The consul general of Hungary in New York paid tribute to Rabbi Arthur Schneier of Park East Synagogue on his 80th birthday recently. The rabbi, a native of Vienna, survived the Holocaust as a 15-year-old refugee in Budapest when 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished.
“He could have come away from the Budapest ghetto hating not only the Nazis but the Germans, the Hungarians in general—many of his survivors have,” said Consul General Viktor Polgar.
Apartments for 20-somethings seen as ‘new, grass-roots model’ of Jewish engagement.
Ruth Ellen Gruber
Budapest — When 29-year-old Eszter Susan announced on Facebook last September that she had moved into a Moishe House, few of her friends knew what she was talking about.
Six months later the rambling, high-ceilinged apartment she shares with two other young women has become a focal point of Jewish involvement for dozens of Budapest Jews in their 20s.
There are parties at Jewish holidays, movie nights, lectures on Jewish topics, social action meetings and a Kabbalat Shabbat service followed by a potluck dinner that attracts dozens of people each Friday night.
Vacationing in Israel two years ago, my family went on a two-day tour of Jordan, our first venture to an Arab nation. Our guide hustled us from site to site, but I had a moment of solitary reflection while on the Citadel in Amman, overlooking the white expanse of the stone city clinging to the hills below, so reminiscent of Jerusalem. The noises of the city were muffled by the arid air and summer heat. For the first time, the seal in my mind between Israel and the rest of the Middle East was punctured, and a question seeped through: What is this world beyond? But the moment was fleeting.
With his odes to Italian restaurants and songs about Catholic girls, most Billy Joel fans may never have pegged the "Piano Man" for the scion of a once-thriving German-Jewish mercantile family whose fortunes were swept away in the Holocaust.
Billy Wilder used to joke about his former compatriots in Austria. He would say, “The Austrians are a marvelous people: they have convinced the whole world that Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was German.” Axel Corti, a Paris-born, half-Italian, half-Austrian filmmaker, would have undoubtedly appreciated this jibe. Corti, who died of leukemia in 1993, spent his entire career as a film, theater and radio director putting the Austrian-Jewish connection under the microscope of his art with scathing results.
Yonatan Zilberman may have been a bit hesitant when he began thinking about directing his first film, the documentary “Watermarks.” After all, his academic background at MIT was in physics and business. He was executive producing another documentary when he first learned of the amazing story of the Hakoah Vienna sports club and its assemblage of world-class Jewish athletes, but he wasn’t — strictly speaking — a filmmaker.
His friend and soon-to-be-co-producer, Yonatan Israel, however, never had any doubts.
Stefan Wolpe was one of the lucky ones. A left-wing Jewish activist who had been composing difficult music for Dadaists and workers choruses, he knew he would have to leave his native Germany as soon as Adolf Hitler came to power in January 1933. After a year in Vienna, he moved to Palestine, from which he was able, ruefully, to watch the flames mount in his native Berlin and the rest of Germany. By the time those flames engulfed the rest of Europe, Wolpe was in the United States to stay.
At the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Markus Preminger, a brilliant young lawyer, was offered the position of chief prosecutor, an honor never bestowed on a Jewish attorney. There was only one catch: he had to convert to Catholicism. He refused but got the appointment anyway.
Two decades later, his soon-to-be-famous son, Otto Preminger, was offered the post of head of the Vienna State Theater, as prestigious in its field as the chief prosecutor’s job was in his father’s. Same catch: he had to convert to Catholicism.