November 1998 Issue
Our November issue covers Jewish book publishing in Hungary. János Gadó gives an overview of the several hundred books published during the past two decades, but more importantly after 1989. Besides the classics (from Maimonides through Herzl to Philip Roth), a lot of books by second rate authors are also on the market: one can find anything from cookbooks to philosophy, and from Jewish jokes to Holocaust memoirs. The majority of the books were not published by small, publishing houses, specialised in Jewish subjects, but by the large firms of significant capital. Petra Török’s article is connected to this issue: she outlines Jewish publishing before 1945. The choice of that period — even during the First years of the persecutions – was not significantly inferior to that of today.
In an interview, András Bálint, one of the most popular Hungarian actors and candidate for the director’s position in the new National Theater speaks about his belonging to Hungarian culture. He has never denied his Jewish origins but he does not consider himself to be Jewish. He retorts vehemently to the anti-semitic attacks of the extreme right, but these views cannot make him change his position.
András Szántó recalls the history of one of the most successful Hungarian sports club, MTK (Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre). During its hundred year-long history, this club has often been associated with Jews, since many of its supporters and fans were Jewish. Today at the football games of the MTK one can often hear antisemitic and nazi slogans from the fans of the opponent team.
The sending out of questionnaires to Hungarian Holocaust survivors who might be eligible for a monthly allowance of DEM 250 has been launched. The eligibility regulations are very strict: they require either a 6 month long concentration camp or 18 month long ghetto detention, or hiding. These regulations are disadvantageous for the Hungarian survivors, because Nazi occupation of Hungary lasted for one year, therefore all those who were not deported are not eligible for the compensation.
Gábor T. Szántó in his Antwerp travelogue gives an account of the immigrant Georgian Jews’ community which Keeps apart from even other Jews, and of the peculiarities of diamond trade. Observing the dynamic orthodoxy of the city, he contemplates the possibilities of Hungarian Jewish revival.
The first woman rabbi in Hungary Katalin Kelemen, the leader of the Budapest reform community Sim Shalom received her degree this summer. She had studied at the Leo Baeck College in London.
In their essays, Attila Novák and László Vöröss commemorate a great forgotten figure of the Hungarian Zionist movement, Ernő Szilágyi. Szilágyi was a left-wing ideologue of great stature. He played a significant role in the rescue work during the Holocaust, but when the doors of Zion opened, he stayed at home, because as he said “the Jewry is a European people”.