Jewish religious community in Žilina

There were about 150 Jews living in Žilina at the and of the ’60s and the Jewish religious community kept traditions of their ancestors even with some problems.

New synagogue at Kuzmány street in Žilina (today)

The last dramatic change in the life of the Jewish community in Žilina was an emigration of the most of young Jews in between 1968 and 1969. The number of members of the Jewish religious community in Žilina went down to 100 mostly elderly people.

The religious services in the synagogue were stopped in 1987. It was mainly because of the very bad condition of the small synagogue building (the former orthodox synagogue), but also because there were no more members of the community that could carry out the religious services.

Partial revival of the Jewish religious community came together with the change of the political system in Slovakia after 1989. The old Jewish cemetery was renovated, hundreds of tombstones were put or straighten up again, many of which laid down on the ground.

Regular garden works ensured that there is no more wild vegetation destroying or damaging the graves. All this work helped to bring the cemetery among the best kept Jewish cemeteries in Slovakia.

After the renovation of a small synagogue a Museum of Jewish traditions was established here with the expositions of the Judaics from the region.

Orthodox synagogue in Žilina (today)

There are still some regular activities in our community going on. Besides the commemoration ceremony organized to pay honor to those killed in World War II, there is always a reunion meeting of all Jewish natives of Žilina the day before. There are almost 100 people taking part in this meeting from all around the world every year.

We are glad that there are also some traditions alive in our community and a small celebration party is organized on CHANUKA as well as SEDER DINNER on PESACH.

The city of Žilina did not forget the fellow Jews killed in concentration camps during the WW II and has built a memorial on the premises of an old collection camp (Koncetračné stredisko). This memorial was revealed in 2004 in the presence of the Slovak president. From this place of the detention camp more than 18.000 Jews were deported to the Nazi concentration camps in between March and April 1942.

Memorial in Žilina

Our community is also taking care of the oldest members in cooperation with other Jewish organizations, just to ensure a peaceful and pleasant retirement for them. However, the full religious life was not revived. There are only 50 members of the Jewish religious community in Žilina and that does not give a big chance to bring the Jewry of Žilina to the same prosperous level as it used to be.