These days you can see a tram in Bratislava heading to "Chatam Sofer", meaning the memorial, remnants of the old Jewish cemetery, but there is not much, which would remind the Bratislavans today of the fact that Bratislava used to be home to the largest Jewish community in Slovakia.
The first traces of the Jewish settlements in Slovakia date back to the end of the 1st century AD, when a part of the victorious XV. Roman legion was sent to strengthen the northern fortifications of Limes Romanus. The fortresses Gerulata and Carnuntum, situated nearby Bratislava, were parts of this defensive line. It is likely that the Roman soldiers came to the area with the Jewish slaves and merchants. Even though the archives are not clear about the beginnings, it is quite clear that already at the end of XI. century there was a Jewish community in Bratislava. In XV. century there was a ghetto here. In 1808 the big fire destroyed the archives and so there is only the list of Rabbis from 1694. The most important one was Moses Schreiber, called Chassan Szoffer or Chatam Sofer, one of the most distinguished Jewish scholars, lived in Bratislava in the XIX. century. Chatam Sofer was a great master of Talmud and Kabbala and questions for him came from all over the world. The answers provided the material for 90 books, he was the author of. His fame reached all five continents, from which the students rushed to Bratislava, at that time Pressburg, soon his Jeshiva became the most significant in the world. He passed away in 1839 and his son and grandson continued in his footsteps. It is quite interesting that each of the three members of the Schreiber dynasty was a Rabbi for 33 years.
Bratislava tries not to forget the tragedies of the Second World War. Members of the Jewish communities worldwide are very often coming to see the land of their forefathers and there are a number of places you should not miss either. Bratislava Card will be providing a small Jewish guide soon in co-operation with the local Jewish community, so visit us soon again.
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