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The Jewish community of Eisenstadt

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Eisenstadt (Hungarian: Kismarton), is a city in Austria, the state capital of Burgenland. The Jewish community of Eisenstadt was one of the oldest in Hungary. Its town charter of 1373 noted that Jews lived both within and outside the city walls. However, there is evidence that Jews had arrived in this area with the Roman Legions, well over 1,000 years before.

In 1622, Eisenstadt came under the rule of the Esterházys. Soon after the expulsion of the Jews of Vienna in 1670–1671 by Emperor Leopold I, Paul Esterházy allowed them to be admitted into the city. As the Jewish population increased Eisenstadt became known as a centre of Jewish learning and scholarship spread throughout the world.

Toward the middle of the eighteenth century, Eisenstadt was the leading of the שֶבַע קְהִלּוֹת‎ - Sheva Kihilot - Seven Communities, an association of towns under the protection of the Esterházys (the others were Mattersdorf, Lackenbach, Deutschkreutz, Kobersdorf, Frauenkirchen, and Kittsee).

Eisenstadt was also a center for Torah study. Among its rabbis were Shimshon Wertheimer; Me’ir ben Yitsḥak Eisenstadt (author of Panim me’irot; Mosheh Perles; and Esriel Hildesheimer. The last rabbi was Mordekhai Schlesinger (until 1938). In the eighteenth century the kabbalists Mordekhai Mokhiaḥ, Me’ir ben Ḥayim, and Shim‘on ben Efrayim Juda lived in Eisenstadt.

There were 8,000 Jewish residents in the Burgenland in the middle of the 19th century, and there were still 3,400 in 1934. A 1951 census showed that only 39 Jews were still residing in the Burgenland. Source

PROMINENT JEWISH RESIDENTS

  1. Isaiah Berlin (1715–1799) Rabbi, Talmudist
  2. Akiva Eiger (1761–1837) rabbi and champion of Orthodox Judaism
  3. Samuel Löw Brill (1814–1897), rabbi and Talmudical scholar; born in Budapest; attended yeshiva
  4. Meir ben Izsak Eisenstadt "Panim Me'irot", "Maharam Ash" "Our Teacher, Rabbi Meir EiSenstadt". Halachic Authority (1670–1744)
  5. Ezriel Hildesheimer (1820–1899), German rabbi, founder of Torah im Derech Eretz; in 1851, he was called to the rabbinate of Eisenstadt
  6. Markus Horovitz (1844–1915), German rabbi and historian; born March 14, 1844, in Tiszaladány, Hungary, pursued his rabbinical studies at the yeshiva
  7. Leopold Löw (1811–1875), born in Černá Hora, Moravia, studied at the yeshiva of Eisenstadt
  8. Mordecai Mokiach (ca. 1650–1724), "pseudo"-Messiah, born in Alsace
  9. Emanuel Schreiber (1852–1932), rabbi
  10. Isaac Hirsch Weiss (1815–1905), talmudist and historian of literature; born at Velké Meziříčí, Moravia; studied at yeshiva
  11. Samson Wertheimer (1658–1724), chief rabbi of Hungary and Moravia, and rabbi of Eisenstadt
  12. Aaron Wise (1844–1896), rabbi, born in Eger, Hungary, studied at yeshiva; the father of Stephen Samuel Wise
  13. Moses Sofer, rabbi of Mattersdorf, 1798 - 1806
  14. Joseph Joachim (1831 - 1907), violinist, conductor, composer from Kittsee
  15. Mosheh Perles (1817–1840); Rabbi Gaon
  16. • R' Jacob Margaliot, rabbi from Prague
  17. • The last rabbi was Mordekhai Schlesinger (until 1938).
  18. • Mordekhai Mokhiaḥ, Kabbalist
  19. • Me’ir ben Ḥayim], Kabbalist
  20. • Shim‘on ben Efrayim Juda Kabbalist
  21. • Manko Englander, Rabbi
  22. Meir ben Judah Leib Eisenstädter "Imre Esh" (1780-1852)

The fact that many foreign-born rabbis served in Eisenstadt testifies to the appeal of the community. In 1526 R. Jacob Margaliot became its rabbi: he came from Prague. After him, a series of rabbis from various parts of the Habsburg Empire functioned in Eisenstadt, and at the same time as chief rabbis of the Seven Communities. Of them, two, Mordecai "Mokhiah" and Meir Eisenstadt (Maharam Esh") were outstanding and became known all over the Jewish world.'

Mordecai "Mokhaih" ben Hayyim of Eisenstadt (1650-1729) was an ascetic preacher (Mokhiah means "reprover"), an adherent of the false messiah Shabbatai Zevi (1626 - 76). . . Mordecai spent long enough in Eisenstadt to have the name of that community permanently associated with his own name, and to be called Mordecai Eisenstadt. His son, Judah Mokhiah (Berliner; d 1742), was rabbinical judge in Eisenstadt and the author of several halakhic works.

Meir ben Yitzhaq Eisenstadt (1670 - 1744) was born in Lithuania. In 1714, with the support of Samson Wertheimer, he was appointed rabbi of Eisenstadt and the Seven Communities. R. Meir assumed the Eisenstadt surname, which was abbreviated "Esh".

Largely due to the activities of Meir Asch the community of Eisenstadt became, from the late seventeenth century on, one of the leading centers of Jewish life in Europe. It was referred to as Little Jerusalem. Source p. 206

Austrian Jewish Museum and Wertheimer Synagogue

Unterbergstrasse 6


A-7000 Eisenstadt

+43 2682 65145


+43 2682 65145-4


info@ojm.at

The Austrian Jewish Museum, dedicated to Jewish life in the province of Burgenland, opened in 1982 in the former mansion of Samson Wertheimer (1659-1724), where there is also a private synagogue.

Wertheimer had a prominent role at the Viennese court, where from 1694 to 1709 he worked for emperors Leopold I, Joseph I, and Charles VI as Hofoberfaktor or chief administrator of financial affairs. He also served the Esterhazy family in Burgenland and was Rabbi of Hungary and Moravia.

Wertheimer provided a synagogue, mikveh (ritual bath) and Jewish school to the ghetto during a period of rebuilding from 1675. Later, in 1696, Prince Paul Esterhazy rewarded Wertheimer with a mansion in recognition of his 20 years’ devoted services to the family’s financial affairs. Wertheimer refurbished the building and installed in it a private synagogue; it later passed into the hands of the Wolf family, which maintained a prosperous kosher wine business in the city. Today the mansion and synagogue are the site of the Austrian Jewish Museum.

A mob destroyed Eisenstadt’s main synagogue on Kristallnacht in 1938 but the they overlooked the  Wertheimer Shul,  hidden above the Wolf Company’s offices. The synagogue was re-consecrated for Jewish worship in 1979.

There is also a memorial plaque to local Jews who died in the First World War; one of the names commemorated is Fritz Austerlitz, whose namesake and nephew was Fred Astaire. Source

LINKS

The Eisenstadt Cemetery

Sándor Wolf (Eisenstadt Nov. 21, 1871 - Haifa Jan. 2, 1946) was a wine wholesaler, art collector and researcher. He was also a scholar/archaeologist and collaborated with Bernhard Wachstein - click here for more information - in a momentous tome on the transcriptions of the Eisenstadt cemetery:

“Die Grabinschriften des alten Judenfriedhofes in Eisenstadt mit einer Studie: Die Entwicklung des jüdischen Grabsteines und die Denkmäler des Eisenstädter Friedhofes von S. Wolf (Eisenstädter Forschungen 1).

Wolf was particularly interested in ancient settlements and artefacts of the Burgenland and there is evidence that Jews had arrived in this area with the Roman Legions, well over 1,000 years before the first Jewish community settled in Eisenstadt in the 1370s.Source

Suggested Reading

  1. Aron Fürst, Sitten und Gebräuche in der Eisenstädter Judengasse (Székesfehérvár, Hungary, 1908);
  2. Bernhard Wachstein, Die Grabschriften des alten Judenfriedhofs in Eisenstadt (Vienna, 1922);
  3. Bernhard Wachstein, Urkunden und Akten zur Geschichte der Juden in Eisenstadt und den Siebengemeinden (Vienna, 1926).
  4. Johannes Reiss (ed.): Aus den Sieben-Gemeinden. Ein Lesebuch über Juden im Burgenland. Eisenstadt 1997. ISBN 978-3-900907-05-1
  5. Hugo Gold (ed.): Gedenkbuch der untergegangenen Judengemeinden des Burgenlandes. Tel Aviv 1970.

Famous Eisenstadt Residents

  • • Paul I, 1st Prince Esterházy of Galántha
  • • Prince Paul II Anton Esterházy (1711–1762) soldier and patron of music
  • • Moritz Benedikt (1835–1920) neurologist
  • • Stefan Billes (1909, Kleinhöflein – 2002) politician
  • • Gyula Farkas (1894–1958) linguist
  • • Andrea Fraunschiel (1955 – ) mayor
  • • Josef Hyrtl (1810–1894) anatomist
  • • Josef Kirchknopf (1930, Kleinhöflein – ), politician
  • • Johann Luif (1959, Kleinhöflein – ), BG, Commander Provincial Military Headquarters Burgenland
  • • Maria Perschy (1938–2004, Vienna) actress
  • • Rudolf Simek (1954 – ) Germanist and Philologian.
  • • Martin Vukovich (1944 – ) diplomat
  • • Joseph Franz Weigl (1740–1820) cellist
  • • Joseph Weigl (1766–1846) composer and conductor
  • • Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), musician, born in Rohrau
  • • Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837), musician
  • • Adam Liszt (1776–1827), musician, father of Franz Liszt
  • • Robert Musil (1880–1942), author
  • • Ignaz Pleyel (1757–1831), composer
  • • Fritz Spiegl (1926–2003) musician, journalist, broadcaster, humorist and collector