In Uzhhorod and Mukachevo

The damages to Jewish life are visible in the Transcarpathian towns of Uzhhorod and Mukachevo: synagogues used for other purposes than worship, a destroyed cemetery and the missing Jewish presence in public life due to mass deportation and extermination under Hungarian and German rule and later Sovietization. Nevertheless, there are rays of hope. In both towns we found functioning synagogues, active communities and well maintained cemeteries.

The former Orthodox synagogue of of Uzhhorod belongs to the most beautiful in Ukraine – a proud building in moorish style, now a theater. Just around the corner a former yeshiva is situated, the former Neolog and Hasidic synagogues are in a walking distance. Another former synagogue can be found in the Radvanka neighborhood. Hidden in a backyard of Mukachevskaia Street a former private synagogue is now the center of the present Jewish community. Marla, Jay, Vasyl and I were warmly welcomed by the rabbi. Preparations for Pesach were in full swing when we arrived. Vegetables and fish was cleaned for the Seder dinner, wine and more food unpacked.

Our experience in Mukachevo was similar. The local synagogue is within the former court of the Munkach rebbe. Most of the buildings were transformed to an extent, the former function became invisible. But community life recovered after the collapse of the Soviet Union – with active support from abroad, mainly from America, where the descendants of the Munkach rebbe live. Also here we were warmly welcomed.

Mukachevo’s old Jewish cemetery was nearly fully destroyed in the Soviet periode. The community managed to move about hundred tombstones to a new cemetery next to the Christian cemetery near the neighboring willage of Koropets. The old cemetery offers now a strange view: symbolic tombstones and memorials cover a huge field.

The Jewish cemetery in Uzhhorod belongs to the most spectacular heritage sites in the region – not only because of its size and the quality of stone carving. There is a special aura, which can hardly be described but has to be felt.

A bit earlier than expected we returned to our hotel – our heads full of thoughts. Tomorrow our trip continues, we will head further west.

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8 thoughts on “In Uzhhorod and Mukachevo

  1. Christian, This is not the first time we are writing to tell you how invaluable your journey and blogs are. This time this is Uzhhorod and Mukachevo. It is great to hear that there are living communities in both towns. That’s kind of an answer to the tragedy of the Holocaust. Isn’t it?

  2. Very interesting posts — thank you for sharing. My father came from Uzhorod — his father passed away in 1938 so perhaps he is buried in that cemetery. Do you know if there is anyway to research that?

  3. Very interesting posts and thank you for sharing, do you know the current street name in Mukacheve (Munkatch) of the previous name “the Yiddish Gasse” (the Jewish street) ? My late mother used to live there before the war.

    • Dear Itzhak, Thank you for your kind words! I imagine the street was called “Jüdische Gasse” or “Judengasse” when the town was still part of Austria-Hungary and often the old names were used for a long time by the residents – even when the official name was changed decades ago. I don’t know the location or the present name of the street but the above mentioned versions may help you to find it in other online resources.

  4. Hello! I am currently on a trip through Eastern Europe and will be in munkatcz/Mukachevo this Saturday. I’ve scoured the internet for contact info for the old Jewish cemetery, where my family is buried, but I have had little luck. Would you be able to give me any contacts or point me in the direction of that information? Thank you!

    א גוטן,
    אליהו

    P.s. Love the blog and photography

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