Jewish Mementos in Vas Comitatus


The Jewish community could only evolve in the 18th century. The oldest tombstone at the cemetery dates back to 1782. In 1749 Jánosháza was one of the 6 cities in the district which placed a connivance tax on the Jews. At the end of the century the community already had a rabbi and a shohet. The 1795 census mentions the name "Stern Jechezkiel Léb Rabbinus in Jánosháza".

In 1836 an independent Jewish community with 20-22 members was founded. Before that it was probably a branch of the Rohonc community. Immediately after founding their community the Jews built a synagogue entirely from private resources. The community grew a little between 1870 and 1930, going from 391 to 466 people. Due to this increase a new synagogue was built in 1897. It cost 30000 Crowns. The property and bricks were donated by count Ferenc Erdődy, to cover the other expenses the community took out a loan. Next to the synagogue was a school with two classrooms and an assembly hall, quarters for the cantor and the bath in the yard. The members of the Jewish community were farmers, leaseholders, craftsmen and merchants. Jenő Sándor founded a steam mill, Imre Sándor a brick factory. The Jewish community drew members from 12 municipalities, among them merchants, innkeepers and craftsmen. The largest diaspora was Boba where the head of the railway station was a Jew, there even was a Minyan there.

Around 1860 a religious Jánosháza Jew, Mordechaj Slesingher, founded a Jeshiva where students from all over the country were educated. In 1874 Samu Stern was born in Nemesszalók, next to Jánosháza, in 1929 he was elected head of the Pester Israelite Jewish community and was a leading figure among the Hungarian Jews between the two World Wars.
The mother of Hanna Szenes, Béláné Szenes, was a Jánosháza Salzberg girl, she was born in 1896 and went through elementary and middle school there. At the time of the last census, 1944, 396 people belonged to the mother community of Jánosháza.

The ghetto of Jánosházar was located on the area enclosed by Széchenyi, Mátyás király, Apponyi and Albert Street. On May 9 and 10, 1944 343 persons had to move together there. On the 10th and 11th the Jews from Celldömölk and the surrounding villages were brought, the ghetto’s population grew to 1129 people. On June 17, 1944 the inhabitants of the ghetto were brought to the Sárvár collection camp in two groups. There were 350 victims from Jánosháza. In 1940 the Jewish community still had 40 members. Today there are no more Jews in town. The synagogue no longer stands. The Talmud school used to be in the building behind the post office. The building exists to this day, it belongs to the post office. At the cemetery one can still see the room for the cleaning of the bodies with its original furnishings. In 1952 a memorial for the victims of the holocaust was put up at the cemetery.

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt