Jewish Boys’ School, Postcard, Miskolc
The photograph shows a number of boys outside the building of the Jewish boys’ school, some are sitting on deckchairs. There are a number of large trees outside the building, and it is surrounded by a picket fence. The caption reads in Hungarian: “Jewish boys’ educational institute of Miskolc.” On the right is the address and a Hungarian stamp. The exact date is not clear, however based on the stamp and the photograph, it is likely to be from the early twentieth century.
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 postcard to discuss Hungarian Jewry and Jewish education in Europe in the early twentieth century.
Social Studies and History teachers can use this resource to compare schooling today to the past. Teachers could also use this when teaching about faith schools in different countries.
What is this?
What was it used for?
Describe the photograph: the building, the people, and the scenery.
What language can you identify?
Reading Between the Lines
Look at the boys in the photograph.
How old do you think they are?
How are they dressed?
What does this tell you about the school?
Why would a photograph of a school appear on a postcard?
Based on the stamp and the photograph, when do you think this postcard was printed?
The words on the postcard tell us that this is a photograph of a Jewish boys’ school.
Are there any hints of this in the photograph?
Research the city of Miskolc.
Where is it?
What is the history of its Jewish community?
What Jewish institutions were in the city?
Is there still a community there today?
Compare this school to Jewish schools in Europe today. Take a look at these photographs for other examples. What other types of schools existed for Jewish students at the time?
Do you have any family connection to Hungary?
If so, where do these members of your family come from?
What are their memories of Hungary?
Ask your parents or grandparents about their school experiences. How were they similar or different from yours?
This was a boys’ school. Segregated schools used to be very common, but today many schools are mixed. Why do you think this has changed?
Are there Jewish schools in your city?
Is this school different from your school? If so, in what way?
Take a photograph of your school, and create a postcard using the photograph.
Who would you send the postcard to?