A Call for Matchmaking, Miskolc, 1936
Public Appeal for Matchmaking Sons and Daughters
Here, Miskolc, the Days of Selichot and Mercy, 5697
“Just as the Lord is called ‘merciful and gracious,’ you too be merciful and gracious and give gratuitously to all.” (Rashi, Ekev 11)
“I am the man who has seen the affliction of my people.” I see how difficult it is to marry off children today. Therefore, I would like to make it easier by writing a few lines about the situation. Perhaps by writing this there will be some easy and quick matches made with God’s help. And I am prepared to reply for free to all those who ask with a return postcard.
I request those who are searching for a match to write to me, and I will print this in an anonymous notice…..
Binyamin Friedman, printing here in the holy community of Miskolc
22 year-old woman with 2000 pengo looking for a learned, God-fearing man. Sign: Second pearl?.....
34 year-old man, iron merchant. Young, honest, decent, looking for a match. Has a house of his own. Sign: Iron….
Butcher looking for a boy for his daughter. He will provide food and teach him how to slaughter. Dowry: 2000 pengo. Sign: aged wine….
Beautiful 26 year-old girl looking for a decent match without a dowry. Her dowry is the merit of her forefathers. She is perfect, from a distinguished family, sign: beautiful even pleasant. He who marries her will be happy with God’s help…..
60 year-old widow has 150 pengo looking for an appropriate match with a little money. Sign: communal clerk…
23 year-old young man, experienced chazan looking for an appropriate match. Sign: pleasant voice….
Beautiful young woman with 1500 pengo, daughter of a learned man, seeks her match. Sign: makve…
This is a two-page notice for singles looking for a marriage partner. It contains an introduction by Binyamin (Beni) Friedman, the author and initiator, and an anonymous list of people looking for a match, in which they describe themselves and what they are looking for in a partner. Each of these people have been given a “sign” with which to describe themselves. It is unclear whether this notice was handed out in public, printed as part of a publication, or posted around the town. It is written in Yiddish and printed mostly in script resembling Rashi script (tsur).
The notice describes the wedding candidates according to the following criteria: financial situation, dowry status, specifications of prospective partners, profession, age, physical appearance, religious status, lineage, and personality traits. It seems to have been aimed at the Orthodox community.
The author of this notice was Beni or Rabbi Binyamin Friedman. Friedman was born in 1896 in Nyíregyháza and later moved to Miskolc, both in Hungary. A member of the Sephardi community of Miskolc, he married, had children, and was a learned man who wrote a number of commentaries on Jewish texts. He also owned a printing press, where this announcement was printed. Friedman was killed in the Holocaust, but some of his children survived and live in America and Israel. They have reprinted some of his commentaries which are available at the National Library of Israel.
Miskolc, situated in northeast Hungary, is the fourth largest city in Hungary. The Jewish community in Miskolc dates back to the eighteenth century, with Jews originally arriving in the city for trade fairs. In the nineteenth century, after laws regarding Jewish settlement in the city were abandoned, the community grew, and a synagogue, burial society (chevra kadisha), and cemetery were established. By the beginning of the twentieth century the Jewish community in Miskolc numbered around 10,000. Most of the Jews of Miskolc worked in commerce as innkeepers and artisans; its first commercial bank was co-founded by a Jew.
Miskolc was home to a one of the most developed Jewish education systems in Hungary and included three yeshivas, three Talmud Torah schools, two elementary schools, a girls’ high school, vocational schools, and a teacher training seminary for Jewish women and served more than 1,600 Jewish students.
During the Holocaust, many Jewish men from Miskloc were conscripted for forced labour, while others were sent to fight in Ukraine. On March 19, 1944, all of Miskolc’s Jews were deported to Auschwitz, out of whom only 400 survived. After the war, Miskolc became an important transit centre for the survivors. The Jewish elementary school was reopened and functioned until 1948. By 1970, however, the community was left with only 300 members, mainly due to emigration.
Jewish History teachers can use this notice to discuss the Jewish community in Hungary in the pre-war years.
It can also be used in Jewish Studies lessons when learning about the Jewish approach to marriage and the tradition of matchmaking.
Teachers can also use this resource as an example of a Yiddish text and as a way of learning about Yiddish culture. Teachers can use the clip of the song “Matchmaker” from the movie Fiddler on the Roof to introduce the topic and the resource.
What is this?
What language can you identify?
Write a list of words that you recognize from the text.
What letters is the text written in?
Read the translation and summarise the content of the notice.
Reading Between the Lines
What is the aim of the author of this notice?
The notice was printed in the city of Miskolc in Hungary.
What is the history of the Jewish community in Miskolc?
Which denominations comprised the community?
What are the attributes used to describe the potential marriage candidates?
Based on your research of the city, which denomination was the notice directed at?
What are the “days of selichot and mercy” mentioned by the author?
What reasons does the author give for initiating this matchmaking venture?
This text is written in cursive script, similar to Rashi script, which was often used when printing in Yiddish. The name for this text was either tsur or vaybertaytsh. Some of the Hebrew writing, however, appears in square letters. For more on this phenomenon, read here.
After reading this, why do you think this script was used?
Binyamin (Beni) Friedman initiated this matchmaking venture. He was also a rabbi who wrote a number of commentaries on Jewish texts (Torah, Mishnah, Talmud, and prayer) and owned a printing company. Can you see any hints to this part of his life in the notice?
This notice was printed in 1936.
What happened to most of the Jewish residents of Miskolc a few years later?
How did Binyamin Friedman end his life?
This is a Yad Vashem page of testimony filled out by Binyamin Friedman’s son, David, testifying that his father was killed in the Holocaust. It is written in Hebrew and provides a few more details about his life and death. Learn more about pages of testimony and see an English form here.
Does your community hold events for singles?
Have you ever been to Hungary? Did you visit any Jewish sites there?
If not, search for images online.
Write about your impressions.
Hold a debate about whether matchmaking is necessary in contemporary society. Read this article for more information.
Create a slideshow honouring the life and legacy of Binyamin Friedman or another Holocaust victim of your choice from the same town.