The second chapter drops from the top of the social pyramid to near the bottom, to a Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrant from Poland. Ráfáel Kästenbaum came to Hungary as a young man and worked as a merchant and moneylender in northeastern Hungary. Kästenbaum left behind few biographical documents. But when he died, his will showed him to be much wealthier and much more generous than anyone had suspected. A reconstruction of Kästenbaum's life shows the precarious position of Jews in provincial Hungary, just as his will's surprising bequests reveal the era's faith in education and the importance of local political coalitions (in this case the county nobility and Jewish elites) to achieve change.
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