Tiszafüred, Hungary
47°37' N / 20°46' E

~ Introduction ~

( Click the arrow in the buttons below for pronunciation. )

Tiszafüred   was part of the Kingdom of Hungary (13th century - 1949) in Heves megye (county). After 1949, it became part of Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok comitat (county) in the Alföld (Northern Great Plain) provincie (province) of Hungary.

Other spellings/names for Tiszafüred are Tiszafiired, Fyred, Füred and Tisza-Füred.

Tiszafüred is located 55 miles (90 km) south of Miskolc, 46 miles (75 km) west of Debrecen and 96 miles (155 km) miles east of Budapest.

~ Maps ~

Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county, Hungary
Map: Copyright ©2010 by Marshall J. KATZ

NOTE: Clicking a link will open a new page.

1910 Map: Heves megye/T-Füred (Click map to enlarge it)
1910 Map (Topographical): Heves megye/Tisza-Füred
Austro-Hungary Military Map: Heves megye/Tisza-Füred (Click map to enlarge it)
Street Map: Tiszafüred

~ History ~

Jewish settlements on the Alföld

In Hungary or, rather, in Pannonia, as it was then known, there are indications of a Jewish presence from the time of the Roman Empire. After the great migrations of the 800's, after the conquest of the land of Hungary by the Magyars in 896 CE, coexistence started between the Hungarian tribes and the Jews. Later, during the Middle Ages, during the time of the Turkish occupation, the Jews organized and facilitated business between the East and West. In Heves county, we have evidence of the existence of Jews from the beginning of the 15th century. After the Turkish occupation ended, at the end of the 17th century, the population of the Great Hungarian Plains region increased throughout the 18th century, and during that period, Jews started to settle there in greater numbers.

During the Middle Ages, their dwellings, occupations and clothing were strictly regulated. Their occupations were mainly in commerce, money lending and leasing land. They had no civil rights until the Compromise, in 1867, with the Austrian Emperor; their religion was not recognized until the end of the 19th century. Queen Maria Theresa, in 1746, issued a tolerance tax which had to be paid for a hundred years. The free cities, by royal decree, did not let Jews settle within their walls. Many counties such as Jászság, Kiskunság, Nagykunság and Hajduság did not give Jews permission to settle until 1850, citing the county's privileged status.

Commerce on the Great Hungarian Plains was controlled in the 18th century by Greek merchants from the Balkans. Jews were still living there without rights and, since they did not have to pay taxes, they could sell their goods more cheaply—the same merchandise sold by the Greeks, such as scrap iron, rawhide, brandy and fleece. Where landlords were willing to accommodate them, they established themselves in larger numbers around the places forbidden to them and in smaller settlements, like Nádudvar, Dévaványa, Tiszaigar, Tiszabö and Tiszafüred. Some of the first Jewish communities started with the landowner who, in his own best interest, gave permission for a number of Jewish families to settle. From the last third of the 18th century, Hungarian agriculture needed a mobile group of people, particularly in commerce, who would be able to grant credit to a homestead that wanted to switch over to market produce. These Jewish merchants underwrote the purchasing procedures so, with their credit, they fostered the development of the production of rural commodities. The Napoleonic war brought agricultural prosperity which accelerated this process.

For the Jews, the concentration in settlements was necessary for a feeling of security and for their religious customs. They had to maintain a religious organization, employ a rabbi, a cantor, a ritual slaughterer and, to pray in their accustomed manner, they required a minimum number of co-religionists (ten men for a minyan or quorum). However, even with all that, the primary consideration was the economic situation. When the prohibition on settlement ceased, they moved to larger settlements, only one or two Jewish families stayed in the small villages.

On weekdays, the Jews sold their goods in the markets of larger cities, where they spent the night in rented houses or an inn on the outskirts of town. At market time, they had permission to stay 23 days before or after events. The peddler had to travel a long distance on his one-horse cart from Tiszaigar, Tiszafüred, Dévaványa, Tiszabö, Földes and even from distant places like Kenderes, Tisza-Abád or Nádudvar. So, it was in their own interest to stay in the vicinity of the market. In the evening, they left the village for their night's accommodations, but in the morning, they went back to the market to continue their activities. On Friday night, though, they returned to their homes to celebrate the Sabbath with their families.

In the 1727 census of the five villages in Heves and Külsö-Szolnok counties, we find only six Jewish families, of which four worked farms and two leased inns. In the 1788 census, during the reign of Joseph II, in these two counties we find five villages with Jewish families. In Tiszafüred, four were leaseholders, in Kenderes two, in Alattyán, Tiszaszabö and in Tiszaigar one each. The Jews who lived on an estate were mostly leasing the inn and, later, the butchery.

The inn was a significant place in the villagers' life, an informal center. It not only sold the landlord's wine, but also brandy, which was legally or illegally produced. Next to the inn, there was usually a general store. The courtyard and farm buildings served as storage space for the fodder. The duties of the innkeeper also included money lending and settling credit transactions. A capable lessee of an inn, over the years, was also able to lease a farm and with that, it was possible to move up in economic and social status.

The church district of Eger published bulletins starting from 1816. From this bulletin, we learn that in Heves and Külsö-Szolnok counties, there were 1,592 Jewish inhabitants in 1816; 6,879 in 1851, and 11,533 in 1869. So, from 1816 until 1869, their numbers grew by 724%. In 1816, they lived in 46 different villages; in 1851, in 145 villages, and in 1869, in 166 villages. Their concentration increased in larger numbers in the larger settlements.

Jewish Settlement in Tiszafüred

In the local Jewish cemetery, the oldest headstones are the baroque stones, inscribed in Yiddish from 1770. In 1788, there were the four families those of Moyzes SALOMON, Calevy Manosses BORGEN, Gasparus CLAMON and Jacobus LÖRINCZ. They were all tenants rather han homeowners and their occupation was leasing (probably land or an inn). In Tiszaigar, where Jacobus SALAMON lived, his occupation was leasing. He had a son and three daughters. Traditional belief is that Tiszaigar was the first religious community. Jewish families, in larger numbers, moved to Tiszafüred only after 1790. Tiszaigar was the first center of Jewish life. It had a synagogue and congregation, ritual baths and a rabbi—Menachem BLEIER, a famous Talmud scholar, who wrote the book Kovod Halvonon. Yet, by 1816, according to the census, 104 Jews were residing in Tiszafüred, while in Tiszaigar there were a mere 37.

The Jewish population in Tiszafüred contined to increase in the 19th century. The 1827-28 census shows 186 Jewish residents, 21 households and forty Jews between the ages of 16 and 60. They all lived on the Pankotay, Gyulay and Farkas estates. There were ten merchants and four tradesmen. They were mostly poor. In that century, population movements become larger. Not only did Jews come to Tiszafüred, but they also left to go to different places, a characteristic of the time. The 1839-40 census revealed 33 households with 30 spouses, 46 boys, 46 girls, nine Jewish servants and one relative—altogether 164 Jews. The occupations listed were one businessman, two wholesale merchants, three beggars, six tradesmen, six tenant farmers, 13 peddlers and two others. The richest merchant was Gáspár ERNST. Social and pecuniary (measured in money) difference within the Jewish community gradually increased. The majority were poor, but the more industrious began to improve their social status.

The poor hawkers and street peddlers were the lowest on the social ladder. They roamed the countryside with whistles in their mouth and bundles on their back. They sold sewing needles and cotton goods to villagers and collected rugs, skins, honey and feathers. Peddling was the traditional form of commerce around Europe that bridged the gap between countryside and city. The peddler had to think about the commodity requirements of the city and had to develop a certain economic rationalism. Peddling was mostly a Jewish occupation in Europe and it gave them a way to fit into the economic system.

The traders were the next level in the hierarchy, with their questores circumforei (horse-drawn wagons), who bought, sold and carted in larger quantities. The mercator (merchant) having a shop was entitled to trade in all sorts of goods. The country mercator and questor (public magistrate), were often commission merchants for the wholesalers from Vienna, Budapest, Györ and Pozsony until they themselves grew richer and were eligible for the higher tax brackets of the wholesaler and, with it, graduated to the higher rungs of the social ladder.

In 1827, for the first time, Jewish vendors were identified in the two above-mentioned provinces. At the weekly or daily marketplace, the ordinary stallkeeper paid 15 krajcár (pennies), but anyone with a larger stand had to pay 30 krajcár. In 1828, the ordinary stallkeeper and the common potter without a cart had to pay the same rates. At that time, the market for earthenware and other ceramics belonged to the potter and the shopkeeper. Among them, were Jews, too.

The synagogue in Tiszafüred was mentioned first by Elek FÉNYES. In the 1847-48 census. It was on the NÁNÁSSY estate and the congregation owned a house of prayer, a rectory and a house for a kosher butchery.

In Tisza county, Imre PALUGYAI registered 1,371 Jewish inhabitants in 1850-51. Most of them lived in Tiszabö (424), Tiszafüred (341), Tiszaigar (121) and Tiszaszentimre (105). The first sudden increase in the numbers of Jews in Tiszafüred occurred between 1844 and 1851. Their numbers increased from 181 to 315 and further, in 1854, to 500. After that, it decreased, but later again increased and, in 1869, the Jewish population was 600.¹ The Jewish population of Tiszafüred reached a peak of 682 in 1900 and then dropped to 442, in 1941. When the prohibition to live in the district was lifted, a number of families moved to Nagykunság county. The first Jewish resident in Karcag was Abraham ERNST, who was born in Tiszafüred, in 1815. He was probably the son of Gáspár ERNST. In 1853, he gained permanent residency; he died in 1892.

The Jews from Tiszafüred in the War of Liberation (1848)

The Jewish population did not have any civil rights, but they still took part in the War of Liberation. They threw themselves into battle, transporting the army and providing provisions. Fifty years later, Mór JÓKAI (one of Hungary's greatest writers) recalled, "When all of the different races in our country—with whom the Hungarians shared their freedom, and whose sons were emancipated from their bonds and made them their own master—had arms lifted against them, then the Hebrew race sacrificed their blood, their wealth, their mental ability for the Hungarian nation and for the protection of the constitutional freedom."

On 29 May 1848, boys between 14 and 16 years of age were conscripted into the national home guard in Tiszafüred. The list contains 162 names, among which are fourteen Jews. In the archives of the Pál Kiss museum, in Tiszafüred, only four lists of names survived. In terms of the Jewish population, the one which contains 23 Jewish names out of 150 is the most notable. In the third group, Jakab BLAU was mentioned. In the eighth group, which was mostly Jewish, Corporal Soma GROSZMANN and Lipot SCHÖNFELD (a surgeon who was born in 1811 and finished his medical studies at the Budapest university in 1834) participated in the battles in the south. Éliás BLAU was only 19 years old when he participated in the revolution and, after the defeat, he was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army as part of his punishment.

In 1849, Tiszafüred was an important place, as the army started the celebrated spring offensive from there. The shops and inns prospered while the troops were stationed there. It hardly needs other proof than the large amount of money confiscated by the Austrian authority after the collapse of the War of Independence in 1848. In the local field hospital, two wounded Jewish boys died 15-17 April: Jozsef GRÜN (22 years old, born in Pozsony) and Lörinc RÓTH (23 years old, born in Máramaros).

The benefits they gained during the war of Independence and the earlier wealth they held were greatly reduced by the harsh levies imposed on Hungarian Jewry by the Austrian prime minister Julius Jacob von HAYNAU and affected the delivery of produce. As punishment, he imposed a penalty of 2,300,000 forint which, in part, the Jewish people of Tiszafüred had to pay. In 1929, the archive of the congregation of Tiszabö held a receipt for 1,500 silver forint, paid for ransom.

The Emancipation

The emancipation in Europe started at the end of the 18th century and achieved the equality of civil rights for Jewish people. But after the precedents of the 1867 reform era and the non-published proclamations in 1849, only the "Historical Compromise," which created the Austro-Hungarian Empire, brought a solution. In 1867, Act XVII declared: "The Jewish population in the country has the same civil and political rights as the Christian inhabitants. All terms of the law which are contradictory are herewith rescinded."

The compromise and the emancipation created, with its law and order, the atmosphere for the social advancement of Jews and the acceleration of their assimilation. In the modernization period, after 1867, Jews played an important role in the Hungarian economy. Businessmen and lessees, who had previously accumulated assets, provided the monetary basis for the development of modern capitalism. The Jews created manufacturing companies, modernized rural estates and created banking establishments, using their centuries-old experience in commerce, to ensure the agility of their enterprises.

The Emancipation and Assimilation of the Tiszafüred Jews

In 1851, Imre PALUGYAI noted that the mother tongue of all Jewish residents in the district was Jewish (he probably meant Yiddish) and not Hungarian. For thousands of years, the Jews put special emphasis on education. There was hardly anyone who could not read the holy scriptures. Knowledge had religious respect; ignorance was shame. This mentality resulted, after the emancipation, in Jews flocking towards intellectual occupations in great numbers and, to do this, they had to adopt Hungarian as their spoken language. To change one's own language must have brought many difficulties, but educational skill was of utmost importance.

In 1803, religious education for the children in Tiszafüred started with the Talmud Torah and, in 1865, a yeshiva was started. The formal teaching of more secular subjects started, in 1877, in an officially recognized Jewish primary school, in a rented building with three teachers in three classes. The principal teacher, Gerzson CSERHÁT, who was educated in a teachers' college, had several years of experience. This was the time the Hungarian language was introduced. The subjects that were taught in the third grade class were Hungarian reading, writing, grammar, Hungarian history, geography, natural history and arithmetic. The school's furnishings consisted of a few blackboards, maps of Hungary, some writing desks and benches. In 1889, the school occupied its own building.

The Board of Supervisors of the school, whose members were the most respected members of the congregation, looked after educational affairs. They regularly assisted the poor students with free textbooks, writing materials and, in the winter, presented them with warm clothing and shoes. After the year-end examinations, the diligent students were rewarded with books. From the turn of the century until the 1930's, Jozsef LÖWINGER was the principal. He taught the upper classes, while Cecilia CZOBEL and, later, Boriska SHWARCZ, taught the lower classes.

In Tiszafüred, the opening of the upper elementary school dragged on for a long time. It opened in 1913 and, among its pupils, we find a number of Jewish children. In the 1914-15 school year, among the 28 boys in the first grade, six were Jewish. Among the 45 boys in the second grade, eighteen were Jewish.

To adapt oneself was not without conflict. We know the gratitude for accommodation and the desire to fit from some of the newspapers of the period. After the death of Náthán JUNGREISZ, on 6 October 1891, Rabbi Mór SZÓFER arrived in Tiszafüred. Although his first sermon was in German, in spirit it was in devotion to one's country. Many times later, he emphasized his patriotism. No better example exists than his festive address, in the autumn of 1893, where he stated, "In this country, in front of the law, everybody is equal, no matter what religion the individual possesses. Look around our continent, and we can see our poor Russian co-religionists and how they are exposed to torture! Not much better is the situation of our co-religionist in Romania. In this [our] land, nobody is harassed because of his religious belief. So, we should pray for the happiness of the country."

The Economic Progress of the Landowners

Even in the time of absolutism, between 1849 and 1867, when power was vested in a single ruler or other authority, Hungary was governed directly by Austria and there were favorable provisions towards the Jews. In 1860, they lifted the prohibition on the acquisition of land and lifted certain prohibitions on vocations. Capital, which the Jews accumulated, was able to flow into the agricultural sphere, which suffered from a lack of assets. There was opportunity for everybody. Purchasing land was a sure route to social advancement. In a long established rural society, landowners were at the top of the social scale. They invested capital and employed a qualified manager of the estate to ensure the highest income.

Jakab BLAU was a peddler when he married, in 1849, and, by 1880, he was the wealthiest, most respected Jewish citizen in Tiszafüred, and president of the congregation. In 1883, he was a member of the county council and one of the county's highest taxpayers. He died in 1890 and left his heirs an inheritance of 1,124 hold (1 hold = 1.42 acres).

Jakab ERNST, the son of Gáspár ERNST, owned 674 hold in 1893. Herman LEUCHTER, who started as a peddler, in the 1850's and had lived in many places, owned 459 hold. Ignác MENCZER, who was a doctor, owned 224 hold. The LÉDERER brothers, who lived in Tiszakürt, operated a 2,721-hold farm bordering Tiszafüred.

The most respected Jewish citizen in the highest tax bracket held a position in the town and county council. In 1883, Jakab BLAU, Jakab KLEIN, Dr. Ignác MENCZER, Lajos ROSINGER and Peter ERNST were members. In 1910, among the highest tax payers in the district were Gyula LÉDERER (5th), Sándor KLEIN (11th), Zsigmond KLEIN from Tiszaörs (12th), Ignác FLAM (21st), the lawyer Dr. Henrik SOLTÉSZ (23rd) and Lipot WILDMAN, a lessee from Tiszaszölös (28th).

The wealthiest families were the businessmen who put their accumulated assets into land ownership. In the first half of the 20th century, one after the other moved away from Tiszafüred. Lajos ROSINGER, a lessee of large agricultural property, moved to Debrecen, between 1910-20, where he became the president of the congregation. In 1929, the wife of Soma CZEIZLER was a manager of a model agricultural estate in Eger. The descendants of the ERNST family, doctors and lawyers, were coming on visits for many celebrations from Miskolc or Debrecen.

The Participation of Jews in Local Industry, Commerce, Innkeeping and Credit Operations

In the 19th and 20th centuries, a number of Jews were among the tradesmen in the district. In the 1827-28 census, four tradesmen were named, without mentioning their particular trades. In the first roll in the registry office, we find a Jewish textile painter and a dressmaker. In Tiszafüred, it was a time-honored trade to be a saddler, and twelve people were recorded in the 19th century. One of them, Adolf NÉMETHY (formerly known as DEUTSCH), was Jewish. In the 1877 census, fourteen Jewish tradesman and seven shopkeepers appear. In 1891, an industrial corporation took shape and Jews filled important positions.

Tailoring and dressmaking were also typical Jewish occupations and, in different sources, we find Jewish names. The first, in the death register, was the well-known French couturier Izrael STERN, born in Miskolc and died on 3 July 1851, at age 42. Mór SCHWARCZ, a local who visited Vienna, Berlin and Paris, had a shop for ladies and gentlemen from 1893 until 1944, when he was deported. Samuel FUNK and Jenö FUNK were brothers from Késmárk (Kežmarok, Slovakia). One was a turner (fashioning or shaping objects on a lathe) and the other a cobbler, and both married girls from Tiszafüred at the end of the 19th century. Though Samuel went to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, he returned, but soon moved away. Jenö, on the other hand, was working in Tiszafüred, even after World War I. Alajos SPITZER was a locksmith and ran a well- outfitted workshop. Between the two world wars, the two FISHER brothers, Henrik and Lászlo, were working as joiners. Their up-to-date electrically-driven workshop was on (Main) street, in their house and next to the synagogue.

At the end of the 19th century, Henrik (Chajem) HERSKOVITS, a blacksmith, married a local girl and moved here from Máramaros. This was not a typical Jewish occupation. He had eight children and perished in Auschwitz, at the age of 81. In the 19th and 20th centuries, a number of watchmakers were working in the city. Miksa WEISZMANN, the son of David, was one of those working in this trade, from 1874;at the beginning of the century, he had a tobacco shop, as well. His son, Ignác, opened a high-class watchmaking and jewelry business, in 1904. It functioned until 1944, when he was deported.

Sámuel LÖW was a good example of economic mobility. In the 1870's, he worked as a tinsmith and also had a soda-water plant. In 1888, he established the first printing house in Tiszafüred. In 1893, he moved to Eger where he bought a bigger printing house and eventually become the publisher of the "Eger" newspaper. In the 1930's, his son, Béla, became the director of the Bank of Eger. The printing house was managed by the KOHN family and, after they moved away, the GOLDSTEIN family took over its management. They also published the newspaper in Tiszafüred. All those papers were of high quality. Besides the publishing house, they had a stationery/book shop and a tombstone manufacturing business. Some of their work can be seen today in the cemeteries in and around Tiszafüred.

The capital which Jews accumulated in commerce was later invested in industry. Ignác FLAMM moved from Egyek to Tiszafüred in the 1880's. Besides buying land, he constructed the first steam plant and, in 1912, established a brick-making factory. Adjacent to his steam plant, he constructed a steam bath. In 1906, he established a bank for the Tisza district and held the directorship until his death, in 1930. He was elected president of the congregation a number of times.

Zsigmond BLAU, the son of Jakab BLAU, left the farm in 1893. His sons, Albert and Lajos, established "Brush and Whitewash Limited" in Tiszafüred. They constructed anindustrial complex with a steam plant, factory and warehouse. In 1910, the plant was electrically driven. In 1900, they employed 100 workers and it was the largest industrial undertaking in Tiszafüred. Their manufactured products were even exported.

About this same time, we know about a number of ventures which Christian and Jewish landlords established together. In 1891, under the name of "Wood Depot and Steam-Mill Limited," the landowner on the side of the Tisza River established a joint company for lumber processing and lumber products. The members were Lajos CSÁVOLSZKY (member of Parliament), Jenö GRAEFL (large landowner from Poroszlo), Vilmos ERNST, Jakab EPSTEIN and Ignác FLAMM (three Jews from Tiszafüred). The three KLEIN brothers—Sándor, Artur, Zsigmond—were land lessees from Tiszaörs but, at the beginning of the 20th century, they turned to industrial undertakings of some success. Zsigmond moved to Tiszafüred, where he lived for sixteen years and, for some of them, he was the president of the congregation. In 1893, he opened a lumber yard adjacent to the railway station. In 1909, he established the "Heves County Manufacturing Industry Limited" with a steam plant, steam-driven saw and button factory, with Poroszlo as its center. The upwardly mobile Jews considered themselves part of the local gentry and they adapted their habits to this status. In 1909, the newspaper in Tiszafüred wrote about the hunting parties of Sándor KLEIN, the landowner from Tiszaörs.

In 1888, Christian and Jewish nobilities (landowners, businessmen, industrialists, intellectuals) together founded the first local credit establishment, "The Tiszafüred Saving Bank Limited" Among the founding members, we find Lajos CSÁVOLSZKY, the representative of Tiszafüred in the Parliament. The Jewish members included Lajos ROSINGER, Ignác FLAM (occupations listed as directors), Miksa STRAUSZ (lessee), Bertalan BLAU (the son of Jakab BLAU), Dr. Ignác MENCZER (doctor) and Ábrahám BRIEGER (businessman). Upon establishment of the bank, of the ninety people who subscribed (purchased) shares, one-third were Jewish. The leading Jewish citizens were always on the board of directors, as were large numbers of the shareholders. Their economic situation was of vital importance for the economic well-being of the local bank.

The bank for the Tisza area was established in 1906. It ran the local brick-making factory and, in 1912, turned it into a proprietary limited entity under the name of "Tiszafüred Brick and Tile Limited" and with a starting capital of 60,000 crowns. The president was Adolf RUBINSTEIN. In 1917, the same people were the directors of the company and the bank.

The district register, prepared in 1877, shows a remarkably large proportion of Jewish tradesmen and businessmen. In Nagyiván, there were five: one peddler, two shopkeepers and two innkeepers. In Poroszlo, there were eight: one butcher, one timber merchant, two tailors and four shopkeepers. In Tiszaabád, there were fifteen: two timber merchants, three innkeepers, nine shopkeepers, and the richest among them, the lessee Ábrahám KOHN. In Tiszaszalók there were thirteen: two rope manufacturers, one butcher, one glazier, one tailor, one cobbler, one tenant farmer, four shopkeepers and two shoemakers.

Most of the twenty registered Jewish shopkeepers and tradesmen lived on the outskirts of Tiszaszölös, among them one blacksmith, one butcher, one wine merchant, two general dealers, two innkeepers, four general store owners and nine peddlers. Even the well-to-do paid only a small amount of taxes; the others were too poor to be taxed. Tiszanána registered one general store owner and six shopkeepers. The wealthiest shopkeeper was Adolf GRÜNBAUM. In Tiszaörs, there were six: one general store dealer, two peddlers and three shopkeepers. Jewish shopkeepers had a leading role in the commercial life of Tiszafüred. These families were the "dynasties" of commerce: the WEISZMANN, SCHWARTZ, BREUER, BRIEGER families, as well as the RUBINSTEIN family with its poorer and wealthier branches.

A documentary film was made in 1994, in which the interviewee emphasized the superb commercial attitude of the businessmen, handed down from generation to generation. On the main road were the wholesalers and larger shops, while the side streets overflowed with small general stores, where it was possible to buy on credit. The elderly, even today, recall these Jewish shopkeepers and tradesmen.

Dezsö SAJTOS, bookbinder, states: "In Tiszafüred, the market lasted for a week. The passing traffic was constant, the people needed the commercial activities, too. The shopkeepers bought everything, so everything could be found in Tiszafüred and there was no need to go to Budapest. The shops were well-placed and one did not have to go far from one street to the other. The peasants often had no money, so they went into the shops and said to the Jewish owner, "I am sorry I don't have money, but I will bring it when I have it." So the shopkeeper took out his notebook and wrote in the creditor's name. When the creditor bought eggs or flour, the shopkeeper never reproached him for not bringing the money. The shopkeepers accepted those items based upon the current value, so they both were content with the exchange. Even the poorest people liked the Jews, because they went to great lengths to make them happy, without any conditions and they gave them the opportunity to get along in life.

There were also several firewood and lumber merchants listed in the 1931 directory, and from recollections. Gyula GLÜCK and his family moved from Zenta to Tiszafüred, and he had his shop in the center of town, next to the WEISZMANN shop. In 1944, the Ernö WEINER Lumberyard had stock valued at 59,276.61 pengö (Hungarian currency).

One of the oldest and wealthiest families in Tiszafüred, were the WEISZMANNs, who had their large general shop in the middle of town, which was under their management for generations. Zakarias WEISZMANN came to Tiszafüred from Eger, in 1844. His son, David, established the shop, which carried all sorts of merchandise. David's son, Jozsef, and his grandson David, were in control until the nationalization of 1940.

Salamon RUBINSTEIN was born in Tarcal, where his father was the cantor. In the 1870's, he roamed with two horse-drawn carts peddling his merchandise. He made his way to Gömör county, calling on the highland potters and, while on the way, he sold pots from Tiszafüred. On his way back, he sold the pots and pans which he bought there. After the turn of the century, the three RUBINSTEIN brothers moved here from Tiszaigar. Adolf, in 1908, opened a general store and beer wholesaler business; Samuel opened a wholesale shop, in 1904, for local and imported groceries and Herman had a china and glass wholesale business. Adolf closed his stores, in 1923, and opened a distillery and wholesale business, in 1931, on the street leading to Igar, where the discount cellar is today. After the landowners, they were the wealthiest Jewish citizens in Tiszafüred until 1944 and, yet, their children chose professional careers. Samuel's son became a doctor and Adolf's fortune in the 1930's was estimated at two million pengö. In 1944, before they were confined to the ghetto, the inventory list shows they spent a great amount of their accumulated money buying property in Budapest.

From the 18th century, the hospitality trade (innkeeping) became a traditionally Jewish occupation in Hungary. There are early documents that exist about innkeepers in Tiszafüred but, at the turn of the century and in the 20th century, Jews were dominant among innkeepers, restaurateurs and small or large hotel owners and managers.

The first hotel in Tiszafüred, the Bika (Bull), was constructed in 1894. Jozsef BARNA (BRAUN) leased this hotel first, then he bought it. He owned it with his family until 1929, when he died. The hotel consisted of 10 rooms, a coffee shop, a restaurant, a ballroom on the first floor and a gentlemen's casino. In 1912, they constructed another building which, today, is the cinema. The hotel become the meeting place for Tiszafüred's high society, and the district ball was held there, too. Ignác PILITZER opened his inn, in 1903, at the railway station and he had some guest rooms there as well. David CZEIZLER had an inn in the middle of town which his daughter managed after he died. That inn was the meeting place of the coachmen and the servant girls. In the center of town was the "Poldi," another inn owned by Lörinc ROSENFELD.

On the Tiszafüred-Hortobágy highway, there are several taverns functioning even today. The closest to Tiszafüred is the Patkós (horseshoe) Tavern, which the SCHWARCZ family leased and later bought. There were a number of SCHWARCZ families around, so they all had some sort of nicknames: the tavern owner was "Patkós Schwarcz," but one can find "dull," "pant-less," "soapy," "deaf" and "blockhead" SCHWARCZ. In the 1920's, Patkós Moric SCHWARCZ sold the tavern and bought a rest house, the Balaton, which became an overnight rest place for the peasant small peddlers who traveled from the country to the city. They traveled on horse-drawn carts and these rest houses accomodated their rolling stock and horses. Moric SCHWARCZ and his entire family were killed in Word War II. In 1900, Moric's father, Zsigmond (Zsiga) SCHWARCZ, was killed accidentally by a policeman, who chased betyárokat (robbers) into his csárda (inn).

Along with the successful businesses, around the turn of the 20th century, the papers wrote about bankruptcies and firms that were sold off, but the owners generally managed to lift themselves out of debt.

The Intelligentsia

There was a tendency for Jews to be upwardly mobile. One way was by buying lands; another by educating their sons to become professionals. Jakab EPSTEIN moved from Tiszaszentimre to Tiszafüred where he leased the ferry crossing concession before the Tisza bridge was constructed. His twin sons, Géza and Jenö EPSTEIN, were born in 1883 and lived here until their death: Géza was a pharmacist and Jenö, who lived here until 1941, became a lawyer.

Poor families made great efforts to educate their children. Jakab KOHEN came to Tiszafüred, in 1909, as a peddler, then became the ticket collector for the stalls in the weekly market. He had twelve children; four sons emigrated to France, escaping a life of poverty. Jenö became ambassador in the 1960's, first in Switzerland, later in Romania. Josef, after upper elementary school, finished the Jewish teacher's college and taught in Földes and Debrecen. Later, he became the principal there.

The first person in Tiszafüred to become a doctor—actually a surgeon—was Dr. Lipot SCHÖNFELD, who lived here until 1883. Dr. Ignác MENCZER, who was born in Vizkelet-Pozsony county, moved here, in 1852. At the outbreak of the War of Independence, he attended the university in Budapest. For several months, he was a member of the national guard fighting the spring offensive, under the leadership of Pál VASVÁRI. In 1872, to acknowledge his merits, the Office of Common Properties gave him his service apartment as a present. In 1902, to commemorate his fiftieth year in Tiszafüred, he was astonished to be presented with a facsimile in silver of a receipt for services rendered. He practiced until he was 83 years old. On 25 March 1905, at the bedside of one of his patients, he began to feel ill and, soon after, died. He was buried at the same place as his son-in-law, on his estate in Domaháza. His son-in-law, Dr. Soma SZIGETI (Sámuel SIDLAUER), was also a doctor. He came here from Eger, in 1877. He had eight children. The MENCZER-SZIGETI family was totally assimilated and integrated into Hungarian Christian society.

From the 1880's, more Jewish doctors had their practices here for shorter or longer periods. Dr. Aladar KISS came to Tiszafüred in the 1890's, where he was a district doctor until after World War I. During WWI, a 40-bed army hospital was established in the upper elementary school building and he was its commanding officer.

The dentist Dr. István ASZODI was born in Tiszaroff, where his father had a restaurant. He married the daughter of the Tiszafüred school principal, in 1923, and practiced until his death, in 1960. Dr. István VADÁSZ, a historian, practiced dentistry. He was well-known in the neighborhood. Today, people around Borsod, Bordosivánka, Négyes and Tiszavalk, who regularly went to this famous dentist for treatment, still remember him warmly. He was the first in Tiszafüred to treat people from the surrounding district rather than only those from town.

Dr. Kálmán SZÁNTÓ was born, in 1894, in Kunmadaras, and went to high school at Karcag. He attended universities in Budapest, Vienna and Prague and served in World War I, for 35 months, on the front line. He was demobilized from the medical corps, as a lieutenant, with several medals. He had his internship in the Jewish hospital in Budapest, but then settled in Tiszafüred, in 1922. He brought the first X-ray machine to Tiszafüred, in the 1930's.

The veterinarian Dr. Jenö NAGY was born in Sirok, as Jakab GROSZMANN, completed his studies in Budapest. He came to Tiszafüred, in 1905, and, from 1906 to 1944, was the only community public servant. He converted to Catholicism, in 1942, and was stripped of office only after the German occupation, on 19 March 1944; in the end, it did not save him from deportation.

The first Jewish lawyers settled at Tiszafüred at the end of the 19th century. Dr. Henrik SOLTÉSZ married Lajos ROSINGER's younger sister and they lived here, but their children were educated in France. He worked together with Dr. Lajos BÉKEFI for decades. A good example of the degree of assimilation of these two lawyers was their being found guilty of holding a duel. Although it had no serious consequences, they were sentenced to three days in prison, in 1908.

Dr. Dezsö WEINBERGER, a lawyer from Sárospatak, married Ignác FLAMM's daughter and they lived in Poroszlo and Tiszafüred with their family. His daughter, Klára WEINBERGER, remembers, "My father was a lawyer, and he enjoyed a good reputation. He was a talented musician who played the piano and the violin. At the women's club performances, he was the one on the piano. He composed a few pieces of music and they were published by Rozsavölgyi, a music publisher in Hungary. I sang and played the piano very well. We lived a nice, harmonious family life."

In 1931, eight lawyers practiced in Tiszafüred, half of them Jewish.

From the local Jewish community of the 19th and 20th centuries, a number of gifted boys emerged. Béla, the son of Ignác MENCZER, became a transport engineer who took part in the control works on the lower part of the Danube and in several railroad construction projects. His son, bearing the same name, lived away from Hungary for fifty years, teaching at various universities in western Europe, as a Catholic philosopher and the author of numerous books. Lipot UNGÁR was a shopkeeper whose youngest son, Ödön, was born in 1885. He changed his name to TISZA along with his brother, in 1898. Later he worked in America, in collaboration with Thomas Edison. (His grandson, Lászlo TISZA, is MIT's world-famous physicist and professor, now retired.) He died in April 1909, at age 102. His uncle, Ödön TISZA, died in 1967, at age 100. Zsigmond SZÖLLÖSI, born in 1872, in Tiszaszölös, attended law school but, even then, he leaned towards journalism. He was with "Budapesti Hirlap" for fifteen years, then worked at the "Ujság." Between 1910 and 1914, he was the editor of a comic journal the "Kakas Márton." He became famous as Madár bácsi (Uncle Bird). He was one of those men who shaped the characteristic Budapest sense of humor at the turn of the 20th century.

Rozsa BRODY was born in Tiszafüred, in 1901. Her father was a lessee and she become a prominent chemical engineer and a research worker in the food industry. She wrote textbooks, and a number of her articles appeared in scientific reviews. Zsigmond ÁDÁM, born in 1906, in Patkos (his mother was from the SCHWARCZ family at Patkos), finished his schooling in Tiszafüred. He studied at Szeged University and became a teacher, in 1931. He taught in various places, until 1942, when he was taken for forced labor in the Ukraine. In the spring of 1945, he started to work with abandoned children and established the first village in Hungary for them, in Hajduhadháza. In 1957, at his initiative, a children's village was established at Fot and he was the principal at the Soponya organization. With his gift for teaching, he created a program which complemented teaching with practical training, according to the age of the children.

After World War II, several of the young people, who lost their families, chose intellectual vocations. A number of them became university lecturers, high school teachers, doctors, architects and librarians. Today, they are pensioners abroad or in Hungary. Dr. Imre LEBOVITS, an engineer and university lecturer, worked as the head librarian at the University of Engineering, in Budapest, until his retirement. His family lived in Tiszafüred, in 1827. Dr. LEBOVITS actively worked to ensure that the Jewish cemetery, in Tiszafüred, remain a dignified place.

Social Life

In Tiszafüred, the Jewish ladies' association was established, in 1883. Mrs. Jakab ERNST and Mrs. Peter ERNST were the leaders. The president, in 1895, was Mrs. Henrik SOLTÉSZ, wife of Dr. Henrik SOLTÉSZ. The main goals of the association were to help the sick and the needy. The association was in operation until 1944. They often organized charity balls and amateur performances, in which even the Christian gentry classes participated. Donations were a matter of prestige and the charity balls were attended not only by locals, but also by guests who arrived from afar.

The charitable interest of the association was primarily in the monthly support of the needy but, from time to time, they made an effort to permanently resolve their problems. The congregation and its members who were better off, regularly supplied the needy children with winter clothing, shoes and school supplies. They collected for the dowry of the girls and sponsored the children of the needy parents. There was some inner friction in the association but, in general, they acted in unison and helped others.

The social life of the town, as we know from the newspapers of that time, was very vibrant. The various social classes established casinos (social centers) and associations whose members were Jewish shopkeepers, tradesmen and landowners, with everyone meeting their peers according to their social status. The Jews held leading positions in these associations.

In 1877, a Fire Brigade Association was formed. Among the 53 founding members, 16 were Jewish. The casino in Tiszafüred had 58 members, in 1889. The president was the Presbyterian pastor Zsigmond BÁN, the vice-president was the landowner Jozsef LIPCSEY and the treasurer was Dr. Ignácz MENCZER. Among the fourteen members of the committee, six were Jewish. In 1870, the casino had 75 members. The members ordered newspapers, had a library, organized balls and gave educational lectures.

In 1896, among the committee members of the Regular Casino, were eight Jewish members who were doctors, lawyers and landowners. Among the committee members of the Civil Casino was Ignác LILIENFELD. In 1910, the legal representative of the Gentlemen's Casino was Dr. Lajos BÉKEFI, the treasurer was Samu SZÁNTO (a district court civil servant) and, among the committee members, five were Jews.

The Jewish community also took part in other religions' social programs. In 1892, the Presbyterian congregation organized a ball at the "Vörös Ökör" restaurant, to collect money for the restoration of the roof of the church. We find seven affluent Jewish citizens among the donors for this worthy cause. After the defeat of the War of Independence, in 1849, Pál KISS lived in Tiszafüred. Upon his death, a benefit concert for his memorial was organized. The list of donors bears twenty Jewish names. The following year, Jews took part in collecting money for the fire victims in Szöllös.

Religious Tolerance and the Emergence of Anti-Semitism

Around the turn of the 20th century, the newspapers reported, on several occasions, on the peaceful coexistence of the different denominations. In 1888, the teacher Dr. Béla BARTHA, who lived in Eperjes, but was originally from Tiszafüred, writes: "In our city, the understanding among the denominations is faultless, thanks to those who are leading the congregations." Adám LIPCSEY published articles in the "Budapesti Naplo" and in the "Eger" (the county newspaper) stating, "It is impossible to find, even in the most remote parts of the United States, where religious tolerance is even more observed than in Tiszafüred. Originally, after the Turkish occupation, Protestant peasants settled in Tiszafüred, where the majority landowners were Protestant and gave the Protestant priest portions of the common land for them to settle upon. In the 19th century, Catholics began to settle in Tiszafüred, but they were poorer. So, the communal landholding Protestants gave portions of their common land areas to the Catholic priest, as they did for the Protestant priest."

In World War I, 471 men from Tiszafüred served, among them 63 Jews. From this number, thirteen died a heroic death and most of them were decorated for their valor. In 1929, 142 Jewish families lived in Tiszafüred, which amounted to 620 people. Twenty of them were well-to-do, with most leading a middle-class existence, although thirteen families were so poor they could not pay taxes, even to their religious community. By occupation, they were one industrialist, one entrepreneur, two teachers, three wholesalers, three doctors, three office workers, four solicitors, five factory workers, five persons with private means, seven ran farms, twelve tradesmen, fifteen unemployed, fifty shopkeepers and eight others.

Between the two world wars, anti-Semitism, backed by the state, also gained momentum in Tiszafüred. Neighbors were still on good terms but, as some recall, in the upper elementary school they let the children know step-by-step that they are "different." Laci RUBINSTEIN, born in 1930, went to the upper elementary school, in 1940. As his mother tells us, whatever he did successfully, whatever problems he solved correcty, the teacher would always say, "You think you're so clever!" Laci was deported and perished in Auschwitz.

Sources (portions):
Tiszafüred-Füzetek (booklet)-5 ²
Copyright ©2004 by Ágnes (née SZEGÕ) ORBÁN, Ph.D.
Translated by Agi CASEY, Australia

¹ The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, (2001), p. 1310.

² Published in a series about local history for the Kiss Pál Museum.

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Created by:
Marshall J. KATZ, USA
Compiled by:
Ágnes (née SZEGÕ) ORBÁN, Ph.D., Tiszafüred
with assistance from
Agi CASEY, Australia
László DARABOS, Tiszafüred
Benke ILDIKO, Hungary
JW Player
Eugene KATZ, USA
Péter KÓCZIÁN, Hungary
Péter MONOK, Tiszafüred
Kiss Pál Museum, Tiszafüred
Nádas Panzió, Tiszafüred
Nursery school, Tiszafüred
Mihály SÁNDOR, Tiszafüred
József SÍPOS, Tiszafüred
János SZABÓ, Hungary
István SZEKRÉNYES, Tiszafüred
Tisza-Balneum Wellness Hotel, Tiszafüred
Tiszafüred Dance Troupe
Erika TRÁZSI, Tiszafüred
You Tube
Amos Israel ZEZMER, France
Zrínyi Ilona Grammar School, Tiszafüred

and the following
JewishGen members/descendants and
contributors of Tiszafüred Jewish families:

Dr. Imre ASZÓDI, Hungary
Mária BENKO, Hungary
Prof. Baruch BEN-DOR, Israel
BRAUN family, Chile
Judit BÜRG, Hungary
Zsuzsanna (née EPSTEIN) FEKETE, Canada
Klara FISCHER, Israel
Margit FISCHER, Israel
Gabor FLAMM, Australia
Nurit (née WEISZ) FLEISCHMANN, Israel
Zvi FUNK, Israel
Zoltán GÁL, Hungary
Gabriella GLÜCK, Hungary
Gábor GÖNCZI, Hungary
Anna (née LOV) KLEIN, USA
Avraham KLEIN, Israel
Dr. Lajos KUTHY, Hungary
Dr. Imre LEBOVITS, Hungary
Kúria LIPCSEY, Tiszafüred
Ágnes (née SZEGÕ) ORBÁN, Ph.D., Tiszafüred
Dr. Tamás RADNAI, Hungary
Edit REINER, Israel
Matild (née ROSENFELD) RADVÁNYI, Canada
Dr. Erzsébet RÓNA, Hungary
Mrs. Vera RÓNA, Hungary
Patrick ROSENFELD, France
Péter SÓLYOM, Hungary
János SZABÓ, Hungary
Jakob SZTOKMAN, Israel
Prof. László TISZA, USA
Julianna TÓTH, USA
Mrs. Máté VASAS, Hungary
Lili WEINBERGER, Hungary
WEISZ family, Hungary

Updated: 17 August 2020

Copyright ©2010
Ágnes (née SZEGÕ) ORBÁN, Ph.D.
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