05 June 2017

The Splendor of the Jewish Community of Kecskemét (1,665 km)

(Kecskemét, 03.06.2017 - 04.06.2017) Stopover in Kecskemét, with a population of 112,000 the 8th largest city in Hungary. Located in the middle of the country and halfway between Budapest and Szeged, for Jews a favorable location to settle down in the 16th to 17th centuries. Both the synagogue and the cemetery convey an impression about the splendor of the Kecskemét Jewish Community before World War I.

From the Jewish Virtual Library we learn on Kecskemét: "The first Jews arrived there when the area was under Turkish domination in the 16th to 17th centuries. Subsequently the city came under Austrian rule. [...] At first the Jews mainly engaged in the trade of hides and feathers. Later, they organized the internationally celebrated trade of the region in cattle, poultry, preserves, alcoholic liquor, and wine. A community was established in 1801, and in 1814 the Jews were authorized to use a house which they had purchased as a synagogue. [...] A magnificent synagogue was erected in 1871; it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1911 but was rebuilt in 1913."

The cemetery, intensively maintained in a magnificent shape - thoroughly raked paths show solely my own shoe prints - is an oasis of calm. But for whom? Perhaps for one of the numerous US airforce officers, who are based on the adjacent Kecskemét Air Base. Interviewed about their local troop strength, they seem unapproachable. Military secrets! It doesn't matter, the local residents are happy about the increase in purchasing power.

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