Bratislava (Pressburg, Pozsony)

The first documentary evidence of Jewish life in Pressburg dates back to the year 1251. Although Jews were expelled from the city several times in the Middle Ages, Bratislava developed into one of the most important sites of Jewish learning in Hungary. The most outstanding rabbi was Moshe Sofer Schreiber, known by the name of his key book as Chatam Sofer. Rabbi Moshe Schreiber was the rabbi of Bratislava from 1806. His famous yeshiva attracted some one hundred of students. He was a decisive personality of his time with strong traditionalistic views. He fought against all kinds of changes and reformist movements. His leadership helped make Bratislava a spiritual center for Orthodox Jews, which had many important yeshivas in the 19th century. In 1944-45 only a small fraction of 15 000 Jews who had lived in the city survived the Holocaust. Nonetheless, Jewish life in Bratislava did not come to a complete standstill. Today there is an active synagogue for a community of approximately 500 Jews.