The Story of the Jews of Humenne
By David Friedmann
Chapter 2:
Humenne existed in the year 1300. The Drugeth
family emigrated from Italy and had possession of the
community. Johann Drugeth governed in 1322. In 1323
King Robert Karoly had possession. Humenne gave a gift to
Pholop Drugeth. At that time Humenne was the central
point of the state border area.
The city of Humenne is located in the north of Theil des
Zemplener district just on the border with Austria, 50
kilometers to the Polish border. It is located in a romantic,
naturally beautiful charming panorama of green woods and
surrounding valley. Along the city is a clean, winding brook
that quietly flows behind the city into the fish-rich Labor River.
The surrounding area is also considered fairly fertile. It was
determined that this beautiful area would be the main and
central point of the whole area.
The name Humenne originates from the shape and
layout of the area. The word "Humont" is of Slavic origin and
means a horse harness, which is worn around the horses
neck. The harness is oval in form the same way
Humenne is located in a valley surrounded by mountains. A
second version states that Humenne comes from the
Ukranian word "Humen" which means the monks of the Greek
Catholic monasteries.
The citizens of Humenne worked in agriculture
and small handi-crafts, but mostly in the trade which thrived because of
the town's geographic location. Humenne was the
central point from Poland where all kinds of business deals
developed. The businessmen made trips to southern Hungary
and took various products such as wine, oil, fruit,
spirits, etc. Polish businessmen came and took thes articles to
Poland. Wine made a great and lively turnover.
Laut Notiz, the Pressburger (Bratislava) King gave a permit for the
export of wine in 1637 for 3,091 barrels yearly. That these
trades were negotiated by Jews was understood. We have
proof of Jewish habitation in Humenne from the 1700's because of a
contract between a Christian widow, Arva Szivi Maria as homeowner and
the renter, Moses Jacob, a Jew. This contract was translated from
Hungarian as follows: "The widow acknowledges to everyone
who deserves to know that in the town of Humenne next to the
Parish House within two business locations to the Jew,
Moses Jacob, three (one after the other) years for fifty
Hungarian Gulden as yearly rent for the lease, with the
understanding that, in case of my death, my heirs cannot
change the lease with the before names Jew. This irrevocable
contract starts on Michaelmas Day and ends Michaelmas Day
after the end of three years. As the owner and the lessee we
are both obligated six months before the end of the contract
to concel or to renew. The rent is to be paid on year in
advance and this contract is authorized. Signed Sept 20,
1743 Arva Szivi Maria." This contract acknowledges that
before this, some Jews lived in Humenne since it is a
renewal of a previous contract.
<p>At that time Humenne was an organized community and
had a synagogue which had a straw roof. It got to be too
small. The Jewish community built a beautiful building in
1792 (5552). About the first straw covered synagogue it
was told that the Catholic Church which in those days was on
Main Street on the left side of the brook, went up in flames.
The usable material of the ruined Church was bought by
the Jews from the landowner, Graf (count) Csaky for two
Groschen per carload and was used to build the first Synagogue.
<p>In the year 1809 on Cholhamoed-Pesach, the Jewish
community under the President, Moritz Propper and Chief
Rabbi R.Jacob Spira, as an organized cultural community
decided that all resolutions of the board be regulated
by a protocol and an election of the board was held. The
contract, which is written in German, can be found in the
city archives."