Jewish Mementos in Vas Comitatus

Celldömölk

The village received its name from the merging of Nemes-dömölk and Kiscell in 1903.

There had been Jews in Nemesdömölk from 1746 on, though never many. Kiscell did not admit Jews until 1840. Among the first to move there was Zsigmond Pick, who did a lot for the village.

Zsigmond Nemesdömölki Pick’s father Zakariás lived in Simonyi in 1830. In 1841 Zsigmond came to live in Kiscell. From the 60s to the 90s he and his son Henrik took part in the economic affairs and public life of the community. 1869 Zsigmond was appointed judge for the community. He had the community assembly pass a regulation which ordered that roofs had to be built of bricks, rather than thatch. He also introduced petroleum lighting in town. In 1888 Franz Josef awarded him, the Kiscell merchant and landlord, the aristocratic title and coat of arms of "Nemesdömölki" for his achievements in industry and public affairs as well as his generosity and contribution to public goals. He had greatly contributed to the development of the Hungarian lumber industry and getting it known abroad. As a landlord he had generously supported the Catholic church and helped the orphanage of the comitatus as well as many other welfare institutions. He was also a founding member of the economic association of the Vas comitatus. His son Henrik built the first modern hotel, the Hungária on Pápai Street.

In 1848 Celldömölk counted 39 Jews, but for many decades they did not build an independent community but belonged to the Jewish community of Simonyi. After the congress conflicts arose between the Kiscell community which was open for the reformations and the mother community of Simonyi. In 1870 they separated and Kiscell founded an own community. In 1872 it bought property for a cemetery and founded a Chevra Kadisha.
As long as the community was still small, services were held in the neighboring village of Nemesdömölk.

Later the Jews in Kiscell rented a prayer house, large celebrations were held in the Simonyi synagogue. After the community became independent the 51 families had a synagogue built in 1882. The design was by Ludwig Schöne who had also built the Szombatheley synagogue. On March 21 a student of the national institute for the training of rabbis, still an aspirant rabbi back then, later Dr. Ede Neumann, inaugurated the synagogue. It was the only synagogue in the comitatus that did not have a women’s gallery, the women sat on slightly higher seats on both sides of the ground floor and participated at those services that were accompanied by the organ. Around 1900 conservative Jews from the surrounding villages came to Celldömölk and had a gallery built. They also wanted to have the organ removed but the community did not comply to that. The discontented orthodox left and founded their own community in 1902. 1908 they built a small synagogue for themselves, only the school and the cemetery was shared with the neological Jews. None of the synagogues is left today.

The last census of 1944 shows that there were 214 persons in the Celldömölk congressional mother community and 285 orthodox members. Altogether 394 Celledömölk Jews were deported to the Jánosháza ghetto. After the war a mixed community of neological and orthodox Jews was founded, counting 81 people. Its last prayer hall was on Szentháromság Square. The building still stands.

The two cemeteries were disgraced several times during and after the war (1964, 1966, 1970).

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt

2012.07.06