Monday, 29 September 2014
There are practically no Jews today in Burgenland, this eastern most province of Austria. This is in sharp contrast to the years before the Anschluss of March 1938 when Jews lived relatively happily, notably in the well known seven communities, the sheba kehillot.
Eisenstadt, one of these seven Jewish communities, and today the capital of Burgenland, is recorded as having a fully developed Jewish community in the Middle Ages with a synagogue, a mikveh
and a rabbinate. At a time when Jews were being driven out of cities like Vienna in the 17th
Century, they were welcomed in Eisenstadt and in the other towns of the sheba kehillot
by Prince Paul Esterhazy from whom they received a letter of safe conduct in 1690. They became the Esterhazy Schutzjuden
, in his protection, for which, of course, they had to pay a tax. The Esterhazy protection of the Jews passed down from generation to generation and resulted in Jews being attracted to the area in increasing numbers.