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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Hungary’

Rebbetzin Of The World: An Interview with Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Originally published on April 6, 2015

How many people realize that one of the largest kiruv organizations in the world was founded by and continues to be run by a woman?

That woman is Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis and the organization she started in 1970, Hineni, is known worldwide and has brought countless people from all walks of life back to Yiddishkeit. In fact, when Rebbetzin Jungreis visited Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky a number of years ago, Rebbetzin Kanievsky told her, “I may be the Rebbetzin of Bnei Brak, but you are the Rebbetzin of the world.”

 

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I can still remember the weekend, over 50 years ago at the Pioneer Country Club in upstate New York, when my parents met Rabbi Meshulem HaLevi and Esther Jungreis. We were sitting together in the lobby and the rabbi turned to my father and said, “The Jewish Press needs an advice column by a woman.”

“It sounds like a good idea, but who would write it?” my dad asked.

“My wife,” Rabbi Jungreis responded instantaneously. “She’s very good at giving advice.”

And so began Rebbetzin’s Viewpoint, the longest running column in the history of The Jewish Press and still going strong. Letters come to the Rebbetzin from readers all over the world who hope to see their questions answered in the paper.

“I wanted the word ‘rebbetzin’ to be part of the column’s title,” says Rebbetzin Jungreis, “because I wanted young women to realize what a noble position it is to be a rabbi’s wife.”

Her connection to the paper, she tells me, is deeply personal: “Despite many offers from other periodicals, I have only to picture your holy father and your very special mother, whom I loved, to know why I continue to write for The Jewish Press.”

 

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 Mauer-040315-Reb-Jungreis-2

Esther Jungreis’s father, Rav Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, was descended from a long line of rabbanim and the Jungreis name was well known throughout Hungary. Esther was born in Szeged, at the time the second largest city in Hungary and home to that country’s largest Reform community. It was into that milieu that Rav Avraham HaLevi Jungreis had come, with his long black beard and long black coat, to build an Orthodox shul.

“He built that shul and welcomed everyone,” says Rebbetzin Jungreis. “It mattered not who they were or how committed they were to Judaism, everyone felt welcome in his shul.”

During World War II, Szeged was the collection point for slave labor. Young Jewish men were sent out of the country to help the Nazi war effort. Rav Jungreis went to see those boys every day and would sing a song, like a prayer in Yiddish, with messages for them from their parents, and distribute honey cookies his wife, Rebbetzin Miriam, had made. He would take along young Esther, who carried medicine sewn into the hem of her coat to be distributed as needed.

At that time the Jungreis family was hiding a pregnant woman, and when her time came to give birth it was Rebbetzin Miriam who performed the delivery and kept the baby alive.

When deportation came, the Jungreis family was sent to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. But the woman and her baby were sent to a camp in Vienna, where Esther’s maternal grandfather, Rav Tzvi Hirsh HaCohen, was the rav. He protected her, and when the war was nearly over and some people were making it out to Switzerland, he gave up his seat on a transport for her and her baby. Rav Tzvi was eventually murdered but that little boy survived and today is the well-known Tzelemer Rav.

Naomi Klass Mauer

Raoul Wallenberg’s Fate Revealed in Diary of Former KGB Chief

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

For the first time ever, historians finally know, without doubt, what happened to the Swedish diplomat who saved so many thousands of Jewish lives from the Nazi hordes in Hungary during World War II.

In the 632-page tome, “Notes From a Suitcase: Secret Diaries of the First K.G.B. Chairman, Found Over 25 Years After His Death,” one finds the memoirs of one of the most important men in Soviet history, and the answer to one of the most painful questions of the last century.

“I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” wrote state security chief Ivan A. Serov, head of the KGB from 1954 to 1958, in a memoir not only rare but in fact probably entirely forbidden to write.

Wallenberg disappeared in Budapest in 1945, and although there have been countless searches for clues to his fate, none have turned up the slightest breath of evidence as to what happened to him.

But his fate is found in this text, because the grandaughter of Ivan A. Serov, 57-year-old retired ballerina Vera Serova was wise enough, and kind enough, not to throw away the papers discovered by workers in suitcases as they renovated a garage four years ago at a “dacha” left to her in northwestern Moscow by her VIP grandfather.

The soldiers of the Soviet Union were occupying Budapest at the time of Wallenberg’s disappearance, and it was known that as a Swedish diplomat, he had strong ties with the Americans and the highest echelons of the Third Reich. That made him suspect to the Russians.

Neither ever gave up a clue, however, until this summer when the diaries of the original head of the clandestine KGB, found tucked into the wall of a little vacation cottage in Russia, were published.

Although few indeed are memoirs written by Kremlin officials – for obvious reasons – this one, penned by Serov, contained a treasure.

The multiple references to previously unknown documents on Wallenberg definitively put to rest the endless questions about the fate of the heroic diplomat. The most important of all is the fact that Wallenberg, though dead at the time of the posthumous investigation, was ultimately found by the USSR not to have been a “spy” after all.

It was Serov who carried out that probe at the behest of Nikita S. Khrushchev, who requested the inquiry after Stalin, telling Serov to respond to Sweden and help in the purge of Molotov. Although he failed to uncover the full circumstances of Wallenberg’s death, he said, he found no evidence of espionage.

There is a mention of the cremation of Wallenberg’s remains. And there is a reference to something said by Serov’s predecessor, Viktor Abakunov, who was tried and executed in 1954, in the final Stalin purge. During the interrogation of the former head of state security, his torturers learned that it was Stalin and then-foreign minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov who had issued the order to “liquidate” Wallenberg.

Serov also said he had read a Wallenberg file — despite the fact the Soviet Security Service had for years denied that any such files existed. Hans Magnusson, a retired senior diplomat interviewed by the New York Times, directed the Swedish side of the Swedish-Russian Working Group and said there should have been a file created for every prisoner. But, he said, “The Russians said they did not find one.”

Vera Serova has one, however, in her grandfather’s memoirs. She has published them now to restore his reputation, she said.

Serov did many evil things in his life: he established the secret police that were used to terrorize the population in Poland and East Germany; he helped deport thousands of minorities considered a threat to Soviet rule in Russia; he wielded enormous power as head of state security.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel’s Material Well-Being and National Wealth Stats Up Across the Board

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Real national disposable income per capita in Israel has gone up by 1.7% in 2014 compared with the year before, reaching a level of 119% compared with the year 2000, Israel’s Central Board of Statistics announced on Wednesday.

In 2014, the government debt as a percentage of GDP (65%) was lower than that of France (85%), Spain (88%), the UK (94%), the US (98%), and Italy (127%). It was higher than Germany’s (48%), the Czech Republic (46%), Sweden (44%), Turkey (37%), Switzerland (21%), and Norway (17%).

Between the years 2008-2011 there was a moderate rise in net income inequality in Israel (according to the Gini coefficient, a.k.a. the Gini index or Gini ratio — a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income distribution of a nation’s residents, which is the most commonly used measure of inequality.) It was followed by a downward trend in the Gini index until 2013, but remains high in Israel, compared with other OECD countries — higher than the US, Turkey, Mexico and Chile.

In 2013, the net annual income per standard capita was 91,604 shekel ($24,283), a rise of 5% compared with the year before, in 2013 rates. The net annual reported income per standard capita in Jewish households was double the amount in Arab households.

In 2013, Israel’s household debt as a percentage of GDP (47%) was significantly lower than most other OECD countries, such as Spain (79%), France (63%), Germany (56%), and Italy (49%). It was still higher than that of Poland (35%), Slovakia (32%), and Hungary (31%).

58% of Israelis ages 20 and up were satisfied with their economic situation in 2014: 59% of men, 57% of women.

Israeli Jews were more satisfied than Israeli Arabs — 60% vs. 48% respectively.

JNi.Media

Murdered Israeli Tourist Beaten to Death in Hungary

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Hungarian media have reported that murdered Jerusalem resident Ofir Gross, z’l, was beaten to death with bricks, according to the initial findings of a police investigation.

Gross had just completed his studies in medical engineering and had traveled from Debrecen to Budapest a week earlier.

Two men were arrested in connection with his murder earlier this week. The Attorney General told media the two men, ages 19 and 21, found Gross sleeping in an abandoned yard and attacked him in order to steal his mobile phones, laptop computer and whatever money he had with him.

The attackers hit Gross with bricks, beating him to death, and then moved his body to a wooded area near a demolished house, covering it with debris.

The family was notified by Israeli foreign ministry officials when Gross was found, and flew to Hungary to identify his body.

Hana Levi Julian

Hungarian Authorities Arrest 2 Suspects in Death of Ofir Gross, z’l

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Hungarian police have arrested two suspects in connection with the death of 40-year-old Ofir Gross, an Israeli citizen whose body was found in a forest outside Budapest this weekend.

The two suspects have been accused of murdering Gross, a resident of Jerusalem who was studying in Germany to become a medical engineer. He had gone to Hungary after leaving from Debrecen on a fishing trip following the completion of his studies.

The suspects are male, aged 21 and 19. The authorities have declined to release further details about their identities, and the motive behind the murder remains unknown.

Gross last contacted his family on the Thursday before the holiday of Passover. His family, notified by Israeli foreign ministry officials, traveled to Hungary to identify his body.

Hana Levi Julian

Body of Missing Israeli Located in Hungary

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

The body of a missing Israeli citizen has been found in Hungary, according to Israeli government officials.

The family of Ofir Gross, 40, is traveling to Hungary to identify the body, which was found in a forest.

Gross, a resident of Jerusalem, was learning medical engineering in Germany when he disappeared from Debrecen while on a fishing trip more than a week ago. He had flown to Budapest and contacted his family last Thursday before the start of the Passover holiday.

Initial findings indicate that he may have been murdered, according to a report by the Hebrew-language Ynet website.

An eyewitness quoted by the Hungarian consul apparently last saw Gross drinking beer at a local bar. The witness alleged that Ofir had said he did not want to order food because “it was expensive” and also declined to take a hotel room for the same reason.

Israel’s Channel 2 television news interviewed Gross’s sister, who said her parents had spoken with their son, who said he was going to stay on a couch at the home of a local man.

The family has no idea whether he ever reached that destination, however. “It’s a terrible fear,” his sister told the news outlet.

Hana Levi Julian

Son of Saul’ Wins Oscar for Best Foreign Film

Monday, February 29th, 2016

The 2015 Hungarian drama of a Sonderkommando prisoner at Auschwitz forced to load dead Jewish bodies into crematoria for the Nazis has just won the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.

Directed by László Nemes and co-written by Nemes and Clara Royer, the plot follows a 36-hour period in the life of Saul, who discovers among the bodies a barely-living young boy.

Believing the child to be his young son and unable to save his life, he instead focuses on finding a rabbi to at least provide his child with a proper Jewish burial.

There are few among U.S. war veterans, American Jewry, their relations and their friends who would not be touched by this film.

First-time feature director Nemes accepted the award Sunday night for the film.

“Even in the darkest hours of mankind, there might be a voice within us that allows us to remain human. That’s the hope of this film,” he said.

It is the ninth Hungarian film to be nominated for the honor, but the first one to win.

Twenty-four hours earlier, “Son of Saul” took the Indie Spirit for Best International Film and a win in its category at the Golden Reel Awards. The film was also shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. It also took the 73rd Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in last month.

A Sony Pictures Classic picked up in Cannes (where it won the Grand Jury Prize last May) from Films Distribution, “Son of Saul” was released in the United States in December and has since grossed approximately $1.3 million.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/son-of-saul-wins-oscar-for-best-foreign-film/2016/02/29/

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