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Jewish Families from Mladá Boleslav (Jungbunzlau), Bohemia, Czech Republic

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This project seeks to collect representatives of all of the Jewish families from Mladá Boleslav (Jungbunzlau) in Bohemia, Czech Republic.

Town in Bohemia, 60 kilometers north of Prague. The presence of Jews in Mladá Boleslav (Ger., Jungbunzlau; known to Jews as Bumsla) was documented by the second half of the fifteenth century. Until the nineteenth century, Jews comprised roughly 10 percent of all inhabitants. The Jewish quarter there—together with those of Prague and Kolín—was among the most important in all of Bohemia.

As many as 135 Jews are mentioned in the 1592 census. In 1615, the number of adult Jews was 120, but this figure rose to 775 in 1687 due to the immigration of Polish Jews and Jews expelled from Vienna by Leopold I in 1670. The Jewish population was 794 in 1834, and had risen to 865 in 1880. From the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the numbers decreased; the Jewish population was 402 in 1910; 419 in 1921; 264 in 1930; and only 183 prior to World War II.

The Jewish quarter in Mladá Boleslav was situated in the northwest part of the historical core of the town, not originally isolated from Christian neighborhoods. There were 31 houses in the Jewish quarter at the beginning of the seventeenth century, as well as a town hall, a hospital, and a ritual bath. The so-called Nová Škola (New School) was built at the end of the sixteenth century. Following a fire, it was rebuilt in 1697 and modeled after the Maisel synagogue in Prague. The last reconstruction dates to the end of the eighteenth century. After 1938, the inventory of the synagogue was transferred to Prague and the building was used as a warehouse; it was finally demolished in 1962.

Mladá Boleslav was torched many times, the last fire occurring in May 1859. The local rabbi, Isak Ellbogen, wrote a seliḥah (Seliḥot le-zikaron ha-esh) that was printed in Prague in 1860 to commemorate the event. It was the last literary production of its kind to be published in Bohemia.

The town was owned by various Czech aristocratic families until 1594, when it purchased its autonomy; the considerable sum of 1,000 florins was contributed for this purpose by a local Jew named David Fleckeles. In 1731, a Jewish shopkeeper named David Brandeis was accused of poisoning a local Christian printer with plum jam and was imprisoned. When the accusation proved untrue and he was released, Brandeis composed a megillah (memorial scroll) titled Shir ha-ma‘alot le-David (A Song of Ascent of David), which was read each year on the Tenth of Adar. The day was celebrated as “Povidl Purim” (Jam Purim).

After 1848, the Jews of Mladá Boleslav were permitted to take an active part in the administration of the town as members of the municipality. In 1897, anti-Jewish riots occurred amid widespread national disturbances between Czechs and Germans. Hermann Pollak, a teacher in a local Jewish school, founded a Jewish museum in 1922. It was subsequently shut down by the Nazis and its treasures transferred to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague. Among the various objects taken were historical archives dating back to the sixteenth century; today these documents are housed at the Jewish Museum in Prague.

The first known rabbi of Mladá Boleslav was Shemu’el ben Yosef of Lublin (early seventeenth century), author of Leḥem rav. Others included Mosheh Yitsḥak Spira (ca. 1702; later chief rabbi of Bohemia and father-in-law of Yonatan Eybeschütz), Yeḥezkel Glogau Schlesinger (ca. 1821; author of Mar’eh Yeḥezkel), Yom Tov Spitz (1824–1842; son-in-law of El‘azar Fleckeles), and Moritz Grünwald (1886–1893; later chief rabbi of Bulgaria).

In January 1942, the Nazis ordered 1,041 Jews from Mladá Boleslav and the surrounding areas to assemble in the old castle; they were first deported to Terezín and subsequently shipped to various extermination camps. After World War II, a small congregation was reestablished, administered by the Prague community. Its activities ceased in the 1950s.

The town’s large Jewish cemetery was first mentioned in 1584, and the oldest preserved gravestones date back to the end of the sixteenth century. The most famous individual buried there is Ya‘akov Bassevi of Treuenberg. The last burial took place in 1992. Suggested Reading

• František Bareš, Paměti města Mladé Boleslavě, 2 vols. (Mladá Boleslav, Czech., 1920–1921); Jiří Fiedler, Židovské památky v Čechách a na Moravě (Prague, 1992), pp. 290–291; A. E. Goldmann, “Dějiny Židů v Mladé Boleslavi,” in Die Juden und Judengemeinden Böhmens in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, ed. Hugo Gold, pp. 204–221 (Brünn and Prague, Czech., 1934); Tomáš Pěkný, Historie Židů v Čechách a na Moravě (Prague, 1993); Vladimir Sadek and Jirina Šedinová, “The Jewish Cemetery at Mladá Boleslav,” Judaica bohemiae 18.1 (1982): 50–54. Author

Bedřich Nosek

MLADA BOLESLAV (Czech Mladá Boleslav; Ger. Jungbunzlau), town in N. Bohemia, Czech Republic. One of the important communities in Bohemia, it is first mentioned in 1471 and is noted in a Hebrew document of 1556. Eleven families lived there in 1570, and a synagogue was recorded in 1579. The cemetery (well known mainly because of the tombstone of Jacob *Bassevi von Treuenberg) was consecrated in 1584 and still existed in 1970. The number of adult Jews in the town in 1615 was 120. In 1643 the community came under the protection of the Swedish king for a time. The community elders were forced to sign an agreement in 1661 which greatly limited their freedom of commerce. At the end of the century, Jews had a near monopoly of transportation. In 1710 a shopkeeper, David Brandeis, was accused of poisoning a Christian with plum jam; the day of his release was celebrated on the tenth of Adar as Povidl ("plum jam") Purim. After a fire in the late 17th century had destroyed part of the Jewish quarter and the synagogue, the community built a new synagogue on the model of the Meisl synagogue in Prague. It had to be demolished in 1960 because of decay. The Jewish population numbered 794 in 1834; 865 (9.1% of the total population) in 1880; 402 (2.8% of the total) in 1910; 419 in 1921; and 264 (1.3%) in 1930. In 1922 a local Jewish museum was founded; its treasures were later transferred to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague. In 1942 the Jews from Mlada Boleslav and the surrounding district were concentrated in the old castle. Of the 1,041 persons deported to *Theresienstadt in January 1943, only 40 were still alive in November 1944. After World War II a small congregation was reestablished, administered by the Prague community.

Among the outstanding rabbis of Mlada Boleslav were Moses Isaac Spira (until 1702), Ezekiel Glogau-Schlesinger (until 1821), and Isaac Spitz (1824–42). The house in which Sigfried Kapper (1821–79) lived was marked by a memorial tablet. Jewish life in Mlada Boleslav at the beginning of the 19th century is described in Leopold *Kompert's Die Kinder des Randars ("The Randar Children"). Mlada Boleslav was considered a kind of a Bohemian *Chelm and many tales were told of "Bumsler Shtiklekh" ("pranks"). The Prague scholar Meir Fischels (Bumsla) came from Mlada Boleslav. A *seliḥah, printed in 1854 to commemorate a conflagration, was the last literary production of this kind published in Bohemia. Benjamin Isaac (d. 1750), "Jew merchant of extensive charity" in London, came from Mlada Boleslav, and he set up a foundation in his name in his native community.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

A.E. Goldmann and M. Gruenwald, in: H. Gold (ed.), Juden und Judengemeinden Boehmens… (1934), 204–21; M. Gruenwald, in: MWJ (1888), 192–6; idem, in: C̀eskožidovský kalendar, 11 (1891/92), 138ff.; H. Volávkov, Schicksal des Juedischen Museums in Prag (1965); R. Iltis (ed.), Die Aussaeen unter Traenen… (1959), 99–101; Roth, England, 284.

[Jan Herman]

Town in northeastern Bohemia. Its Jewish community, one of the oldest in the province, was formerly one of the largest in Bohemia; it is first mentioned, under the name of , in documents dated 1546. The communal records begin in 1562. A synagogue, modeled after the Meisel Synagogue at Prague, was built in the eighteenth century. An old cemetery contains the grave of Jacob Bassevi von Treuenberg, who died at Jung-Bunzlau in 1632.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Mladá Boleslav was an important Jewish center. In this period, about one fifth of the town's population was Jewish. In the 19th century (in fact, the period of decline of the Jewish community), Mladá Boleslav was dubbed "Jerusalem on Jizera". In 1634, Jacob Bashevi von Treuenberg (born 1580 in Verona, Italy), the first ennobled Jew in the Habsburg monarchy, was buried on the Jewish cemetery in Mladá Boleslav.

The first rabbi of whom there is record was Samuel b. Joseph of Lublin, author of "Leḥem Rab" (published in 1609 with an approbation by Löw b. Bezaleel, chief rabbi of Prague). He was followed by Abraham Samuel b. Isaac Bacharach. Succeeding rabbis were: Ḥayyim Feibel, son-in-law of Isaiah Horowitz, and the compiler of the variants to Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch; Eliezer Lipmann, son of Wolf Graetz (1679); Moses Isaac Spira (until about 1712; d. 1749), father-in-law of Jonathan Eybeschütz; Moses Brandeis ha-Levi, a descendant of Löw b. Bezaleel; his son Bezaleel, who, like his father, was district rabbi of Bunzlau (died June 4, 1767, in early manhood, his work "Ẓedah Baruk," Prague, 1786, being published posthumously); Eliezer Bondy, district rabbi of Bechin and Bunzlau (d. 1804); Ezekiel Glogau ("Schlesinger"; d. 1821), who was called by Napoleon I. to the Sanhedrin of Paris, and thereby became involved in political difficulties; author of "Mar'eh Yeḥezḳel" (Prague, 1822); Isaac Spitz, called in 1824 (d. May 6, 1842), son-in-law of Eleazar Fleckeles and grandfather of the poet Moritz Hartmann; and District Rabbi Isaac Elbogen (d. 1883).

With the death of the last-named the title of district rabbi ceased, and the succeeding incumbents—Alexander Kisch, (1904) rabbi of the Meisel Synagogue in Prague; Moritz Grünwald (d. 1895 as chief rabbi of Bulgaria); and M. Klotz, who held the office until 1901—have borne the title of rabbi.

In 1903 there were in Jung-Bunzlau 135 Jewish families in a total population of 13,479.

Bibliography: Jüdisches Centralblatt, 1887, 1888; Zeitschrift für Gesch. der Juden in Deutschland, i. 178-189; N. Grün, Der Hohe Rabbi Löw.

Earliest known Jewish community was second half of 16th century. 1930 Jewish population was 264. Peak Jewish population was in the mid-19th century (about 900 people or 18% of total population). Native town and burial site of the following: many prominent rabbis, Jakob Bassevi (1570-1634, the first Jew ennobled in Hapsburg Empire), writer Isidor Heller (1816-1879), Czechoslovak minister Alfred Meissner (1871-1952), poet and cartoonist Frantisek Gellner (1881-1914), and painter Max Horb (1882-1907). The Jewish cemetery originated in perhaps 1584 with last known Conservative Jewish burial probably in the 1960s. Probably, Dolni Cetno (before 1869) and Lustenice and Benatky nad Jizerou, 8 km and 10 km and 15 km away, used this landmarked site. The isolated urban hillside has a sign or plaque in Czech ("Cultural Monument"). Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open with permission via continuous masonry wall and locking gate. The pre- and post-WWII size of cemetery is 1.3475 ha. 500-5000 stones, most in original locations, date from 1585 or 1604-20th century. The marble, granite, limestone and sandstone flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, flat stones with carved relief decoration, double tombstones, multi-stone monuments or obelisks have Hebrew, German and Czech inscriptions. Some tombstones have traces of painting on their surfaces, with bronze decorations or lettering, portraits on stones and/or metal fences around graves. The cemetery contains no known mass graves. Within the limits of the site is a pre-burial house with wall inscriptions. Praha Jewish community owns cemetery. Adjacent properties are agricultural and residential. Occasionally, private visitors stop. The cemetery was hit by an air raid during WWII. Regional/national authorities, Jewish individuals and groups within country did restoration after 1945 and and in 1989-1992. Praha Jewish congregation pays the regular caretaker. Moderate threat: uncontrolled access and vandalism. Slight threat: weather erosion. Jiri Fiedler, Brdickova 1916, 155 00 Praha 5; tel. 02/55-33-40 completed survey on 26 June 1992. Documentation: 1. Hugo Gold: Die Juden und Judengemeinden Bohemens (1934) and 2. Jan Herman: Jewish Cemeteries in Bohemia and Moravia (1980). Fiedler visited site in 1990. No interviews Update: Daniel Dratwa; dratwa@mjb-jmb.org: The Jewish exhibition catelogmetery at Mlada Boleslav, 413, article p. 000414, 6/19/1990, "Sadek Vladimir, Sedinova Jirina", title: Judaica Bohemiae, Volume XVIII/1, 1982, pp. 50-54, ANG. The books are among the collection at the Jewish Museum of Belgium. [1997]