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Carei, Romania

CAREI (formerly Carei-Mare; Hung. Nagykàroly; Heb. קרלאי), town in Northern Transylvania, Romania; up to World War I in Hungary, and between 1940 and 1944 again in Hungary. The town was first mentioned in 1335. Jewish settlement there is first recorded around the beginning of the 19th century. The Jews came to the town at the invitation of the local lord in 1720, when he brought in 12 Jewish families. Organized community life dates from that same year. There were 66 Jewish inhabitants in 1740, increasing to 56 families in 1770, and 300 families in the 1860s. In the middle of the 18th century Count Sándor Károlyi, the lord of the town, brought a rabbi from outside to ensure the residence of the Jews on his estate. The proximity of Carei to Galicia led to the settlement of Galician Jews there, increasing the size of the community and introducing Ḥasidic trends. A yeshivah was founded in 1883, and two large synagogues were built in 1870 and 1901. After 1869 the community remained in the status quo ante group (see *Hungary ) for some time. The first Jewish school was built in 1785. In 1881 an Orthodox community was founded, and in the course of time the original community also became Orthodox. Joel *Teitelbaum served as rabbi of Carei from 1926 to 1934. There was no *Neolog community in the town. The Jewish population numbered 2,073 in 1891 (out of 13,475), 2,491 in 1910 (out of 16,078), and 2,394 in 1930 (out of 16,042). The Jews of Carei dealt mainly in leather, tools, timber, and building material. The changes in 1919, and later on in 1940, contributed greatly to the deterioration of the local Jewish community. After the change of regime in 1919 several Zionist groups began to operate in the town. Immediately after the Hungarian occupation of the town in 1940 the "foreign Jews" from Carei were deported to Kamenets-Podolski, where they were murdered by Magyar troops. When the deportations commenced in 1944, there were 2,255 Jews living in Carei. In the summer of 1944 the Jews were concentrated in certain streets and confined in a ghetto before being deported to Szatmár and subsequently to the death camps. By 1947 their number had been reduced to 590 (including those who returned to Carei from the German death camps or tried to start a new life after World War II), many of whom later emigrated and settled in Israel. There were approximately 40 Jews in Carei in 1969, 20 in 1977, and even fewer at the turn of the twenty-first century in a community that hardly functions.


Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 630–1; MHJ, 3 (1937), 8 (1965); 10 (1967), index, S.V. Nagykároly.

[Yehouda Marton / Paul Schveiger (2nd ed.)]

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