Nyiregyhaza Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery of Nyíregyháza was established in 1843 and is still in use today. Until 2010, it was separated into Orthodox and Neolog (Status Quo) sections. There are more than 2,000 gravestones in the cemetery, including several ohalim (tombs), Holocaust cenotaphs, as well as a gravestone of a Soviet soldier with an inscription in Russian.
34 Jews lived in Nyíregyháza in 1840, 71 in 1848, 150 in 1857, and 1,128 in 1869. In a twenty-year period, the city’s population grew by 168%, while the Jewish population grew by 1,588%. The Jewish community continued to grow significantly: 2,097 Jews lived there in 1880, 3,882 in 1910, 5,066 in 1920, and 5,134 in 1930. In 1941, in addition to 1,993 Jews, 172 baptized Jews were registered as living in Nyíregyháza. In 1856, the Jewish community formed a Chevra Kadisha (burial society). Nyíregyháza became a separate rabbinical seat from 1865, and the first rabbi of the community was Rabbi Károly Friedmann. A branch of the Israelite Women’s Association was established there in 1864. The first synagogue in the city was built in 1865 and expanded in 1873. The mikvah (ritual bath) was opened in 1862 and expanded in 1891. By 1868, the community already had a school building, and in 1896, the Bikur Cholim Association was formed. In 1872, local Jewry decided not to join the Orthodox stream, rather remaining in the “Status Quo Ante” (Neolog) community, although many wanted to create an Orthodox branch. Thus, in 1873, the community was divided. In 1880, the synagogue of the Status Quo Ante community was inaugurated on Szarvas Street and was expanded in 1902. It burned down during World War II, and was subsequently demolished and replaced in 1945, as one of the school’s halls had already been converted into a synagogue. The Orthodox Jews elected Ignác Friedmann as Rabbi in 1878. In 1897, a synagogue was acquired by the remodeling of some residential houses. By 1904, they were permanently and completely separate from the Status Quo community. Construction of a new synagogue began on the site of the old synagogue in 1924 and was handed over to the community in that year, though the work was not fully completed until 1932. In 1930, a separate Chevra Kadisha was founded.
Between the two world wars, many Zionist organizations opened offices in the city, including the Zionist Alliance, Mizrachi, Hashomer Hatzair, and so on. In the 1930’s, some young Jews from the city made aliyah. Many local Jews were impacted by a measure restricting industrial and commercial activity in the early 1940’s, as 28.1 % of the shops in the city were Jewish-owned. In 1944, the Orthodox Community had 2,054 members, including 259 of whom were taxpayers. The post of rabbi was filled by Vice-Rabbi Wider Sulem and Sub-Rabbi Wider Nathan. The community had a total of 15 employees. At the same time, the Status Quo community, which was the more prominent of the two communities, had 2,462 members, 763 of whom were taxpayers. The registrar was Rabbi Béla Bernstein, and the rabbis were Rabbi Aladár Wax and Rabbi Károly Jólesz. The greater prominence of the Status Quo community is also reflected in the fact that 21 people were employed by the community. They also ran a soup kitchen which served 92 people and had a number of independent associations and institutions.
During the war, a ghetto was formed in Nyíregyháza, which covered an area of 150 residential houses and a courtyard. There was no water supply or sewer in the ghetto. Drinking water was provided by the four public wells and wells in some of the private houses. Toilets could only be used by children, the elderly, and people with weak constitutions, while others had to use camp latrines which were dug in the courtyards of the residential houses. Large pits were also dug to store waste and rubbish. The Orthodox Church in Kis Square and the adjacent Jewish school were used as the ghetto hospital. At the peak of the ghetto’s operation, about 5,000 Jews from Nyíregyháza and more than 12,500 Jews from neighbouring villages were confined in the Ghetto. They were later deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on June 4th. Only a handful of survivors returned to the city after the war. Based on data from the 1949 census, the Orthodox community operated over an area of 6 localities. Moreover, there were 325 Jews in the community, including 120 of whom were taxpayers, and the rabbi of the community was Rabbi Schwarcz. The Talmud Torah, the Yeshiva, the Chevra Kadisha, and some charities resumed operations. The Status Quo community had 675 members, including 154 of whom were taxpayers. The Rabbi was Rabbi Benő Morgerstein. This branch of the community also had Women’s Association and a Cultural Association. In 1956, many Jews left the city – some made aliyah, while others emigrated elsewhere. There is still a small Jewish community in Nyíregyháza.