Rosenthal lived here - History of the Jewish Quarter of Pest
Our exhibition displays the history of the Pest Jewish Quarter. For centuries, the city excluded Jews from its territory. This ban has been lifted by a decree of Emperor Joseph II in 1783. By that time, fourteen Jewish families lived in the immediate vicinity of Pest, in a huge building block owned by the Hungarian aristocrat Orczy family. Their number grew quickly. Most of them had arrived from Óbuda, the era’s most populous Jewish community. Others came from various regions of the Austrian Empire, such as Moravia or Galicia. The newcomers settled in Terézváros, a quarter close to the large Pest marketplaces. Back then, the neighborhood consisted mainly of gardens and farmhouses. Most of the immigrants were young and dynamic. Their economic activities brought quick existential growth not only for them, but also to the city, which soon became a European metropolis. They started families, founded Jewish community institutions and erected their temples. We can reconstruct their everyday life from what the previous generations have left for us. We can read diaries, official documents, and love letters. We can look up the inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter’s buildings in the conscriptions. Our Archives holds their applications, permissions, tax lists and many other dusty documents of their strenuous lives. Moreover, photographs, letters and cake recipes as well as pieces of the lethal yellow star sign might be hiding in old drawers somewhere in the Quarter. These documents and objects are thin threads connecting past and present. Some were carefully preserved, others survived only accidentally. Entwining them might produce the dynamic patterns of the past’s colorful fabric: the life, joy and sorrow, birth and death of many Kohns and Rosenthals, Kőváris and Rózsavölgyis. And we can walk the same streets and squares they walked. We can enter the same gates and look out through the same windows to the same streets as they did. Our exhibition displays ten time periods through ten digital maps to show what it has meant to be Jewish in the Quarter from 1785 to today. We present the neighborhood and its vicinity, the streets and squares and the way Jews lived in the heart of a burgeoning city. We can also peek into the history of specific buildings: who lived there, what they did, what documents and objects they have left behind to us. To figure out where and how Rosenthal lived among us.