Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the

Tencer, Pál

(Tenczer; 1836–1905), journalist and public figure. Pál Tencer was a pivotal figure of nineteenth-century Hungarian Jewry, or at least of the Neolog (Reform) community in Budapest, although much of the information available about him would not make this evident. A true portrait of him inevitably seems vague, illustrated by the fact that he used a varying spelling for his name (Tencer, rather than Tenczer, as others spelled it), and the fact that the newspaper Egyenlőség—the public forum with which he was most closely associated—celebrated his sixtieth birthday a year early. Major manuals, encyclopedias, and biographical collections give contradictory—and to a large extent false—information about him. All this appears to be a result of his role as an éminence grise, an expression that seems to characterize him most appropriately.

Tencer certainly belonged to the group of devoted assimilationists and reformers of Judaism, having organized lessons in Hungarian for Jews even in the 1850s. He edited the Magyar Izraelita after Mór Mezei was banned from the position in the 1860s, and participated in the General Jewish Congress of 1868. Although not actively political as a party official or parliamentary candidate, he nevertheless was a lively participant in proceedings of the Budapest City Council (a contemporary account characterizes him as “head of the Jewish Party” there). According to his own recollection, Tencer participated decisively in electoral proceedings, including parliamentary elections, to the extent that all of Budapest’s elected Jewish representatives were indebted to him. Typically, however, he never appeared as an official leader of electoral bodies or parties.

Tencer also became known through his activities and role in the Neolog congregation of Budapest. According to one account, he led the elections of the various bodies of the congregation for 35 years, using his position to ensure the success of the candidates he considered most valuable. Although he occasionally failed to launch a newspaper or other publication he claimed to have published, he also gained acknowledgment through editing the Neues Politisches Volksblatt, a newspaper directed toward the lower economic classes. Tencer was not a belletrist, but as a participant in IMIT (Izraelita Magyar Irodalmi Társulat; Israelite Hungarian Literary Society) he was nevertheless recognized for his writing.

Tencer’s notable position in public life outside the Jewish community probably peaked when he became president of the Terézváros Casino (Terézváros was a district in Budapest preferred by Jews), a club for public discussions. His accomplishments also earned him the Knights’ Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph. Tencer’s will confirmed the image the Egyenlőség portrayed in its obituary as someone who cared for others; in addition to making considerable charitable bequests, he left money to several people he had helped earlier.

Suggested Reading

Árpád Welker, “Wahrmann a magyar országgyűlésben,” in Honszeretet és felekezeti hűség: Wahrmann Mór 1831–1892, ed. Tibor Frank, pp. 111–170 (Budapest, 2006).