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Huncovce

HUNCOVCE

HUNCOVCE (Ger. Hunsdorf ; Hg. Hunfalu ), village in N.E. Slovakia; until 1992 Czechoslovak Republic, since then Slovak Republic, seat of a famous yeshivah. It is located in the region of Spiš (Ger. Zips, Hg. Szepes), settled densely by Germans (Schwabes). The inhabitants were hostile to Jews and would not permit them to live in the region's towns. Huncovce, a village, served as a ghetto, where Jews would return in the evenings when the city gates closed. The first Jews must have settled in Huncovce in the 17th century, and there is evidence of their presence in the 18th century. The first rabbi, Benjamin Sinai, died in 1708. From the outset, Huncovce suffered from internal migration, so when *Liptovský Mikulaš was settled by Jews at the beginning of the 18th century, 22 families moved there from Huncovce. When Jews received freedom of settlement in Hungary in 1840, they moved to neighboring towns. This repeated itself after 1867, when Jews gained equality in the country. In the Czechoslovak Republic, migration spelled disaster to the community.

According to the census of 1725/28, two Jewish families lived in Huncovce. In 1785/87 there were 563 Jews, and in 1830/35 their number reached 928 (943.1% of all inhabitants). In 1880 there were 364 Jews (27.7%); in 1910 there were 420 (33.2%); and in 1919 there were 275. In 1930 their number decreased to 194, and in 1940 on the eve of deportations, only 75 Jews remained.

The community was organized in the 1760s. It had a wooden synagogue, a ḥevra kaddisha, a cemetery (old and new), and a mikveh. During that period, a major fire destroyed all the community's buildings, including the archive. In 1821 a beautiful new synagogue was built. All its contents were stolen or destroyed during the Holocaust.

Huncovce was the site of a well-known yeshivah, second only to that of Pressburg. At the beginning of the 19th century, there were three yeshivot in Huncovce, as well as a dormitory and a dining hall. The one that survived in the shrinking community was reorganized by Samuel (Šandor) Rosenberg (1842–1919). It attracted many students from abroad (there were 300 students in 1910 and 130 in 1927), but it closed down when the last principal, Joseph Horowitz, was called to Frankfurt on Main in 1931.

During the Hungarian Revolution in 1848/49, many volunteered for the Magyar army. During the 19th century the community was rather affluent, but it later quickly deteriorated. The elementary school, established in 1844, closed in 1933. Huncovce was the mother-congregation of several smaller congregations in the area, including tourist resorts in the Tatra mountains. During the existence of the Fascist Slovak state, all Jews, including the last rabbi, Solomon Horowitz, and his family, were sent to the concentration point in Poprad in May 1942, and from there to extermination camps in Poland.

bibliography:

ej, 8 (1931), 284–5; Y.Y. Gruenwald, Mekorot le-Korot Yisrael (1934), 1–16; A. Schnitzer, Juedische Kulturbilder (1904), 5–15, 76–84; F. Gottlieb, in: Židovská ročenka (1964/65), 121–5; M. Lányi and B.H. Propperné, Szlovenzkoi zsidó hitközségek története (1933), 269–71. add. bibliography: E. Bàrkàny and L. Dojč, Židovské náboženské obce na Slovensku, (1991), 316–21.

[Meir Lamed /

Yeshayahu Jelinek (2nd ed.)]

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