PRAEFECTUS JUDAEORUM (Hebraeorum supremus, Obrister der Judischkait, prince des juifs, etc.), office of the leader of Jews in Hungary during the Middle Ages. It may be assumed that the position of Praefectus Judaeorum was established by the Hungarian king, Matthias Corvinus, at the suggestion of János Ernuszt, a treasurer of Jewish origin, at the time of the financial reforms (1467–76). The principal function of the Praefectus was the collection of taxes for the royal treasury. In exchange for this he enjoyed royal privileges and could effectively defend the rights of the Jews against any attack. On festive occasions, he was authorized to accompany the king with much splendor at the head of a battalion. The Praefectus governed the Jews of the country and was exempted from wearing distinctive signs. Until its abolition in 1539, this position was held by members of the *Mendel family.
S. Kohn, A zsidók története Magyarországon, 1 (1884), 212–22; S. Buechler, A zsidók története Budapesten a legrégibb idöktől 1867–ig (1901), 48–51; S. Balog, A magyarországi zsidók kamaraszolgasága és igazsászolgáltatása a középkorban (1907), 68–72; J. Hajnik, in: Akadémiai Értesitő, 5 (1866), 203–49; S. Scheiber, in: Multés Jővő, 33 (1943), 107–8; L. Zolnay, Buda kozépkori zsidósága (1968), 23–26; Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), S.V. Zsidó prefektura; P. Gruenwald, in: Sefer ha-Yovel … N.M. Gelber (1963), xiii–xx (Ger.).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.