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SATU-MARE (Hung. Szatmárnémeti or Szatmár , also called Sakmér ), city in Satu-Mare province, N.W. Romania; until World War i and between 1940 and 1944, part of Hungary. There is sporadic mention of the presence of Jews in or passing through Satu-Mare in the early 18th century. Permission was granted to the Jews to settle in the city because it was hoped by the more powerful local Hungarian landlords that they would bring economic prosperity, which they actually did for a period of centuries. Jews, too, became landlords or lessees. Some became involved in large-scale agriculture; many others contributed to the development of trade and industry.; and still others were employed in Jewish workshops at low wages. There were 11 Jews in the town in 1734 and 19 in 1746. In 1841 several Jews obtained permits to settle in Satu-Mare permanently. A community was formally established in 1849, and a synagogue erected in 1857. Benjamin Ze'ev Mendel-baum became the first rabbi in 1849, officiating until his death in 1896. Through his influence the community defined itself as Orthodox in 1869 (see *Hungary). In 1898 it split up and a *status quo ante community was established. A magnificent synagogue was erected in 1904. The Jewish population rose from 78 in 1850 to 3,427 (16% of the total population) in 1870, 7,194 (20% of the total population) in 1910, and 11,533 (21% of the total population) in 1930. There were then five large synagogues and about 20 smaller ones in the city. The first Jewish printing press was established in 1903.

From the end of the 19th century, there were conflicts among the supporters of Ḥasidism and the Mitnaggedim. From 1902 the status quo community was led by a Zionist rabbi, Dr. Samuel Sándor Jordán, who established the first Hebrew kindergarten in Hungary. The first Jewish schools were opened in 1866. Between 1940 and 1944 there was also a secondary school for boys and girls (four classes).

Jews took an active part in the development of industry and commerce in Satu-Mare, were prominent in the liberal professions, and contributed to the local Hungarian press. Between the two world wars, branches of the Zionist movements were active in the community; a B'nai B'rith lodge was established, as well as a branch of the Jewish party and other institutions. The rabbis of the Orthodox community were Judah Gruenwald (until 1920) and Eliezer David Gruenwald. After his death in 1928, a bitter conflict followed within the Orthodox community over the election of a new rabbi. The struggle lasted six years and was concluded in 1934 by the victory of the supporters of Joel *Teitelbaum, whose domineering personality and uncompromising anti-Zionist stand influenced Orthodox Jewry in the whole of Transylvania.

Although the influence of Neologism was extremely weak in this region, many Jewish intellectuals were drawn to the Hungarian language and culture, becoming important figures in Hungarian society. Between the two world wars the influence of the fascist Iron Guard was felt. This was the reason why in 1940 the Jews received the Hungarian Horthiite troups with open arms. They were not aware of the changes post–World War i Hungary had undergone under Admiral Horthy's rule. The first signs of what was to come manifested themselves shortly after the city was occupied by Hungary and "foreign" Jews were deported to Kamenets-Podolski, where they were murdered by Hungarian and German troops. In spring 1944 the rest of the Jews, some 20,000 including refugees, were first ghettoized and then deported to Auschwitz after the majority of men had been sent to forced labor battalions. Less than 15% survived the Holocaust and were able to make their way back to their homes.

After World War ii some of the survivors returned from the camps, and about 500 Jews resettled there. They were joined by former residents and Jews from other localities, and by 1947 they numbered approximately 5,000. Subsequently many moved away or immigrated to Ereẓ Israel, and by 1970 there remained some 500 Jews in Satu-Mare, with numbers later declining.


mhj, 3 (1937), index s.v.; Szatmárkerületi zsidók, 5 pt. 1 (1959); 5 pt. 2 (1960); 7 (1963), index locorum s.v.Szatmár; M. Stern, A szatmári zsidók útja (1931).

[Yehouda Marton /

Paul Schveiger (2nd ed.)]