the community, elected on July 27 1902, was very busy
sorting out all the bills and funds, and reforming the governing process
of the community. On its first meeting on August 4 1902, they established
private tutoring in Hebrew, support of the poor who did not belong to the
community, and established proper accounting procedures in the community
books. After abolishing the private German school, some of the educational
materials were left to the school in Dobríš, some to local public
In April 1903, Antonie Dvoráková from Bystrá started
a rumour about a ritual murder committed by the cantor Mr. Posamentir.
The court investigation, which started immediately, exonerated the accused
and Antonie Dvoráková was imprisoned for eight days. In 1904,
religious education was commenced and fees set for marriage ceremonies.
Next year the bylaws for the poor women support group were adopted, and
new elections confirmed again Dr. Lederer as chairman.
At the same time, the community finally received the ownership of the house
# 194, donated by the Reiner family from Královec, which was sold
on September 8 1905 to Mr. Pichler for 1200 crowns. Half of that amount
was used to adapt an apartment in the former school for the second cantor,
Mr. Traub, the rest of 600 crowns was deposited in a term account for the
In 1907, appropriate measures were take to establish religious education
in Vez, Herálec, Vojslavice and Cejov.
In February 1908, new elections
again confirmed Dr. Lederer.
In 1909, Dr. Stiller from Budapest announced to the community an inheritance
from the Baroness Schlossberg of 600 crowns.
New elections in April 1911 again confirmed Dr. Lederer. In August
1911, after working for the community for 32 years, cantor Jakub Posamentir
In December 1913 our vice-cantor, Max Schwarz left our community, as he
moved to Prague.
In 1914, our community took over the Rosalie Bondová Endowment from
Lipnice of 200 crowns for the poor. Dr. Zibrid Lederer was
again successfully elected in June 1914.
The World War affected the life of our community, as many members of our
community or their sons were drafted to serve. The war affected us in other
ways as well. The Jewish refugees from Galicia arrived, and our community
and its individual members had to provide support of clothes and money
to them. In April, 1915 the number of Jewish refugees from Poland increased
considerably, and although members of the local community committed voluntarily
670 crowns a month, their support and generosity was not enough. Therefore,
a collection from the wider community was initiated, which brought in over
The presence of Jewish refugees in the region increased the already existing
anti-Jewish tensions, mainly because the refugees insisted on their rituals
and customs. This caused animosity and hatred from the local inhabitants
who often accused them unjustly of various crimes.
In January and February 1916, several more members of our community, mostly
older ones, joined the Army. We regret the passing of Arnošt Kraus who
at the age of 49 lost his life to typhus on a Russian battlefield and was
buried at the Jewish cemetery in Lucek on April 20 1916.
Our community lost a long-time member and Chevrah Kadisha its chairman.
Members of our community will no doubt keep his memory alive.
In last days of June 1916, another 297 refugees arrived in the Humpolec
region and it was necessary for our members to take care of them. In 1918,
the work began on repatriating these refugees back to Galicia and Bukovina.
Because of their total number of 724, their stay was becoming intolerable,
as food rations were low. Last refugees left our region on May 9 1918.
On October 28 1918, an independent and free Czechoslovak State was proclaimed
in Prague, under the cheers of thousands and thousands. The 300 years long
servitude of the Czech nation was over.
In Humpolec, happy inhabitants celebrated this on October 29. The Jewish
Community celebrated the new Czechoslovak State by a special service on
November 7, 1918. Just a few days before, at a special commemorative meeting
of the Jewish community, Chairman Lederer delivered an exultant speech
and conveyed our hope for better future of the Jewish people. During the
same meeting, the Board donated 400 crowns to the widows and orphans of
the Czech legionaries. At the occasion of the finished war and truce, our
Chairman remembered all the fallen peers from our community: Arnošt Kraus,
Leo Haller, and J. Müller from Humpolec, J. Freund from Zeliv, Hugo
Pollák from Kejzlice, J. Bauer and G. Glückner from Herálec
and J. Bondy from Lipnice. Their memory was honored by inscription in our
Memorial book and by members standing up.
January 11, 1920 brought another election, and Dr. Zibrid Lederer was again
elected chairman. He resigned in February 1922, and when, despite protests
and pleas of the community he persisted, Adolf Brock was elected new chairman
on March 4, 1920 and his deputy was JUDr. Otto Posamentir.
During the election on November 22, 1922 Dr. Otto Posamentir was elected
chairman and Zibrid Zajtschek was elected his deputy.
Our former chairman Dr. Zibrid Lederer died on September 5, 1924 (6 Elul
5684) and was buried on September 7 at the local cemetery. Nobody
from the Board made a speech to commemorate a man who administered the
community so honestly and diligently from July 27 1902 until March 4 1922.
The elections on January 3, 1926 did not bring any changes in the leadership
and Dr. Posamentir was again elected Chairman. Membership is continually
decreasing, which causes increases in membership fees. In order for the
community to maintain its financial viability, the Board is forced to ask
members as well as compatriots living abroad for voluntary contributions.
The future looks bleak and unsustainable.
NOTABLE RESIDENTS AND DESCENDANTS:
Chairmen of the Jewish community in Humpolec (1719-1902): Isák Marek
Falg (1719-??), Isák Michal Neumann (??-1797), Kopelman Bondy (1787-1901),
Löwy Bauer (1801-1807), Šalamoun Beck (1807-1824), Benjamin Stiassny
(1824-??), Simon Horner (??-1842), Gabriel Hellmann (1842-1843), Rubín
Bauer (1843-1844), Aron Löwy (1844-1846), Emanuel Pollák (1846-1857),
Albert Bauer (1857-1858), Leopold Löwy (1858-1859), Ignác Hellmann
(1859-1864), Marek Bauer (1864-1879), Leopold Haller (1879-1881), Moric
Bondy (1881-1887), JUDr. Alexander Frank (1887-1902), JUDr. Zibrid Lederer
Religious services were performed in private households. In 1754 the above
mentioned Isaak Mark Falg applied to the owner of Heralec estate Jakub
Benedikt, freeholder of Neffzern, as well as to the gubernium and the archbishop,
for the permission to build a synagogue. The building began in 1760.
The building site (a garden of Jan Becvar, who received a field "Tajovsko"
instead) was sold by the freeholder of Neffzern to the Jewish Community
for 420 Rhine guilders. The money used was collected from local and foreign
Israelites, and the new synagogue was dedicated in 1762 by the chairman
Isaak Mark Falg. As the property was bought by the Jewish community from
a Christian owner, the Jewish community had to pay two guilders to the
Humpolec presbytery each year. This is evidenced by a certified confirmation
of 1798 in the archives of the Jewish community in Humpolec.
Ignac Hellmann was a modern and progressive man, who kept pace with
the mood of the time and cared to elevate the spiritual life of the community.
Thanks to his generosity and charity, the synagogue was renovated and decorated
during the period that Hellman served as chairman (1859-1864). A
gallery was built for the women's section, and number of seats extended.
He also modernized the services and introduced singing into the services.
During his Bondy's chairmanship a thorough reconstruction of the synagogue
and of the school was undertaken (1882) and the Jewish community joined
the group of "Czech academics-Jews" in Prague (1883).
On May 25, 1886, our community was dealt a major blow. At 2 a.m. a fire
started in the tailor Medek's house in the "Jewish town". In strong winds,
the fire consumed 16 houses and the synagogue. Nine Jewish families were
left homeless. However, the same day by 10 a.m. members of the congregation
collected among themselves 337 guldens and 35 kreutzers and 290 guldens
were immediately distributed to the victims. For schooling, a room at the
"White Lion" inn was rented. The collection yielded altogether 2555 guldens
and 80 kreutzers.
General meeting on June 20, 1886 decided to begin construction of a new
school building and to rebuild the synagogue. This was completed by the
end of August 1886.
In 1892, a semicircular choir stall was built at the synagogue. This is
where the choir placed its organ. The law of March 21, 1890 forced our
community to set up a competition for the position of Rabbi. PhDr. Moric
Wohl was appointed (1894). The time gave birth to the Pollak Endowment
(2000 crowns for the poor) and our community joined the "National Czech-Jewish
Unity". Rabbi Dr. Wohl started with us in 1895 and left us in 1898. Since
then, our Rabbi had been Marek Jedlinský.
On Jewish New Year in 1908, Mr. Beck donated to the community a precious
gift of 200 crowns. Half of that amount was distributed among the poor,
half was used for the reconstruction fund of the synagogue.
September 12, 1912, first year of the New Year 5673, commemorated 150 years
since the synagogue was consecrated, which Rabbi Jedlinský remembered
in his address.
On February 4, 1913, the Board of our community named Herman Beck of Vienna,
the director of Emerich Dít? company in Humpolec, an honorary member
of our community. Managers of this company installed electric light
in the entire building of the synagogue, totally at their own cost. This
allowed the synagogue to shine in its full glory for the first time on
the eve of Pesach on April 21 1913.
In April 1914, to commemorate his dead parents, Richard Dubský from
Prague 2 donated two stain-glass windows to the synagogue, which enhanced
its beauty enormously.
In 1920 the synagogue and cemetery were repaired by the joint effort of
Chevrah Kadisha and the community, at the cost of 13 thousand crowns. This
money was partly obtained by a collection among local members and compatriots
In 1923, the town of Humpolec built a pavement in front of the synagogue,
with partial contribution of the Jewish Community. On December 12, 1923
Rabbi Jedlinský died (4 Tebet 5684) and was buried on December
16 in the local cemetery.
The previous year already marked a decrease in synagogue attendance, and
this trend continues. There are a number of causes. Older members pass
on and their descendants do not care to come, mainly because of their lack
of Hebrew. This prevents them from following the services. This shows what
happens when inflexibility and backwardness in religion prevails. Only
the renewal of Jewish religion and its reform into the national language,
in this case the Czech language, can bring the desired improvements.
In July 1924, our community got a new Rabbi, Benedikt Wendeles.
A field was purchased in 1719 and a cemetery established by chairman Falg.
The same also founded the Chevrah Kadisha in 1728 and became its first
chairman. The following chairmen were Solomon Lobl Lurje, Bernard Beck
(died 1801), Lazarus Bauer (died 1854), Albert Bauer (died 1884), Abraham
Bondy (died 1897), Adolf Bauer (died 1900) and Simon Schneider (since).
In 1914, our community took over the Adolf Pollák Endowment from
Vienna of 4000 crowns for the upkeep of graves and for the poor.
In 1920 the cemetery was repaired by the joint effort of Chevrah Kadisha
and the community.
SOURCES: Die Juden und
Judengemeinden Bohmens, Hugo Gold ed. (1934), pp:
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