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November 04, 1988 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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42

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1988

Ask for Jeff

udapest — The in-
creasingly vibrant
Hungarian Jewish
community I visited recently
does not resemble the one I
visited three years ago. Much
appears to have dramatically
changed for the better in the
life of Hungarian Jewry.
In 1985, Hungarian Jews
were described as polarized
between the few religious and
the many assimilated, and
few Jewish intellectuals had
contact with the Jewish
community.
Now, formerly alienated
Hungarian Jews are engag-
ing in grass-roots cultural
and religious study programs.
Three years ago, people in-
terviewed asked not to be
identified. This time, nobody
made that request.
During this year's visit to
Hungary — enabled through
the Emanuel Foundation for
Hungarian Culture and spon-
sored by the Hungarian
government through its na-
tional tourist board — Jewish
individuals repeated their joy
that world Jewry had come to
visit and help them.
Istvan Doman, editor of the
Hungarian Jewish newspaper
Uj Elet, said, "You know, the
anti-Semites always accused
us of sticking together. But
during the Holocaust we were
alone. Now we hope that some
help will come from the Jews
abroad and it will be true
what we were accused ofl"
Hungarian Jewry's needs
are only partly helped by
the National
MIOK
Association of Hungarian
Jews — through private dona-
tions by Hungarian Jews,
government matching funds
and help from abroad.
Both the Emanuel Founda-
tion and the American
Jewish Joint Distribution
Committee (JDC) say they
have helped make a success of
the children's camp, which is
located in a magnificent set-
ting at Balatonfured on Lake
Balaton.
The camp's activities, in-
cluding daily prayer and
study sessions, are run by rab-
binical students from the
Budapest Rabbinical
Seminary. In crowded rooms,
tallitot and swimsuits are
draped over bunks.
Andor Weiss, executive vice
president of the Emanuel
Foundation, said over 400
children were able to attend
the camp this summer



because of a donation it
received from Ronald Lauder,
former U.S. ambassador to
Austria, whose mother Estee
was born in Hungary.
The JDC has also largely
contributed to the camp's
functioning, and is looking for
a larger site, according to
Ralph Goldman, JDC
honorary executive vice
president.
An initial goal is to teach
Hebrew. One of the major
ways in which the Hungarian
Jewish community has cut
itself off is in its refusal to
speak Yiddish, Hebrew or
English. Those who could
converse without interpreters
were rare.
One way the language
disability is being redressed
is in the new Hebrew pro-
gram and major established
at the University of
Budapest.
The program is run by Dr.
Geza Komoroczy, who is also
head of the year-old Center of
Jewish Studies at the univer-
sity — a joint venture bet-
ween the Hungarian
Academy of Sciences and the
New York-based Memorial
Foundation for Jewish
Culture.
Komoroczy said the school
has dispensed with the usual
academic requirements for
the class and divided it into
three levels, so that no one
who wants to learn Hebrew
will be dissuaded. After 20
years of providing grants to
scholarly and educational
endeavors in Hungary, the
Memorial Foundation decided
two years ago that it wanted
to change its work in Eastern
Europe.
"Look, there are new winds
blowing," said executive direc-
tor Jerry Hochbaum. The
foundation wanted to provide
new learning material for
those outside the establish-
ment who wouldn't ordinari-
ly be reached.
The foundation provided
•money to publish three
in
books
children's
Hungarian on religion and
Jewish history.
The books were all publish-
ed in July 1987 in Hungary,
with government permission.
By October, all the books had
sold out.
A second printng of 3,000
copies of the history and
religion books also sold out.
But, said Hochbaum, "the
biggest best-seller was a
sociological paper on 'How I
recognized that I am a Jew! "
The JDC has endowed

several Talmudei Torah,
which educate about 400
Jewish children. The Anna
Frank Gymnasium, a Jewish
high school aided by the JDC,
has seen its student body in-
crease from nine students in
1983 to 83 registered for
September.
The Joint also funds the
Rabbinical Seminary in
Budapest, the only rabbinical
seminary in the Eastern bloc.
On Friday nights, young
people — from homes in
which they learned no Jewish
tradition — gather in large
numbers in the seminary's
chapel to listen to discussions
begun by Rabbi Yehuda
Schweitzer, the director.
After the service, the young
people have refreshments
while discussing religion and
Jewish culture.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

NEWS

4 Killed In
Bus Attack

Jerusalem (JTA) — Israelis
reacted with shock and anger
to a firebomb attack on a bus
outside the West Bank town
of Jericho last Sunday that
killed a woman and her three
small children.
Both Prime Minister Yitz-
hak Shamir, leader of Likud
bloc, and Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres, his Labor Par-
ty rival, condemned the at-
tack, the worst in terms of
civilian casualties since the
Palestinian uprising in the
administered territories
began more than 10 months
ago.
The Israel Defense Force
clamped a curfew on Jericho,
a town northeast of Jerusa-
lem with a population of
18,000. Soldiers scoured the
town and surrounding coun-
tryside for the attackers.
The IDF chief of staff, Gen.
Dan Shomron, said he had
reason to believe the perpe-
trators had been captured. He
offered no details.
Israel Radio reported that a
gang of seven suspects was
seized, some with past records
of anti-Israel activities. Three
of them reportedly have ad-
mitted their part in the at-
tack, and sappers moved
quickly to blow up their
homes.
The victims were buried in
Jerusalem's Mount of Olives
cemetery.

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