HUMENNE (Slovak Humenné; Hg. Homonna), town in E. Slovakia; until 1992 Czechoslovak Republic, then Slovak Republic. Humenné is situated on the highway leading from Poland to wine-growing regions in eastern Hungary. Jewish tradesmen frequented this highway. The first record of Jewish presence in the town is from 1743. There were no guilds in Humenné, and nobody intervened in the activity of Jewish businessmen. Although the community was founded in 1809, the ḥevra kaddisha existed from 1786, and the oldest tombstone dates from 1772. Humenné attracted Jewish settlers; in particular, an influx of Jews from Poland was evident in the 19th century. In 1830/35 there were 666 Jews in Humenné; in 1857 there were 1,020; and in 1880 there were 1,280. In 1910 the number reached 1,570 (34.8%). The first Czechoslovak census of 1921 reported 1,254; in 1930 there were 2,197. In 1940, on the eve of the deportations, 2,172 Jews lived in Humenné.
The first synagogue was erected in 1792. The talmud torah opened its doors in 1835, and the first elementary school in 1856, one of the first in eastern Slovakia. The language of instruction was German. It burned down in 1880 and was reestablished in 1882; the language was already Magyar. Hebrew was also taught, unofficially. The school closed in 1919, and the teachers left for Hungary. A Beth Jacob school for girls was founded in the early 1930s. The first rabbi was Rabbi Pinchas Luria, who became involved in a conflict and left. His successor, Rabbi Jacob Shapira ("Jakev Chariff," 1809–1828), organized the routine of the congregation. The last rabbi, Haim Judah Herrmann Ehrenreich (1887–1942), published a scholarly periodical Oẓar ha-Ḥayyim ("Riches of Life"). He died in the Holocaust. In 1830, a new synagogue was erected. From 1815, an assistant rabbi, (Daja) Lezer Liebermann, demanded reform of the Jewish religion, to which end he lectured throughout Hungary. However, after the Hungarian Jewish Congress of 1868, the congregation chose Orthodoxy. Ḥasidic Jews from Poland caused a split in the community by establishing a bet midrash in 1902, which followed nusaḥ sefarad. Four years later they erected their own small synagogue. A split within the nusaḥ sefarad group occurred when less extremist members left and founded a bet midrash of their own. The community organized an array of charitable, religious, and professional groups. After World War I, several political and Zionist groups joined the community organization. In August 1937 the deputy of the nationalist Hlinka Party, Korol Sidor, gave an inflammatory speech accusing Jews of sacrilege, and a campaign of "punishment" was planned. The deputy of the Jewish Party, Chaim *Kugel, rushed to Humenné and defused the situation.
The proclamation of Slovakian autonomy within Czechoslovakia in September 1938 and independence under protection of the Third Reich on March 14, 1939, were accompanied by anti-Jewish sentiment. Jews were targeted, and persecution occurred daily. In the fall of 1941 Jews were expelled from Bratislava, and some settled in Humenné, bringing the population to 2,285. In March 1942, the deportation of Jews to Poland began. In Humenné, Jews were smuggled to Hungary in an effort to save them. In March, entire families began to be deported to the Chola ghetto near Lublin. The few remaining Jews in the town were ordered in the spring of 1944 to move to western Slovakia. They took the Torah scrolls with them to *Nitra, but a fire destroyed the scrolls.
The survivors, who flocked to the city in spring 1945, repaired the synagogue and the mikveh and tried to restore the community. Several survivors gathered in the nearby village of Kolbasy. On December 6, 1945, a band of Ukrainian nationalists of the Bandera movement attacked and killed all the Jews and, together with the villagers, stole their property.
In 1948–49, most of the Jews immigrated to Israel and overseas. In the 1960s, there were 160 Jews in the town, many from neighboring villages. The Košice community provided kosher meat and religious needs. Both large synagogues were demolished; the Klaus was turned into an apartment. In November 1986, citizens attacked the cemetery, overturning 27 tombstones. In 1990, there were 28 Jews in Humenné.
EJ, 8 (1931), 268–9; L. Rothkirchen, in: The Jews of Czechoslovakia (1968), 110–1; D. Friedmann, Geschichte der Juden in Humenne (1933); M. Lányi and B.H. Propperné, Szlovenskói Zsidó Hitközségek Története (1933), 248–58; Uj Magyar Lexikon (1960), 346. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Bàrkàny, L. Dojč, Židovské náboženské obce na Slovensku (1991), 411–14.
[Sarlota Rachmuth-Gerstl /
Yeshayahu Jelinek (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.