This project identifies individuals connected to the town of Gaya (Kyjov) in Moravia. We will tag individuals who lived in Gaya and its surrounding villages, or who were raised in families with immediate connections to the town.
The following are representative profiles of Jewish families in Gaya:
- Samuel Deutsch
- Herschel Ehrenfest
- Salomon Fischer
- David Haas
- Isak Jellinek
- Aron Platczek (1786)
- Abraham Sonnenschein
- Herman / Josef Strakosch, Vlkoš
- Herschel / Herman Konig, Vlkoš
Birth, Death and Marriage records for Kyjov are at the Czech State Archives in Prague, and online at http://www.badatelna.cz/fond/1073. Information on using this valuable resource, called the Czech Jewish Registers, is here. To read these early records, you will need to study up on the old German script, Kurrent.
The Jews in Gaya (Kyjov) were protected by a royal charter of 1613. Gaya was the only one of the royal cities in which Jews were allowed to live. The community had existed long before then, the ancient synagogue (demolished in 1851) having been built in 1506 (an inscription on the ceiling of the old synagogue bore the date 1507). Jews remained in Kyjov in 1650, when they were expelled from all communities which had not existed before 1618.
There were 12 Jewish houses in Kyjov in 1688. The burghers petitioned several times for their expulsion, asking Emperor Leopold I "to free them from the troublesome Jews who are encroaching upon all branches of industry." But their request was refused, and the royal charter was adhered to. In 1651, a compromise was signed, which included a clause permitting the Jews to distill spirits. In 1727, under Charles VI, the Jews of Gaya were organized as an independent municipality, which still exists. The number of Jewish families permitted by the Familiants Law was 74.
In 1848 the number of members contributing to the expenses of the Jewish community was 94; the Jewish quarter remained a politische Gemeinde until 1918. The Jews numbered about 900 in a total population of about 3,800. The community numbered 427 in 1830, 510 in 1848, 884 in 1869; it declined to 820 in 1890, and numbered 620 in 1900.*
Gaya has a synagogue which was dedicated in 1852; an old and a new cemetery; and a school building with four classrooms.
The "Memorbuch" contains the names of twenty rabbis, among whom are Isaac of Janow (author of "Pene Yiẓḥaḳ Zuṭa)" Amsterdam, 1731, Josef Weisse, and Moritz Duschak. When the latter was called to Cracow in 1872, the rabbinate remained vacant until 1902, when Moritz Bauer was called.
The Gaya (Kyjov) community includes the former communities of Kosteletz and Koritschan; Vlkoš was close by. Kyjov (Czech: [ˈkɪjof]; Latin: Gaya, German: Gaya or Geyen) is in the South Moravian Region, Hodonin District, of the present-day Czech Republic, 45 km SE of Brno.
According to the International Jewish Cemetery Project, "The unmarked Jewish cemetery [at Kyjov], called Old Cemetery, is .4 km SW on Rude Armady Str. It originated at the beginning of 17th century with the last known Conservative Jewish burial in the late 19th century. The isolated, flat urban site has no sign; it is now private property with no wall, fence or gate. Size of cemetery before WWII was .77 ha. Present size of cemetery is about .4 ha with no stones or structures. Property is used for crops or grazing. Vegetation overgrowth seasonally prevents access."
A New Cemetery is on Svatoborska Str., also unmarked. It originated at end of 19th century with last known Jewish burial in 1950s. Reached by passing a public hospital, access is open to all via no wall, fence, or gate. Size of cemetery before and after WWII: 0.34 ha. No stones or structures exist. Contains special memorial monuments to Holocaust victims: transferred 200 meters to the north. Rarely, private visitors stop. Vandalism occurred during World War II and between 1945 and ten years ago. Not maintained. Vegetation overgrowth seasonally prevents access.
*Jewish Virtual Library