This month Dr. József Schweitzer, the highly respected doyen of Hungarian rabbis retired as an active rabbi. The intimate farewell nearly became a riot: his followers demanded that he should not be sent into retirement, and later Dr Schweitzer himself stated that his successor’s measures “had blown his community apart”, in an article János Gadó claims that the cause of the temper is the fact that rabbi Schweitzer is not simply one of the rabbis in Hungary, but an emblematic figure of the Jewish community.
Earlier this year in June the Hungarian orthodox Jewish community held it’s yearly assembly. Our correspondent Márton Csáki found that „the election was carried out in a truly democratic manner: anybody was allowed to run as a candidate for becoming one of the 25 leaders or one of the five superiors (and it was a secret ballot as well) – yet the final results were not accepted by the president. Why not? Probably because his confidants did not manage to get into the main positions. Because before the election itself, president Fixler clearly stated whom he supports.“
Under the title “Optimits” we summarize a sociological survey of the Jews living in France.
One of the topics of our Israel section this month is the history of the settlers’ movement. In his report Attila Novák sums up the situation as: „And then a self-enclosed, ethnic nationalism is formed, allocating and taking away various rights based on birth. Its alpha is Hitler, and its omega is Arafat, and it does not speak any other ‘gentile’ languages.”
Our Esther’s bag section records a roundtable discussion on domestic violence. One of the participants of the discussion was Judit Wirth, who has recently been decorated by the state for her efforts for the protection of women. She claims: “95 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women, while the aggressors are men”.
Katalin Pécsi wrote about the “Jewish Festival” in Budapest, and about the Jewish aspects of Sziget Fesztivál, a yearly local event referred to as the “Hungarian Woodstock” The Chabad-Lubavitch movement was also represented at the event where “Hasidic pop music bellowed from the speakers all day long: perhaps its message was that Jews are just as capable of being happy as they are renowned for too clever reasoning.”
The recently deceased Charles Liebman, American-Israeli sociologist wrote about the Israeli society’s attitude towards religion.
We welcome the Jewish new year with the words of Franz Rosenzweig about the Shabbath.
Ágnes Gergely poet and translator of literary works talks about her identity, about expressions referring to this: “I prefer the word Israelite as opposed to Zsidó (Jew). The sound “zs” recalls bad memories because a big, yellow letter “Zs” was printed on my fathers army identity card”- explains the poet, and in this month’s issue of Szombat we publish one of her poems as well.