Cracow was the capital of Poland until 1609 and for many centuries the home of one of the most important European Jewish communities, dating from the 1200's.In the beginning of the 14th century they had an organization with a synagogue, bath house, mikveh and cemetery. The economic success and community of the Jews in the city awakened among the towns peoplean active hatred. The first protest against Jewish activities was submitted in 1369. Mob outbreaks against the community and blood libels also occurred.

At the end of the 14th Century construction was initiated on the magnificient synagogue in the Gothic style, completed about 1407, known as the Alte Schul. It is the oldest medieval synagogue still preserved in Poland.

There were 60,000 Jews living in Cracow on the eve of World War II. Persecution began soon after the German occupation on September 6, 1939. On March 21, 1941 the ghetto was erected and some 20,000 Jews,including 6,000 from neighboring communities, were crowded in. The ghetto was liquidated in March 1943.



Baia-Mare is an industrial and mining town in Transylvania, Rumania. In 1850, after an ordinance that prohibited Jews from settling in the area, was repealed, Jewish craftsman, businessman and farmers created Jewish communities in Baia-Mare. The first synagogue was dedicated in 1887.

The Tisza-Eszlar blood libel case in 1882 set the stage for a mob that vandalized the synagogue. The community always remained Orthodox, and the Satmar faction had a considerable following, but the Zionist movement was also strong in the community. The Jewish population reached 3,623 in1941.

Most of the Jews were deported to death camps from the Jewish ghetto established by German occupation. Survivors who returned from the camps attempted to rebuild the community, but many emigrated because they feared the advances of the Soviet Union.



In the latter part of the 15th century, Ferdinand 1 retired from the Bohemian government and Jews were allowed to return to Prague.

The Jewish community of Prague entered a "golden age" under the reign of Rudolf II who transferred his court to Prague. Some Jews attained fabulous wealth and became the patrons of the Jewish community.

Among the outstanding rabbis of this period were Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (the Maharal), Isaiah ben Abraham HaLevi and Ephraim Solomon ben Aaron of Luntschitz.

The Klaus Synagogue, one of several in the city of Prague,was built towards the end of the 16th century, initiated by Markus Mordechai Maisel. It is surrounded on three sides by the grounds of the old Jewish cemetery.

The Klaus Synagogue was renovated at the end of the 17th century. Portions of the exterior were stuccoed with foliage, scroll and flower ornaments found on contemporary buildings in Prague.



This synagogue located in Landsgraf-George-Strasse, Darmstadt, a city in Hesse, W. Germany was destroyed during the bombing of Darmstadt in 1944.

Records indicate a Jewish population from the 16th century, however they were severely restricted. They were first granted permission for organized prayer services in 1695. The first synagogue was completed in 1737. After Jews were granted civil rights, the community of Darmstadt flourished.

Nearly 3,000 Jews lived in Darmstadt in 1933, many of them immigrants from Eastern Europe. Tragically on November 10, 1938 neighboring synagogues were attacked by the Nazis and burned down.



In Germany, the eighteenth century proved especially productive for Jews. The position of the Jews improved in those states where they were appreciated by more liberal rulers.

This synagogue, built in the park at Worlitz in 1789-90, was commissioned by the Duke of Anhalt-Dessau and designed by his court architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorf, for his Jewish subjects.

His style reflects the popular architectural design preferences of the period, with straight lines rather than ornate features.


(Please note that Bavaria on the picture
is in error and it should read Poland).

Established in 1808, the Jewish community of Czestochowa, a city in Poland, thrived and flourished during this period and made important contributions to the industry and commerce of the city. TheGermans invaded the city on September 3, 1939 and initiated a pogrom against the city's 28,486 Jews.

On December 25, the Great Synagogue was set ablaze and was destroyed. In 1941 the Jewish ghetto of Czestochowa had grown in ranks by Polish Jewish refugees. By October 5, 1942, 39,000 people had been shipped to the Treblinka concentration camp for the Final Solution.



Jews had settled in the Polish village of Luck (also known as Lutsk) by the 10th century. In the 13th century they were joined by a community of Karaites who wrongly believed only in the Written Law (Torah Shebichsav) and ignored the Talmud and Oral Law (Torah Shebe'al Peh).

Luck became a thriving economic center in 1569 upon the union of Poland and Lithuania. By 1576, Luck became an integral part of the kingdom of Poland.

When the Chmielniki pogroms of 1648-49 reached Poland, the Jews of Luck suffered horribly at the hands of the rampaging hoards of Cossacks who destroyed a total of 300 villages, and killed 100,000 Jews.The community focused on rebuilding and it was soon flourishing once again.The 1700's brought with it the Haidamack uprising and a blood libel in 1764.

Luck became an epicenter of Torah learning in the 17th century and into the early 18th century. The famous rabbis in Lutsk included: Rabbi Moshe Ben Yehuda HaKohen (formerly of Cracow), Rabbi Jacob Shor and Rabbi Yoel ben Yitzchok Halpern, known as the "Great Rabbi Yoel."

A section of a fortress built by Prince Witold was renovated into a fortified synagogue in 1626 with the permission of King Sigmund III.From the gun mounts on the roof, Jews served as gunners when under enemy attack. Underground escape tunnels led from the Synagogue to other important buildings in the city. The Synagogue withstood enemy attacks for centuries.



The Falashas are an ethnic group in Ethiopia which claims to be of Jewish descent. They claim Jewish ancestry that originates from the times of King Solomon.

Usually the Falasha village is found at the peak of a hill near a river. A number of round huts covered over with straw roofs, with one of the huts serving as the synagogue make up the village. The Falashas are occupied with farming though they are not landowners and turn over a major part of their crops to them. Additionally they have mastered several crafts including: pottery, spinning, weaving, basketry, blacksmithing, and goldsmithing.

The center of religious life is the "mesgid," or synagogue which is included in every village. Mostly, they are constructed as round structures but a few are engineered from square stone.



The earliest mention of a Jewish community in Coburg, a city in Bavaria, in west Germany is recorded in the 14th century. When the Black Death was ravaging Europe, attention had turned on the Jews and they were scapegoated for the disease. The community suffered heavy losses from the Black Death massacres. In 1477 the Jews were exiled from the city and the synagogue and cemetery were removed from Jewish possession. The Jews did not venture back to Coburg until the second half of the 19th century.

In 1931 a boycott was sanctioned against Jewish businesses, though not formal or legal. The Synagogue's lease was revoked and it closed down in 1933. On November 9, 1938 all Jewish men were arrested and Jewish property was decimated. After the war the community was not reestablished.



Jews arrived in Kecskemet, a city in central Hungary, in the 16th to 17th centuries, when it was under Turkish rule. Later, the city came under Austrian rule.

In 1715 Jews were forced to keep their businesses segregated from other merchants. 1746 marked the settlement of four Jewish families from Obuda, who mainly traded in hides and feathers. Eventually, they expanded internationally and traded in cattle, poultry, alcohol, wine and preserves.

A community was established in 1801, and finally in 1814 the Jews were permitted to worship in a house they had purchased, which they converted into a synagogue. The revolution of 1848 sparked violence against Jews, and Jews were attacked and their businesses were vandalized.

In 1871 the community dedicated a magnificent new synagogue which was catastrophically destroyed by an earthquake. It was lovingly rebuilt in 1913 by the community.

The Nazis ravaged and brutally destroyed the community shortly after their invasion of Hungary in 1944. In 1947 there were 410 Jews residing in Kecskemet.





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