2 new synagogues open in Hungary, bringing together rival Jewish groups
BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) – Jewish communities in Hungary have opened two new synagogues as part of the annual Jewish cultural festival in the capital.
One is located in the bustling center of Budapest, while the other is a 50-seat synagogue in an apartment building.
The latter – the synagogue on Vorosmarty Street – belongs to MAOIH, a coordination group of Orthodox congregations. But MAOIH has neither the faithful nor the funds to renovate and operate the place, so it will be managed by EMIH, a larger umbrella organization affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitcher movement. The EMIH has about twenty synagogues as well as about thirty emissaries.
“It is better for the synagogue to live rather than to leave it unused as it has been for decades,” Robert Deutch, chairman of MAOIH, told reporters last week.
The country’s three largest Jewish groups – EMIH, MAOIH and the largest, Mazsihisz – have a tenuous relationship, fraught with conflict over ideology, theology, and finance.
About 300 people, mostly affiliated with EMIH but also including non-practicing Hungarian Jews, attended a street celebration that culminated with the affixing of a new mezuzah to the synagogue by Rabbi Szlomo Koves on Friday. , the head of the EMIH. The structure has received a luxurious interior decoration with marble walls and wooden panels with LED lights.
Locals posed to have their photos taken with the revelers as they danced in procession to music from the speakers they had brought with them. But two middle-aged men also hurled insults at revelers. There were no physical assaults.
The largest synagogue opened in the green and peaceful district of Ubuda, on the west bank of the Danube. Housed in a historic Bauhaus building, the Ubuda Synagogue has around 200 seats and a circular prayer hall within a rectangular space. EMIH owns and operates the synagogue.
After the opening, Hasidic rapper Nissim Black performed at a concert that drew hundreds of listeners, many of them non-Jews.
The concert was the closing event of the week-long Jewish Cultural Festival, which also included a celebration of the slowly cooked Jewish cholent that many observant Jews prepare for Shabbat. On Sunday, hundreds of pounds of kosher cholent were distributed for free to passers-by in a park near the synagogue.
Separately, Mazsihisz on Sunday inaugurated a new wing of the city’s Jewish charitable hospital, which was built with a $ 14 million grant from the government.
The addition “announces that Hungarian Jews stand surety for each other and for each other,” Zoltan Radnoti, a senior rabbi in Mazsihisz, told the Jewish Telegraph Agency.
Hungary once had four hospitals owned by Jewish communities, but only one remained after the Holocaust, in which the Nazis and local collaborators killed more than half of the pre-war Jewish population of around 1 million . Only 47,000 people who identify as Jewish now live in Hungary, according to the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research.