MISKOLC


MISKOLC, town in N.E. Hungary. Jews attended the Miskolc fairs at the beginning of the 18th century, and the first Jewish settlers earned their livelihood from the sale of alcoholic beverages. In 1717 the municipal council sought to expel them but reconsidered its attitude in 1728 and granted them the right to sell at the market. The number of Jews gradually increased, supplanting the Greek merchants from Macedonia. In 1765 several Jews owned houses. They enjoyed judicial independence and were authorized to impose fines and corporal punishment. Early in the 19th century there were two rabbis in the community. Many Jews acquired houses and land, but the majority engaged in commerce and crafts. When the local guild excluded Jews from membership in the unions, the Jews organized their own guild. The cemetery, dating from 1759, was still in use in 1970. The first synagogue was erected in 1765. The Great Synagogue was built in 1861; it was here that a choir, which aroused violent reactions on the part of the Orthodox, appeared for the first time. In 1870 the community joined the Neologians (see *Neology), but in 1875 a single Orthodox community was formed.

The educational institutions were among the most developed and ramified throughout the country. There were three yeshivot, an elementary school, two sub-secondary schools, and the only seminary for female teachers in Hungary. The Ḥasidim established a separate elementary school. In the course of time the percentage of Jews of the general population became the highest in Hungary (around 20%), numbering 1,096 in 1840, 3,412 in 1857; 4,117 in 1880, 10,029 in 1910, and 11,300 in 1920.

Holocaust Period and After

In 1941, when there were 10,428 Jews in the town, 500 were deported to the German-occupied part of Poland for alleged irregularities in their nationality, and were murdered in *Kamenets-Podolski. Large numbers of youths, as well as elderly people, were conscripted into labor battalions and taken to the Ukrainian front, where most of them were exterminated. After the German occupation of Hungary (March 19, 1944) the Jews of the town, about 10,000 in number, were deported to *Auschwitz; only 400 of them survived.

After the liberation Miskolc became an important transit center for those who returned from the concentration camps. The elementary school was reopened and existed until the nationalization of elementary schools (1948). The reconstituted community had 2,353 members in 1946 but dropped to around 300 in the 1970s as most left for Israel.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

B. Halmay and A. Leszik, Miskolc (1929); Miskolci zsidó élet, 1 (1948); Uj Élet, 23 no. 7 (1968), 4; 24, no. 20 (1969), 1; E. László, in: R.L. Braham (ed.), Hungarian Jewish Studies, 2 (1969), 137–82.

[Laszlo Harsanyi]


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