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Day prior to my departure, thanks to my friend Miroslava Dulová, we met the President of the Jewish Community of Bratislava PhDr. Peter Salner in his office at Kozia 18, in Bratislava. I wanted to find out from first hand all I could about the recently reconstructed and newly opened Mausoleum of Chatam Sofer, located under Bratislava’s castle and the entrance to the old tunnel for street cars and the left bank of Danube. It was designed by architect MARTIN KVASNICA and the construction was realized by local construction company RAFT. This project took several years to complete due to the religious laws that had to be respected during the construction, then some financial problems, as for instance in 2001 there was 6 million crowns outstanding to the Raft company. But they believed that the bills will eventually be paid off and continued working using their own resources. 

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The project was a massive cooperative effort on all levels, the city of Bratislava, Slovak government, the Jewish Community, Jews and members of other religions and atheists from Slovakia and abroad. Everybody involved showed great amount of tolerance and solidarity. The Jewish Community of Bratislava manages the mausoleum and at the present time it is open by appointment only. The entrance fees from 10AM to 5PM are US$2.00 per person and after 5PM there is a fee of US$10.00 for special opening and US$ 2.00 per person. To arrange viewing please call 011-421-2-544-16949.
The mausoleum of Chatam Sofer and other important rabbis is becoming a pilgrimage site of Jews from around the world.
The Jewish Community of Bratislava has about 600 members. At the last census in 1991 there are 728 persons of Jewish religion in Bratislava. There are 11 Jewish communities in Slovakia. Total number of Jews in Slovakia is around 3000 with 60% being over 70 years old and 38% being under 50 years old.


Following is reprinted from a brochure: Mauzóleum Chatama Sofera, published by: SNM-Múzeum Židovskej Kultúry, Bratislava 1996. ISBN-80-85753-68-5

Chatam Sofer, with his real name Moshe Schreiber was born in Frankfurt, Germany on September 26, 1762. After his profound study of Hebrew, the Torah and Talmud, he worked at several places-Boskovice, Prostějov and Nagymárton. Already during his studies he has attracted his teachers and masters’ attention because of his deep exegetic knowledge. Out of the numerous positions offered to him to become spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation he decided to accept the offer of Bratislava Jewish congregation and took up the post of Chief Rabbi on October 13th 1806. He founded the rabbinical seminary whose excellent reputation and high educational standard spread very quickly all over Europe. 

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He trained hundreds of rabbis who became Jewish spiritual leaders all over the world. He was outstanding scholar and noted expert of the Talmud, and rabbis all over Europe used to visit him in Bratislava seeking advice and asking for decisions regarding the Talmud. In addition to his educational duties and religious functions, he devoted his life to juridical matters in the congregation and was a “bal din,” i.e. “chief judge,” according to orthodox rule. The believers accepted his decisions with finality and without doubt. In 1809, when Bratislava was besieged by the Napoleonic troops, Chatam Sofer took refuge in the nearby village of Saint Jur from where he managed to organize charitable activity in order to help his fellow citizens who were impoverished and affected by the war. Chatam Sofer was known as a man of letters. Seven volumes appeared in print-Responsi Chatam Sofer, Exegeses of Talmud Tracts, Exegeses of Selected Passages of Talmud, Torah Moshe-Exegeses of the five books of Moses, Memoirs from the Time of the Besiege of Bratislava by the Napoleonic Troops and Sacred Songs.

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In 1839 he fell seriously ill and died on October 3rd. His coffin was made out of the planks of his lecturer’s desk. His burial was attended by his numerous former students end the entire religious congregation of Bratislava. The Chatam Sofer Mausoleum is a rarity among the sights of Slovakia. It is part of a former Jewish cemetery dating back to the years 1670-1847. It is situated at the foothills of the Small Carpathian Mountains between the Danube and the Bratislava’s castle and has been the property of the Bratislava Jewish congregation up to this day. There are 23 graves and 41 separate tombstones in the Mausoleum. It is frequently visited by the believers from all over the world who come here to say their prayers and pay tribute to Chatam Sofer, the greatest Jewish scholar of the nineteenth century.


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(stone at the bottom)

To keep eternal remembrance, the righteous man of God shall rest in peace in this house;

He is the crowning glory of Pressburg’s splendor and the pride of her descendants,

The crown of rabbis. Father of scholars, a true genius, bright and alert,

Excellent and efficient in Babylon’s and Jerusalem’s Talmuds, the pride of our kin-peace to him,

Our teacher and master, Moshe Sofer, hallowed be his memory to all eternity.

Joy has forsaken Israel. Her splendor, Moshe, chosen by the Lord God, has entered the grave.

All people seem to be straying through the dark, all souls seem to be thrashed to the ground,

Because the sun has set and the light gone. The youngsters, Yeshurun’s children, cry out:

“Where is our shepherd?” The orphan and widow groan: “Where is our support?”

The rich and the poor call and morn jointly-they have lost their adviser that counseled them so well.

His righteous realm has spread, in the West and the South, like water, to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

He disdained profit and wealth, gained wrongfully; his riches was the power of the Lord God,

He gathered strength by his faith; his only endeavor was to fortify the Law in Jacob.


And Moshe was an upright shepherd of his flock, for thirty-three years he has led it through

the way of God and piety, he was a servant of God’s crowd and amazed it by his precious teaching until the

End of his life. In hundreds and thousands he called forth a longing for the teaching of God

and he has led the eager into the chambers of his doctrine.

Numerous were raised onto the throne of Yehuda’s house and,

the moment God’s herald arrived to carry him to the cherubs, there were many adherents gathering

around his bedside because he was just elucidating the Ve-zot ha-bracha passage.

He then blessed the entire community and abandoned this vale of tears: his magnificent deeds

and divine acts will never be forgotten, this is his name, this is his memory- Beauty of Israel.


(back side)

And Moshe proceeded to the Lord God, passed away and died in the year 5600 after the Creation,

The 25th of the month Tishri, and was placed here into the grave and buried in this tomb the following day,

The 26th of the same month, but his memory will not become extinct in Israel;

and his soul shall be received within the bond of the living.



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(stone at the top)

This stone proclaims to Jacob’s house that the glory of this tomb is great, Israel’s glory in this tomb.

Because inside there is the grave of a man of the Lord God. This is great resting-place and his name is greater

Than any other, it is the crown of Pressburg’s beauty and magnificence of the kindred.

And when he has fulfilled his creator’s will and learned the paths of his grace, the Lord God bid Moshe,

In the month of Tishri, to come to him to heaven and prepared him an eternal abode there and placed him among the mighty founders and supporters of the Torah and the eternal service to God,

And now he abides in heaven, and the city of Pressburg is the place where his stone has been put up

And this is a memorial stone for the sons of Israel, and it is here to make known also to the last

generation, which will rise and pass along, that the place where they are standing is sacred ground.


(back side)

And glory shall be his rest. He was God’s favorite; at one time he has lived at the place of his rest

For seventy-eight years and used to go with Lord and do what is good and straightforward in the eyes

Of the Lord God. From birth throughout his life he accomplished good deeds and met the commands of God.

Then when the light of his creed appeared in all dwellings of the shepherds who tented in the field of the Torah, the Lord God had him called to heaven and the candle of Israel went out and, lo,

the sun clouded, the shepherds’ laments were heard in Yehuda’s towns’ because the splendor

was taken away from them, for Jacob’s genius has died. And when he died, a great honor was bestowed

on him, the city’s wailing ascended to heaven and all people, young and old, followed his coffin weeping.

Apart from his 300 dear disciples who had daily listened to his voice, out of whom 50 had commented

On his still handwritten creeds, further disciples came in crowds from the neighborhood, where they carried

out the function of rabbi, to hold orations and mourn over their teacher. There has never been

a day before when the Lord God has called forth so much grief and lamentations, when all hearts

were broken, all faces full of sorrow and tears pouring down their cheeks. All who write Bikurej-ha-itim,

all historians and even those who are not descended from the sons of Israel, announced to the public

that a man known for the greatness of his deeds has passed away and been called to his fathers.

And in all lands where the sad tidings were received the Jews mourned and urged all to grieve and lament.

All Israel mentioned him in prayers and orations-Woe, O Lord! Woe our master! His justness is eternal!

Who will guard the people of Moses? And the Lord God wiped the tears off the tears off all faces, because death

Will be blotted out forever.



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(on the tomb’s right side)

This is a house of splendor, prepared for Moshe, for his rest. It is to tell about the glory of his magnitude,

of the greatness of his teaching and of his justness. All parts of the tomb are a record of his praiseworthy

deeds which are innumerable and cannot all b e listed.

He was a light in his kin for all Israel. Woe to you, Yeshurun! Your torch has gone out and its flame

Ascended to heaven.


(on the tomb’s left side)

This house is a guard-room of holiness, in it there is hidden the dust of the lawmaker, the protector

 of the Torah who has set out in fervor to subdue all those who rose against it.

He armed himself with strength to remove all obstacles out of his way, and if it were not for him,

It would be covered with thorns and brambles.

Daughter of Pressburg, wail, lament and mourn, because your beloved one-crown

of wisdom-has left you, his face covered with dust. He who was famed throughout the world,

who was a leader of the diaspora, has left this earth and entered the house of the Lord God.

And Israel was weakened, and his sublimity was covered by the dust of the earth, and your joy,

Pressburg was changed into sorrow.


Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 10, No. 3, Fall 2002
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 2002-2003 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.