In the 1800s, there was a substantial Jewish community in virtually every village in Szabolcs County, with their share of the population often exceeding 10 percent.
The small villages were where the Jews first settled in Hungary. Initially they were forbidden to live in most of the cities. In any event, Hungary was a very poor country which offered little in the way of livelihood, and the villages were where the Jews could earn a living. In Hungary, many of the early Jewish settlers became farmers themselves, something which happened almost nowhere else in Europe.
There is some dispute, and uncertainty in the historical record, as to when Jews were first allowed to own land in Szabolcs County. The national law of toleration in 1867 gave them full civil rights, including the right to own land. However, this does not rule out the possibility that in some cases they were de facto land owners earlier than that. Prior to the reforms of 1867, almost all land was owned by the aristocracy, and most Christian Hungarians were not landowners either. Jews started in Hungary as tenants of the aristocrats, especially as tenants operating taverns and slaughterhouses. From this they expanded to lease larger tracts which they farmed, often with hired labourers.
It should be noted that rural Hungary is different from North America, in that almost everybody lived in villages, rather than on individual family farms. Even those people who owned farm land lived in a house in the village and travelled to their fields (which tended to be in scattered holdings).
The village summaries all make a point of indicating the "mother congregation" to which the Jewish community of that village was affiliated. In Hungary, this hierarchical relationship was mandated by national laws that recognized religions and required such affiliations. This information is useful to the genealogical researcher, because it is an indication of where records pertaining to a particular village may have been kept.
The Jewish populations of the villages peaked around 1880. After that the populations in the smallest villages started to decline, and generally fell by about 50 percent into the 1940s, as the younger generations moved for the greater opportunities in larger towns and cities. It is likely that about 80 percent of the Jewish population of rural Hungary perished in the Holocaust. The survivors came back to their villages briefly, mainly to see if anybody else from their families had come back. After gathering what few belongings they could salvage, and selling any land, they moved on, mainly to Israel or North America. There are virtually no Jews left in Szabolcs, where they flourished for a space of 200 years or so.
Translator's note: the Hungarian original, in discussing education in each town, will mention both an "iskola" (Hungarian for school) and a "heder" (Yiddish for a religious elementary school) along with its "melameds" (religious teachers). I have left the Yiddish terms untranslated, as they appear in the original.
The "White Terror" frequently referred to in the text that follows was a series of pogroms throughout Hungary in 1919, which left about 3000 Jews dead. It followed the supression of the Communist regime that briefly ruled Hungary after World War I, many of whose leaders had been Jewish. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 8, p. 1095).
In several of the articles, it is mentioned that Jewish-owned land was confiscated in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Apparently, this was not universal. It depended on the whim of the local officials in each town, specifically the town-clerk ("jegyzo").
% of Town
Jews first settled in Ajak in the second half of the 18th century. They are already mentioned in the census of 1770. They earned their living as merchants, craftsmen and lessors of land.
The congregation was formed in 1902, and was under the authority of the rabbinate of Kisvarda. It had a synagogue, a cemetery and a religious school (heder) with 10 to 12 children.
When irregular troops were organized to fight against the Czechs, a unit was stationed in Ajak. The Jewish population suffered greatly at their hands.
The young men were taken away to the forced labour battalions. In 1944, the fifty remaining in the community were taken to the ghetto in Kisvarda. Only five of them survived.
The 1747 tax census mentions just one Jew in Anarcs, whose name was listed as Gregorius Jakobovics.
The chief occupations were merchants (mainly of potatoes) and crafts. The congregation was established in the first have of the 19th century, and it belonged to the rabbinate of Kisvarda. The congregation maintained a synagogue, a cemetery, a religious school (heder) and a mikveh.
Gravestones in the cemetery indicate that Jews were already living in this village in the first half of the 18th century.
Their occupations were merchants, various crafts, farmers, and millers. The congregation belonged to the rabbinate of Nyirmada. It had a synagogue, cemetery, Hevra Kaddisha, and a charitable fund (gemilat hesed). The community supported a slaughterer, teacher, and sexton. Our brothers in this town were distinguished by their deep religious devotion. Many of the youth left the town, to move to towns that had famous rabbis as their spiritual leaders.
Between the two wars, the Greek Orthodox priest was active in inciting the population against the Jews. In 1941, 25 young men were inducted into the labour battalions.
In 1944, immediately after Passover, the Jews were crammed into the Kisvarda ghetto. After the war, 5 men returned from the labour battalions, and 12 women from deportation. The Jews from Nagyjako also moved here. The synangogue survived the war in good condition, and for a few years they continued their religious life here in a limited way. However, after awhile it became apparent that they could not go on, and the synagogue was demolished.
The census of the 1770s already mentions Jews living in Dombrad. They were attracted here by the favourable terms offered by the large landowners.
The majority of Dombrad's Jews were small merchants, who mainly dealt in the regions renowned crops of potatoes and tobacco. There were also a few craftsmen, such as shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, butchers and carpenters. There were also civil servants. There were three Jewish physicians in the town, one of them being the town's medical officer, and the pharmacist. Jews owned the distillery, the mill, the sawmill and a factory refining medicinal herbs. There were 18 farmers, including three who were substantial landowners.
The congregation appears to have been established in the second half of the 18th century, and in 1868 it opted to join the Orthodox movement. The following smaller communities reported to the Dombrad congregation: Tiszakanyar, Borgaszka (5 Jews), Karahalom (9 Jews), and Rekhaloma (4 Jews). The congregation had a Hevra Kaddishah, a sisterhood, charitable fund (gemilat hesed), tiferet bahurim and hevra shas. In addtion to a rabbi, the small congregation supported two teachers, a cantor (who doubled as the slaughterer), and a sexton. The congregation had both a yeshiva and an elementary school.
The synagogue was built near the end of the 18th century. Later it was renovated and enlarged. Among its rabbis was Leichtag Efraim (1920-1944), the author of the book Minhat Efraim.
There were a few members of the community with Zionist inclinations, but they kept a low profile, both because of opposition from the government and religious extremists. Some of the young people who were sympathetic to Zionism left Dombrad and moved to towns with more active Zionist organizations.
Several Jews from Dombrad fought in the 1848 uprising. The congregation mourned 12 members who died fighting bravely in the first world war.
Following the first world war, Dombrad was briefly under Romanian occupation. The Romanian soldiers looted many Jewish homes and businesses. Fortunately, there were no Jewish casualties of the "White Terror" in Dombrad, but its effects were still felt. There was an extensive anti-semitic campaign that urged Christians not to shop at Jewish stores or do any business with Jews.
In 1935, a peasant party called "Spade and Sickle" was formed, and one of the first acts of this group was the looting of Jewish stores. A Jew who had been an officer in the war organized a defensive militia, answering force with force. This sharp repraisal put an end to these atrocious acts.
The anti-Jewish law of 1938 deprived the Jews of Dombrad of their livelihood. The state expropriated both small and large landowners without any compensation. Jewish officials were fired from their jobs. Most merchants and craftsmen were unable to get their licenses renewed. In spite of depriving them of their livelihood, the government insisted that they pay taxes for a year even after they were no longer allowed to operate their businesses.
In 1942 the men were taken to labour camps, and immediately after they were distributed to battalions heading to the Ukraine. Some of them were captured by the Russians, but the majority of them were killed by the cold and hunger. Many of them were shot along the way by soldiers.
In April of 1944 our brothers from Dombrad were squeezed into the yard of the synagogue in Kisvarda. At first they were told that they could take their necessary belongings with them. Then, at night, they were attacked by gendarmes, who robbed them of most of their belongings. Their plight was eased somewhat when they were allowed to receive food packages from relatives in Budapest.
Shortly after they were transported to the ghetto, they were deported to Auschwitz. There the old, the children, and mothers with children were immediately gassed. After the war, not a single Jew returned to Dombrad. The congregation's buildings were sold, and the survivors made aliyah.
Jews already were living here at the time of the census in the 1770s. The first settles came from Subcarpathia. The cemetery shows that Jews lived here a long time ago. The majority of the Jews were merchants, but there were also craftsmen and farmers. There was a mill and a distillery owned by Jews. The congregation belonged to that of Kisvarda, but there was a local prayerhouse and heder. They supported a slaughterer, a sexton, and an occasional teacher. As there was not a school, the children went to study in Kisvarda, which was nearby.
In 1919, during the "White Terror," several Jews were taken and imprisoned in Kisvarda. In 1938 the first anti-Jewish law deprived the farmers of their land. In 1944, right after Passover, the Jews of Fenyeslitke were dragged to the ghetto of Kisvarda. After much suffering and hunger, their path led to Auschwitz. After they were taken away, a mob broke into the prayerhouse, tore up the Torah scroll, and desecrated the building. A few Jews returned after the war and stayed for a time, but then moved away. By 1947, there were only two Jewish families remaining in the village.
The census of the 1770s already found Jews in Gemzse. The small community always had a hard life in this insignificant little village, many of them toiling as farmers on small pieces of land. Our brothers in Gemzse belonged to the Orthodox congregation of Mandok.
In 1941 the men were taken for labour service. Three years later they put the old and the women and the children onto wagons and transported them to the ghetto. From there, their path led to death.
The census of 1747 mentioned a Jewish family of four people. They were followed later by others from Subcarpathia and Galicia.
The majority of them were occupied as grain and potato traders. There were also a few craftsmen and farmers. They were on good terms with their gentile neighbours. The congregation gave up its independence, and joined that of Kisvarda in 1895. It also shared the cemetery in Kisvarda.
Zionism was not widespread, but in spite of that most houses had charity boxes for the KKL and Rabbi Meir Baal Haness.
Two Jewish soldiers from Gyulahaza were killed in the World War I. The anti-Jewish atrocities began in 1940 with the breaking of Jewish windows. The "Hangya" ("ant") cooperative was established with the aim of putting Jewish merchants out of business.
In 1941, 15 young men were taken into the labour service. Those who stayed behind were taken in 1944, immediately after Passover, to the ghetto in Kisvarda. The first group was transported to Auschwitz on the second day of Shavuot, and immediately gassed. After the war, 5 young women and 10 young men (who had been in labour service near Munkacs) returned. They found the synagogue in ruins. They did not start a new life in the village, but moved away.
The 1774 census mentions Jews, who settled in Gyure by special permission. They were mainly merchants, but there were also a few craftsmen and farmers. Until 1880, Gyure was an independent congregation, and Nagyvarsony also belonged to it. Later, it amalgamated with the Kisvarda congregation.
In 1925, Rabbi Roth Shmuel was chosen as rabbi, and at that time it once again became an independent congregation. Kopocsapati, Kisvarsany and Revaranyos belonged to it. They had a Hevra Kadishah, a cemetery, a mikvah, and a slaughterhouse. However, there was no synagogue, and the services were in private homes. However, there was a slaughterer, a sexton, and some melameds.
The community suffered greatly during the Romanian occupation. Several were tortured and robbed. The "Ragged Guard" irregular troops also brought much suffering to the Jews. They launched an actual pogrom against the Jews, which the authorities watched with their hands in their laps. The first anti-Jewish laws caused many to lose their livelihoods. Life became increasingly difficult.
Starting in 1941, the young men were taken for labour service. In 1944, with the beginning of the Nazi's anti-Jewish campaign, several Jews were taken prisoner to Nyiregyhaza, and tortured. After Passover, the Jews of Gyure were put on wagons and forced into the Kisvarda ghetto. They were taken to Auschwitz with the first transport. After the war, most of the survivors left the village behind. In 1963, there was not a single Jew living in Gyure.
The first Jews settled here in the second half of the 18th century. The village's agricultural land was the property of several aristocrats, who established plants for processing the local produce. The Jews were left out of this business, and hence their population did not increase here. Indeed, the young tended to move away from the village.
Since 1855, the congregation was affiliated with Mandok.
In 1944, they were transported first to Mandok, next to Kisvarda, and then Auschwitz, where they all perished.
This small community belonged to the Nyirmada congregation. They only had a prayer house and cemetery. The Jews were merchants and artisans, but there was one who owned an estate of 420 acres. After Passover in 1944, they were taken to the ghetto of Kisvarda. A few returned after the war, but by 1963 there were no Jews in Laskod.
The census of the 1770s already mentioned several Jews in Mandok. An independent Orthodox congregation was established in 1867, and many of the smaller communities in the Tisza region were affiliated with it. For a time Mandok gave up its independence, and became affiliated with the congregation of Kisvarda, but thereafter became independent again.
Spiritual life was directed by a rabbi, who was supported by a slaughterer, a teacher and a melamed. There was a synagogue, a Hevrah Kadishah, an elementary school, a heder, a Talmudic study group (Hevrah Shas), library, mikvah, kosher slaughterhouse, and matzoh bakery. The school and a community building were owned by the congregation.
In 1938 the Hungarian Government arranged for the establishment of volunteer troops of irregular soldiers (szabadcsapat). Their putative function was to occupy Slovakia, but they started out by terrorizing the Jews. Following this, many Jews fled the village.
In 1941, the Jewish men were inducted for labour service, and many of them were taken to the Ukraine.
In 1944 after Passover, our brethren of Mandok were put on wagons and taken to the ghetto of Kisvarda. They were only able to take a few belongings, and what they left behind was looted by the town's inhabitants. Before Shavuot, they were deported. Rabbi Avraham Mayer went in the same boxcar with his congregation, and he perished with them in the death camp. After the war, 18 men returned from labour service, and 20 women from Auschwitz. Most of them left the village.
Mandok's Jewish officers decorated in World War I, recipients of the Great Silver Karoly Cross:
Ensign Kundler Dezso, 2nd Lieut. Dr. Roth Jozsef, and 2nd Lieutenant Kalmanci.
Mandok's Jewish veterans:
Killed in action: 1st Lieut Rochlitz Miklos, 2nd. Lieut. Auslander Mor, Herskovits Mihaly, Roth Izidor, Schwarz Armin.
The community belonged to the rabbinate of Nyirmada. It built a synagogue, a heder, and a mikvah. It had a Hevrah Kadishah jointly with Baktaloranthaza.
The Jews were mainly merchants, craftsmen and farmers. Their relationship with their Christian neighbours was originally very good, until the "White Terror." Already, soldiers returning from the first world war looted Jewish homes and businesses. Then in 1919 the White Terrorists imprisoned Jews, and accused them of cooperating with the Communists. Many were interned and tortured, and some killed.
Subsequently, good relations with the inhabitants were once again established. However, in 1938, with the first anti-Jewish law, the population's hatred was reawakened. The Jews found it increasingly hard to make a living. Their land was expropriated without compensation. Licenses to operate taverns and tobacconists were cancelled, and the opportunity to do business was restricted.
The Orthodox congregation built a beautiful syangogue and had an active and interested community. They raised their children in a religious spirit.
There was a strong community spirit and solidarity. Nobody in the congregation was allowed to suffer from poverty. All of them had a decent living from their professions or occupations. There were craftsmen and merchants among the Jewish inhabitants, but the majority were farmers. There was among them one who owned a 3000 hold [c. 5200 acre] estate.
Every house had a Baal Haness charity box, and they donated to every Jewish and worthy cause.
In the 1930s, there was a Zionist society in the town, where the pioneers preparing for aliyah were trained in agriculture.
The congregation's spiritual leader was Mr. Klein, who doubled as teacher in the heder and as shochet. He was known by everybody in town. He was very well versed in Jewish scholarship and published books. Many of his pupils continued their studies at famous yeshivas.
One of the leading personalities of the town was Judge Icig, who was the leader of the community since the end of the 19th century. He was held in great respect, and all the inhabitants of the town accepted his decisions. During the White Terror, he was forced to resign.
The 1940s brought greater disturbances to the community. The men were taken into labour service, and the mothers and wives waited anxiously for news of their sons and husbands. In April of 1944, the Jews of Nyirkarasz were taken to the ghetto in Kisvarda. From their the road led to the final destruction, in Auschwitz.
As in the rest of Szabolc county, only a small remnant came back to Nyirkarasz. Almost all of them moved to larger cities, or emigrated. Several of them have become industrious citizens of our homeland in Israel.
The congregation was incorporated in 1860, and the villages of Nyirbakta, Jako, Or, Vaja, Loranthaza, Rohod and Pusztadobos were affiliated with it.
The congregation maintained a Hevra Kadisha, Sisterhood, Charity Fund, kindergarten, heder, yeshiva, and a Talmud Torah. The elementary schoold was of such high quality that many non- Jews sent their children there. The congregation employed a rabbi, two teachers, three melameds, and a sexton.
The majority of the Jews were merchants, dealing in wood, leather, feathers, and foodstuffs. Jews operated factories producing vinegar, alcohol, liquor, soap and chemicals, and a mill. The "Loan and Savings Bank," founded in 1897, had a big impact on the economic life of the town.
The synagogue burned down in the great fire of 1892, which also destroyed the congregation's school and archives. A few years later, the synagogue was rebuilt. Its famous rabbi was Jitzhak Tzvi Halevi Jungreisz who founded the yeshiva in 1899 with his son Jozsef.
Fourteen members of the congregation suffered valiant deaths in military service in World War I.
On April 19, 1944, the Jews of Nyirmada were squeezed into the synagogue and school, and on May 23 they were deported to Birkenau. The young and healthy ended up at Dachau. About 40 survivors returned after the war. The synagogue and school also survived, and they acquired a sexton and slaughterer. Gradually, the survivors started to move away, and by 1957 there was not a single Jew left in the town.
Jews settled in Nyirtass in the middle of the 18th century, under the protection of the Eszterhazys. They started out as peddlers serving the neighbouring villages. With the passage of time they became established merchants who even exported to other countries.
The congregation was established in the 19th century, and in 1868 declared itself to be Orthodox.
The first synagogue was built near the beginning of the 19th century. In 1910, a new synagogue was built. They had a rabbi, a hevra kadisa, a well known yeshiva and a heder.
Besides the merchants there were many manufacturers and transport businesses. There was a publican, and three estate owners. The managers of several large estates were Jewish, and also some clerks.
Five Jewish citizens of Nyirtass died heroic deaths in the first world war.
In 1918, the Hungarian soldiers returning from the front attacked and looted the Jewish stores, shouting "while we fought, the Jews stayed home to get rich." They did not spare Jewish homes, either.
During the white terror of 1919, the rabbi and the leaders of the congregation were imprisoned for a week, and then released.
Between the two world wars, the Jewish residents became more and more separated from the Christians. Under the influence of much suffering, they became extremely religious. They interpreted anti-Semitism as a Divine Decree, to bring closer the day of redemption.
The film "Jud Suss" was shown in the village in 1942, and this stirred up new passions. The mob broke the windows of Jewish homes, and demanded the deportation of Jews from the village. When the Germans entered Hungary in 1944, all the Jews were confined to their homes, and in the meantime their stores were robbed. In April of 1944, they were confined to the ghetto, with the exception of three who had married Christians. From the Kisvarda ghetto, they were taken to Auschwitz. Rabbi Elimelech Segal Lowi (1908-1944) perished with his followers.
After the war, 5 women and 2 men returned from the concentration camps, and 14 men from forced labour. Christians had taken over their houses, and they found the mikveh and synagogue demolished. They received a hostile reception from the population, and they thought it better to leave the village.
The majority of the Jewish inhabitants were very religious, but even those who were less religious were well educated. They were all well versed in religious subjects, and there were many leading Torah scholars among them.
The famous rabbi of the town was Elimelech Lowy, the son of the famous "Tasser." He had the reputation of being a wonder worker, who was sought out by both Jews and non-Jews from distant lands.
Five of his children acquired the love of learning in his house, and they all became highly regarded rabbis among Hungarian orthodoxy.
After Rabbi Elimelech's passing, he was succeeded by his son Leizer. Rabbi Leizer was an accomplished person with a colorful personality. Not only was he an expert in Talmud and Halacha, but his knowledge of secular matters was also exceptional. He loved music, and his soaring voice touched the hearts of the listeners when he led the prayers on the high holidays.
His court was especially full prior to the days of repentance. Vast numbers of his disciples came to his house, so that they could be close to him prior to asking for forgiveness on the Days of Awe.
There was nothing of haughtiness or arrogance about him. He was a humble man, who smiled at everyone who approached him. He loved all people, but especially little children.
The community's respect also extended to Rabbi Moishe Yudah Fried, who was the melamed and slaughterer. His devotional service and the way he led prayers endeared him to all.
Five families served the congregation's spiritual needs. The congregation could only provide them a humble livelihood, since the community itself was not particularly rich.
There were five substantial landowners, who farmed this land until the anti-Jewish laws prevented them from doing so. These were the congregation's well-to-do members. The rest of the Jews were merchants, craftsmen or tavern keepers, and they operated most of the businesses in the town.
Besides these, there were many very poor members of the congregation, who hardly had enough to eat from day to day. These suffered even more from their poverty than from the town's traditional antisemitism. However, even the poor managed to obtain a challah for Friday night and the appropriate food for Sabbath.
The order for the Jews to be confined to the ghetto came on the eighth day of Passover. They were crowded mercilessly into the synagogue. They were allowed to take the minimum of belongings with them, and a little food. After three days of suffering they were transfered to the ghetto in Kisvarda, and then to a lumberyard outside the town for ten days. There were 170 individuals, old people, women and children, and the men who had not been taken to labour service.
On the holiday of Shavuot the Nazi executioners took the first transport, and then two days later the second. Their destination was Auschwitz, and destruction. (By Jitzhak Grunwald)
Jews settled in the second half of the 18th century on the estates of the Counts Csaky and Palffy. In general, they were occupied as merchants and farmers. Their relations with the other inhabitants of the village were good. Imanuel Sicherman was born here in 1811, who made a major contribution to improving agriculture and the introduction of mechanization to farming.
The first Jewish law deprived the Jews of their livelihood. In 1941, 15 men went into forced labour. In 1944, immediately after Passover, they were taken to the ghetto in Kisvarda, and from there they deported them before Shavuoth.
About 80 of them perished in forced labour and the concentration camps. After the war, about 10 Jews returned to the village, but they soon moved away.
This was a village in the district of Nyirbakta. The Jews were first mentioned in the census of 1770. They were occupied mostly in trade. Their relations with the Christian inhabitants were always good. In 1880 the Jews numbered 158, but this had declined to 70 by 1930. Their Orthodox congregation belonged to Nyirmada. They had a synagogue, cemetery, hevra kaddisha, talmud torah, and mikveh.
In 1941, several men went to forced labour. In 1944, the remainder were taken to the Kisvarda ghetto. After the war, 3 women and 7 men returned. They found the synagogue in ruins, and the gravestones in the cemetery knocked down. Today, not a single Jew remains.
The Patroha community belongs to the congregation of Kisvarda. The first Jew settled in the first half of the 18th century. They worked as merchants, peddlers, artisans, and smallholders. The congregation declared itself to be Orthodox in 1876.
In 1941, the young men were taken into forced labour. In 1942 their property was confiscated. In 1944, around Passover, they were forced into the Kisvarda ghetto. On the way there, the gendarmes robbed them of their remaining possessions and jewellery.
Almost the entire community perished in the death camp.
The first Jews settled in Szabolcsbaka in the second half of the 18th century. These were merchants, invited by the landowners to increase the market for their produce. Some of the Jews also leased or bought land, and one started a distillery. The congregation belonged to Kisvarda. Their synagogue was built in the second half of the 19th century, and they had a hevra kadisha, heder, and a mikveh.
Following the first world war, the Jews of Szabolcsbaka suffered greatly from the anti- Semitism incited by the Protestant and Catholic clergy. The anti-Jewish laws forced Jewish landowners to sell their land. The laws also restricted the operations of the Jewish merchants. The men were forced into the labour battalions. The synagogue and Jewish homes were frequently stoned, and their windows broken in.
In 1944, an SS group came to Szabolcsbaka and incited the local Arrow Cross group to commit various atrocities, including the robbing of Jewish homes and stores. In April of 1944, the Jews were gathered together in the synagogue, and from there they were transported to the ghetto of Kisvarda. On May 30, they were deported with the rest of the ghetto to Auschwitz.
After the war, 8 Jews returned. They met a hostile reception from the populace. They would not give back any of the stolen property, and one Jew was murdered. The rest left the village for good.
The majority of them were merchants, dealing with the other inhabitants of the village, and having considerable influence over them.
Officially, they belonged to the rabbinate of Mandok, but in practice they had a closer relationship with the congregation of Kisvarda. The synagogue was built in 1900. They had a cemetey and a heder. They employed a slaughterer who was also the teacher.
The atrocities began already in 1938, when the synagogue was desecrated and Jewish property was vandalized. One family was not able to prove citizenship, and was deported to Kamenec Podolsk, where they perished. After Passover in 1944 they were taken to the ghetto in Kisvarda, and from there to Auschwitz.
After the war, 10 young Jews returned. They did not attempt to rebuild the ruined synagogue, and they soon left the village.
There were Jews living in Vaja already in 1770, and gravestones exist from the 18th century.
The largest number of Jews were dealers in agricultural produce, especially grains and potatoes. There were several Jewish owned estates in the vicinity. There were Jewish distillers and vinegar makers living in Vaja, and also one oil presser. There was a substantial number of small farmers and craftsmen.
The independent Orthodox congregation's synagogue was built in the 19th century. It had numerous institutions, including a hevra kadisha, charity fund, talmud tora, heder, and a mikveh. For a short time the congregation had a rabbi, but later on only a slaughterer and a teacher.
In 1938, the Jews suffered greatly at the hands of the irregular troops. Women were violated, they looted, they tortured men, and killed one. As a result of the anti-Jewish laws, 40 men became unemployed. In 1942, many were inducted into the labour battalions, and taken to Ukraine.
On March 19, 1944, the Jews had to seek shelter in their homes from the threatening mob in the village. After Passover, they were squeezed into the synagogue. Their suffering was eased by the Calvinist minister, who snuck into the ghetto at night, to bring them food and offer consolation. He smuggled two Torah scrolls out of the ghetto, and hid them. The next day, our brothers were taken to the ghetto in Kisvarda. There, the well-to-do ones were tortured mercilessly, so that they would reveal where they had hidden their jewellery. A few days later they were deported to Auschwitz, from where only 2 men and 10 women returned. They repaired the synagogue and cemetery that had been damaged by the Germans. Gradually, they drifted away, some of them making aliyah, and by 1960 only one family remained.
The first Jews settled here in the second half of the 18th century. From 1855, the congregation belonged to the rabbinate of Mandok.
Between the two world wars, Zahony was a border crossing between Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The border guards caused much unpleasantness for the local Jews.
In 1944, the Jews of Zahony were transported to the ghetto in Kisvarda. At the end of May, they were deported to Auschwitz.
After the war, Jewish life ceased completely in Zahony.
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