views updated


SIMLEUL-SILVANIEI (Hung. Szilágysomlyó ; referred to in Jewish sources שאמלויא), town in Transylvania, N.W. Romania; until the end of World War i, and between 1940 and 1944, within Hungary. Jews began to settle there during the 18th century. An organized community was established in 1841; from its inception, the community was Orthodox. A synagogue was erected in 1850. In 1885 the community became the official center for the Jews in the surrounding area. Many local Jews fought in World War i in the Austro-Hungarian army. The influence of Ḥasidism was felt, particularly between the two world wars. The Jewish population numbered 838 (18.4% of the total) in 1891; 1,586 (21%) in 1930; and 1,496 (16.4%) in 1941. Between the two world wars Zionist activity was curtailed. The community's institutions included an elementary school for boys, opened in 1894, and one for girls (1921). The rabbi of the community from 1898 was the extreme Orthodox Samuel Ehrenreich (b. 1863), who was deported in the summer of 1944 with the members of his community to *Auschwitz.

Holocaust and Contemporary Periods

During World War ii Jews from the vicinity, as well as from outlying regions, were interned in the ghetto which was established in Simleul-Silvaniei. Jews from other towns were also concentrated there before their deportation to Auschwitz. About 8,000 Jews passed through this ghetto on their way to the death camps.

Of those who survived after World War ii, about 440 Jews gathered in Simleul-Silvaniei in 1947; they rehabilitated the community and maintained the synagogue, still standing in 1971. A rabbi headed the community for a while. The number of Jews subsequently declined as a result of emigration to Israel and other countries. In 1971 there were 40 Jews. Between the two world wars there was also a small Hebrew press in Simleul-Silvaniei. A Hebrew book was printed there in 1960.


Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), s.v.Ehrenreich, Sziláysomlyó; S.Z. Ehrenreich, Even Shelomo (1963).

[Yehouda Marton]