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STUHLWEISSENBURG (Hungarian, Szekesfejervar; Latin, Alba Regia):

Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.

Coronation city of the Hungarian kings from the time of St. Stephen to 1527. As early as the fourteenth century it contained the most influential Jewish community of Hungary; and because of the fact that the royal court frequently visited the city, the leaders of the Stuhlweissenburg community often had occasion to be the spokesmen in behalf of Jewish interests throughout the country. The only known Jewish name of that date, however, is that of a certain Solomon who appeared as advocate of the interests of the Hungarian Jews before King Sigismund. The Jewish community continued to exist in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during the Turkish dominion; but after the expulsion of the Turks (1686) the Jews also had to leave the city; and it was not until the time of Emperor Joseph II. thata Jewish family—that of the innkeeper Ḥayyim Stern—was again given permission to dwell there.

Nineteenth Century.

Article xxix. of the constitution of 1839-40 permitted Jews to settle in the royal free cities; and after that time, as early as 1842, a small congregation existed there, whose first president was Solomon Hahn and whose first rabbi was Daniel Pillitz. The latter in 1843 accepted a call to Szegedin, Mayer Zipser being chosen his successor at Stuhlweissenburg in the same year. Zipser was the real organizer of the community; but by his attempts at ritual Reform, which, although not at all contrary to Jewish law, were yet in opposition to deeply rooted customs, he brought about a disruption of the community. His bitterest opponent, who led the Conservative party in the struggle, was Gottlieb Fischer, a pupil of Moses Sofer. When Fischer was chosen president in 1851 there were so much agitation and friction in the congregation that the secular authorities had frequently to be appealed to; and in 1858 Zipser decided to accept a call to Rohoncz (Rechnitz). The Conservatives then succeeded in inducing Joseph Guggenheimer of Aussec, son-in-law of Samson Raphael Hirsch, to accept the rabbinate of Stuhlweissenburg. He entered on his position in March, 1859, but the reactionary changes which he introduced failed to meet with success, and he resigned voluntarily in March, 1861. The disagreement, however, had attained such proportions that the Hungarian magistracy finally interfered; and it decreed that the community should be divided into two parts under a common presidency. Thereupon the two factions, worn out by fighting and financially crippled, appeared to be seeking a rapprochement; but this was prevented by the action of Samson Raphael Hirsch.

The progressive mother congregation now chose the energetic S. L. Wertheim as president (June 2, 1867); previously (April 22, 1867) it had called Alexander Kohut as rabbi; but their attempts to win back the dissenters by sheer force of self-abnegation proved futile. Kohut caused Stuhlweissenburg to be the first city in Hungary in which a separate Orthodox congregation was approved by a ministerial decree (Dec. 4, 1871). Since that time the two congregations have worked quietly side by side. Kohut removed in Sept., 1874, to Pecs (Fünfkirchen), and the Stuhlweissenburg congregation remained without a rabbi until March, 1889, when the present (1905) incumbent, Dr. Jacob Steinherz, was elected. S. L. Wertheim, who had conducted the affairs of the congregation for twenty-four years, died Sept. 2, 1890, and was succeeded in the presidency by Dr. Max Perl, who still occupies the office.

Bibliography:
  • Löw, Zur Neueren Geschichte der Juden, in Nachgelassene Schriften, iii.;
  • Reich, Beth-El, ii., Budapest, 1856;
  • Kohn, A Zsidók Története Magyarországon;
  • Steinherz, A Székesfehervári Zsidók Története.
S. L. V.
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