BANSKA BYSTRICA (Hg. Besztercebánya; Ger. Neusohl), town in Slovakia. As Banska Bystrica was a mining town and settled partially by ethnic Germans, Jews were not permitted to live there until 1858. The Jewish congregation was established in 1868. The congregation chose the *Neolog (reform) rite. After World War I, Jews moved to the town from the neighboring village of Radvan, where a congregation had existed for about 100 years, and established an Orthodox congregation.
Local Jews engaged in intense Zionist and Jewish national activity. The local Zionist branch was established in 1897. In 1936 the *Maccabi World Union held its winter games in the town.
Most of the local Jews perished in the Holocaust after deportation to labor and concentration camps. During the Slovakian national uprising (Aug. 18–Oct. 28, 1944), thousands of Jewish refugees arrived in the town. About 1,000 were executed by the Germans near the neighboring village of Kremnička. A number of Jewish paratroopers from Palestine were among the victims, including Radvan-born Havivah Reik (Ada Robinson). After the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia in 1994 a memorial was erected in Kremnička consisting of a Menorah and the Hebrew word ZAKHOR.
In 1947 there were 98 Jews in Banska Bystrica. Most emigrated to Israel in 1948–49. A small congregation continued to exist with prayer services for Jews in the vicinity on the high holidays.
H. Iltis (ed.), Die aussaeen unter Traenen… (1959), 139–40; A. Nir, Shevilim be-Ma'gal ha-Esh (1967), 55; M. Lányi and H. Propper, A szlovenszkói zsidó hitközégek története (1933), 276–7; E. Bárkány and L. Dojč, Židovské náboženské obce na Slovensku (1991), 257–60; PK.
[Yeshayahu Jellinek (2nd ed)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.