Town in northwestern Romania, on the Săsar River at the foot of the Gutâi Mountains. Baia Mare, a mining town, was known in German as Frauenbach and Neustadt, in Latin as Rivulus Dominarum, and in Hungarian as Asszonypatak and Nagybánya. After several sporadic reports of a Jewish presence there in the second half of the seventeenth century, and after the establishment of Austrian rule, in 1693–1700 Jewish people’s access to mining towns and neighboring areas was forbidden. These restrictions were in place until 1850; in 1855 the presence of Rabbi Tsevi Yehudah Horovitz in Baia Mare is documented.
After the complete repeal of settlement restrictions in January 1860, a formal Jewish community was set up in Baia Mare with a burial society (1861) and a synagogue (1887). The number of Jews rose from 222 in 1869 to 701 in 1890 (representing 7.1% of the total population); 963 in 1900 (8.6%); 1,402 in 1910 (10.9%); 1,792 in 1920 (14%); 1,928 in 1930 (13.9%); and 3,623 in 1941 (16.9%). As a result of the Congress of Jews from Hungary and Transylvania (1868–1869), the community adopted an Orthodox orientation with significant Hasidic influence.
Rabbi Horovitz (1855–1895) was succeeded by Levi Samuel Weinberger (1896–1906), who founded a yeshiva; Benjamin Fuksz (1908–1918); and Moses Aron Krausz (1919–1944), who had obtained a doctoral degree in Lucerne and knew 12 languages. The Bet Avraham synagogue was built in 1903, and prayer houses were set up between 1904 and 1911.
Jews in Baia Mare received their religious education at the town’s yeshiva; in addition, a Talmud Torah was opened in 1911 with 4 teachers and 120 students. The community elementary school functioned until 1922. After the Zionist Conference in Hungary (1903), a Zionist organization was established, and the movement enjoyed remarkable development during the interwar period.
By 1930, Jews in Baia Mare owned four factories (chemical industry, glass, dyes, and soap); the town also was home to five prominent Jewish merchants (as well as 160 retailers, 100 craftsmen, 30 clerks, 12 lawyers, 6 physicians, 4 engineers, 2 journalists, and 2 artists). An association supported Jewish artisans, and a women’s organization existed as well.
After 1940, Baia Mare was included in the geographical section of northern Transylvania handed over to Hungary (after arbitration in Vienna by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy). In 1942–1944, a recruitment center for hard labor detachments was set up in the town. The center’s commander, Colonel Imre Reviczky, cooperated with Rabbi Mozes Aron Krausz to save Jews (he was acknowledged as a Righteous among Nations in 1966). In April 1944, the Jewish community of Baia Mare still had 3,340 members; its president was the lawyer Farkas Sarudi.
In May 1944, after German troops occupied Hungary, the process of concentrating Jews into ghettos and then deporting them to Auschwitz began. One of the 13 central ghettos of northern Transylvania was established in Baia Mare, and the 5,917 Jews who had been confined there were deported on 31 May and 5 June 1944. Survivors rebuilt the community under the leadership of Rabbi Ḥayim Alter Panet (1945–1951). In 1947, the Jewish population numbered 950, but emigration over the following decades saw these numbers drop to approximately 80 people in 2000.
Ichak Joszéf Kohén, ed., Emlék könyv Nagybánya . . . és környéke zsidóságának tragédiájáról (Tel Aviv, 1996); Náftáli Stern, ed., Nagybánya és vidéke mártirjainak emlékkönyve (Bene Berak, Isr., 1976); Péter Újvári, ed., Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (Budapest, 1929), pp. 625–626.
Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea