Jews in Kőszeg

The history of the Jews in the city goes back to the 14th century, when the lord of Kőszeg, János Garai allowed them to settle down in 1373 for the first time. Remarkably, the Jews of Kőszeg were allowed to practice their religion and law which was very exceptional then. The immigrant Jews moved into one single street called Judengasse (Jewish street) which was in the downtown and operated almost like a ghetto. A few decades later, in 1455, the king, Ladislaus V allowed the lord to settle down further Jewish families in Kőszeg.

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When the Ottomans attacked the city in August 1532, several Jews participated in the protection of Kőszeg actively. A certain Michel Herschel was a hero in the fight, while his father provided the defenders with food and drink. Another Jewish inhabitant, Léb broke out of the castle with Hungarian and German soldiers and attacked the Turks. He died in the fight as a hero of the siege. As a reward of their heroic behavior Jews were settled down after 1532, but eight years later the lord, Miklós Jurisics, who was the captain of Kőszeg in 1532 expelled the Jews from the city (they were expelled from Pressburg in 1526). The Jewish community was dissolved and was not reestablished during the following 200 years.

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Even during the intolerant period, Jews lived peacefully in neighboring cities, among other Nagymarton, Kismarton, and Rohonc. The Jews of these towns maintained especially active commercial and other business relations with Kőszegian burghers. In 1649 a conflict emerged due to unsettled debt debates. The poling maker János Fanger, a burgher of Kőszeg owned 48 Forints to the Jewish Farkas Scheuch from Kismarton. But two more merchants, Mózes Jakab and Mátyáas Ábrahám also demanded some money for participating in the business. The rabbi of Kismarton tried to solve the problem, but finally the judge of Kőszeg finished the debate; the Jews received the amount they demanded.