“Beius” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Romania, Volume 1

46°40' / 22°21'

Translation of “Beius” chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Romania

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1969


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Romania,
Volume 1, pages 286-287, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1969

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(pages 286-287)

Beius, Romania (in Hungarian, Belényes)

Translated by Esther Newman

Genealogy Institute, Center for Jewish History, New York, NY

 A city in the Crisana region, Bihor county [Hungarian: Bihar], close to Oradea-Mare [Hungarian: Nagyvarad; German: Grosswardein]. In the 19th century, it served as a center of Romanian culture and had a large cathedral. After the Treaty of Vienna (1940-1944) it remained in Romania and was the center of the southern part of the district of Bihor. The majority of the inhabitants were Romanian; about one-third of them were Hungarians.

Jewish Population

Year Number % of Jews in General Population
1920 563 14.4
1930 483 11.2
1941 433 15.5
1942 490  
1947 230  

Until the End of World War I

The first Jews settled in the early part of the 19th century. The city was then administered by the Church, and the Jews got permission from the Romanian Orthodox bishop of Oradea. The Romanian Bishops who came after him also allowed the Jewish inhabitants to settle without setting boundaries, and conducted themselves toward the Jews with tolerance. In that period they issued a number of rulings, such as an approval for a Jewish student of Rimni High School to get a reduction in his tuition at the discretion of the Cathedral, in the school year 1850-1851.

The congregation was founded in 1852 by 15 settlers. (There were more than 15 families living there at the time.) In 1857, the Burial Society was established, and in 1858, the large synagogue was built. After that they built other community buildings (a kosher mikvah, houses for the Rabbis and a few of the clerks).

The congregation was Orthodox and served as the matrimonial center of the villages of the area (1883). In general, in 1908, there were 103 villages within the Bihar county that were affiliated with the congregation. The majority of the Jews were employed in business and trade, but they were also government clerks and even policemen. (In the beginning of the 20th century, there was a local Jewish police commander.) The Jews spoke Hungarian, with Romanian as their second language.

The first Rabbi of the congregation was Jakob Rubin, who later moved to Valea Lui Mihai [Hungarian: Érmihályfalva]. In 1886, the Jewish elementary school opened in the city. The school was among the first Jewish schools in Transylvania. In 1894, the synagogue was enlarged so that it would be able to accommodate the Jews of the area. On the important holidays, 500 worshipers could be accomodated.

The relationship between the Jews and the Romanians and Hungarians was civil and there were no recorded stories of violence in the period before the First World War. In that war, 33 Jews of the town died, an especially large number. (About 30% of the Jews were drafted into the [Hungarian] army.)

Between the Two World Wars

In the first years after the war, when a portion of the Hungarian inhabitants left the town, the percentage of Jews went up and the relationships between the two countries vis a vis the Jews stayed good in that area, due to the special approval the the Jews had gotten from the Romanian Bishop of Oradea and because of the important trade connections between the Apuseni Mountains in Romania and the Tisza Plain in eastern Hungary.

In that period, the congregation and community became more established. They had a study house, school with seven classrooms, a kosher mikvah, and houses for the Rabbi, two shochets, the melamed, and the secretary of the community. From 1900 until his death in 1929, the Rabbi was Simon Pollack (born 1854), editor of a book of questions and answers, "Name from Simon" (Saini, 1893). After him, Asher Halevi Pollack (1931-1947) held the office until he moved to Oradea.

In the 1930's the conditions of the Jews worsened. In Oradea there was an anti-Semitic Bishop, who used his influence to inflame the Romanian population. During a visit to Beius in the 1930's, he responded to Rabbi Pollack's words of blessing with words of contempt about Jews. Economic conditions also worsened in Beius; the town changed and became the focus of an extreme anti-Semitic element.

During the Holocaust

In the first months under the Legionnaire Police, the Jews of Beius suffered more than their brothers in the villages. The town became the center of the southern part of Bihor and the overcrowding brought conditions for which the Jews were blamed. On the night of December 31, 1940, the Legionnaires attacked the synagogue and the houses of the congregation, causing them serious damage. They also attacked the Rabbi's house. A few days later, they organized an investigation of the Rabbi and accused him of being a Communist sympathizer. On another occasion, Rabbi Pollack and the Jewish teacher were beaten by an Army officer.

In 1941, the village Jews were concentrated in the cities and the authorities issued antagonistic announcements that caused the Jews confusion and suffering. In the beginning, they concentrated the Jews of the area in Beius. The majority of the local Jews were forced to leave their homes and move to little apartments on the outskirts of town. Many of the young people were drafted into forced labor, and a number of those who were sent to Transnistria disappeared. The property of the community was destroyed and the Mayor of the town, who was one of the Iron Guard, announced that the synagogue would be turned into a club. Only the vigorous opposition of the non-Jewish population prevented the Mayor from carrying out his mercenary plan. Many years before, a group of Jews from Beius--about 40-50 families--moved to the village of Ginta [Hungarian: Gyanta]. (In 1920 there were 37 Jews left.) After the incident with the synagogue there was a decision to evacuate all the Jews (about 500 people) and to concentrate them in Arad. In the end, everyone remained in Ginta, which became the ghetto for the Jews of Beius and the villages of the area.

In September 1944, when the Hungarian Army entered Southern Transylvania, all the Jewish inhabitants escaped from Beius, except for one man, a teacher on pension. Most of the refugees found shelter in Deva and other cities in Southern Transylvania. At the end of October of that year, surveyors returned to Beius and found extensive devastation; most of those who had fled decided to stay away because of the continued danger. By 1947, Beius lost about 50% of its Jewish inhabitants.

Yad Vashem Archives
JM 1220; 0--11/7(1)--63, 135--36; 011/18--1(92)--PKR/IV--1, (1--4).
Archives M. Karp
VI, 22, 31, 32.
Kohn, Sámuel. Emlékkönyv, Budapest, 1990 p. 95.
Libii, Theodore. Jews of Romania in the Struggle for Deliverance. Jerusalem, 1925, p. 42.
Ujvári, Péter. Magyar Zsidó Lexikon, Budapest, 1929, p. 105.
Venetianer, Lajos. A magyarországi zsidóság története, Budapest, 1922, p. 114.

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