Learning from Hungarian Jews

Despite many challenges, including anti-Semitism and the rise of extremist nationalist groups, many Jews in Hungary are proud to express their Jewishness and we can support them and learn from their experiences.

By Cathi Luski - JDC Donor | April 2, 2017

Zsuzsa Fritz, director of the Balint Haz JCC in Budapest, Hungary.
My name is Cathi Luski, and my grandparents were of Hungarian descent on my paternaI side.

I, for one, have never once in my 60 years, feared for my safety as a Jewish person, here in the United States. However, it seems that more often than not these days, and shockingly so, we are hearing about some sort of anti-Semitic acts in America.

I often wonder if this was how my grandparents’s families felt in Budapest when pre-WWII anti-Semitism reared its head. Is this the same feeling that Jews from Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union felt in their countries before World War II?

Is history beginning to repeat itself here in America where we have been safe for so long?

And yet, we have lessons from today that show that Jews are resilient even in the toughest of circumstances. Take Hungary, with one of the largest populations of Jews in Eastern Europe.

Despite many challenges, including anti-Semitism and the rise of extremist nationalist groups, many Jews in Hungary are proud to express their Jewishness and we can support them and learn from their experiences.

Zsuzsa Fritz, director of the Balint JCC in Budapest, is at the forefront of this effort. She will be a guest in my home for several days in April and JDC has arranged for her to speak with us about her work at the JCC, and how it acts as a centerpiece for Hungarian Jewry and share many lessons.

Zsuzsa is a dedicated, dynamic and knowledgeable woman who will bring us a fresh perspective of what Jewish life is like in Europe today, and she will help remind all of us of why it is important to remain proudly Jewish wherever we live.

I look forward to sharing more with you after the events.

Cathi Luski and Hadassah Lieberman are co-chairing a giving circle focused on supporting the Balint JCC in Budapest and dedicated to making a very serious impact on Jewish life in Central Europe. For more information, contact Rebecca Neuwirth at rebecca.neuwirth@jdc.org.?

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