The Story of the Lusztig Family in the 19th Century
Izsák and Sára Lusztig lived in Transylvania, then part of Hungary, in the first half of the 19th century. In that period, Jewish people were limited by the authorities to trades such as commerce, butchery, or the production of alcoholic beverages. In time, they were allowed to own or rent land, and to practice several other professions. Izsák was one of the few Jewish landowners in Doboka county (today Sălaj, Romania), and the only one in Alsókékes (today Chichișa). Izsák and Sára had seven children, and their family was actively involved in Transylvanian social life, as they tried to integrate into Hungarian society and culture.
Market scene from Transylvania, from the beginning of the 19th century.
During the war of independence between 1848 and 1849, Izsák supported the Hungarian army in order for them to gain independence from the Austrian Empire. Anyone who wished to donate could do so, depending on their financial circumstances. In 1867, the Austrian Empire became a dual monarchy, which was led by two governments, a Hungarian one and an Austrian one, forming the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This was followed by the adoption of new laws that would emancipate the Jewish population in the Empire by giving them more liberty and the same political and civil rights as Christians.
Battle scene during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.
Paul Feivel Lusztig was the second child of Izsák and Sára Lusztig. He was born in 1849, in Hida, Doboka county (today Sălaj, Romania). He grew up in Alsókékes (Chichișa) together with his parents and six siblings. In the 1870s, Paul Feivel Lusztig married Giza Friedmann and moved from Chichișa to Kalotaszentkirály (today Sâncraiu), Cluj county. Their son, Moritz Lusztig, was born in 1877.
Paul Feivel Lusztig.
The family relocated to Gyalu (today Gilău) at the end of the 19th century and lived there for nearly 50 years. They relocated for economic reasons; business and trade were much more developed in the Cluj area, and they had more opportunities for a better life. The Lusztig family lived in a house near the Rákóczi-Bánffy castle, where Paul Feivel was a merchant and butcher, and owned a factory that produced vinegar. However, anti-Semitism was common in Hungary throughout the 19th century, particularly at the end, which will have an impact on the family’s situation later on.
Map of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1887.
The Rákóczi-Bánffy Castle. (Image source: Kastély Koalíció)
The Archive of the Lusztig Family © Muzeon.
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