Judaism in Transcarpathia


The first mention of Judaic community in Uzhgorodit belongs to the XVI century. Immigrants of Jewish origin from the Slavic regions (Bohemias, Poland, Galicia) spoke Yiddish, and were followers of Orthodox Ashkenazic Judaism, which required strict observance of the Torah and Talmud.

For a worldview Jews’ Transcarpathia was soon close Hasidism – оpositional religious-mystical current that originated among the Jewish population of the Carpathian region and Podillya in the 30s of the XVIII century. The Hasidim were devoted adherents of the so-called miracle-working Rebbe, and so Transcarpathia soon became a haven for strong Hasidic dynasties

Large Hasidic communities existed in Mukachevo, Khust, Uzhgorodand other cities and villages. In places of compact residence of the Jews were in synagogue, esimate (schools), religious Department (mazeikiene, etahoben), governments.

The Jewish Enlightenment and various events among the intelligentsia and in the field of religious thought reached the West Slovakia or for Jews from Bohemia and Moravia, or through Vienna and Burgenland, but did not reach Transcarpathia, where there was a large Jewish community. Transcarpathia little limited contacts with Galicia, which was hindered by low-traffic Carpathians. The most fruitful ideas that came here were related to Hasidism, but the main intellectual Jewish tendencies did not reach the region.

Despite the large number of people with a Jewish national identity, the Zionist movement was not able to take root in Transcarpathia until the end First world war. Цthis situation was in stark contrast to the situation in Eastern Slovakia, where the city of Kosice became one of the centers of Zionism in Hungarian Kingdom.

A serious conflict between representatives of Ashkenazic (i.e. anti-Hasidic) and Hasidic Judaism was the only manifestation of the intellectual life of the Jews of Transcarpathia. Thus, the Jewry of this region remained a stronghold of conservatism and represented significant anti-Zionist and anti-modern forces in the Jewish world of Eastern Europe.

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