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in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county in the Northern Great Plain region of eastern Hungary.

Jews lived in Vaja before 1770 most as dealers in agricultural produce especially grains and potatoes. Several owned estates while many others were small farmers or craftsmen. Some were distillers and vinegar makers; and one was an oil presser. The independent Orthodox congregation built a synagogue in the 19th century and had a chevra kaddisha, charity fund, talmud torah, cheder, and mikvah. Briefly, the congregation had a rabbi, but later only a shokhet and a teacher. In 1938, irregular troops violated the women and looted and tortured men, killing one. Anti-Jewish laws left forty men unemployed. Many were forced into labor battalions and taken to Ukraine in 1942. On March 19, 1944, the Jews sought shelter from the threatening village mob. After Passover, they were crammed into the synagogue, their suffering eased by the Calvinist minister, who snuck into the ghetto at night to bring food and offer consolation. He smuggled out two Torahs and hid them. The next day, the Jews were taken to the ghetto in Kisvarda. There, the wealthy Jews were tortured to reveal hidden jewellery. A few days later they were deported to Auschwitz. Only two men and ten women returned. They repaired the synagogue and cemetery that had been damaged by the Germans. Gradually, they drifted away, some making aliyah. By 1960, only one family remained. [February 2009]

Cemetery: Gravestones exist from the 18th century. [February 2009]

Last Updated on Monday, 04 April 2011 12:03
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