20 November 2008

Hungary for change...

There is an interesting article on the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) site today about what is going on in Hungarian Jewry. Our sister congregation - Szim Salom - has never been recognized by the official Jewish body, which disperses the government funds to the individual organizations. A few years ago, they were pleased that they had been recognized as an official group. This resulted in two important changes: As opposed to US citizens, who donate money and then take a tax deduction, Hungarians can route 1% of their tax payments to specific non-profit organizations. Szim Salom raised a great deal of money through this program. In addition, they were able to petition to the Budapest city government for a permanent site for their congregation. (Although the first site didn't work out, they are trying to find another.)

The article explains how the official Jewish body is attempting to reach out and be more inclusive. However, several smaller institutions - including Szim Salom, a Conservative (called "Masorti" overseas) youth organization and Chabad - have boycotted the new council, saying it is powerless and its creation is only window-dressing. The current president of Szim Salom, Gabor Radvanszki (a very young president who has welcomed us on each of our visits) is quoted in the article.

We'll find out how things are going when we visit in April.

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