town image [February 2009]
Synagogues Without Jews: [see photos. "...The Presov synagogue survived the Shoah in bad condition and in need of renovation. The community was fortunate in being able to raise money for renovation from former members, now scattered elsewhere. The kehillah regularly holds memorial services for its Shoah victims. A memorial book was published and a commemorative reunion was held for the 100th anniversary of the synagogue.
Presov is an industrial city, a center of trade and commerce in northeast Slovakia dating from the early 13th century. Orthodox and Greek Orthodox faiths are strong in the area and there is a devout rural population. To favor local tradesmen against Jewish competition in the 15th century, the King granted Presov and other royal cities the "privilege" of excluding Jews from residence. The ban held until 1789 when Ukrainian-born Marcus Hollander, a prosperous merchant, succeeded in obtaining Presov citizenship and raised the first Jewish family inside the city walls. A small community gradually gained a foothold under his rigorous leadership in spite of protests by the town's council.
Hollander's founded a synagogue outside the gates to serve the growing community, scattered also in outlying districts. He was successful in merchandising wine, wood and grain and helped Jews in both commercial and civil matters. To show his gratitude when the city conferred some minor rights on the few resident Jewish families, Hollander paid for the construction of the lovely fountain in Presov's main square.
Marcus's son, Leo Hollander, the first Jew born in Presov, concentrated on community affairs and founded the Presov kehillah in 1843. During the Hungarian uprising in 1848, Leo and his sons joined the Hungarian forces. Leo had close ties with Lajos Kossuth, the revolutionary leader. At Leo Hollander's initiation and his contribution of a third of the cost, a synagogue was completed in 1849. When it burned down, he again contributed toward the construction of a new building. He also helped establish the Neolog (Hungarian reform) Rabbinical Seminary in Budapest. Rabbi Soloman Mayer Schiller Szinessy (1820-1890) was Presov's most colorful Neolog rabbi. He fostered Hungarian patriotism and enlisted with the rebels during the Hungarian revolution of 1848.
In the years leading up to the 1867 emancipation of Hungarian Jewry, the question of religious reform was hotly disputed in the community. Hollander worked toward resolving the religious controversy and was also one of the most effective spokesmen for Jewish emancipation.
The Orthodox Jews of Presov built an impressive synagogue in 1898, and another in 1930 for the small Sephardic community. The two communities, Orthodox and Neolog, led separate, parallel and unconnected lives until the outbreak of the Second World War. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau, who perished in Auschwitz, was the last rabbi of the Orthodox group. His son, Rabbi Yisrael Lau, was appointed Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel in 1993.
Presov Jews founded a Zionist organization in 1905 and branches of others followed: Hovevei Zion, Mizrahi, Betar, Hashomer Hatzair and Maccabi. By 1940, Presov's Jewish population amounted to 4000 persons---40% of the total population. An important achievement of the community was the creation in 1928 of a modest Jewish museum that contained documents on the history of Slovak Jews and many item of Judaica. During the war, the collection was confiscated. It was restored to Slovakia in recent years and is now exhibited in the Jewish museum of Bratislava.
Refugees poured into Presov as soon as the fascist regime took power in Slovakia in 1938. Deportations started with the young in March 1942 and ended with mass transports in May and June. After the liberation, a few hundred survivors, mostly partisans and soldiers, straggled back. All found their homes pillaged and the synagogues and other public Jewish buildings ransacked. They took steps to revive the community but their numbers decreased rapidly as many emigrated to Israel or America. The buildings still belong to the kehillah of fewer than 60 persons who rent out most of them.At the annual memorial meeting for the 6,000 Shoah victims from Presov and the Saris district, which took place in mid June 1991, the kehillah raised a black marble monument to the victims' memory in the Orthodox synagogue courtyard. On that occasion, they laid plans for another gathering for Jews who were born or lived in Presov, now scattered around the world. That reunion of 500 took place on August 17th 1997, a year before the 100th anniversary of the synagogue---because of "the pressure of inexorable time." Local officials, the mayor, rabbis from Prague and local clergy participated and recounted the history and important contributions of the Jews. The mayor however, did not mention the indifferent and hostile behavior of the Christian population." [February 2009]
PRESOV (OLD): US Commission Number. SLCE000043
Presov is located in Presov, N of Kosice. The isolated urban hillside has a pre-burial house with Hebrew inscriptions. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all via a masonry wall and a fence with a locking gate. 100-500 19th-20th century marble, granite, and sandstone flat shaped tombstones or finely smoothed and inscribed stones with Hebrew and German inscriptions are in original locations. The property is for Jewish cemetery only. Adjacent properties are commercial and residential. Private visitors frequently visit. Vegetation was cleared and gate fixed. Occasionally, individuals clean or clear the site. Within the cemetery is a pre-burial house with wall Hebrew inscriptions. There are no threats, but vegetation is a problem.
PRESOV (NEW): US Commission Number. SLCE000044
Orthodox[? Neolog?] cemetery dates on tombstones are in Hebrew. The urban, hillside, part of a municipal cemetery, has Hebrew inscriptions on the pre-burial house. Reached by turning directly off a public road and crossing the municipal cemetery, access is open to all via a masonry wall with locking gate. 500-5000 19th-20th century tombstones are in original locations. The marble, granite, and other materials flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, or multi-stone monuments, some with metal fences around graves, have Hebrew and German inscriptions. Presov Jewish community owns the property. Adjacent properties are cemeteries. Private visitors frequently visit. Care: cleaning stones, clearing vegetation, and fixing of wall by a regular caretaker. There are no threats.
Neolog Cemetery: Neolog cemetery address: Kratka ulica 4. Mr. Landau [Zidovska a Nobozeska (Jewish Community Organization, Mr Landau [(Director of the Presov Jewish Community), 0bec ul. Svermova A1 32, 080 01 Presov, Slovakia] donated copies of the lists of all people buried there. The exact place of each grave is available in the office of the Jewish Community. Located in a district a bit far from downtown, take a tram to the Masarykova ulica, getting off at the Presov Theater stop. From there walk 20 minutes on Jana Holleho ulica. Turn left on Moysesova ulica. Walk about eight blocks to the Kratka ulica on right. The Jewish cemetery adjoins the Christian one, separated by a main wall. The gate is closed. The key is kept at the Presov Jewish Community house. Request for visits must be directed to Mr. Desider Landa, the community's president. The still-active cemetery is small and arranged in orderly rows that makes finding graves quite easy. A listing of all graves.
The main wall, which separates the Christian cemetery from the Jewish, has row numbers painted on the top of the wall that facilitates referencing graves. The cemetery is well kept, clean even in winter. I was told that Mr. Landa is the main keeper. There are no signs of vandalism. The area is quite small, surrounded by a brick wall. My guesstimate is that about 500-700 graves exist here, some dating from to the early 19th century. Graves are mostly made of marble and granite, some of sand and limestone. At the far end is a memorial for the Jewish soldiers killed in WW1. At the entrance is a pre-burial house and a synagogue.
In Presov, a retired Jew named Ondrej (Andrew) Gregus [nam, 1. maja 3/1, 080 01 Presov would like to help people to do genealogical research for a little fee. This man knows some employees of the Archives administration and can "suggest" (in return for tips) to them to speed up the search. A major drawback of this means is that Ondrej speaks only Slovakian and Hungarian. Few in Slovakia speak English except the very young (less than 20 years old) who have learned English at school since the overthrow of the Communist Regime in 1989. English is spoken in the international hotels (Saris and Dukla) and tourist shops. German can help. Hungarian is understood in the Presov area but people refuse to speak Hungarian because of recent conflicts between the Slovakian government and the Hungarian minority. Old Jews speak Yiddish and/or Hungarian. Mr Landau, speaks English fluently. Source: Tom Venetianer.
Map of Town
|Last Updated on Sunday, 14 June 2009 20:51|