78 Sabbatarian Prayer Books
Bözödújfalu (Romania), 17th century
Parchment, paper, ink, handwriting in leather binding
Donated by Kornél Fischer, 1946
The origins of the Szekler Sabbatarians can be traced back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when, during the Reformation era, a small group of Hungarian Szeklers started to observe the biblical rules that had been abolished by Christianity. In 1867 their community in Bözödújfalu made a Halachic conversion to Judaism, and founded a Proselyte community. The history of the Szeklers accepting the Jewish faith was first written by Sámuel Kohn, rabbi of the Dohány street Synagogue in 1896. 'The descendants of this God-searching people, the Sabbatarians of Transylvania, existing even today as an orthodox Jewish Szekler community (...), these poor Szekler husbandmen, whose faithfulness makes them keep the Jewish rites and the rules of Kashrut even today, pray with tefillin...', as was written about them in 1941. The community had to share the fate of the Jews and in 1944 they were deported to Auschwitz. Their old prayer books, which contain the almost literal Hungarian translation of the Jewish prayers and blessings and preserve the 16th century status of the Hungarian language, were sent to the collection by Kornél Fischer.