Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home


KOLIN (Czech Kolín; Ger. Kolin, in older sources Neukollin), city in central Bohemia, Czech Republic. Its Jewish community was one of the four communities known by the abbreviation Karban (Heb. קרב״ן), Kolin, Roudnice, Bumsla, Nachod), second in importance only to Prague. Town records of 1376–1401 mention 16 Jewish households; a gravestone from 1492 was preserved; a synagogue is mentioned as being old in 1512. Expelled in 1541, the Jews returned in 1557, to be expelled once more in 1561 and return again in 1564. The community numbered 33 families in 1574. There were 37 Jewish houses in Kolin in 1623. A synagogue with an ark donated by Samuel *Oppenheimer was dedicated in 1696. In a fire in 1796, 43 Jewish houses, housing 205 families, were burned down. In 1848, 30 Jews were members of a unit of the national guard sent to aid the revolution in Prague, but later they were forced out of the national guard. Kolin was known for its yeshivah, which in the 19th century became modernized and was called "Beth Hamidrash-Anstalt" (i.e., institution). Moses *Montefiore was impressed by it during his visit in 1855 and endowed a foundation for students there. In 1913 a young Roman Catholic priest, Hrachovsky, tried to implicate the Jews in a *blood libel charge following the death of a girl who had committed suicide because she was pregnant by him.

Between the two world wars Kolin was a stronghold of the Czecho-Jewish movement (see *Čechů-židů, Svaz). In October 1938 many refugees from Sudetenland sought refuge in Kolin. From March 1939 kasher meat for Prague was supplied from the town. About 600 Jews organized themselves for collective emigration and were offered the support of the French government in establishing a settlement in New Caledonia, but with the outbreak of World War II the project could not be realized. In January 1940 Jewish shops were confiscated, three months sooner than in the rest of the German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Jewish women were forced to work in a local soap factory. The cemetery was damaged by aircraft bombardment during World War II. From June 10, 1942, 2,202 Jews from Kolin and other places were deported in three transports from Kolin to *Theresienstadt and 2,098 died in Nazi extermination camps. Of these, 475 were members of the Kolin community. The synagogue equipment was sent to the Prague Central Jewish Museum. A small community was reestablished in 1945 and a memorial to the Nazi victims erected in 1950.

Among the noted rabbis who officiated in Kolin were Jacob *Illowy (1746–81), Eleazar b. Eleazar *Kallir (1781–1802), and Daniel Frank (1839–60). The last rabbi was Richard *Feder. The town was the birthplace of the Viennese philosopher, Joseph *Popper-Lynkeus; the Jewish national politician, Ludwig Singer; the Czech poet and literary critic, Otakar *Fischer; and the economists, Isidor, Julius, and Ignaz *Petschek.

From 1,347 Jews (16.1% of the total population) in Kolin in 1857, the number declined to 1,148 in 1881 (9.8%), and 430 in 1930 (2.3%). Most of the Jews were sent to Theresienstadt on June 13, 1942, and from there to the death camps of Poland. In 1948 there were 98 members of the community and 118 non-confessing Jews living in the town. The congregation in Kolin in 1969 was affiliated with the Prague community. Two cemeteries (one dating from the 15th century and the other from 1887) were still in existence. The synagogue was used occasionally. Virtually no Jews lived there by the end of the century.


S. Back, in: MGWJ, 26 (1877), 410–20; M. Popper, ibid., 38 (1894), 219–36; R. Feder, Zidovská tragedie (1947), passim; idem, in: Česko-żidovsky kalendář, 47 (1927/28), 197; idem, in: H. Gold (ed.), Juden und Judengemeinden Boehmens (1934), 277–98; T. Jacobovits, in: JGGJČ, 1 (1929), 332–68; M. Zobel, in: Almanach des Schocken Verlags (1936/37), 132–40; G. Stein, Die Familie Schudlow (1925); J. Toury, Mehumah u-Mevukhah be-Mahpekhat 1848 (1968), 60–61; Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 415.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.