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Nove Zamky


NOVE ZAMKY (Slovak. Nové Zámky ; Hung. Ersekújvár ; Ger. Neuhaeusel ), town in S. Slovakia, since 1993 the Slovak Republic. Until 1840, Jews were not permitted to live in Nove Zamky. They attended markets in the town and lived in nearby Surany (Nagysuran). In 1840, when the Hungarian Parliament passed the law permitting Jewish settlement, the first Jewish families moved there, where they traded in grain and horses. In 1855 the community numbered 85. In 1857 they founded a ḥevra kaddisha and in 1858 consecrated a cemetery. In 1860 the first synagogue was erected. Railway connections with Budapest and Vienna increased the economic importance of the town, and the Jewish population grew accordingly. In 1857 there were 892 Jews; in 1890 there were 1,491; and in 1910 there were 1,540. The first Czechoslovak census of 1921 recorded 2,087 Jews; the 1930 census recorded 2,535. On the eve of the deportations in 1940 there were 3,000 Jews in Nove Zamky.

In 1842 the first school was founded. The language of instruction was German; it changed to Magyar in 1869, by which time the school was a regular elementary school. In 1920, courses in Slovak and Hebrew were added to the curriculum. After the 1868 Jewish Congress, an Orthodox congregation was founded as well. They built a synagogue and organized a ḥevra kaddisha, a primary school, a talmud torah, a cemetery, and a yeshivah. In 1927 the community established a Jewish high school and, later, a Beth Jacob elementary school for girls. The Neolog Rabbi Dr. Samuel Klein (1866–1940) as well as his son and heir in the rabbinate, Dr. Ernst Klein, advocated speaking Slovak in daily life.

During World War i, some 85 Jews enlisted in the army. Nove Zamky suffered less than other cities from the wave of pogroms and looting that swept Slovakia in 1918–1919, probably because of the presence of the Hungarian army. However, Czechoslovak troops occupying the region faced Magyar armed resistance; fighting also took place during the Bolshevik Commune in 1919, causing considerable damage.

The Czechoslovak Republic signified prosperity for the Jewish community. Both congregations expanded in number and affluence. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee assisted in establishing a credit society that served the entire region; at its peak it held 684 deposits (totaling more than 3,000,000 crowns); 1937 was the society's best year. Jews participated in municipal life and were elected to the city council. The Jewish party and the Zionist movement had important branches in the town. The local branch of Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir was one of the largest in the country, and Brit Trumpeldor thrived.

In November 1938 Nove Zamky was ceded to Hungary. The Hungarian anti-Jewish laws were applied immediately, and the local authorities added their own. They curtailed Jewish economic activity, forbidding them to do business on certain streets. When Hungary introduced the Labor Service System (Munkaszolgalat) in 1939, Nove Zamky Jews were recruited. After the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, the deportation of Hungarian Jewry to Auschwitz began. Nove Zamky's Jews were concentrated in a temporary ghetto comprised of several shabby streets, while neighboring Jews were moved to the Kurzweil Brick Works. On June 12 and 15, 1944, two transports of Jews were sent to Auschwitz. The entire local Jewry was deported; only a few managed to return after the war.

In 1947 there were 501 Jews in Nove Zamky. After the war, the surviving Jews worked hard to revive their congregation. They abolished the division by rite, and reconstructed the Orthodox synagogue (the Neolog synagogue had been bombed), both cemeteries, and the mikveh. The congregation remained active during the entire Communist regime, one of the few that retained its religious life. In 1990, there were 70 Jews in the city. A plaque bearing the names of the Nove Zamky Holocaust victims was mounted in the synagogue in 1999. Slovakia has maintained the synagogue and other Jewish communal buildings.

Peter *Ujvary, the author of Zsido Magyar Lexicon (Budapest 1929), was born in Nove Zamky.


R. Iltis (ed.), Die aussaeen unter Traenen mit Jubel werden sie ernten (1959). E. Barkany-L. Dojc, Zidovské nábozenské obce na Slovensku (1991), 176–78. S. Strba and T. Lang, Az ersekújvary zsidoág toertenete (2004).

[Yeshayahu Jelinek (2nd ed.)]

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