23 July 2009

On the other hand...

Our Temple has been privileged to host three teen-age members of our sister congregation in Budapest, Szim Salom, for the past week. The three had just finished participating in the Reform movement's national leadership academy at Kutz Camp. We gave them a chance to rest, recoup, clean their laundry, and visit the heck out of New York City.

I took the three girls out to lunch today (for some real American pizza) before they left us to return to Budapest. During our conversation, they told me that anti-semitism is a growing problem in Hungary and on the rise in Europe. Each of them said their parents' story resonated with what I have heard from many Hungarian Jews - that their parents, survivors of the Holocaust, did not tell them that they were Jews until they were much older. These students, members of a Progressive congregation who gave up part of their summer to learn about Judaism in the United States, are being raised by those parents in a much more consciously Jewish manner. The repercussion? They are facing anti-semitism in their schools and in their society. The word "Jew" is a not particularly flattering descriptor and incidents of political uses of anti-semitism are on the rise.

These are strong, confident Jewish young adults and I wish for them a life where they can be proud Hungarians and proud Jews. I hope that Hungary realizes what they have in this generation and works to protect and nurture them.

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