Our Chai Czech Scroll
The Jewish community of Frydek-Mistek
The twin town, Frydek-Mistek, straddles the Ostravice River, with Frydek on the northern, Silesian bank, and Mistek, on the southern, Moravian bank. The first Jews lived in a Frydek at the beginning of the 18th century. A Jewish entrepreneur called, Moses Lieberman, is first mentioned on October 30, 1708 in a document written by the owner of the Frydek estate, Frantisek Vilem Count Prazma. Moses Lieberman had requested permission for him and his family to live permanently in Frydek. His request was approved on condition that the house he purchased was not sold to another Jew. On February 19th, 1711 Moses Lieberman bought for 100 silesian tolars a pub on the square in Frydek.
The beginnings of a larger Jewish community date back to the 19th century. Before 1848 Jews were not allowed to buy property in Mistek and to settle there. Several Jewish families settled in Frydek and Mistek after 1850. In September 1861, the Jews from Mistek started negotiations with the Jews from Frydek to build a permanent house of prayer. Because each community wanted the building to be situated in their town, a vote was taken. And Mistek lost out to Frydek. The construction of the synagogue began in 1864. The Jewish cemetery was established in 1882.
The Jewish communities of Frydek and Mistek were consolidated on March 21st 1890. At that time, the older synagogue was no longer sufficient, and so they began to build a new one, which was finished in 1896. The first independent Jewish school was established at the same time as the synagogue.
429 Jews were counted in the Frydek district in 1921, and only 307, seven years later. Similarly, in Mistek district, the number of Jews declined from 303 to 242 during the same period. During their highest numbers, Jews accounted 2% of the total population. By 1930 the Jewish population of both towns was 432.
Frydek synagogue was attacked by Nazis on the night of 13 to 14th of June 1939. From September 1st 1941, The Jews of Frydek-Mistek were ordered to wear a yellow star with the label, ‘Jude’. Between September 18th and 30th 1942, that is, between Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, the entire Jewish community of Frydek-Mistek was deported by the Nazis – for the most part, to Treblinka.
Today, only the Cemetery and the synagogue, now used by Seventh-day Adventists, remain as visible signs of an eradicated Jewish community. One of the Frydek-Mistek scrolls is now on permanent loan to BHPS. Another is with Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Material taken from: ‘In the Shadow of Frydek Synagogue’ by Jaromir Polasek and ‘The Re-consecration of Holocaust Memorial scroll Number 12, sermon by Rabbi Daniel Alexander of Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville, Virginia.