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Kromeriz

KROMERIZ

KROMERIZ (Czech Kroměříž ; Ger. Kremsier ), town in central Moravia, Czech Republic. The Jewish community of Kromeriz was among the oldest in Europe. In 1322 the bishop of *Olomouc (Olmuetz) was permitted to allow one Jew to settle in the town, exempt from servitude to the royal chamber (*servi camerae regis). A community under the protection of the bishop grew up soon after; it remained under the protection of the successive bishops until 1848, and the synagogue and community house displayed the episcopal coat of arms, with a cross and cardinal's hat. In the 1340s a Jew sued a gentile before the town court. In 1546, the Jews moved to another part of the town because of conflicts with their neighbors. In 1642, during the Thirty Years' War, the community was destroyed by the Swedes, an event mourned in several contemporary seliḥot. Kromeriz absorbed many refugees from the *Chmielnicki massacres (1648) and eight families expelled from Vienna settled there under the bishop's protection (1670). In 1676, 27 Jewish families lived in the town. In 1689 Kromeriz was considered the most important and most affluent Moravian community after *Mikulov (Nikolsburg) and from then until 1697 it was the seat of the country rabbinate. However, during the 18th century the community became impoverished and many left. After protracted legal proceedings (begun in 1785) the community had to give up the site of its old cemetery in 1882; a new one had been opened in 1850. Following a *blood libel there was unrest in the town in 1889 and again in 1896. In 1910 a new synagogue was dedicated. In Kromeriz, under the *Familiants Law there were 106 families (546 persons) in 1829; 783 Jews lived there in 1880, 611 in 1900, and 390 in 1921. In 1930 the community numbered 382 (12% of the total population). After the Nazi occupation (1939) sheḥitah was forbidden. The Czech population paid little attention to the antisemitic laws promulgated in 1940. However, the Nazis attempted to blow up the synagogue; the community was deported in 1942, and the synagogue equipment sent to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague. After the Holocaust a small congregation was reestablished, affiliated to *Kyjov. A total of 268 Jews perished in the Holocaust.

The scholars Joseph Weiss and Emanuel *Baumgarten were natives of Kromeriz. Among rabbis who served there were Menahem Mendel *Krochmal (1636–42), Issachar Berush *Eskeles (1710–19), and the historian Adolf *Frankl-Gruen (1877–1911).

bibliography:

D. Kaufmann, Die letzte Vertreibung der Juden aus Wien… (1889), 181–5; A. Frankl-Gruen, Geschichte der Juden in Kremsier, 3 vols. (1896–1901); H. Gold (ed.), Juden und Judengemeinden Maehrens (1929), 295–300; I. Halpern, Takkanot Medinat Mehrin (1952), 128–35, 148–57; W. Mueller, Urkundliche Beitraege (1903), 58–60; pk.

[Meir Lamed]

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