Hungarian Jews Today

Bigotry, Holocaust distortion confront a community balancing fear and hope.

03/12/14
Associate Editor
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Seventy years after the decimation of Hungarian Jewry in 1944, the surviving community is balancing fear and hope in a country that has rarely rewarded the latter.

On the hopeful side, the World Jewish Congress reports that “despite anti-Semitic rumblings, Hungary Jews have every facility to express their Jewish heritage and religious life.” There are 20 synagogues in Budapest (with several more in the provinces), kosher butchers and kosher bakeries. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee provides meals, home care and medical attention to thousands, along with cultural opportunities. The Joint’s regional director Diego Ornique, who is based in Budapest, told The Jewish Week, “Hungary’s Jews are innovating Jewish life in their country and building a strong Jewish life on their own terms.”

And yet, anxiety is soaring. Jobbik, a neo-fascist, anti-Semitic party, is the third largest in Hungary. Holocaust denial is a crime, but whitewashing complicity with the Nazis is commonplace. According to one survey by an agency of the European Union, 91 percent of Hungarian Jews say anti-Semitism is getting stronger.

Last month, the Mazsihisz, the Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities, voted 76-2 to stay away from the Hungarian government’s proposed 1944 memorial commemorations, because they said that memorial creates the impression that all of Hungary was the victim of Germany, ignoring the Holocaust’s Jewish specificity.

“I understand the sensitivity,” Elie Wiesel told The Jewish Week of the protests. “The Hungarians were not our allies. They were Hitler’s allies. It doesn’t mean that here or there wasn’t a good person, as always, but Hungarians were anti-Semitic.”

A 2012 ADL survey of Europe concluded, “Levels of anti-Semitism have increased most dramatically in Hungary.” Asked if Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust, 63 percent of Hungarians said yes, the most among the Europeans, compared to 43 percent of Germans and 53 percent of Poles. Asked if Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus, 38 percent of Hungarians said yes, considerably more than any country but Poland.

Estimates of the Jewish population, from 35,000 to 120,000, are difficult because many who survived the Nazis and Communists decided to raise their children as non-Jews. And yet, The New Yorker reports, “Almost every Budapest Jew knows someone who discovered his or her Jewish identity as an adult.” A Chabad rabbi told us, suggested that as many as eight of 10 Jews there “can tell you when they first found out.”

A New Yorker profile of former high-ranking and anti-Semitic Jobbik leader Czandid Szegedi revealed that he was raised Christian, only to discover much later that his grandmother was a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, ending his career in Jobbik. He now studies with Chabad. He told The New Yorker, “My grandmother thought for sure there would be deportations again, and there would be a Holocaust again. As fast as we can, we have to assimilate, evaporate, to save the family in the future.” Even his Chabad teacher, a Hungarian, had a similar experience: “My grandmother decided after the war that the main goal of her life was to make all of her children marry non-Jews,” but she was not always successful.

jonathan@jewishweek.org

Last Update:

06/15/2014 - 20:39

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In the comments I have read just there is enough manure to fertilize all the arable land on this beautiful planet and supply all of us with food for many years to come. Apparently teachers in schools are failing us badly in their job of teaching the truth and their pupils to have an open critical mind that can distinguish between untruths, propaganda and predjudice. No wonder the world is in such a mess.

I am born in Hungary and live in Canada, thank God, for 57 years, I have no love for Hungary, it is only my birthplace only. I am ashamed of my Hungarian roots, Hungary was always on the wrong side of the fence. Shame on them for letting the Jobbik party into power, I am not surprised, They were always bloody anti-semites.

People who live in a country other than their historical homeland must assimilate. Doesn't mean you have to give up your religion, your customs, or your diet. But it does mean you have to give up your politics.

No one ever looked to Hungary for intellectual leadership or enlightened behavior, so I'm not surprised. We need to remove the Jews from the land of Magyar bigots and resettle them in a welcoming place. (I am a Jew myself.)

There were plenty of intellectuals in Hungary,and still are. You have to study the history a little bit more

What are they doing in Hungary? Israel needs them. They should go to Israel. Hungary is no place for a Jew.

As a self-described Zionist gentile, I am alarmed at the rise in anti-semitism across Europe. It is frightening to see history repeated over and over again. Regarding the poll question "do you think Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus," I think this is a poor indicator of anti-semitism. Jews were responsible for Jesus' death (a fellow Jew). The Sanhedrin charged and tried Jesus for his "crimes," and Jewish leaders brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate requesting the death penalty. So, were Jews responsible for the death of Jesus? Of course, read any translation of the Bible and you will find that it is so. Does believing that make one anti-semitic? I think not, it makes one aware of history.

This article is nonsense. Zionists and jewish elitists are just mad because in the new holocaust museum in budapest (yea, they're so "anti-semitic" they built an entire holocaust museum) the jews are basically mad just because this museum doesn't attempt to instill a guilt complex into hungarians because of the events surrounding the holocaust. They want the museum to tell hungarians that they are ALL guilty for the holocaust, and the hungarian authorities simply won't allow a museum to try to shame them for things they had no control over that happened nearly a century ago.

If you think today's Jews are intimidated, shivering people you are sadly mistaken. If you think we all voted for Obama, you are also sadly mistaken. We are aware, vigilant and ready to protect ourselves and our children. When we say "never again," it is not a meaningless T-shirt slogan.

I worked in Intelligence in October of 1956 and "happened" to be in Budapest during the uprising. Of the Communist officials dragged from their offices and executed by the students and other rioters, many were Soviet Jewish Commissars who the Hungarians felt had been so brutal to them during the occupation. Could it be that the present displays of "Anti-Semitism" are somehow memories of those awful times?

This article is most interesting for what it omits:

Any mention of actual discrimination against Jews in modern Hungary.

Any mention of actual harm being done to Jews in modern Hungary.

Jews have their ethno-state, their Fatherland, in Israel. Hungarians are not welcome there, nor is their religion or culture. Jews should man up and acknowledge Hungarians' right to have for themselves in Hungary what Jews have for themselves in Israel.

On the increase, when had it ever declined, In Hungary Jew hatred is a national pastime that they work on with the same vigor as getting intoxicated on Tokaj.

Jobbik is a total disaster - no question , less than 10% of population - but please do not mistaken those with the rest of the population. Being born in Hungary & raised in Jewish home - I am getting more and more frustrated with the continuous attacks on Hungary, while totally ignoring any anti Semitic realities in the rest of Europe. As per EUMC :identified France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and The Netherlands as EU member countries with notable increases in incidents. - but NOBODY mentions this- and somehow Germany ended up in the 'forgiven' column for all WWII atrocities ....-

'jews talk to much about the holocaust', 'jews killed Jesus' are at best markers of anti semitism. Most likely valid markers if statistically anti semites are more likely to say them. But my literalistic mind cries out.

The passion of the christ is illustrative of the fallen nature of man. That the pharisees were jewish as was jesus is not the point. If Jesus and somehow the Romans returned to Texas it would be a baptist chamber of commerce that would agitate to have the Romans kill him. That is not an anti baptist sentiment that if anything is an anti human sentiment.

As for talking to much about the holocaust that's an opinion is it not?

I remember reading somewhere that Budapest's economy was severely harmed because of the loss of the Jews in the Holocaust and still hasn't really recovered.

As a Half-Hungarian, half-Polish American (my families emigrated to the US at the very beginning of the 20th century) and a Traditional Catholic as well, I think it important to note that yes, the very Jewish Jesus was crucified under the orders of the Sanhedrin and the cries of the masses of Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem for Passover. This does not make every Jew then, or contemporary Jew today, complicit in his murder. The rise of fascist ideologies in Europe likewise should not color an entire nation of people.

As a christian believer myself, I'd like to respond to your comments. To be historically accurate, certainly the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead, but they did not have the authority to carry out his execution. This is why he was brought before the Pontius Pilot, the Roman governor, if you will, of Judea. Only the Romans could order an execution, so technically, you're incorrect about "who" killed Jesus. It was the Romans. Nevertheless, this is a silly, moot point, and one that always seems to be derived from vitriol, when someone wants to bash the Jews, and relieve themselves of the guilt they feel for rejecting God, Himself.

Theologically, and more importantly, Biblically speaking, It has always been the "Church's" view that "we all" or "the whole world" killed Jesus, after rejecting him, his ministry, and why he came into the world. So, it's a cop-out to lay his death at the feet of the Jews. Afterall, Jesus was a Jew and he came into the world to save the Jews first, and then the rest of us. They rejected their mesiah, as has a lot of the world since.

As far as this article goes, personally I believe there's a lot of intrigue in the world today regarding Jewry, their place in the world, and especially the Hollacaust. The latter is such a sancro-sanct topic that anyone trying to understand it, let alone discuss it on a micro level, is railroaded and derided as just another "denier" and whack-job. Of course "it" happened, no buts about it. Jews were targeted victims because of their faith and their percieved traits, true or false. Catholics, Armenians, and others were targeted as well, in that attempted genocide. Personaly I don't know, but most "deniers," whether driven by anti-semitism or simply desire to get history right, seem to believe that the number of Jews murdered was not 9 million, not 6 million, but significantly less, possibly between 1 and 2 million, and there seems to be legitimate documents (the German's were meticulous record keepers) demonstrating this as well as the millions of non-Jews murdered as well. There is no question that this horrible event, and the historical reporting of it afterwards, was of central import to garner sympathy and support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, so in historical terms it would be much better to protray the "Hollocaust" singularly Jewish, and with as high a body count as possible.

It sounds cruel of me to simply verbalize that, but historical documents prove this to be true. However, Jews, in my opinion, are just us the rest of us. Some self-absorbed, some charitable, some hateful, some loving, etc. Jesus said, "Judge not, lest you be judged." I'd like to understand teh world from the standpoint of true history as much as that's possible, and I rather not be propagandized, or lied to to suit someone else's agenda. Either way, live and let live. And! as Michael jackson once said about something or another, "I'm looking at the man in the mirror." ...if that makes any sense.

I hope you get my point, and have a great day.

Nope. Don't get your point. In fact, it doesn't seem you have one.

If you believe your point, just state it.

You need to go back and read your Bible. The Sanhedrin didn't have capital punishment powers. Only the Romans did - the Romans executed the man you worship and you are ruled by the church of Rome - which most certainly has born fruit after its own kind.

Jesus was Jewish, there were no Christians yet. Sanhedrin did not Crucify as the only legal was was to stone a a man for crimes. Crucifixion was a Roman form of execution used for political criminals who defy Rome. Many Jews were crucified for being Zealots and defying Rome.

Besides it was Rome (gentiles) who nailed Christ to the cross not Jews. Ask Pontius Pilot...sorry he's burning in hell you can't talk to him right now.

I think decimate derives from the Latin deca which means 10. More than 10% of Hungary's Jews were deported and/or killed. It was probably closer to 90%.

Decimate is a latin term and simply means cutting in ten pieces, which was the Roman army's punishment for desertion.

Actually, this thread is partly correct. Decimate means to wipe out or destroy in today's vernacular, but it does originally comes from Latin. Traditionally when a Roman army suffered defeat, it was common for the commanders to take those who survived and exact punishment. The legions were lined up, and every 10th man was executed. "Deci" means 10. Knowing this was the punishment waiting for them, Roman soldiers were well-motivated to win.

As a gentile, you're at once self absorbed and selling yourselves short. (A) Jews are not successful as a group because you're the "Chosen". Jews are successful because you work hard, you have strong family involvement in your children's lives, you stress education and excellence. Leave God out of it - and take credit for your hard work. On the other side of the argument, it is not the United State's job to ensure Israel's safety and economic well-being. I am a non-interventionist, and while aggression may or may not be our job to combat around the globe, I think if you look at the numbers, the U.S. does more than it's share in defending Israel. You have to remember, Israel answers only to itself, and we in the U.S. have to maintain more impartiality as the world's only remaining superpower.

Sorry Brent, America can't afford to be non-interventionist in Israel. Without America's support and threat of military action against anyone who attacks Israel, the state of Israel ceases to exist. This is great for all of the Islamist regimes surrounding Israel, but a death sentence for all Jews in their own country (whether one agrees or disagrees with the establishment of Israel in 1948, it happened, it's there, and it is in constant danger from all sides. And, it's the only democracy in a region of dangerous theocracies). The Jews need to leave God out of it? The US has to maintain more impartiality?! Absolutely idiotic statements.

You want to talk idiotic statements - if you're the "chosen ones" and what you have received, you received from God - then why do you need your Christian keepers to take care of you? You said it yourself, Israel would cease to exist without the United States. Now that's a chosen people - who happen to follow Christian dogma for the most part. What a joke. And if you're welcoming and demanding interventionism, then when we say jump, you better say how high, and stop building when we tell you to. Behave yourselves.

anti semitism always existed in euroland before it was more religous based but now that many euro are no longer christian it is more political. For example bocotting jews then now boycotting zionists. Recently there was an attempt to ban bris milia in Germany and then banning kosher mean is always popular as was just done in Denmark.
The highest % of anti semitism is comming from minority groups muslims and blacks both in euroland and america

Ithink it was Edgar Steele said 'Anti Semitism is a disease that you catch, from Jews.'

Imagine a world where a it is a crime for it to be a crime to deny a people's history. Holocaust denial is a crime...How about denial of the African holocaust.

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