Jewish history of Košice

Košice boasts a rich and diverse history, with its Jewish community playing a significant role in shaping the city’s cultural fabric. Dating back to the medieval period, Jews settled in Košice as traders, craftsmen, and merchants, contributing to the city’s economic prosperity and intellectual life.

Era of prosperity

Speaking of the Jewish history of Košice, the 19th century was a significant period. Košice witnessed a major influx of Jews, drawn by opportunities in commerce, industry, and education. The community thrived, establishing synagogues, schools, and cultural institutions that enriched the city’s social and intellectual life. You could find here an orthodox community, a Chasidic community, and also a Neolog community.

When it comes to numbers – in the first quarter of the 20th century more than 11,000 Jews were living in Košice. The total population of the city was about 50,000 people.


However, the 20th century brought tumultuous times for Košice’s Jewish population. At the end of World War II, the city fell under Nazi occupation, leading to the deportation and extermination of thousands of Jews in concentration camps. The Holocaust profoundly impacted Košice’s Jewish community. Just about 2,000 members of the local community survived. Many of them left Košice after the war. Mainly to Israel, the United States, or Western Europe.

Despite these tragic events, Košice’s Jewish heritage endures through its historic synagogues, cemeteries, and memorial sites, serving as nostalgic reminders of the community’s resilience and enduring legacy. Today, efforts to preserve and commemorate this heritage contribute to Košice’s identity as a city rich in history and cultural diversity.

Community today

The Jewish community in Košice has about 400 people. Religious life is relatively revived also because dozens of young Israelis are studying in Košice – mainly medicine, veterinary university, and psychology. The city no longer has its rabbi, shochet, or kosher kitchen. On major holidays, rabbis from Bratislava or Piešťany come here. If you want to contact the Jewish community in Košice, do it here.

Inspiring personalities

ludovit feld

Ľudovít Feld was talented painter from Košice. Because of his Jewish origin and also the fact that he was physically disabled by dwarfism, he ended up in the Auschwitz – concentration camp, where he was forced to sketch gruesome experiments for the infamous doctor Josef Mengele. This talent saved his life, but most of his family never returned. After the war, he came back to Košice and soon became the iconic character of the city. He was daily sketching the city and people until the early 1990´s. Now you can find his gallery next to the Orthodox synagogue.

jewish history of kosice

Béla Braun was the founder of Košice Peace Marathon. It is the oldest marathon in Europe and the third-oldest in the world (after the Boston Marathon, first held in 1897, and the Yonkers Marathon, first held in 1907). He was the son of a Jewish merchant. He graduated as a civil engineer in Budapest. In his youth, Braun was also involved in shot put and pentathlon, later fencing and skiing. However, he went down in history primarily as the initiator and organizer of the marathon and events such as the Slovak Wrestling, Fencing and Boxing Championships or bicycle races.

jewish kosice

Leopold Horovitz

He first studied with the painter Vojtech Klimkovič in Košice. In the years 1850-1857 he lived in Vienna and later settled in Warsaw, where he painted portraits. In Warsaw, he completed his first major work entitled The Last Days of the Destruction of Jerusalem. At the exhibition of the Budapest Art Gallery in 1885, he presented his life painting The Firstborn and three portraits, with which he received a large letter of commendation. He is buried in Vienna.

If you want to learn more about the Jewish history of Košice, look here.
If you are interested in the Jewish city tour of Košice, contact us.

Travel to


Tour guides at your servise

Booking of the tours: