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TRNAVA (Hung. Nagyszombat ; Ger. Tyrnau ), city in Slovakia. There were Jews in Trnava from the 14th, perhaps even the 12th century, making it one of the oldest Jewish communities in ancient Hungary. Economic life was organized in guilds, which would not accept Jews. Fierce competition developed between the guild members and the Jews. Adverse relations prevailed in wine production and trade as well. The local vineyard owners wanted a monopoly to dictate prices; but the Jews imported wine, reduced the price, and thus evoked hostility (1471–86).

In the second half of the 14th century, Rabbi Eisig (Isac) Tyrnau officiated. He wrote the Sidur ha-Minhagim, a manual of Sabbath prayers used for centuries by Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, and Austrian Jews.

In the late 15th century, the burghers established a ghetto, locking the Jews in and depriving them of free movement. In 1539 a *blood libel was invented, and several Jews were executed. Hapsburg King Ferdinand ordered all Jews expelled. Jews were prohibited from staying in or even passing through Trnava. Only the few Jewish students of the local university could stay in the town.

In 1717, under royal insistence, Jews were allowed to pass through the city. Emperor Joseph ii permitted the family of Joseph Loeb Wolf to live in the city; they were later joined by three other families. Encountering great hostility, they sometimes had to be protected by the military. In 1801 Wolf appealed to the court in Vienna to be allotted land for a cemetery. From that date, the ḥevra kaddisha was established in Trnava. In 1790 there were 78 Jews in the town. Until 1855, the community was under the jurisdiction of the nearby congregation Cifer, where Rabbi Simeon Sidon (1815–1891) resided. In 1855 he moved to Trnava. In 1814 a synagogue was erected. In 1855 the first Jewish school was installed. In 1848 a wave of plundering of Jewish property swept the city. Several neighboring communities joined the Trnava congregation. The Jewish school expanded in 1864. The next year, the community numbered 524. It was recognized by local and state authorities, which supervised its administration. After the 1868 Congress of Hungarian Jewry, the congregation chose the *status quo ante trend, refusing to join either the Orthodox or the Reform. In 1891 it erected an impressive synagogue and owned a mikveh. That year, Rabbi Sidon died. Five years later, Rabbi Mayer Maximilian Stein assumed the position, holding it until 1934. Among his achievements, he compiled a book about Hungarian rabbis.

In 1881, part of the congregation split and established an Orthodox congregation. It established its own school, mikveh, and synagogue (1914). It founded a renowned yeshivah, under the leadership or Rabbi David Unger (1885–1944). In 1930 it moved to Nitra.

In 1918 the Czechoslovak Republic was founded. In its first month, the new state saw a wave of violence. The population looted the property of the wealthy and the followers of the previous regime. But the main target was Jewish property of both the rich and poor.

In the 19th century, Jews were deeply engaged in the economic life of the city, and Jewish entrepreneurs established or advanced several branches of industry, such as breweries, sugar refineries, and confectionaries, providing employment for hundreds; their products were sold at home and abroad. Textile mills and ironworks also provided jobs. Jewish physicians and lawyers were part of the expanding middle class, which turned Trnava into a modern town.

The Zionist movement had deep roots in the community. Samuel Diamant participated in the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897; the following year he and friends founded Beit Yaakov. The Jewish party, supported by the Zionists, played an important role in public and municipal life. Both congregations developed social and philanthropic organizations; cultural activity was promoted by many clubs and organizations.

In 1830 there were 84 Jews in the city. In 1850 the Jewish population grew to 200; in 1880 there were 1,325 Jews. In 1904 they numbered 1,715; in 1910 there were 2,126. In 1930 there were 2,728.

Trnava was one of the Slovak centers of antisemitism. The first antisemitic party in Slovakia, the White Brotherhood (Biel Bratstvo), was founded there; it published "*Streicher-type" literature. The vicious antisemitism of this small organization influenced the Slovak storm troopers, the Rodobrana, and the Hlinka Guard. In December 1938, the status quo synagogue was torched by the mob.

Trnava was one of the first Slovak cities to deport Jews to extermination camps in Poland in 1942. In 1941 the Jewish population was augmented by hundreds of Jews expelled from Bratislava. The first transport to leave Slovakia departed from Trnava on April 12, 1942. Altogether, some 2,500 Jews were deported from Trnava.

In 1947 there were 336 Jews in Trnava. After the war, the status quo synagogue was made into a memorial for the murdered Trnava Jews. During the Communist regime, the memorial was destroyed. The synagogue was reconstructed and is used by the local art museum for exhibits. Most of the surviving Jews emigrated after returning to Slovakia. After 1989, some 15 Jews lived in Trnava.


Der Israelit, 5 (1864), 228f., 244, 310, 339; S. Kohn, A zsidók története Magyarországon (1884), index, s.v.Nagyszombat; J. Bergel (Bergl), Geschichte der ungarischen Juden (1879), 52; mhj, passim; Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), s.v.Nagyszombat; R. Iltis (ed.), Die aussaeen unter Traenen … (1959), 199–205; E. Bárkány-L. Dojc, Zidovské nábozenské obce na Slovensku (1991); Dejiny Trnavy (1989).

[Yeshayahu Jelinek (2nd ed.)]