Megillat Eszlár

A fourteen-year-old maid, Eszter Solymosi went missing on 1 April 1882 from the village of Tiszaeszlár. The Jews of the village were accused of murdering the girl, as they allegedly used her blood for Jewish religious rituals. At the end, Jews were acquitted of all the false charges. Contemporary media covered the issue extensively and defense lawyer of the accused, Károly Eötvös summarized his experiences in a two-volume book. Natan Liebermann, a resident of nearby Ricse recorded the events in Hebrew in his account titled Megillat Eszlár. The phrases he used in the book and the title all refer to the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther), read every year in synagogues during the holiday of Purim. Thus, Liebermann drew parallel between the blood libel ending in acquittal and the miraculous deliverance of the Jews in the Babylonian captivity. Megillat Eszlár is by no means a historical record but an example of the Jewish tradition of local Purims, “commemorations of deliverance”. Liebermann’s work was printed by the Blayer printing-house in Munkács (today: Mukacheve, Ukraine) and it was read in many nearby synagogues on the anniversary day of the acquittal.