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Translation of the
Velka Ida chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia
Edited by Yehoshua Robert Buchler and Ruth Shashak
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 2003
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 2003
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot Slovakia: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Slovakia,
Edited by Yehoshua Robert Buchler and Ruth Shashak, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
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Translated by Madeleine Isenberg
A settlement in the Kosice District, in the Abov Region in southeast Slovakia.
Velka Ida was referred to in a document from 1251 as a town in which market days were held and was the property of Hungarian noblemen. In the 18th century it was owned by Count PERENIY, and from him passed on to the CSAKY noblemen. Most of its inhabitants were Hungarians and a few Slovaks, Catholic and Protestant, by religion. Most of them made their living through agriculture and work on the estates. During the Czechoslovak Republic, there were no significant changes and the town remained agricultural in its character. In November 1938, Velka Ida was annexed to Hungary. In January 1945, it was liberated by the Soviet Army.
About the History of the Community
There is no documented evidence on the beginning of Jewish settlement in Velka Ida. In the 18th century a few Jewish families settled in nearby settlements. The first ones came to settle in Velka Ida during the 18th century, as can be inferred from the tombstones that were erected at that time in the local cemetery. According to local tradition the kehila (community) was established at the beginning of the 19th century. The Jews of Velka Ida built a modest synagogue, but after the building was destroyed in a fire, they built a new, expanded one in traditional style, and alongside it additional communal buildings.
Over time, additional Jews came to settle in Velka Ida, mostly from neighboring settlements. In the 1830s, the Velka Ida kehila counted almost 200 souls and was a rabbinical seat. Its first rabbi was Rabbi Yitzchak Ayzik BILITZER, who was born in Huncovce (q.v.). He served there in the years 18351887. He became famous as a Talmudic scholar from the important books he published, among them the one known as Be'er Yitzchak (Isaac's Well), on the Torah and the holidays of the year. Rabbi BILITZER administered the Talmud Torah  in Velka Ida and for a short time was also
the head of the yeshiva (seminary) in which dozens of young men learned. After him, the leadership went to Rabbi Zvi Herman REICHMAN, author of Har Zvi (Zvi's mountain), who served for about 50 years. The kehila of Velka Ida employed a shochet (ritual slaughterer) who also served temporarily as the synagogue's prayer leader and teacher in the cheder (Jewish primary school). Most of the Jews made their living from small businesses, farming and craftsmanship, and the wealthier ones among them were the wholesalemerchants. In 1869, after the split of the Hungarian kehilot (communities), Velka Ida joined with the organization of orthodox communities. In the 1880s it reached the height of its growth 220 souls. By the end of the century, with the increasing processes of urbanization and immigration, particularly among the younger people, the kehila gradually declined.
During World War I, dozens of Jews from Velka Ida were drafted into the AustroHungarian Army and some fell in battle.
After the war, the kehila of Velka Ida counted 250 souls (40 taxpaying heads of households). Abraham KLEIN was the president of the kehila and the 1922 yearly budget was 10,000 Kronen. Rabbi Herman (Zvi) REICHMAN continued to lead the kehila and the region, and aside from him the kehila employed a shochet who also led the synagogue prayer services as well as serving as the shamash (beadle). In 1920 the synagogue was refurbished and expanded (its measurements were 14 x 10 meters), thanks to the contributions of the BURGER family who emigrated to the United Sates and became successful industrialists. Aside from the synagogue in Velka Ida, the kehila maintained a Beit Midrash (religious study hall), cemetery, mikvah (ritual bath) and a community center with apartments for the ministrants. The chevra kadisha (ritual burial society) and a few other groups were involved in charity and social welfare. After Rabbi Herman (Zvi) REICHMAN died in 1937, his replacement was Rabbi Yisrael FELBERMAN. Jews from seven other settlements belonged to the rabbinate in Velka Ida.
In the population census of 1921, 61 Jews in Velka Ida defined themselves as Jews by nationality. And the rest declared themselves as Hungarian. In the period of the Czechoslovak Republic, most of the Jews in Velka Ida made a living in commerce. Within their ownership, were four grocery shops, two taverns, two butcher shops, two lumberyards, a pharmacy, an alcoholproducing factory, and a distillery for hard liquors. The regional doctor was a Jew, resident of Velka Ida, and among the Jews were also a pharmacist, two agents, and a few farmers.
The Holocaust Period
After the annexation of Velka Ida to Hungary, the status of the Jews worsened. The antiSemitic laws passed by the Hungarian authorities affected their property and deprived them of their sources of income. In 1941 dozens of men were conscripted for hard labor within the framework of work service. Most of those who were sent to the eastern front perished.
With the invasion of the Germans into Hungary on 19th March 1944, the Velka Ida kehila counted 101 souls, 14 of whom were kehila taxpayers. At its head was David FISCHER, and Rabbi FELBERMAN continued to serve as head of the kehila and the region. On the 16th April 1944 the Hungarian gendarmerie concentrated the Jews in the synagogue courtyard and on 28th April 1944, sent them all into a new ghetto that was set up in a brick factory in Kosice (q.v.). They existed there in very harsh circumstances. Two weeks later they were added to the transport that left on 15 May 1944 to the Auschwitz extermination camp.
After the war, from time to time, individual Jews, survivors of the camps and the Labor Brigades came to live in Velka Ida, but did not stay there long, moving to Kosice and other places. The synagogue building in town was converted into a warehouse and the cemetery remained neglected. In the middle of the cemetery remains an ohel (burial enclosure) of the kehila's rabbis.
Cohen, Khakhmei Hungaria (Hungarian Sages), pp. 337338, 439, 456457.
Fuchs, Yeshivot Hungaria (Yeshivas of Hungary), I, p. 179.
BárkányDojč, pp. 395397
Schweitzer, pp. 443444
Lanyi, BekelfyPopper, Szlovenskoi zsido hitközsegek, pp. 240241
Judische Kalender 5683 (19221923) p. 73
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