Reminders of Jewish Settlement in the Vysočina Region

Jews came to Vysočina beginning in the early middle ages, to settle in significant market places, at the crossroad of long-distance trade routes, and in the vicinity of noble settlements. They were direcly subject to the ruler and had to pay significant amounts for permission to settle in a locale. For centuries, as a group, they were pushed to the very margins of the social hierarchy. The general hostility toward them flowed not only from Christian beliefs, but primarily form the indebtedness of the locals to their Jewish creditors. In early medieval times, Jews were prohibited form owning land and engaging in trades, and were left with only one means of support ? trading and money-lending. Until the Hussite Wars, Jews lived relatively peacefully ? although many times they sustained financial loss dur to the cancellation of all bonds, the feared programs did not materialise. After 1451, however, they were banished form all royal towns, under various pretexts. They moved to neighbhouring townships and villages, in which tehy laid the foundation of Jewish communities. Only in the second half of the 18th century were they granted the right of residency (for a fee), or allowed to study in schools and undertake trades. 1849 brought complete equality for Jews, comprehensively altering their social and ecoomic life ? they were allowed to move freely, sell real property, engage in any trade, and vote. These changes led to Jews moving from the villages back to the towns, contributing significantly to the development of trade and industry in their new homes. The favourable development of Jewish religious communities was violently interrupted by the Nazi occupation. The greatest pogrom of all time is of course known to history as the Holocaust.
In Vysočina, we encounter reminders of Jewish settlement ? individual or entire neighbourhoods and synagogues ? in many places. Many towns pay great attention to their renovation, and although synagogues no longer serve thei original function, they are open to the public as exhibition or concert halls, however, due to the insentive approach of the past decades, in many places, Jewish cemeteries stand as the only reminders of Jewish settlements.
Year of publication: 2005.

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