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February 14, 2016 / 5 Adar I, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Hungary’

Jewish Leader Assaulted on Street in Budapest

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Police in Budapest have arrested two young men after they allegedly assaulted the leader of a Jewish congregation.

The men, 20 and 21, are suspected of physically and verbally assaulting Andras Kerenyi, the 62-year-old president of the Jewish congregation of the Hungarian capital’s South Pest district, on Oct. 5, the website of the Hungarian police reported.

It said Kerenyi was attacked near Budapest’s Téglagyár square because of his religion and that his injuries did not require medical treatment. The two men are being held as indictments against them are being drawn up, the report said.

Gusztav Zoltai, executive director of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, told the Hungarian news agency MTI that Kerenyi was kicked in his stomach as the assailants shouted obscenities at him and told him he was going to die.

The police report said that after the attack Kerenyi followed the suspects and at the same time reported the incident to police. A police patrol arrested the men exactly 32 minutes after the attack at a nearby house. The report named the suspects as Mark F. and Tibor P.

In June, Jozsef Schweitzer, a retired Hungarian chief rabbi, was accosted on a Budapest street by a man who told him he “hates all Jews.”

EU launches Online Anti-Semitism Survey

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The European Union launched an online survey into how Jews experience anti-Semitism in nine member states.

Results will be published in an EU report next year, Henry Nickels of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency said Tuesday at a European Jewish Parliament conference in Brussels.

Nickels’ Vienna-based intergovernmental body and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, an independent organization from London, commissioned the British market research company Ipsos MORI to conduct the survey.

The study “investigates firsthand examples of anti-Semitic harassment and violence as well as the extent to which Jews feel safe in Europe,” a statement by the institute said.

To participate, respondents must be older than 16 and residing in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Sweden or the United Kingdom.

“This type of robust evidence will assist EU institutions in taking measures that will ensure that the rights of the Jewish people are fully protected,” Ioannis Dimitrakopoulus of the Fundamental Rights Agency said.

Joel Rubinfeld, the European Jewish Parliament’s co-chair, told JTA that the situation in Hungary is particularly worrisome “because we are seeing signs that official institutions there are condoning anti-Semitism.”

Laszlo Banay, chief adviser for the Budapest municipality and an EJP member, said at the conference that the right-wing Hungarian political party Jobbik has two Internet home pages: “One official page, and another unofficial and openly anti-Semitic one which operates from the U.S.”

Hungarian authorities are not prosecuting the website’s operators for hate speech, he said, even thought their identities are known.

A Journey of a Thousand Steps

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/a-journey-of-thousand-steps.html

I sometimes surprise myself with the titles I come up with – this is one of those. I read an article today. My emotions went up and down as I read it, ending with the thought that the man in the story was about to embark on a journey of a thousand steps and that somewhere along that journey, his grandparents would smile.

Szegedi Csanad is a Hungarian politician. He is about 30 years old. He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament as part of the Jobbik party. One of Csanad’s fellow members posted an article that said, “Given our current situation, anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.” Jobbik calls itself a “radical nationalism” party – more easily identified as fascists or perhaps neo-Nazis.

And quietly,  Csanad got the shock of a lifetime when he found out, about 7 months ago, that his grandparents were Orthodox Jews but chose to hide their religion. It is understandable – to some extent. They were Holocaust survivors – his grandmother was in Auschwitz…as was my husband’s grandmother. My  husband’s parents survived; though they returned to their tiny villages in Hungary as orphans. Their parents, uncles and aunts, even some of their brothers and sisters had been murdered. All they and their remaining siblings wanted was to leave Europe and get as far away as possible. They tried for Australia, Palestine, the United States – anything that would get them out.

The first visas they got for the whole group were to the US and so they went. They stayed observant Jews and raised their children that way. It was a matter of faith and yes, there was pride in it as well. Csanad’s grandparents chose a different path. I can’t judge them; I can only wonder how they would feel (if they are still alive) or how they might have felt to know that their grandson had become one with the ideology that almost cost them their lives.

And then, Csanad found out – a basic truth. His grandmother and grandfather were Jews. Judaism is passed down in the womb – from mother to child. Csanad’s grandmother gave birth to a Jewish child – a girl. That girl was Jewish, is Jewish. She is a software engineer in Hungary, and her son, Szegedi is Jewish.

Csanad has resigned from Jobbik, though he has requested to keep his position in the European Parliament. And, he has chosen to meet with an Orthodox rabbi, to begin what I believe will be a journey of a thousand steps. I have to believe that somewhere in this world or in the next, his grandparents are watching. Generations of Jews behind them. Perhaps they are not smiling, but I have to believe the weight of the world has been taken off their shoulders and their hearts.

The Train

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

He was having trouble getting up from the platform and into the cattle car. After all, he was only twelve years old and there was no ramp leading inside. An SS thug saw him “dawdling” in front of the car and aimed a boot at the boy’s posterior. The boy jumped out of the way just in time and the SS man fell to his face from the violence of his own kick.

Fearing the German would take his fury out on him, the boy scampered into the train. He hid himself from the Nazi inside a crowded, filthy car until the train pulled out of Budapest’s Nyugati station.

And thus began David Kohn’s participation in what many regard as the most dramatic and controversial train journey in history. For this was the train organized by Dr. Rudolf Kastner, head of the Hungarian Judenrat, on which 1,685 Jews rode to safety.

Kohn, today a well-known medical doctor and expert on geriatric health problems in Haifa, Israel, is one of the diminishing number of survivors from the Kastner train. And he may be the only one who kept and preserved a journal of that journey to freedom.

He was born in a small town in Czechoslovakia, in a region where many of the residents and most of the local Jews spoke Hungarian. After the destruction and division of Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Munich accord, the area passed to Hungarian rule.

The problem was that David’s father had been a patriot and had taken Czechoslovak citizenship, which was frowned upon by Hungarian authorities. The boy was quickly expelled from school there, supposedly because of the father’s citizenship but more likely because they were Jews.

The family moved into Hungary proper, looking for work and a place to live. Then Slovakia was detached from the Czech state by Germany, so for a while they moved back there. The father worked as a forestry manager, a public service job that kept the family safe as deportations of Slovakian Jews commenced.

In 1942 rumors reached them that they were on a list of Jews to be deported. The family stole across the border into Hungary. There they were hosted by relatives who managed to obtain forged residency papers for them.

By 1943 Hungarian Jews were being moved into “concentration” areas – not yet internment camps but rather buildings in which the Jews of a town would be segregated. David was staying with his uncle, a prominent Neolog rabbi, in Czegled, a town outside Budapest near what is today the city’s international airport. They were locked up in a single building, and later moved into the town’s synagogue. Then twenty-three of those in the building were selected to be sent to Budapest for internment. The rest were deported.

David and his uncle were among the twenty-three.

In Budapest they were marched down Andrassy Boulevard, the city’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue with its luxury stores, many owned by Jews at the time. They were taunted by Hungarian anti-Semitic youths along the way and eventually were held inside the Rumbach Street synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.

* * * * *

Rudolf Kastner was a pompous, arrogant and irritating person. He was born and raised in the largest city in Transylvania, the Hungarian-speaking territory now in Romania that has passed back and forth between Hungary and Romania due to the frivolities of war and politics. He rose to importance in the Hungarian Jewish community and had the reputation of being an aristocratic “fixer” with ties to the regime.

When war broke out, Hungary allied itself with Hitler’s Germany. Kastner served as a journalist and community leader, moving from Transylvania to Budapest. Later, as a head of the Hungarian Judenrat, he was able to move about freely throughout the war. His residence and offices stood on Vaci Avenue, three blocks from my office today at Central European University in Budapest, where I teach when I am not in Israel.

Kastner was renowned for hatching assorted schemes, some rather hair-brained, during the war years. He tried to recruit support from Jewish Agency leaders in Tel Aviv for negotiating different rescue schemes with the Nazis, including the notorious “Trucks for Jews” deal, which never came to fruition. In 1944 he met several times with Adolf Eichmann to negotiate the escape of Jews in exchange for bribes or ransom payments.

Reform Congregations in Hungary Lose State Recognition

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

The European Union for Progressive Judaism and Hungary’s two Reform congregations took their case against Hungary’s new law on religion to the European Court of Human Rights in The Hague.

The two synagogues, Sim Shalom and Bet Orim, said in a statement that they had submitted an application Tuesday to the Court “concerning the violation of their human rights” caused by the entry into force of the new Hungarian “Church Law.”

The new law, which came into force Jan. 1, grants official recognition to only three streams of Judaism in Hungary: Neolog (Hungarian Conservative), Orthodox and Status-quo (associated with Chabad Lubavitch) congregations.

“As a consequence of the entry in force of the Act, the ‘church’ status of the Hungarian [Reform] congregations was revoked,” the statement said.  The two Reform communities consider the new law on religion “illegal” and “discriminatory,” the statement said, and had already called on the Hungarian Constitutional Court to annul it.

Hungarian Police Investigating Desecration of Holocaust Monument

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

A Holocaust memorial monument in the southwest of Hungary was desecrated.

The perpetrators broke off several parts of the bronze monument, which stands 3 1/2 feet high and is the shape of a large menorah. Hungarian police said they were investigating the incident.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary said the monument was desecrated sometime over the last weekend. It stood in the courtyard of the buildings of the Jewish community of Nagykanizsa. The local Jewish community erected the monument, near the Croatia border, in 2004.

All seven menorah branches were sawed off and the main shaft was broken. Only part of the three-pronged base remains.

Some 120 Hungarians protested on June 7 in Budapest against anti-Semitism in Hungary. The demonstration was in reaction to an attack against a former chief rabbi. On June 3, a cemetery was desecrated near the capital.

In a letter to the country’s Jewish leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed his “indignation” at the cemetery attack and ordered the Interior Ministry to track down the perpetrators.

Breakfast With Trutanich

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

(L-R) German Consul General Wolfgang Drautz; L.A. Fire Commissioner Andrew Friedman; City Attorney Carmen Trutanich; Hungarian Consul General Balazs Bokor; and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca.

 

Prominent members of Hancock Park Jewry and leading Hungarian community figures met with city attorney and district attorney candidate Carmen Trutanich over breakfast at Abbas on La Brea Ave. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and L.A. Fire Commissioner Andrew Friedman introduced Trutanich. Consul Generals Balazs Bokor of Hungary and Wolfgang Drautz of Germany represented their respective communities.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/west-coast-happenings/breakfast-with-trutanich/2012/05/17/

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