Tiszaszalka Old Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Site address
The Jewish cemetery is located next to the municipal cemetery on the road linking Gergelyiugornya with Tiszaszalka. It is behind the municipal cemetery.
GPS coordinates
48.19182, 22.32633
Perimeter length
202 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
Type and height of existing fence
There is a 2m high metal fence.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The site is in a good condition. The grass is mown.
Number of existing gravestones
Date of oldest tombstone
Date of newest tombstone
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys

Historical overview

There were two Jewish cemeteries in Tiszaszalka. The old cemetery was established as early as 1831, since the oldest tombstone found in this cemetery dates to that year. The latest tombstone was erected in 1889 which—when compared with dates marked on tombstones in the new cemetery—suggests the cemetery ceased its operations around this time. The cemetery has been fenced.

The first Jews settled in Tiszaszalka at the beginning of the 19th century, and by 1840 30 Jews lived in the village. The Jewish population increased to 95 in 1880 and 144 in 1910, after which the population decreased and by 1941, 60 Jews remained in the village. According to Hebrew Wikipedia, Jews lived in Tiszaszalka as early as the 18th century. While some Jews owned estates, others were farmers, merchants, artisans, or liquor vendors. Until the end of World War I, the Jewish community in Tiszaszalka was a part of the Mezőkaszony Jewish community, after which it came under the jurisdiction of the Vásárosnamény Jewish community. Jews from the nearby village of Tiszavid would join in religious services in Tiszaszalka. The Tiszaszalka community maintained a number charitable institutions including a Chevra Kadisha (burial society), “Hachnasat Kala” – an organization that helped brides from poor families get married with dignity, a nursing home which was once referred to as the “old people’s home,” and other such religious institutions.
The community’s synagogue was built around 1900. At one point the community split and a small group established a separate synagogue. The butcher and mashgiach (supervisor for kosher food) of the town also served as the chazan (prayer leader) and taught Torah to the children. It is known that, at one point, a butcher and teacher in the community was Rabbi Asher Zelig Schwartz. The community regularly employed its own rabbi and maintained its own Beit Din (rabbinical court). One rabbi of the community was Rabbi Herman Roth, while two heads of the Beit Din were Rabbi Yoel Zvi Rata and Rabbi Yaakov Ratenberg.

Jewish men from Tiszaszalka served in World War I, one of whom died in battle. In 1919, during the Communist revolution, some locals looted the homes of Jews on the pretext that they had become rich and profited from the war. After this, anti-Semitism continually increased in the village. During the period of the White Terror across Hungary and Europe, gangs of thugs attacked the village’s Jews and stole from their homes. In 1937 the village shochet (butcher) was murdered by Hungarians from the area. The men were never arrested nor prosecuted. In 1939, a “citizenship check” was carried out which targeted the village’s Jews, and many were arrested and imprisoned. In 1941, 25 Jews from Tiszaszalka were taken into forced labour. In April 1944, following the German occupation of Hungary, 70 Jews in the village were gathered in the community synagogue and taken at dawn to the Beregszász Ghetto, from where they were later deported to Auschwitz in May. After the war, three men from the labour camps and three women returned to the village, though they all left shortly after.