MARGHITA


MARGHITA (Hung. Margitta, also Margita; referred to by the Jews as מארגארעטען (Margaretten)), town in Transylvania, W. Romania. Until the end of World War I and between 1940 and 1945 it formed part of Hungary. Jews began to settle there during the 18th century. A geographical-historical description of Hungary which was published in 1799 mentions Jewish inhabitants among the Hungarians and Romanians. The first Jewish settlers appear to have come from the neighboring village Petra. A community headed by a rabbi has probably existed by the close of the 18th century. The synagogue was erected in 1862. In 1885 the community also became a center for the Jews of the surrounding region. The Jewish population numbered 944 (18% of the total population) in 1900 and 1,623 (26.7%) in 1930.

From its inception the community was an Orthodox one. The influence of Ḥasidism was felt, particularly between the two world wars. The rabbis of the community included R. Joshua Aaron Ẓevi Weinberger, author of the Mahariaẓ responsa (first half of the 19th century); his descendants succeeded him in the rabbinical office until the liquidation of the community. For a short period, from 1850, R. Hillel *Lichtenstein was rabbi of the town. The students of the community's yeshivah included some who came from far away, and their numbers occasionally rose to 350. The last rabbi, who perished in the Holocaust, was R. Mordecai Azriel Weinberger; he was also the last head of the yeshivah. A Jewish press functioned in Marghita between the two world wars.

After 1940, when the city was returned to Horthiite Hungary, the Hungarian-speaking local Jews discovered that the official and public attitude towards them had changed, and that Hungarian antisemitism was no better than its Romanian variant, which they had experienced during the interwar period.

At the time of the Holocaust, in the summer of 1944, the local Jews were taken to the district capital of *Oradea-Mare and deported from there to Auschwitz. After the war some Jews returned to the town, numbering about 500 in 1947. Their numbers gradually decreased through emigration to Israel and other countries, so that they were finally reduced to 10 families in 1970 (out of a total population of 12,000), and their number continued to drop, mostly through immigration to Israel and old age.

[Yehouda Marton /

Paul Schveiger (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.