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OLMÜTZ:

City of Moravia in which Jews were living as early as the twelfth century (Maḥzor Vitry, p. 388, Berlin, 1899-1903). In 1454, under Ladislaus, owing to the agitation of John Capistrano, the Jews were expelled from Olmütz, and their synagogue and their cemetery were given to the city. From that time there are no references to the permanent settlement of Jews at Olmütz, and until 1848 only one or two Jewish families were allowed there. With the more liberal laws of 1848 and 1860, however, the Jews, who had for centuries found a resting-place in some of the neighboring towns, returned to Olmütz and soon became an influential portion of the population. The institution of regular worship in rented halls in 1859 was due to the efforts of Hermann Zweig and the well-known Jewish scholar and physician Adolf Brecher. These services were officially approved by the authorities in 1860; and in 1863 an entire floor, which was subsequently acquired by the community, was dedicated by the Rev. Dr. Schmiedl, at that time of Prossnitz, but now of Vienna. In 1892 the "Cultusverein" was changed into a "Cultusgemeinde," and its constitution was confirmed two years later in conformity with the law of March 20, 1890. The handsome new synagogue, designed by the architect J. Gärtner, was dedicated April 11, 1897, by Dr. Berthold Oppenheim, the first rabbi of the community. In 1901 a communal cemetery was acquired, and the community has thirty-five funds for philanthropic purposes, with property valued at 50,000 crowns, besides a pension fund for superannuated officials, founded in memory of the jubilee of Emperor Francis Joseph. There are, furthermore, poor and hospital funds, a ḥebra ḳaddisha, a women's club, and a society which provides free board for poor students. The Jews of Olmütz now (1904) number 1,676 in a total population of 21,933.

Bibliography:
  • Zweig, Denkschrift Anlässlich der Schlusssteinlegung der Synagoge in Olmütz, Olmütz, 1897;
  • Union-Kalender, iii. Vienna, 1894.
D. A. Ki.
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