Guide to the Szeged, Hungary Jewish Community Records
1875-1948

Great Synagogue, Szeged
Great Synagogue, Szeged


© Copyright 2016.  Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University Archives | Mendel Gottesman Library | 500 W. 185th St., New York, NY 10033 | Phone: (646) 592-4058 | Email: archives@yu.edu

Collection Overview

Creator: Szeged Jewish Community
Title: Szeged, Hungary Jewish Community Records
Bulk Dates:1892-1943
Dates: 1854-1948
Size: 2.0 Linear feet
Number of Boxes:2 manuscript boxes and 1 oversized box
Abstract:Consists of records of the Szeged, Hungary Jewish Community spanning from the 1870s until the 1940s documenting a broad range of communal functions. This collection has many gaps and is a small set of the full records of the community.
Languages:Materials are in Hungarian.
Call No: 2014.041

About This Guide

Finding aid encoded March, 2016

Finding aid encoded in English.

Historical Note

Szeged is the regional center of southern Hungary and the county seat of Csongrad County. The first Jews settled there in 1781, and were originally small merchants and peddlers. During the 19th century, Jews became more involved in commerce and crafts, and also engaged in agriculture. As a result of the emancipation and establishment of the dual monarchy in 1867, Jews became well established in business and in the professions. The majority of Jews strongly identified as Hungarians and spoke Hungarian as their native language. More than 3,500 Jews resided in Szeged at the time of the Great Flood of 1879 that wiped out more than 90% of the town's structures. The formal Jewish community was first organized in the 1790s, and remained intact until the Nazi invasion of Hungary in 1944. It resumed functioning with survivors of the Holocaust.

The Loew family was the most influential and renowned of Szeged's rabbis; Leopold Loew and his son Immanuel led the community for over 60 years, and were instrumental in establishing the school and many other institutions, as well as the construction of the Great Synagogue that was built under the direction of Immanuel Loew. Leopold Loew identified with Hungary's Reform or Neolog movement, but was held in such esteem that Szeged's Jewish Community did not split into separate Orthodox and Neolog communities but rather remained a unified "status quo" community following the General Jewish Congress of 1868 convened to decide such matters.

Another well known leader of the community was Dr. Izso Rózsa, who was president of the Community from 1884-1918 and received a noble title for saving the town during the Great Flood of 1879. Dr. Samu Biedl succeeded Rózsa as president, after which Robert Pap served during and following the Holocaust.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of records of the Szeged Jewish Community spanning from the 1870s until the 1940s relating to a broad range of functions. As documented by an item in the collection, most of the records did not survive the destruction of World War II and the Holocaust (Fate of the Archive, August 1945, Series A, Folder 5). As a result, this collection is most likely a remnant from the original records, and contains more gaps than consistent record sets. Most of the records cluster around the periods of 1879-1903, mid-1930s and early 1940s, with very few if any items from other years. As the collection is arranged by function, all of the series will have to be examined to review the full set of records for any particular time period.

Nevertheless, the collection provides a window into the aspects of this once flourishing community. In particular, it contains some meeting minutes describing the Community's challenges in the aftermath of the Great Flood (1879), some summary financial statements that document its size and scope (1896, 1902), some items relating to planning and construction of its world famous synagogue which still stands (1896-1903), correspondence between the community and other Hungarian Jewish communities and government and other officials (range of dates), as well as some records relating to its school and educational programs (range of dates). Throughout the collection are items from during of World War II that document how the community strived to continue its activities despite so many of its members having reduced financial opportunities due to the anti-Jewish laws (See Series B, Payment of Membership Taxes folder). There is also some documentation regarding conditions of forced laborers from Szeged during the Holocaust and the Community's efforts to provide them with assistance (Series F, Forced Laborers folder).

The collection is of particular use to genealogy research, as it contains several groups of documents containing records relating to individuals. These are primarily in the Legal Matters Series, which contains a number of birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates (range of dates), and in the Financial Matters Series, which contains information and correspondence relating to individual's membership taxes (1892-1903 and 1942-1943). The Membership folder (Series A, Folder 2) also contains a small number of lists of members for 1924, and 1945, as well as an undated list.

Arrangement

The collection was received unarranged, and was organized into six series of communal functions during processing:

Series A: Congregational Matters
Series B: Financial/Business Matters
Series C: Educational Matters
Series D: Legal Matters
Series E: Construction of New Synagogue
Series F: Social Matters

Within each series, items are arranged broadly by topic.

Index Terms

This collection has been indexed under the following terms:

Persons:
Baumhorn, Lipót, 1860-1932
Biedl, Samu, 1872-1938
Löw, Immanuel, 1854-1944
Löw, Leopold, 1811-1875
Pap, Robert, 1874-1947
Rózsa, Izsó, 1842-1918
Organizations:
Magyar Cionista Szövetség
Magyar Zsidók Pro - Palesztina Szövetsége (Budapest, Hungary)
Szegedi Chevra Kadísa
Szegedi Leány-Egylet
Places:
Szeged (Hungary) -- Ethnic relations
Szeged (Hungary) -- Religious life and customs
Subjects:
Forced labor -- Hungary -- Szeged
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Hungary -- Szeged
Ḥevra kaddisha -- Hungary -- Szeged
Jews -- Hungary -- Szeged -- Economic conditions
Jews -- Hungary -- Szeged -- History -- Sources
Jews -- Hungary -- Szeged --Social conditions
Synagogues -- Hungary -- Szeged
Document Types:
Administrative records
Correspondence
Invoices
Legal documents
Membership lists
Minutes
Official documents
Reports

Provenance

Acquisition Information

The collection was acquired in 2014 through the Estate of Zoltan Erenyi and forms part of the Zoltan Erenyi Memorial Collection of Hungarian Judaica.

Processing Note

Processing Information note

The collection was received unarranged, and no original order could be discerned. Archivists chose to arrange the material according to the general community functions that were represented by the materials. Items that did not readily slot to a specific communal function but rather related to issues of the overall community were placed into a series titled Congregational Matters.

Dr. Julia Bock, Associate Professor at Long Island University, served as a consultant for the project and provided language expertise and knowledge of the historical context that were invaluable for processing the collection.

Other Finding Aids note

A detailed listing of items in the collection may be requested from the Archives.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is available to researchers deemed to be qualified by the Archivist.

Conditions Governing Use

Restrictions may apply concerning the use, photoduplication, or publication of materials in this collection. Please contact the Curator of Special Collections for information regarding Yeshiva University's reproduction policies and fees.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series A:Congregational Matters, 1879-1945. 6 Folder(s)

Scope and Contents: This series contains items that relate to the overall administration of the community.
BoxFolderDescription
11Meeting Minutes April 20, 1879
Focus is on the aftermath of the Great Flood, and assistance provided by the community and other Jewish communities. Some general administrative matters.
1Meeting Minutes August 31, 1879
General administrative matters
1Meeting Minutes October 16, 1879
Minutes of special committee created to conduct a census of the Jewish community.
1Meeting Minutes February, 1903
Mostly discusses matters relating to the new synagogue. Also some general administrative matters.
2Membership 1924, 1943-44, undated
Various lists of voting members, ordinary members and meeting attendees.
3Matters within the Szeged Community 1892-1903, 1936-1939
Consists variety of unrelated items over a broad timespan. Includes requests for matzo for Passover, notices of events, and letters from community members. Of particular interest is a published report of the Szegedi Leány-Egylet (Szeged Girls Society), 1895-96, which documents activities, expenditures and names of supporters of the organization.
4Correspondence with other Jewish Communities 1886-1899, 1924, 1935, 1942-1943
Contains a variety of items arising from relations of Szeged with other Hungarian Jewish communities over a broad timespan. Includes procedural issues, requests for mutual participation in activities and queries about individuals. Also contains a small amount of correspondence from the Magyar Zsidók Pro - Palesztina Szövetsége (Pro-Palestine Association of Hungarian Jews) and the Magyar Cionista Szövetség (United Hungarian Zionist Association) in the mid-1930s that provides some documentation of the community's involvement with and attitudes toward Zionism.
5Correspondence with Government and other Officials 1889-1898, 1914-1917, 1924-1925, 1943, 1945
Contains a variety of items arising from relations of Szeged Jewish Community with government and other officials over a broad timespan. Includes announcements of regulations and procedural matters applicable to all communities, notices of allocations for the poor, and a directive to the Jewish community to repair some of its property. Also includes correspondence with the Director of the local Roman Catholic Gymnasium arising from the Community's letter of congratulations to him upon his appointment. Of particular interest is an item from the Hungarian Financial Board of Directors in Szeged informing the Jewish community that its records were largely lost as a result of the chaos of World War II and its aftermath (August, 1945).
6Applications and Recommendations 1883-1899, 1942
Consists of applications and references for a variety of communal posts, including positions within the synagogue choir, Cantor, and Assistant Rabbi.

Series B: Financial/Business Matters 1879-1948. 16 Folder(s)

Scope and Contents: Contains a broad range of materials documenting the financial status and activities of the community, including budgets, income statements, sales and purchases of synagogue seats and routine expenses. There are also numerous records relating to individuals' payments of their membership taxes to the community, often accompanied by requests to reduce or forgive amounts levied, which were especially common during the 1940s given the anti-Jewish laws that existed in Hungary.
BoxFolderDescription
17Income Statements 1896, 1902
Consists of official income statements for the community.
8Budget 1891-1893
Budgets for 1891-1892, and proposed budget for 1893.
9Loan Agreement 1901
Documentation relating to a loan for 100,000 kr. taken by the Szeged Jewish Community. May have been used to finance construction of the new synagogue.
10Sale of Synagogue Seats 1886-1902, 1925, 1943
Records documenting purchase and sale of synagogue seats of for various individuals. Seats were a form of property of community members and could be transferred and exchanged among them.
11Listings and Valuation of Synagogue Seats 1896, 1935
Contains protocols of meetings to assign valuation to seats in the new synagogue planned for construction. Also contains various lists of men's and women's seats, some with their individual values.
12Auction of Foreclosed Synagogue Seats 1879
Protocol of an auction held for seats sold due to foreclosure, including names of those involved.
13Taxation Value of Membership 1897
Contains tax basis of 1285 community members, totalling 17,070 ft.
14-16Payment of Membership Taxes 1873-1876, 1892-1903, 1935, 1942-1943
Records relating to individuals' community membership tax assessment and payments. Most items consist of requests to defer or reduce the amount, or offer reasons for why no payment should be made.
17Financial Matters with Legal Aspects 1875-1876, 1892, 1894, 1899, 1948
Financial matters that involved the legal process, either to decide a case or establish bankruptcy. Also contains a request for legal advice in the aftermath of World War II regarding the ownership and sale of property.
18Sales relating to Land Ownership of Community 1899
Documentation of sale of real property by several members to the Jewish community.
19Donation to Lajos Kossuth Memorial 1894
Receipt for the Community's donation of 20 ft. for a memorial to Lajos Kossuth, a political reformer and champion of Hungarian independence, who died earlier that year.
20Miscellaneous Invoices 1879, 1892-1896, 1935, 1943
Invoices and payment records for routine maintenance and expenses.
BoxFolderDescription
Oversize21Delivery charges for the harmoniun of the synagogue 1879
BoxFolderDescription
122Advertisements/Business Offers 1896, 1903, 1935-1936, 1943
Various business advertisements and offers, relating to book orders, a radio amplifier and other items.

Series C: Educational Matters 1885-1945. 6 Folder(s)

Scope and Contents: Contains a broad range of materials relating to educational matters, including some meeting minutes, information about the school library, payments for routine repairs, applications for positions, salary issues, procedural issues and requests for financial assistance.
Historical Note: The school was established in 1844 and remained open until the Holocaust (1944). It was under the supervision of the Loew family, who acted as its principals.
BoxFolderDescription
123Meeting Minutes 1896-1897
Minutes of two meetings relating to the school. Discussion of budget issues, staffing and procedural matters
24School Library Report August 2, 1897
Report of Solomon Klein (teacher/librarian) to community officials on the library of the elementary school. Notes number of books, and that much was lost or damaged in the flood of 1879.
25Correspondence 1886-1903, 1935, 1942-1945
Contains a variety of items on a broad range of topics relating to educational matters, including procedural issues, correspondence with the Education Ministry and other official entities, salary matters, and requests from students for financial assistance and scholarships. An example of progressiveness with regards to education is the correspondence between Szeged and the nearby city Arad to work toward exchanging ideas on educational practices. Also of note is the correspondence regarding a Zionist Youth Group leader who attempted to speak with students and was asked to leave by the Community officials.
26Applications and Certificates 1890-1891, 1903
Contains applications for teacher positions (often listed as teacher/cantor), as well as certificates and other credentials of teachers.
(See also Oversized Box)
27School Repairs 1913-1914
Contains plans, budgets and payments for school repairs.

Series D: Legal Matters 1854-1920. 7 Folder(s)

Scope and Contents: Contains numerous official documents certifying the legal status of individuals such as birth, death, marriage, divorce and name changes. A significant number of these were not issued from Szeged, however it may be assumed that the community obtained them in the course of performing its functions. There are also materials regarding other legal issues, as well as procedural items of a legal nature. Of particular interest is a document certifying the land owned by the Jewish Community in 1943.
BoxFolderDescription
128Birth Certificates 1854-1911
(See also Oversized Box)
29Death Certificates 1886-1888
30Marriage Certificates 1887-1901
31Divorce Certificates 1889-1891, 1899; 1901, 1920
BoxFolderDescription
Oversize32Land Ownership 1943
Two copies of an official document certifying the land ownership of the Jewish Community as 4 acres, 220 feet.
BoxFolderDescription
133Other Legal Matters 1881, 1889-90, 1896, 1907
Contains documents dismissing charges for several cases in which death of a family member was not properly reported, announcements regarding laws pertaining to marriage, and procedures for maintaining certificates and official records.

Series E: Construction of New Synagogue 1896-1903. 7 Folder(s)

Scope and Contents: Consists of records relating to construction of the synagogue that was completed in 1903. Includes some correspondence of architect Lipót Baumhorn. Represents only a small, fragmentary amount of the overall records, which may not have survived.
BoxFolderDescription
234General Construction Matters 1899-1903
Items relating to the overall construction of the building such as invoices for marble, for work relating to the windows and an estimate for a new synagogue bell, as well as aspects of the interior such as the bima (platform from which the scriptures are read).
35Proposals for Organ 1896-1901
Proposals and estimates for the synagogue's organ.
(See also Oversized Box)
36Painting 1903
Items relating to work on painting the synagogue interior.
37Furnishings 1903
Items relating to interior furnishings such as textiles and carpentry.
38Lighting 1902-1903
Items relating to lighting, including the ner tamid (eternal light).
39Advertisements/Other Proposals 1896-1902
Various advertisements and proposals for construction related and financial services. These may have been received or solicited in conjunction with building the new synagogue.

Series F: Social Matters 1883, 1895-1899, 1903, 1935, 1939, 1942. 3 Folder(s)

Scope and Contents: Items relating to community activities such as providing charitable assistance for impoverished members, dowries for marriageable girls from poor families, caring for the infirm, and the Hevra Kadisha, which was responsible for burial of the dead in accordance with Jewish tradition. Of particular interest is a folder of items relating to assistance for forced laborers from Szeged during the Holocaust.
BoxFolderDescription
240Hevra Kadisha Financial Statement 1883
Lists revenues and expenditures.
41Donations and Requests 1895-1899, 1903, 1935, 1939, 1942, 1945
Various donations to the Hevra Kadisha and other communal charitable funds, and requests for assistance to them from individuals. Of particular interest is a request for assistance from Holocaust survivors from Szeged, which includes a timeline of their experiences since their deportation.
42Forced Laborers 1942-1943
Various items relating to assistance from the Szeged community to forced laborers and requests relating to those from the community taken into forced labor battalions.