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14 March 2013

Jews of Bratislava

 The Jewish history of the area now known as Bratislava dates back well over 700 years ago. Now the capital city of Slovakia, it was until 1918 in Hungary. Known in Hungary as Pozsony, it was the home of the Kings of Hungary. 
The Jewish community of Bratislava is first acknowledged in 1291, when they were granted a charter by King Andrew III. The members of the community, comprised mostly of merchants, bankers and owners of vineyards became taxpayers and established a solid community. The earliest synagogue was built in the 1330's.
Life in Bratislava was not always peaceful for the Jews living there. In 1360, the Jews were expelled from Hungary, and some residents fled to Austria. They were allowed back in 1367 and were even allowed to return to their homes. However in 1371, laws were put in place that regulated financial transactions between Jews and Christians. In 1392, Christians were exempted for a year from having to pay taxes on money owed to Jews. Later, in the mid 1400's, on two different occasions, all debts owed to Jews were cancelled.
Over the next 300 or so years, the Jews suffered through multiple restrictions on the community. The restrictions included who they could trade with and where they could live. Also, on numerous occasions they were expelled from Hungary. Because of these actions the Jewish population was under 200 hundred by the early 1700's.
In the early 1700's, Jews in the various areas of Bratislava were given some protection and were even allowed to establish small communities. In the 1770's the Jews living in the area of Schlossberg were permitted to settle on land owned by the city and establish their own "Jewish Street". The Jews of Bratislava became very well established. They established the textile trade in Hungary and helped Bratislava become a center of learning for Jews, in fact, for Orthodox Jews it became a major place of importance for the entire world. By 1930, the Jewish population of Bratislava had grown to almost 15,000 which was well over 10% of the entire population.
Now, Marelynn Zipser has transcribed the records of the Jewish community of Bratislava, and made those available to the Knowles Collection. This incredible work is now part of the Jews of Europe database. The collection can be search at the FamilySearch Community Trees site. That link is provided at the top right of this blog. A very special thanks to Marelynn for all her hard work. She is truly blessing so many with her efforts.

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