EISENSTADT: Print

See also Mattersdorf.

Synagogues Without Jews: See photos. "The Eisenstadt Judenrichter, administrative head of the kehillah, was a lofty personage. It was customary in public for a clerk to precede him carrying the wooden mace of office, carved with a crown on top. This kehillah kept its political autonomy until 1938, longer than any other in Europe. Jewish settlement started in 1378, when the bishop of Eisenstadt allowed some Jews to settle and trade in the town. In 1622, large estates in upper Hungary came under the control of Count Nicholas Esterhazy (1582-1645). He enabled Jews to settle in Eisenstadt in 1626 as protected Schutzjuden, living in ghettos within the palace boundaries. When Emperor Leopold I (1656-1705) dissolved the first in-town ghetto in an abortive expulsion of 1671, Nicholas's son, Paul Esterhazy (1635-1713), helped the Jews to resettle in another section of the city. He established a new ghetto on his estate in 1675, later known as Unterberg Eisenstadt and affectionately called "Little Jerusalem." A charter of 1690 granted Jews autonomy in return for annual taxes and occasional gifts, including 30 pounds of pepper, annually. One of the most distinguished Jews in Eisenstadt's history is the many-faceted Samson Wertheimer (1658-1724). At the Viennese court he was Hofoberfaktor, chief administrator, of the financial affairs of emperors Leopold I, Joseph I, and Charles VI from 1694 to 1709. He was equally useful to the Esterh zy dynasty. For the rebuilding of Eisenstadt's ghetto, Wertheimer provided a community synagogue, mikveh (ritual bath), school, and provision for school teachers. Prince Paul Esterhazy presented him with a mansion in 1696 in recognition of 20 years of devoted services to the family's financial affairs. Wertheimer refurbished the mansion and installed a private synagogue, known as the Wertheimer Schul. In 1795, a severe conflagration destroyed the Eisenstadt ghetto. Synagogue reconstruction waited until 1832, when the community numbered 908 persons. Great festivity accompanied the cornerstone laying on August 6, 1832. Flowers hung from the trees and 24 frolicking children in holiday dress added color and pageantry. At the inauguration, two years later, members contributed ceremonial silver, a painted glass beaker for the hevrah kadishah, Torah scrolls, an elaborate parokhet and a parchment megillah executed by the talented scribe, Elie Gabriel. Eisenstadt lay in fertile wine country. A grandson of kehillah-founder Benjamin Wolf Austerlitz, named Chaim Joachim Wolf ben Meir Kittsee, pioneered the sale of Eisenstadt's kosher wine to non-wine-producing areas. Taking Wolf as his surname, he settled down to business in 1784. The Wolf wine business became the most important one of its kind in the Austrian empire. Wolf's son Leopold and grandsons Adolf and Ignaz expanded the business. In 1875, they bought the Wertheimer mansion, converted the lower floors to house the central offices of the wholesale wine business and hung a sign on the front, Weingrosshandlung Leopold Wolfs Sohne (Leopold Wolf's Sons, Wholesale Wines). Sandor Wolf, who succeeded his father Ignaz at the helm, was an ardent collector of art and Judaica. In 40 years, he amassed a 26,000-item collection, displayed in the family home, as the Wolf Museum. World War II destroyed the community. The Nazis immediately decreed the expulsion of Jews from Burgenland, ending the 250-year autonomy of the Eisenstadt kehillah. By October 1938, there were no Jews left in Eisenstadt. On November 9, an unrestrained mob devastated the community synagogue. In their haste to destroy, they overlooked the little Wertheimer Schul, hidden above the offices of the Wolf wine company, one of the few synagogues in Austria and Germany that totally escaped damage at that time. Of the 441 Eisenstadt Jews, 245 survived the war. In 1982, the old Wertheimer-Wolf mansion was rededicated as the Austrian Jewish Museum, which includes much of Sandor Wolf's Judaica. The museum's main attraction is the restored Wertheimer Schul, still a sanctified synagogue available to serve visiting worshippers. In its catalogue, the Austrian Jewish Museum declares its mission to fight against the ignorance that breeds prejudice. Using phrases attributed to Hananiah ben Teradyon, martyred in the Bar Kokhbah uprising of 135 C.E. (Talmud, Avoda Zara, 18A), it concludes, "Only the parchments burn, the letters fly away." [February 2009]

Old Jewish Cemetery Wertheimgasse. Closed around 1875, the cemetery contains the grave of R. Meir b. Isak (Mram Asch), d. 1744, still the scene of pilgrimages, particularly on the anniversary of his death. The oldest tombstone in the old cemetery is dated 1679. The old Jewish cemetery appeared to be in relatively good condition, with many tombstones standing. Source: Jan Engel This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Mr. Johannes Reiss .
New Jewish Cemetery : In 1875, Old Cemetery was filled to capacity; therefore a second cemetery was built. Here eighty gravestones were desecrated in 1992. The cemetery located just up the hill from the synagogue, a graveyard in the woods, contains several hundred tombstones.
  • BOOK: Heritage and Mission, Jewish Vienna and Austria published by Vienna Tourist Board and 1995 Book by Johannes Reiss, director Oesterreichisches Juedisches Museum, A-7001 Eisenstadt - Unterbergstrasse 6 - POB 67; Tel.: ++43-2682-65145, Fax: ++43-2682-65145 4; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and Web: http://ojm.at/gemeinden/eisenstadt/ .
  • BOOK: Wachstsin, Bernhard. Die Grabschriften aus Alten Judenfriedhoes in Einsenstadt . Wien: __ 1922. 68+414+243p. (Eisenstadt, Austria old cemetery tombstones)(German & Hebrew). Note: Period: l679-1874. 1140 tbst. chronological-41 missing tbsts list according to death register. Alphabetic names index. Some biographies & kinships. Tbsts phographs/art discussion. Large bibliography. Source: National and University Library, Jerusalem.
Last Updated on Saturday, 01 August 2009 14:56