Jewish Heritage Report
Vol. II, Nos. 1-2 / Spring-Summer 1998
New Hungarian Synagogues and Monuments

New Hungarian Synagogues and Monuments Dedicated

Szentendre Memorial & Temple Opened
by Laszlo Fischer, Budapest
In Szentendre, Hungary, on May 17, 1998, the Szanto Memorial Court and Temple was opened and dedicated.  Professor Dr. József Schweitzer, Chief Rabbi of Hungary, with a Torah Scroll in his arms, Mr. Gusztav Zoltai, managing director of the Hungarian Jewish Communities Association and Mr. András Szánto, the founder of the court, arrived at the memorial house.  About two hundred guests were invited and had gathered at the site.  Dr. Schweitzer nailed the Mezuzah to the door of the Temple.  Mr. Emil Toth, chief cantor of the Budapest Rabbinical Seminar sang "Ma Tovu".  Dr. Schweitzer placed the Torah in the Aron ha-Kodesh and lighted the eternal light.  Mr. Toth chanted "Shema Yisroel".  Mr. Lásló Fischer read the establishing document and asked Mr. Zoltai to place it in the Aron ha-Kodesh.  After singing Psalm 100, Professor Schweitzer spoke about the significance of the event and dedicated the Temple and the Memorial Court.  The event concluded with the National Anthem of Hungary followed by Ha-Tikvah.  In the court, Mr. Péter Gerendas, a talented young composer, performed a joyous piece that he had written.

Before the Second World War, there were approximately 220 Jews in Szentendre.  Only 25-30 survived the Holocaust to return to Hungary.  In 1953, there were only about 18 Jews in Szentendre; and today only one woman (close to 90) is living there from the pre-war generation.  Currently, there are only around 15 Jews in Szentendre.  Gyorgy Szánto, one of the survivors who passed away last year, always dreamed about building a Jewish museum, a Holocaust memorial in the court of the house of his parents, where he was born, and dedicating it to the memory of his parents and other victims of the Holocaust.  Now his son, Andras Szánto has realized the dream!  He financed the construction.  Individuals helped him with the design: one installed the alarm system, one provided the wash-bowl, others made the pavement of the court, etc. etc.  The Federation of Jewish Communities provided the Aron ha Kodesh and Bimah and some articles of the Jewish Museum of Budapest for the show-cases.  In the court, a hupah will be set up occasionally and in June there will be a wedding already!

Beit David, at Szarvas Summer Camp Dedicated by Ronald Lauder and JDC
At Szarvas, Hungary, site of the Szarvas Summer Camp, co-founded in 1990 by Hon. Ronald S. Lauder and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a new synagogue, Beit David, was inaugurated on July 17, 1998, by Mr. Lauder.  The synagogue is named in remembrance of David Ben-Rafael, an Israeli diplomat who was killed in the bombing of Buenos Aires’ Israeli Embassy in 1992.  Ralph Goldman, Ben-Rafael’s father, and a long-time champion of Central Europe’s Jewish Communities, dedicated a plaque to his son at the ceremony.

The Szarvas Camp is a place that allows Eastern European Jewish youth  to forge connections to Jewish life that they may not otherwise be able to develop.  -- SG

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