Bratislava, Chatam Sofer Memorial
The Chatam Sofer Memorial is a Jewish holy site and important place of pilgrimage, where the Chatam Sofer and other prominent rabbis and Torah scholars are buried. The origins of this unique underground compound date back to the seventeenth century, when the Jewish community established its cemetery here. The cemetery was destroyed in 1943-1944, when a tunnel was constructed. Most of the graves were exhumed, and the bones carefully reburied at the New Orthodox cemetery, which is located nearby. Only the rabbinic section, with 22 graves surrounding the Chatam Sofer’s tomb, was preserved, encircled by a concrete shell and covered with panels. In 2000-2002, the whole site was redeveloped and the gravestones were restored. The architect Martin Kvasnica designed a striking new complex that adheres to the strict requirements of the Halakhah (Jewish law) as well as to the highest standards of contemporary architecture.
Rabbi Moshe Schreiber (1762-1839), known as the Chatam Sofer, was a renowned Orthodox rabbi and scholar. Born in Frankfurt am Main, the Chatam Sofer became Chief Rabbi of Pressburg – present-day Bratislava – in 1806. The nineteenth century brought modernizing changes in Jewish society; assimilation and the first wave of the Reform movement accompanied the disintegration of the traditional Jewish community and lifestyle. It was the Chatam Sofer who spearheaded the traditionalist response to these changes. This strictly Orthodox rabbi headed a yeshiva in Bratislava that was considered one of the most prominent centers of traditional Jewish learning in Europe. After his death, the yeshiva functioned under the leadership of his descendants. It was closed in 1941.
The Memorial is a not a museum, but a holy site. Visitors must adopt modest dress while visiting; men are kindly requested to cover their heads.
Nábrežie arm. gen. Ludvíka Svobodu