Erdély zsidó közösségei a kezdetektől napjainkig a temetők tükrében

Kiss, Erika Márta (2015) Erdély zsidó közösségei a kezdetektől napjainkig a temetők tükrében. PhD thesis, OR-ZSE.


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Supervisor name: Kiss, Endre and Gábor, György
DOI identifier : 10.13146/OR-ZSE.2015.001


The PhD dissertation titled Jewish Communities in Transylvania: from the Beginnings to the Present int the Light of Cemeteries explores the Jewish society of Transylvania, a region in the heart of Romania, in the light of the cemeterie s that exist today and ca n thus be subject to research. The history of the Transylvanian Jewish communities is part of both Hungarian and Romanian history, which partly explains its un iqueness. Six major periods can be distinguished int he history of the Transylvanian Jewry. They are determined by turn ing points in Hungarian and Romanian history that also br ought changes in the perception of the Jewry: 1) The first period is from the age of the Partium to the first eman cipation. It is the time when Transylvania was the land of religious freedom and saw the settlement of the Jewry. 2) The second period started with the 1848-49 Revolution, which liberated the jews from feudal bondage, and lasted until the 1867 Austro-Hungarian Compromise and the First Jewish Congress. This is the period when most of the Jewish communities were established a nd the Jewish population appeared in the Transylvanian towns. 3) The period betw een 1868 and 1918 is the Golden Age of the emancipated Transylvanian Jewry, diversified in terms of religion. 4) The period between 1919 and 1940 was characterised by inte gration and development of the Romanian denominational frameworks; it is also the time of restrictive measures and growing antisemitism. 5) The period from 1940 to 1944 was the era of total disenfranc hisement and the Holocaust. 6) After 1945 the survivors re-erected the frameworks of religi ous communities. Others became communists and moved away from their earlier religious life. Yet others chose to emigrate. As a result, after 1970 Jewish community life virtually ceased to exist in small-town Transylvania. The choice of topic of this dissertation has been motivated primarily by an ethical commitment. It is aimed at exploring a people in the light of its cemeteries whose sons were deprived of the last stage of natural rites at the end of human life by the million: their bodies perished to become ashes and dust, or are cast aside unmarked along the highways of Europe. The moral and emotional motivation is rooted in t he researcher’s convi ction that the Jewish cemeteries all over Central and Eastern Europe continue to survive as faithful and visible witnesses of local history. In their wake a whole host of once flourishing communities can be rekindled. Exploring the Jewish populati on of Transylvania primarily ont he basis of its cemeteries is a highly complex tas. Falling in step with the sc ientific process initiated by the great elders in research, this paper attempts to reconsider the is sues and supplement them with the author’s own research findings and conclusions . As Lajos Erdélyi put it, ’The Jews in Transylvania die in Hungarian.’ Is this a general truth or is it relevant only to certain historical periods or events or places? Was it still valid after th e Treaty of Trianon or after the Second Vienna Award? How does it appear in North and South Transylvan ia? After Auschwitz? After World War II, in liberated Romania? We intend to prove – and this is the first hypothesis of this dissertati on – that the answers to the questio of assimilation with the Hungarion population and to issues of dual identity are manifold and depend ont he age and historical circumstances. A ligning with the ruling order and power or with the dominant culture, assim ilation, integration, separation dual identity are perceived differently by the various soci al and religious groups of the Jewry. The second hypothesis of the research putting Transylvanian Jewish cemeteries into focus is the following: The Jewish society in Transylvania was both large and strong. Surprisingly, there is very little indication of this in sc ientific thinking. Few are aware, for example, that there are as many as 131 Jewish cemeteries in the part of Szatmár Co unty that belong to Romania today, each has an address and a caretaker, and each can be visited, al beit some are in ruins. The next two hypotheses of this dissertation are closely linked to the first two and they are also inseparable from each other: Not only is the history of the Transylv anian Jewry unknown, a blank spot, but so is the tremendous intellectual achievement which could dul y be the pride of not only the Jews but also Hungarian culture as well as univ ersal civilisation. This aspect al so transpires from the study of Jewish cemeteries. Chief Rabbi Sámuel Kohn woul d sadly ask: ’what is a Jewish scholar worth if he is Transylvanian, and mainly if he speaks Hungarian?’ In an attempt to prove this hypothesis the author parades those prominent figures of Tr ansylvanian intellectual life that are less known in Hungarian and univeras cultur al history. My fourth hypothesis will offer two sub-points to justify, and also prove through the world of cemeter ies, that the Transylvanian jewry has a place int he universal history of the Jews in a highly speci fic way: this was the region where a) the Sephardim were the closest possible to the ashkenazim; and b) this was the region where the strong Transylvanian Jewish orthodoxy, the Transy lvanian version of Hasidism as well as the middle class urban Jewry live and br eathe side by side. The first f our hypotheses give rise to the fifty: it is possible to describe one-time Jewish communities and trace social mobility through their memorial places, and primarily trough th e cemeteries of the Transylvanian villages. Comparing the characteristics of well-known former communities with the information offered by cemeteries motivates the researcher to try to describe lesser known, unknown or long- forgotten communities ont he basis of their cemetery residues.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion / filozófia, pszichológia, vallás > BM Judaism / zsidóság
Depositing User: xMihaéla xSzász
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2015 05:40
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2015 06:12

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