Munkacs

MUNKÁCS (today Mukacheve in Ukraine)

The families of Munkacs may have kept the same house for many generations and yet could say that they each lived in a different country. Munkacs is located in a part of the European continent where each century or decade brought another dramatic change. So the town belonged to different countries throughout the past times.

6 – 9th century: Slavic tribes
9 – 16th century: Hungarian Kingdom
16 – 17th century: Transylvania
1867 – 1918: Austro-Hungarian Monarchy
1918 – 1938: Czechoslovakia
1938 – 1944: Hungarian Kingdom
1944 – 1991: Soviet Union
1991 – : Ukraine

Brief history of Munkacs (read the longer version on Wikipedia)

In the 9th century the Hungarian tribes entered the Carpathian Basin through the Verecke Pass, about 60 km (37 mi) north of present-day Munkacs. The town soon became a regional center of power of Hungarian kings.
In 1397, the town and its surrounding was granted by King Sigismund of Hungary to his vassal the Ruthenian prince Theodor Koriatovich, who settled many Ruthenians in the territory.
During the 15th century, the city prospered and became a prominent craft and trade center for the region.
In 1445 Munkacs became a Hungarian free royal town.
During the 16th century Munkacs became part of the Principality of Transylvania.
The 17th and early 18th century was a time of continuous struggle against the expansionist intentions of the Hapsburg Empire for the Principality.
In 1687 the anti-Habsburg Revolt of Imre Thököly started out from Munkacs. The region also played an important role in Rákóczi’s unsuccesful War of Independence between 1703 – 1711.
After the defeat of Rákóczi the city came under Austrian control in the mid-18th century as part of the Kingdom of Hungary and was made a key fortress of the Hapsburg Monarchy. Many Germans settled in the territory, causing an economic boom of the region.

There are documents in the Berehove State Archives which indicate that Jews lived in Munkacs and the surrounding villages as early as the second half of the 17th century. The Jewish community of Munkacs was a mixture of Galician & Hungarian Hasidic Jewry, Orthodox Jews, and Zionists. The town is most noted for its Chief Rabbi Chaim Elazar Spira who led the community until his death in 1937. He was the most outspoken voice of religious anti-Zionism. He had succeeded his father, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Spira, who had earlier inherited the mantle of leadership from his father Rabbi Shlomo Spira. He was also a Hasidic rebbe with a significant number of followers. Rabbi Chaim Elazar Spira was succeeded by his son-in-law, Rabbi Baruch Yehoshua Yerachmiel Rabinowicz.

Along with the dominant Munkacser hasidic community there co-existed smaller, yet vibrant Hasidic groups who were followers of the rebbes Belz, Spinka, Zidichov and Vizhnitz.
By the time of the Holocaust there were nearly 30 synagogues in the town, many of which were Shtieblech – small Hasidic synagogues.

Munkacs Hasidic Dynasty – from Wikipedia.

Munkatch (or Munkacs) Hasidism is a Hasidic sect within Haredi Judaism of mostly Hungarian Hasidic Jews. It was founded and led by the late Polish-born Grand Rebbe Shlomo Spira, who was the rabbi of the town of Munkacs. Members of the congregation are mainly referred to as Munkacs Hasidim or Munkatcher Hasidim. It is named after the Hungarian town in which it was established, Munkatsh – in Yiddish.

The largest Munkacs community is in Boro Park, Brooklyn.
There are also significant Munkacs communities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Monsey, New York; and communities can be found in North America, Europe, Israel, and Australia.

Short documentary about Jewish life in Munkacs from 1933:

Footage of the pilgrimage of the Munkatcher Rebbe, Grand Rebbe Moshe Leib Rabinovich to his ancestoral home town of Mukachevo, Ukraine. The visit’s purpose was to celebrate the Bar Mitzva of the Rebbe’s grandson Ahron Rabinovich. This journey bore special significance as it was the first time the Rebbe spent the Jewish Sabbath in Mukachevo. The Rebbe was joined by over 300 hasidim:

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