Saturday 16 December 2017

The Jews in Hungary – A Personal Story

Do you feel your heritage makes you a unique person? How much of an impact do your ancestors have on your life? Andrew Sanders set out to answer these questions and his book Conversations with My Ancestors is the result of this quest.

In 1726, due to the order of the Habsburg ruler Charles VI, the number of Jewish families was limited by quota to 8,541 in Bohemia and 5,106 in Moravia. To enforce this quota an order was issued which stated that only the first-born son of each Jewish family had permission to marry.  The order was in force until 1848.  As a result, many Jews who could not obtain marriage permits emigrated from Bohemia and Moravia to Hungary. Andrew Sanders traces his roots back to one of those families who had to leave and make a new life in Hungary.

His book is based on historical fact which he acquired researching documents, visiting the country, seeing the places his ancestors lived, and talking to people. He then created imaginary dialogues with his long dead ancestors, such as a great great grandfather who died centuries ago who told him he would be happy to talk with him since he has nothing better to do. The result is a rich narrative that reads like a novel, drawing us into the lives of one Jewish family caught in the maelstrom of Eastern European history.

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