BEZIDUL NOU (Hg. Bőződújfalu), village in Transylvania, Romania, inhabited by Szeklers, a distinctive ethnic group of Hungarian origin who speak a specific Hungarian dialect. In the 17th century it was an important center of the Sabbatarians, who practiced their religion mostly in secret. There were other centers of Sabbatarians in 18th century Transylvania, but they disappeared in the face of Christian hatred and enmity towards them. In 1868–69, after equal rights had been granted to Hungarian Jewry, the Sabbatarians, then numbering approximately 100, mostly poor farmers, openly practiced
After World War II Bezidul Nou reverted to Romania; those who survived the Holocaust remained formally Christians, although some continued to follow Jewish observances. In 1960 they began to emigrate to Israel, where by 1968 they numbered approximately 50. Only five families, all aged persons, remained in the village in 1969, formally belonging to the Unitarian Church. But they observed the Sabbath and their wives lit candles on Sabbath eve as they had learned from their forefathers; they also maintained close contact with their relatives in Israel for some time. A small cemetery with a few hundred tombstones attests to the past existence of the community. The Hebrew inscription (Ger Ẓedek, "proselyte") appears next to the name on many of the tombstones, most of which bear the menorah and a Magen David. Today these are almost the only memory of the existence of a specific Sabbatarian community among the Szeklers, though even today there are stories about these the "Jewish" predecessors.
S. Kohn, A szombatosok (1889), 336–7; Beck, in: Dr. Blochs Oesterreichische Wochenschrift (1912), 704–5, 738–40, 754–6; Gy. Balázs, in: Libanon, 6 (Hg., 1941), 18–22.
[Yehouda Marton /
Paul Schveiger (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.