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Town in Moravia in today’s Czech Republic. Boskovice (Ger., Boskowitz) is one of the oldest Jewish communities in Moravia; a Hebrew tombstone from 1069 and a court document dated 1243 attest to the early presence of Jews. The Jewish cemetery dates to at least the sixteenth century. Boskovice’s first synagogue was built in 1698 and was followed by a second synagogue in the next century. A third synagogue, financed by the Löw-Beer family, was built in 1884.

In 1454, following the expulsion of Jews from nearby Brno (Brünn), Boskovice absorbed many of those who had been forced to flee. The community was home to 148 Jews in 1589 and 1,531 in 1727 (12 years earlier, several hundred Jews had died of the plague). In 1727, Jews were confined to a separate quarter. Although the Familiants Laws (1726–1727) limited the number of Jewish families to 326, the Jewish population nevertheless rose from 1,595 in 1829 to 1,973 in 1848; it peaked at 2,018 in 1857 (representing one-third of the town’s total population).

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Boskovice’s Jews were concentrated in petty trade and artisanal crafts. In the nineteenth century, the Schwarz, Ticho, Munk, and Löw-Beer families established textile factories, making Boskovice a center for the ready-made clothing industry. The Löw-Beer family also established several charitable foundations for Jews of the town.

Following the Revolution of 1848, in 1850 the Boskovice Jewish section was reconstituted as a separate municipality with its own mayor (Count Alfons Mendsdorff-Pouilly, a [non-Jewish] noble landowner, was elected mayor in 1850) and fire brigade (established in 1863). Beginning in the 1860s, the Jewish population steadily declined as Jews left for larger cities such as Brno and Vienna. The number of Jews living in Boskovice’s Christian and Jewish municipalities was 1,591 in 1869; 1,323 in 1880; 850 in 1900; and 395 in 1930. Between the two world wars, many Jews spent their summer holidays in Boskovice. Approximately 473 Jews from Boskovice and its environs died in the Holocaust.

Boskovice was an important center of Jewish learning in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Shemu’el ben Natan ha-Levi Kolin (1720–1806), author of Maḥatsit ha-shekel, directed a yeshiva there for more than 60 years. The kabbalist Natan Adler (1741–1800) was elected rabbi in 1782, but disagreements with the community forced him to leave soon thereafter. Issachar Bär Bloch (1730–1798), author of Binat Yisakhar, served as rabbi from 1793 to 1796. He was followed by Moses Karpeles (1765–1837), who served from 1826 to 1837. Abraham Placzek (1799–1884) held the post of rabbi from 1840 to 1884; Placzek was also Moravian chief rabbi from 1851 until 1884, during which time the seat of the chief rabbinate was provisionally moved from Mikulov (Nikolsburg) to Boskovice. Salomon Funk (1867–1928), a Jewish scholar and early Zionist, was rabbi from 1894 to 1915. The last rabbi was Isidor Reich (1893–1988).

Among the natives of Boskovice were Abraham Ticho (1883–1960), who became a Jerusalem-based ophthalmologist; Hermann Ungar (1893–1929), a German author and member of the Prague Circle (with Franz Kafka); and Moritz (Mosheh) Zobel (1878–1962), an editor of the German-language Encyclopaedia Judaica.

Suggested Reading

Jaroslav Bránský, Židé v Boskovicích (Boskovice, 1999); Hugo Gold, ed., Die Juden und Judengemeinden Mährens in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart (Brno, Czech., 1929), pp. 123–136; Hugo Gold, ed., Gedenkbuch der untergegangenen Judengemeinden Mährens (Tel Aviv, 1974), pp. 12–18.