Sa'rospatak
(Hungary)

48°19' / 21°35'

Translation and transliteration of the Necrology Scroll

Edited by
Ferenc Miller, Avraham Andi Goldstein, Ze'ev Spitzer and Yehudah Landau

Unpublished




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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

Moshe M. Shavit



Translations

 
Moshe M. Shavit and Lance Ackerfeld
 
 

Our sincere appreciation to Avraham Goldstein, from Bat-Yam, Israel, for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.


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SA'ROSPATAK

Sa'rospatak is located in the northeast of Hungary, on the banks of the Bodrog River. The center of the town is located west of the river. About three kilometers from the center, and parallel to the Bodrog River are the famous Tokai mountains. The city of Tokai, itself, is located about fifty kilometers southwest of Sa'rospatak. On the left bank of the Bordog is the "agricultural" Sa'rospatak, a vast plain, stretching to the Tisza River. On this plain there are agricultural farms and villages a few kilometers from each other. Until the communist regime this area, called Bodrogko"z, was without electricity and paved roads, but the agricultural produce arrived, nevertheless to all of the surrounding towns.

As for its size, the town wasn't exceptional and it not even a city - only a town with ten thousand habitants, but because of several historical events, it is renown in all of Hungary. Sa'rospatak was the place where the famous Ra'koci family lived, which was one of the noblest and richest families in the past. The famous revolutionary Ferenc Ra'koci, came from this family, who, even though he was educated in Wien, the Austrian capital, organized and lead the revolution against the Austrian rulers in the 18th century, as since the expulsion of the Turks at the end of the 17th century, the Austrians had controlled Hungary. The revolution failed and Ra'koci fled to Turkey, but the fortress with his palace are still standing in Sa'rospatak, and even were restored by the communist regime.

The second element that makes Sa'rospatak famous is its ancient Protestant College, established four hundred and seventy years ago at the Rakoci family's initiative. Over generations celebrities, writers, politicians were among this college's graduates. There was an English speaking boarding school for the children of the foreign diplomats and the aristocracy. Even the cook and the gardener spoke English. And the English teachers in the college came from England.

There were additional schools in Sa'rospatak: a university for Protestant priests named Theologia, and academy for elementary-school teachers, a forestry college, a high-school and five elementary schools: a Catholic, Protestant, Pravoslav , Jewish and a general school. All the Jewish children attended the Jewish elementary school until high-school age. It was built on a plot belonging to the Jewish community, which was about fifty thousand square meters in size. On this plot there was also the apartment of the congregation's Rabbi, Rav Fishel Fisher, of blessed righteous memory, who died two years before the Holocaust. The school building had four classes in the front section and three classes for "Talmud Torah", the religious studies, which were called the "cheider". Also on this plot there was the apartment of one of the "Talmud Torah" teachers, Rav Teibel Friedlander, of blessed righteous memory. Additionally there was a large playground, surrounded by a high wall. In the morning, the boy and girls studied according to the government curriculum and in the afternoon the boys studied in the "Talmud Torah" from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. The Jewish community owned and maintained this building, but the Hungarian Ministry of Education paid the teachers.

About 10% of Sa'rospatak's population was Jewish, who were represented in all of the trades, such as tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, glaziers, bakers, watchmakers, tinsmiths, butchers, brush-and-broom makers. Most of the wine-cellars' workers were Jews. The wine industry was one of the most profitable ones because of the many vineyards in the Tokai Mountains. The Jewish intelligentsia included five physicians, ten lawyers, three teachers and three pharmacists. The greater part of the Jewish population were merchants owning stores for food, metal articles, leather, electrical appliances, bakery items, shoes, butcheries and bars.

There was a Jewish family near Sa'rospatak - the Schwartz family, with four sons and a daughter. They owned farms, were agriculturists and raised cattle. All the four sons were healthy and strong, working people. They were murdered by the Nazis.

The Jewish congregation in Sa'rospatak was entirely Orthodox, but about 40% of it belonged to the Chassidic movement. There were two Synagogues: one of them was the Great Synagogue on the Main Street, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century; the other, the Old Synagogue, near the river bank, was the Chassidic Synagogue, where the Chassidim prayed in Sepharadic style. All the Chassidim had beards and wore "Shtreimels" (=special hat made of red animal hair) on Saturdays and Holydays. The Old Synagogue was also called "Besemedresh" in the Ashkenazi pronunciation ("Beth Hamidrash" = The House of Learning) and there we began learning the Hebrew alphabet at an age of four and a half, and our tutor was Yitzchak Glick, of blessed memory. He was a smiling, gold-hearted Jew, and was a grandfather to us. May his soul be blessed.

We had a judge in our congregation - Rav Eliezer Schwartz, of blessed memory. There were also two "Shochatim" (=ritual butchers) who were also the cantors in the Great Synagogue. One of them was "Mohel" (=he who performs circumcisions).

There were also social organizations in our community. There was a Jewish Women Organization, which supplied food to the mourners' home, where the mourners would sit "Shiva" (-seven days of mourning after the burial of the deceased, when all work, including preparation of food, is forbidden); weddings of poor brides; preparation of a feast for the entire community on the 7th day of the month of Adar. There was a "Mikveh Tohorah" (=ritual bath), and a "Chevrah Kadishah" (=undertakers' organization. Literally: "The Saint Group") which took care of washing the deceased and of their burial. The youngest amongst them dug the graves, which was considered a great "Mitzvah" (=Good Deed).

To summarize: The Sa'rospatak congregation was an organized, vibrant community with a happy Jewish life. Is it possible that all this happened in another planet? All of this was engulfed in flame, together with the cute children, the pretty girls, the worrying and working parents, the charming traditions of the Holydays, the melodies of the prayers and the voices of the babies from the Synagogue's courtyard. In my dreams I see and hear you - Father, Mother, Uncles and Aunts, girls we loved secretly, teachers and tutors, friend and girlfriends and all of you, the blessed Sa'rospatac community.

Goldstein Abraham Andi

Bat-Yam, Israel, June 2000


The History of Sa'rospatak Victims' Scroll of Names

Most of the Hungarian immigrants came here after the establishment of the State of Israel. A small number of them came immediately after the war, mostly young people, from the transit camps in Germany and Italy, with the help of the Jewish Brigades. The first ones ("chalutzim") came before and during the war. The multitude of the people immigrated in 1949 and another large number of immigrants arrived in 1956 after the October revolution, many from Sa'rospatak. Amongst them was a Jew named Ferenc Miller who had owned, in the past, a large textile shop in Sa'rospatak. He, too, was drafted to the labor-force and was taken to the Russian front. Between 1942 and 1948 he was a prisoner of war in a Russian camp. When he returned to Hungary in 1948 he was integrated into the communist administration, and being a chartered accountant, and since the regime considered him to be loyal to the Soviet Union, he was elevated in the communist hierarchy to the post of the General Accountant of the Hungarian Railways M.A'.V. During the revolution he, his wife and his daughter were almost killed because of his being a Jewish Party member. After the revolution ended, he immigrated to Israel and worked for the K.K.L. as an accountant. He was the first to come up with the idea of erecting a memorial plaque on Mount Zion, gather all the names of the Holocaust victims from Sa'rospatak and to order a parchment scroll from a Sofer St"am (=a scribe, who writes Tora-scrolls).

We advertised in the Hungarian newspaper Uj-Kelet and in a number of Hebrew newspapers the fact that we would hold a meeting in a Tel-Aviv coffee-house. During the first meeting, in which more than a hundred people participated, it was decided that Miller's plan should be realized. Those who volunteered to help were Ze'ev Spitzer, of blessed memory, from Netanyah, Yehuda Landau, who should be blessed with a long life, from Ein-Vered, and myself from Bat-Yam. Ferenc Miller, himself, was the main operative in the execution of this plan. We received a list of the Jews from Sa'rospatak, compiled by the local police when the Jews were collected into the Ghetto. We also asked for information from all over the world - USA, Canada, Australia, South-American countries, Sweden, France and Germany. The survivors of the Sa'rospatak Jewry wrote the names of the victims, and sent donations. Ze'ev Spitzer, of blessed memory, travelled to the USA to visit his relatives, and returned with a considerable amount of money.

About a year later, we already had a clear picture of the deceased and the survivors. We prepared the list, looked for a scribe who spoke Hungarian and he began to write the scroll. Meanwhile we also ordered the memorial plaque, made of marble, which had the Sa'rospatak's Great Synagogue's picture on it.

In 1961, on the 15th day of the month of Sivan - the remembrance date of the Jews from Sa'rospatak - we all gathered on Mount Zion, in front of the memorial plaque and when the cantor Ze'ev Spitzer, of blessed memory, read the "El Maleh Rachamim" prayer (a prayer for the remembrance of the deceased, usually said by the cantor), we interrupted him, and called out all the names of the victims from the scroll. Then we all prayed "Kadish" together (a prayer for the deceased, said by mourners).

Even before 1961, we observed remembrance days, but only in the framework of the Zmple'n-Sa'toraljau'jhely district, in the auditorium of the Organization of the Hungarian Immigrants, in Tel-Aviv.

As the years passed by we added and even deleted names from the Scroll, but we observed the Remembrance Day every year. From year to year the number of people decreased. The last observance was in 1994, about 50 years after the murder of our loved ones. To my sorrow, both Ze'ev Spitzer and Ferenc Miller, both of blessed memory, passed away at a ripe old age. I am sorry that not many people from Sa'rospatak are still alive. Therefore, it is very important that the scroll should be placed in Yad-Vashem, Jerusalem and a copy of it should be posted on the Internet.

Avraham Goldstein


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