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BARDEJOV (Hg. Bartfa ; Ger. Bartfeldt ), town in Slovakia, on the eastern Polish border. The first Jews probably appeared in Bardejov in the 13th century, after the Tartar invasion, when the Hungarian king Bela iv invited foreigners to settle in the devastated country. The Jews engaged in trade and established inns along the Tokay (Hungary)–Brody (Poland) highway. Jews again appeared in the town in the 18th century, and with them Ḥasidism and the *Halberstam (Sanz) dynasty. Several Halberstams served as local rabbis. In 1808 the Hevra Kaddisha (burial society) was founded and in 1830 the Great Synagogue was built. In all, there were five synagogues in Bardejov. Jews continued to engage in the export of wine to Poland as a principal occupation and Jewish enterprise helped develop Bardejov as a fashionable health resort in the early 19th century. Two printing shops published Hebrew books. Jews from Bardejov participated in the First Zionist Congress on 1897 and the *Mizrachi Zionist religious movement became a strong force in the town.

The Jewish population numbered approximately 300 in Bardejov and its surroundings in 1848, 181 in the town itself in 1851, 480 in 1862, 1,710 in 1900 (of whom, in 1901, 220 owned businesses, 24 kept taverns, and 89 worked as artisans), and 2,264 in 1930. Most of the local Jews were deported by the Germans to the Lublin area of Poland on May 15–17, 1942.

After the war Bardejov became a rehabilitation center for Jewish survivors from the concentration camps and a transit center for "illegal" immigration to Palestine. (See *Beriḥah). In 1947, 384 Jews lived in the town, including 79 children. Antisemitism was still rife and Jews were attacked in June 1947 without being protected by the police. In 1965 only one Jewish family remained. Ritual objects from Bardejov are preserved in the Divrei Ḥayyim synagogue in Jerusalem, named in honor of R. Ḥayyim *Halberstam, the founder of the Sanz ḥasidic dynasty.

The New York filmmaker Jack Gurfein, a native of Bardejov, produced a film on the Holocaust in his town called The Journey Back. In 2003 a volunteer group of architects from Israel restored a part of the former Jewish quarter of Bardejov, including the Great Synagogue.


Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 92; M. Atlas, in: Zeitschrift fuer Geschichte der Juden (1966), 151–70; L. Rotkirchen, Ḥurban Yahadut Slovakyah (1961); P. Meyer et al., Jews in the Soviet Satellites (1953), 637; M. Lànyi and H. Propper. A szlovenszkói zsidó hitközségek története (1933), 142. add. bibliography: E. Bárkány and L. Dojč, Židovské náboženské obce na Slovensku (1991), 353–57; M. Atlas, "Die Juedische Geschichte der Stadt Bartfeld (Barfa) und des Bades Bardejov in der Tschechoslowakei," in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 3 (1966), 151–71.

[Yeshayahu Jellinek (2nd ed.)]

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