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Berettyóújfalu, Hungary

BERETTYÓÚJFALU, town in Hajdú (in 1944 Bihar) county, eastern Hungary. Jews first settled in the town at the beginning of the 19th century, having moved in mostly from neighboring Zsáka. Their number ranged from 125 (2.5% of the total) in 1840 to 1,083 (9.9%) in 1930. According to the census of 1941, the last before the Holocaust, the town had a Jewish population of 982, representing 8.3% of the total of 11,781. The community established a ḥevra kaddisha in 1807, and built its first synagogue in 1840 and a mikveh in 1866. After the communal rift of 1868–69, the community identified itself as Orthodox. In 1876, the community established a Jewish elementary school. In 1885, several small Jewish communities in the neighboring villages, including that of Csökmö, joined the larger community of Berettyóújfalu. By 1920 the town also boasted a ḥasidic congregation. Among the rabbis who served the community were Amram *Blum (1883–1907), Mordechay Friedmann (1912–30), and Béla Benzion Blum, Amram's son (1930–44). Rabbi Béla Blum perished in the ghetto of Budapest.

During World War II, the Jews were subjected to drastic discriminatory measures, and many of the Jewish males were conscripted for forced labor. Shortly after the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, the Jews were rounded up and first concentrated in a local ghetto. The ghetto also included the Jews from the neighboring villages in the district of Berettyóújfalu, including those of Bakonszeg, Csökmö, Hencida, Váncsod, and Zsáka. On June 7, the ghetto population was first transferred to the local brickyard, and a day later to the ghetto of Nagyvárad (Rom. Oradea), from where they were deported to Auschwitz a few days later.

After the war 150 survivors, many among them former labor servicemen, returned. According to the census of 1949, the town had 221 Jews. These continued to maintain a congregation until 1956. The synagogue was sold in 1964. Most of the Jews either moved to other places or emigrated. In 1968 there were some 20 Jews living in the town; by the end of the century only two.


M.M. Stein, Magyar rabbik, 3 (1907), 12; 5 (1909), 5f.; Z. Nadányi, Bihar vármegye, (1938), 454; S. Kiss, Berettyóujfalu és környéke, (1940), 6, 15; Braham, Politics; PK Hungaria, 183–84.

[Randolph Braham (2nd ed.)]

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