Mlada Boleslav

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MLADA BOLESLAV (Czech Mladá Boleslav ; Ger. Jungbunzlau ), town in N. Bohemia, Czech Republic. One of the important communities in Bohemia, it is first mentioned in 1471 and is noted in a Hebrew document of 1556. Eleven families lived there in 1570, and a synagogue was recorded in 1579. The cemetery (well known mainly because of the tombstone of Jacob *Bassevi von Treuenberg) was consecrated in 1584 and still existed in 1970. The number of adult Jews in the town in 1615 was 120. In 1643 the community came under the protection of the Swedish king for a time. The community elders were forced to sign an agreement in 1661 which greatly limited their freedom of commerce. At the end of the century, Jews had a near monopoly of transportation. In 1710 a shopkeeper, David Brandeis, was accused of poisoning a Christian with plum jam; the day of his release was celebrated on the tenth of Adar as Povidl ("plum jam") Purim. After a fire in the late 17th century had destroyed part of the Jewish quarter and the synagogue, the community built a new synagogue on the model of the Meisl synagogue in Prague. It had to be demolished in 1960 because of decay. The Jewish population numbered 794 in 1834; 865 (9.1% of the total population) in 1880; 402 (2.8% of the total) in 1910; 419 in 1921; and 264 (1.3%) in 1930. In 1922 a local Jewish museum was founded; its treasures were later transferred to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague. In 1942 the Jews from Mlada Boleslav and the surrounding district were concentrated in the old castle. Of the 1,041 persons deported to *Theresienstadt in January 1943, only 40 were still alive in November 1944. After World War ii a small congregation was reestablished, administered by the Prague community.

Among the outstanding rabbis of Mlada Boleslav were Moses Isaac Spira (until 1702), Ezekiel Glogau-Schlesinger (until 1821), and Isaac Spitz (1824–42). The house in which Sigfried *Kapper (1821–79) lived was marked by a memorial tablet. Jewish life in Mlada Boleslav at the beginning of the 19th century is described in Leopold *Kompert's Die Kinder des Randars ("The Randar Children"). Mlada Boleslav was considered a kind of a Bohemian *Chelm and many tales were told of "Bumsler Shtiklekh" ("pranks"). The Prague scholar Meir *Fischels (Bumsla) came from Mlada Boleslav. A *seliḥah, printed in 1854 to commemorate a conflagration, was the last literary production of this kind published in Bohemia. Benjamin Isaac (d. 1750), "Jew merchant of extensive charity" in London, came from Mlada Boleslav, and he set up a foundation in his name in his native community.


A.E. Goldmann and M. Gruenwald, in: H. Gold (ed.), Juden und Judengemeinden Boehmens… (1934), 204–21; M. Gruenwald, in: mwj (1888), 192–6; idem, in: C̀eskožidovský kalendar, 11 (1891/92), 138ff.; H. Volávkov, Schicksal des Juedischen Museums in Prag (1965); R. Iltis (ed.), Die Aussaeen unter Traenen… (1959), 99–101; Roth, England, 284.

[Jan Herman]