Szombat is organising a conference entitled “Jewish Fates on Hungarian Stages”. In their introduction to the conference, Tamás Halász and András Nagy reflect on the question why no theatre defining itself as Jewish has developed in Hungary while there have been many Jewish (or of Jewish origins) actors and playwrights active, more than one of them regarded as among the best. The majority of the authors and actors of the Budapest cabarets for example were Jewish, reciting and thinking in Hungarian, until their fates were sealed in 1944.
Hungarian laws allow tax payers to offer 1% of their income tax to one of the religious denominations. The Jewish Community received 5567 donations, while the alleged number of Jews in Hungary is between 80,000-100,000. This ratio is not worse than that of the traditional large Christian denominations. The followers of the denominations registered after 1989 (Buddhists, Hare Krishna, Charismatic Protestants), however, support their communities much stronger.
A Hungarian professional education journal publishes each year the order of merit of the Jewish High Schools in Hungary. The ranking is based on the ratio of students accepted into higher education. On the list of the 250 Hungarian High Schools the secular Lauder Yavne Jewish Community School, founded ten years ago, is the 97th in a five year average, the orthodox American Endowment School (to whose first class only four students registered this year) is the 205th, and the Sándor Scheiber Tanintézet, the school of the Official Jewish Community is the 228th.
“Szombat is at the forefront of destructive criticism” – writes Zoltán Radnóti, a young rabbi, whose ordination served as an occasion for our critical article on the religious erudition of rabbis in Hungary.
“If it doesn’t provide a real sense of security, people wont approach it” – claims Zeev Pashkes, a Hassid from Belz who has been teaching Jewish tradition in Budapest. “Today the Community often means a cold machinery for the people instead of the homely feeling it should, for which it is there.”