Town in Moravia. The Judengasse of Prerau is mentioned as early as Charles IV. (1339-1349), but the settlement of Jews in Prerau was of little significance until 1454, when the expulsions, due to Capistrano, from Olmütz and Breslau augmented the Prerau community. The newcomers settled in the suburb Siršava, where they had their own synagogue and cemetery; excavations there still result in occasional discoveries of old Jewish tombstones.
In 1511 George Lashinsky donated to the city hospital 44 Bohemian groschen, the amount of a yearly tax paid by the Jews from the produce of their fields. The Jews there were also required to pay yearly to the Chancellor of Bohemia 10½ schock and 15 groschen; for the right of importing the wine needed on their holy days they paid 4 pounds of pepper, or 30 groschen in lieu of every pound of pepper. They further paid 15 groschen for every, foreign Jew residing among them, a severe penalty being attached to any concealment. In 1600 the right of retailing wine was withdrawn by Charles the Elder of Zierotin, upon the complaint of the citizens. But a successor, Balthazar of Zierotin (1638-59), was very friendly to the Jews, and granted them (May 14, 1638) a new charter, in which he sanctioned the building of schools, a hospital, an aqueduct for a miḳweh, and the establishment of a cemetery. In order to check the incendiarism of which the Jews were the victims, he ordered that Christian houses adjoining those owned by Jews should continue in the possession of Christians. Therefore a ghetto proper did not exist in Prerau. The Jewish houses were, and still are, marked with Roman numerals.
After the repeal of the edict of expulsion issued by Maria Theresa against the Jews of Moravia (1745), forty-five families were permitted to settle in Prerau. The census of the town in 1791 showed 230 Jews occupying 60 houses, and 2,658 Christians occupying 600 houses. Enterprising Jews who desired to establish breweries in Prerau were prevented from doing so by the jealousy of their Christian fellow citizens, who refused, through the town council, to permit the necessary buildings; the breweries were therefore established in Olmütz, Sternberg, and other places in the vicinity, and some of these establishments have gained world-wide reputation.
In 1902 the brothers Kulka erected an iron-foundry in Prerau; David von Gutmann owns a large estate in Troubek, near Prerau, but most of the Jews there are merchants. As elsewhere in Moravia, the Jewish community is autonomous; it has a chief executive and a school (German) supported by the state. There are a number of charitable societies and foundations in Prerau; its ḥebra ḳaddisha, with which the Ner-Tamid society is affiliated, possesses some very old memor-books.
The best-known writer of Prerau was Marcus Boss (b. 1820); he contributed to "Bikkure ha'Ittim" and "Kokebe Yiẓḥaḳ," and edited "Yalde Sha'ashu'im," a collection of two hundred Hebrewepigrams. Solomon Klein, rabbi at Zenta, was born in Prerau (d. 1902); he wrote "Dibre Shelomoh" (1896), Talmudic novellæ, in the introduction to which he gives interesting descriptions of life in the yeshibah of Leipnik under R. Solomon Quetsch.
Among the rabbis of Prerau were the following: Abraham Schick (1790-93); Solomon Fried (1793-1820); Moses Mandl (1820-25); David Schrötter (1825-29); Abraham Placzek (1829-34; acting "Landesrabbiner" of Moravia, 1850-84); Samuel Schallinger (1834-36); Aaron Jacob Grün (1837-57); Wolf Fried (1857-83); Solomon Singer (1883-85); Dr. Jacob Tauber (from 1886). Among the number of Jews born in Prerau who achieved prominence in public life were Jacob Brand (chief inspector of the Nordbahn), District Judges Briess and Tschiassny, and Ministerial Councilor Theodor Pollak.
The old synagogue was rebuilt in 1898; the silver ornaments on the Torah roll date from 5467 (=1707). There are two cemeteries; the older one, situated in the Wurmgasse, contains tombstones over two hundred years old.
In 1834 the population of Prerau was 4,533, of whom 341 were Jews; in 1901 the total population was about 17,000, including 717 Jews.