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Borşa

Town in the extreme north of Romania, at the foot of Rodna Mountains and on the Vişeu River (157 km east of Baia Mare). The first documentary reference to Borşa (Hun., Borsa) dates to 1365, but a Jewish presence was not noted until 1728, when immigrants from Galicia and Bucovina settled in the area. The first synagogue was founded in 1783, and a burial society was set up in 1815.


While the 1768 census of Jews from the region of Maramureş recorded only 2 families in Borşa, their number had reached 250 by the beginning of the 1800s and continued to increase in the second half of that century. By 1890, there were 1,432 Jews in the town, accounting for 23 percent of the total population. In 1910, the number of Jews had reached 1,972 (21.1%), and in 1930 the total was 2,486 (22.1%). Jews were prominent in many fields: in the 1930s there were 3 Jewish timber producers who owned frame saws, 3 owners of substantial forests, 4 prominent merchants, 80 salesmen, 30 craftsmen, 25 clerks, 10 teachers, 1 physician, 100 farmers, and 150 laborers.


Synagogues were built in 1840 and 1890, and several prayer houses were active at the beginning of the twentieth century. A Talmud Torah was established in 1869 with 6 teachers and 120 students. The statutes of the Jewish community were adopted in 1871, a women’s organization was set up in 1908, and a charity association was created in 1918. Among the town’s notable figures was its chief rabbi, Alter Hager.


During World War I, one of Borşa’s synagogues was damaged by German soldiers. With the growth of antisemitism during the interwar period, the Jews of Borşa were subjected to persecution and acts of violence. On 4 July 1930, members of the Iron Guard, with the help of local priests and teachers, set a fire that destroyed the homes of 132 Jewish families. In 1940, Borşa was included in the district of northern Transylvania transferred to Hungary. The introduction of anti-Jewish legislation led to a ban on economic activities and to the recruitment of men into forced labor detachments.


In April 1944, the Jewish community of Borşa numbered 2,238. In May 1944, after Hungary was occupied by German troops, Jews were concentrated in ghettos and deported to Auschwitz. The Jews of Borşa were rounded into the two synagogues, then transferred to the ghetto in Vişeu de Sus, from which 12,074 Jews were deported between 19 and 25 May of that year. Those who survived rebuilt the community, which totaled 395 members in 1947. Most Jews emigrated so that by 1969 there were only two or three Jewish families remaining. No Jews live in Borşa today.

Suggested Reading

Nicoară Mihali and Nicoară Timiş, Cartea munṭilor. Borşa—schiṭă monografică (Baia Mare, 2000); József Schweitzer and Kinga Frojimovics, eds., Magyarországi zsidó hitközségek: 1944, április; A Magyar Zsidók Központi Tanácsának összeírása a német hatóságok rendelkezése nyomán (Budapest, 1994), vol. 1, pt. B, p. 129; Péter Újvári, ed., Magyar zsidó lexikon (Budapest, 1929), pp. 135–136.

Author

Translation

Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea