MEZEI, MÓR (1836–1925), Hungarian lawyer and politician. Graduating from law school in 1864, Mezei was admitted to the bar by special royal permission, since Jews were excluded from the legal profession until 1867. While still a student he joined the movement for Jewish emancipation. From 1861 he was secretary of the Izraelita Magyar Egylet ("Union of Hungarian Israelites"), and later editor of the union's official journal, Magyar Izraelita. In 1868–69 he was secretary of the General Congress of Hungarian Jews. It was largely through his efforts that the Jewish religion was officially recognized in Hungary (1895). From 1905 through 1925 he was president of the National Bureau of Hungarian Israelites, and was also active in general public affairs. He was a member of parliament (1893–1901) as a representative of the Liberal Party. His brother ERNŐ (1851–1932), a journalist and politician, also studied law at Budapest University. From 1874 to 1910 he was the political leader-writer of Egyetértés ("Concord"), the mouthpiece of the opposition Independence Party. In 1881 Mezei was elected member of parliament for Miskolc, but his parliamentary career was cut short when he submitted embarrassing questions in parliament in connection with the *Tiszaeszlar blood libel. Previously, Mezei had written several pamphlets against the policy of the Liberal Party leader Kálmán Tisza, who pursued a conciliatory policy toward the Hapsburg regime, Tisza Kálmán a miniszterelnök ("K. Tisza the Premier," 1875), Tisza Kálmán 1877-ben ("Tisza in 1877," 1877). His other works include a book describing his travels in Italy, Bolyongások az olasz ég alatt ("Roaming under Italian Skies"). At the beginning of the 20th century, Mezei, who was opposed to Zionism, corresponded with Theodor *Herzl. In a letter that later became famous, Herzl warned him of the fate in store for the assimilationist Jewry of Hungary.
Zs. Groszmann, in: IMIT, 58 (1936), 197–208; J. Rákosi, in: Zsidó Evkönyv, 2 (1928–29), 111–2.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.