HODMEZOVASARHELY (Hung. Hódmezövásárhely), city in S. Hungary. Jews first settled on the estate of the family of Count Károlyi within the boundaries of the city in 1748 but were expelled in 1770 because of the objections raised by the Greek Orthodox Church. In 1810 they began to organize themselves as a religious group but a regular community was not established until 1829; 28 Jewish families were registered in the area in 1838. A synagogue was built in 1857, a school having already been opened in 1845. The Jewish population numbered 56 in 1840, 1,312 in 1869, 1,658 in 1880, and 1,151 in 1930. In 1868, the community joined the Neologists. Among the most prominent rabbis of Hodmezovasarhely were Abraham Gruenhut (also known by the name A. Krol, officiated 1830–66); L. Seltmann, a noted author who wrote on life in the yeshivot (1879–1932); Meir Weiss (1933–37), later professor of Bible Studies at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem; and Aaron Silberstein, the last rabbi of the Holocaust period (1938–44), who published a monograph on the community. The Jews in Hodmezovasarhely mainly engaged in small trade, but there were also some wealthy merchants and even some industrialists.
Their economy was ruined in 1938 as a result of the first anti-Jewish restrictions. From 1940 the men were conscripted for labor battalions, and after the German occupation, on June 16, 1944, they were transferred to the ghetto in *Szeged. From there, 378 of them were deported to *Auschwitz and 500 to *Wiener-Neustadt, and other places in Austria, where members of the same family were not separated. About 400 Jews returned after the war, and there were 430 in 1948. The Jewish population decreased to 259 in 1955 and to 80 in 1969.
A. Silberstein, Hódmezövásárhelyi zsidóko (1943); A. Gervai, in: BJCE.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.