Ivančice (Czech pronunciation: [ˈɪvantʃɪtsɛ]; German: Eibenschütz, Yiddish: אייבעשיץ) is a town in the Brno-Country District in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 9,800 inhabitants. It lies 21 kilometres (13 mi) south-west of Brno, on the confluence of the Oslava, Jihlava and Rokytná rivers.
Ivančice was first mentioned in 1221, and from 1288 it had the status of a royal town. In the 15th century the town came into the hands of the von Lipá family, and it stayed in their possession until the Battle of White Mountain. In the 16th century, the town was an important centre for the Unity of the Brethren; Ivančice was home to Jan Blahoslav, bishop of the brethren and Czech linguist. In the Thirty Years' War Ivančice was recatholicised and lost its previous significance.
Ivančice was the birthplace of Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist Alphonse Mucha. The town is now home to a museum of the life of actor Vladimír Menšík.
The Jewish community is one of the oldest in Moravia. Local tradition says that Jews originally arrived with Roman troops in the first century, but were expelled from the town later.
The rule of the House of Premysl (895–1306) was a period of relative comfort and prosperity for the Jews of Ivančice. They worked with their Christian neighbors to build the town walls, and also to defend them. However, they were not allowed to carry arms or to work in the government.
A Jewish ghetto was established during the 14th century, and was placed outside the town proper. Later it was moved inside the town walls but administered as an independent municipality, with its own Jewish mayor. During this period, Jews inside the ghetto as well as various outside settlements were under the protection of the nobles of the House of Pernstein. In 1454, Jewish refugees from other towns in Moravia as well as from Austria found refuge in Ivančice, making it the largest Jewish community in Moravia for a time. The reign of King Ferdinand of Habsburg in the early 16th century placed economic restrictions on the Jews of Ivančice. The Counter Reformation and the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) reduced the number of Protestants living in Ivančice, and at the same time, the Jewish community grew thanks to the arrival of refugees from Bohemia. This growth resulted in an edict issued in 1650 forbidding any Jews to inhabit Moravia who had not resided there before 1618.
A formal Jewish community, including a rabbi, dyanim (religious court), a gabbai, a chevra kaddisha, and a rabbinical school was established during the 17th century. The first rabbi was Abraham, son of Hirsch Foreis, who served in the second half of the 17th century. His successor was Rabbi David of Rakov, who was succeeded by Rabbi Joseph Rakov, his son. He was followed by Rabbi Elia ben Schmuel, Rabbi Nathan Zelig of Cracow, Rabbi Issachar ber Oppenheim (1829–1859), his son Rabbi Joachim Oppenheim, Rabbi Dr. Jacob Tauber, and Rabbi Dr. Hermann Handel (1881–1925). From 1925, the community followed the rabbi of Kanits, Dr. Heinrich Flesch.
The town's original synagogue was built in the 16th century. This building was replaced in 1853 by a structure which survives today and is still in use.
The Jewish cemetery dates to 1552, the date of the oldest tombstone. It was expanded in the 17th century and again in the 19th century. A ceremonial hall was built in 1902.
Before World War II, there were a total of 73 homes in the Jewish Quarter, of which 52 remain. At 1 Krumlovská Street, there is a plaque memorializing the concentration camp where Jews were imprisoned from 1938 to 1942, and from which they were sent off to other camps for extermination.
Twin towns – sister cities
Ivančice is twinned with: