EXPLORING YOUR JEWISH ROOTS
The significant growth and improvement of the social and economic position of the Jewish population during the 19th century was to a great extent the result of the reforms of religious toleration enacted by Emperor Joseph II in 1783.
Bratislava became the seat of Hungarian Jewish Orthodoxy under the leadership of the renowned Rabbi Moshe Schreiber, known as the Chatam Sofer (1762-1839), who served as rabbi in Bratislava from 1806 until his death. He founded the influential yeshiva of Bratislava, and led the traditionalist struggle against rapidly spreading religious reform. In 1868, one year after the constitutional compromise (Ausgliech), Hungarian Jewry split into Neolog (Hungarian reform), Orthodox, and Status Quo factions following unresolved conflict stemming from the kingdom-wide Jewish congress in Budapest organized by the government. The majority of Jewish communities in northern Hungary were Orthodox, though there were important Neolog Jewish communities in Bratislava and Košice (Kaschau, Kassa).
Bratislava - Stupava - Malacky - Trnava - Šamorín - Nitra - Komárno - Nové Zámky - Šurany Šahy - Trenčín - Zvolen - Žilina - Liptovský Mikuláš - Spišská - Nová Ves - Spišské Podhradie - Bardejov
In 1867, the dual monarch of Austro-Hungary was established and Slovakia became a part of Hungary, often considered “Northern Hungary.” For more than a millennium, Slovakian Jewry was closely linked with that of Hungarian Jews. The Hungarian parliament passed the Emancipation Law to promote assimilation among minorities, especially Jews. Government officials supported Jewish cooperation in industry and finance. The Jewish population grew exponentially, especially in small, secluded towns in Eastern Slovakia. Nevertheless, much anti-Semitism existed in Slovakia and nationalists refused to allow Jews to assimilate into their culture.
The 19th century also gave rise to the Zionist movement in Slovakia. After World War I and the creation of Czechoslovakia (1918), Jews were given the right to be considered a separate nationality in the country. Jews prospered not only in industry but cultural life. Jews held more than one-third of all industrial investments in country. In 1919, the Jewish Party was created. The Juedische Volkszeitung (“Jewish People’s Paper”) was first published in Bratislava. This paper played a crucial role in advancing the rights of the Jews in Czechoslovakia. In the first national census in February 1921, 135,918 people registered as practicing Jews (4.5 percent of the population); 70,522 of them declared themselves of Jewish nationality.