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NAGYKANIZSA , city in S. Hungary. It is almost certain that Jews were living in Nagykanizsa in 1710, and by 1745 the community owned a synagogue. The first inscription in the register of the ḥevra kaddisha dates from 1782. The community was officially established in 1786 and the new bet midrash was erected in 1805. The community of Nagykanizsa was among the first to join the *Reform movement, although only after bitter disputes. In 1829 it adopted the ritual of the famous composer S. *Sulzer (which was identical with the traditional ritual) and introduced an ensemble of ten violinists to accompany the choir during all services except those of the New Year and the Day of Atonement. In 1845 an organ was also introduced, the first case of its kind in the service of a Hungarian Jewish community. Noteworthy Orthodox rabbis of the community were H. Torai (1776–92) and Meir Szántó (until 1831). The first rabbi belonging to the Reform movement was L. *Loew (1841–46). He was succeeded by H.B. Fassel (1851–83) and E. Neumann (1883–1918). The latter was the only Hungarian rabbi to incorporate some of the ritual reforms suggested by A. *Geiger. The last rabbi of the community, E. Winkler (1919–44), who reintroduced the traditional ritual, accompanied his community to Auschwitz. He died in Melk (1945).

In the first Jewish school (1786–1809), opened following the reforms of Joseph ii, the language of instruction was German. In 1832 Jewish education was offered in the Hungarian language. A pre-secondary school was opened in 1867, which offered courses in natural sciences as well as religious matters. In 1891–92 it was converted into a secondary commercial school (the only Jewish school of its kind in Hungary) which functioned until 1933. In addition, a general pre-secondary school was opened in 1890. The Jews of Nagykanizsa played an important role in the industrial and commercial development of the town during the first years of the 20th century. The golden era of the community lasted from 1863 to 1902 under the community presidents of the Guttman family who received the title Baron. The leading charitable institutions were the ḥevra kaddisha (founded in 1782), whose beautiful pinkas has been preserved in the Jewish Museum of Budapest, the Jewish Hospital (founded in 1832), and the women's organization (1843). The population rose from 500 in 1782 to 1,000 in 1830, 2,875 in 1880, 3,378 in 1910, and 3,663 in 1920. After the German occupation (March 19, 1944), Jewish males between the ages of 16 and 60 became the first Jews of Hungary to be deported to Auschwitz, on April 29. The rest were sent to Auschwitz on June 3–4. Only 300 returned in 1945. In 1970, 100 Jews were living in Nagykanizsa.


H. Villányi, in: L. Barbarits, Nagykanizsa (1929), 251–62; E. László, in: R.L. Braham (ed.), Hungarian Jewish Studies, 1 (1966), 61–136, incl. bibl. and notes.

[Jeno Zsoldos]