Jewish mementos in Györ-Moson-Sopron Comitatus

Pannonhalma

Synagogue

Jews first settled in Pannonhalma, formerly Györszentmárton, in the beginning of the 1850s. The first registry is from 1851. Later a Jewish community was founded. When the registration process was reformed by the government in 1885, the then rabbi of Asszonyfaer, Markus Fried, became rabbi of the Györszentmárton registry district. A synagogue was built under community head József Reichenfeld and inaugurated on July 7, 1880 by Szegedin rabbi Immanuel Löw. After Fried’s death the Jewish community elected an orthodox rabbi, Mór Winkler. The head of the parish, Dr. Mór Vámosi, managed to run a school with one teacher for roughly 10 years. With the diminishment of the district and the decrease of the Jewish part of the population the school had to be closed. The Jewish community had a rabbi who taught in the school, a kosher butcher and a cemetery. The Jewish school was ultimately banned from Györszentmárton in 1885 as the authorities found the building to be in a very dangerous condition. The Jewish children then went to the Catholic school. The banning report states that the school was no more than a dark hole and the poorly furnished apartment of the rabbi where sixteen children came to study under an untrained teacher who only taught them reading, writing, counting and gave Bile lessons. The butcher lived in the same apartment and prepared meat according to the religious prescriptions. The house is later called Weltner-Haus by the owner. 165 Jews were counted in Györszentmárton in 1890. Only 4 survived the Holocaust, the settlement was void of merchants after the war.

The synagogue, inaugurated in 1882, became a drugstore after the Holocaust and was used for drying plants. The sacred house was purchased by a fine artist but he was not able to make any renovations due to steadily increasing prices for building material. The Karzat Cultural Center Foundation (a gallery) which was using the building spent several million Forint on it in recent years. Together with the proprietor it has resolved to make the Pannonhalma synagogue a cultural institution. A few years ago the entire roof structure was rebuilt, the star of David put back in place, the sewerage and electricity problems solved and floors of the men’s and women’s galleries renovated. The building has gained importance as the venue of the traditional harvest feasts and it has been used for concerts and exhibitions as well as venue for events of the Pro Patria days. In Pannonhalma, now declared city again, the synagogue at the foot of the one thousand year old abbey tries to be “a holy place of reconciliation” (Asztrik Várszegi, bishop and head abbot of Pannonhalma)

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt

2012.05.31