Newsletter No. 31
Adar 5767 – March 2007
The past year has undoubtedly been turbulent, but thanks to your support and the dedication of the staff, we are facing the future with confidence.
"All is for the best"
During the preparations for the traditional 'Herzl Day' conference in
July 2006, distressing events began to occur, culminating in heavy Katyusha
bombardment of our city Safed at the outbreak of the war. We were forced
to postpone the conference and, for the first time ever, to close the doors
of the Museum.
When the fighting ended, we noted with relief that the staff members and
their families were unscathed and the Museum had suffered no direct
damage. The undirect damage was a significant loss of income for the Museum
during the main tourist season.
A new date for the Herzl Day conference was determined - during the Sukkot
holidays. In retrospect, this proved to be excellent decision, so it was
decided to retain this date in the future as well.
The conference was devoted this time to the younger generation and its
involvement in perpetuation of the heritage. It was attended by over 600
participants. We were moved by the interest displayed by the children and
grandchildren of old friends and by the buzz of activity in the Museum and
the conference area.
We would like to thank those who helped organizing the conference and the
lecturers: General (res.)
Aharon Zeevi Farkas;
Zahava (Leitner) Kor and
the pianist Oliver Deutsch and the Hungarian Ambassador to Israel,
Dr. Gyenge András, who conveyed greetings.
We are grateful to the Révész family for donating the annual
scholarship in memory of their parents,
Dr. Mordechai and Dr. Thea Révész of blessed memory,
Ayala Révész-Simchoni for organizing the children's
activity in the Sukkah.
Photo: Chairperson of the board, Professor Hanna Yablonka.
Prepare for the next Herzl Day Conference
in Safed at the beginning of October 2007, with focus on the socio-cultural
aspect. The theme for this year and the next: the contribution of
Hungarian-speaking Jewry to the State of Israel, in anticipation of the
60th anniversary of its establishment.
Second-generation activity is underway
Recently, we have launched a series of events aimed at the younger
generations. At the first get-together, we discussed various possibilities
for involving members of these age groups in promotion and development of
the Museum. The participants were afforded a glimpse into some of the
'treasures' of the Museum and the stories behind them were related by
Lustig (See photo).
We have held two sessions so far of the series called 'The Heritage of
Hungarian-Speaking Jewry in Israel'. At the first meeting, the author
Carmit Guy spoke about her book 'The Journey to Yad Hanna', the story of
life in the kibbutz founded by her parents and their comrades of the
Dror-Habonim youth movement (In the photo with Ronny Lustig).
The second meeting, a lecture by Guy Raz, was devoted to Hungarian-born
photographers who commemorated the Zionist enterprise.
The forthcoming events of the series:
April 5, 2007, Safed – a special visit to the Museum.
April 16, 2007, Netanya – "Aide Memoire", a performance by the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, followed by an informal talk with the artistic director Rami Be'er, on the impact of being the son of Holocaust survivors from Hungary on his artistic work.
June 8, 2007, Jerusalem – a tour following Hungarian Jews in the ultra-orthodox world.
Further plans: a meeting on Hungarian cuisine, and a tour in the wake of
pioneers and artists in Israel.
General Assembly (Tel Aviv – December 13, 2006)
The first part of the meeting was dedicated to the memory of
Moshe Alpan of
blessed memory, previous chairman of the board of our Museum and one of
the most prominent members of the Zionist underground in Hungary during
the Holocaust. Among the speakers on this moving occasion were members of
his family, his friends Ephraim Agmon and Eli Netzer and the Museum's
director, Yosef Lustig.
During the assembly several representatives of the younger generation
joined the Association. We hope to continue revitalizing the ranks in the
Like father like son
Ronny Lustig, second generation of the directorial level, works tirelessly
for promotion of the Museum. It was with a sense of déjá vu
that we were once again taken by surprise when, during a festive reception
at the residence of the Hungarian ambassador, the Hungarian Minister of
Education and Culture,
Dr. Hiller István, awarded him a certificate
of merit in appreciation of his activities. Two years previously the same
minister, also unexpectedly, presented a high decoration on behalf of
Hungary's President to
Hava & Yosef Lustig, founders and directors of the
Museum for twenty years. May they go from strength to strength!
The permanent exhibition at the Museum has recently been upgraded by the
installation of an audio system, which guides the visitors among the items
on display in a choice of several languages (Hebrew, English or Hungarian).
From now on the visitors can listen to the fascinating stories behind the
exhibits and thus conduct their tour more independently. However, if
interested, the visitors may still consult the staff concerning any
questions related to the exhibition.
The Museum in the Media
Two splendid guide books in Hebrew, published in the past year, have
devoted considerable space to our Museum:
Matmonei Haaretz (Treasures of the Country) published by Mapa
N. Shalev-Kalifa), and
Tsfat vekhol netivoteha (Safed and its pathways) published by
Yad Ben Zvi (editor: E. Meron).
A number of journalists have covered our activities in the written and
The Museum staff often assists production teams of documentary films who
wish to use our archives. In the past year there has been a particular
interest in documenting rescue activities during the Holocaust focusing on
the story of the late
Dr. Israel Kastner. Worthy of note is the work of the well-known
Hungarian producer and director
Bubryák István, whose film on the 'Kastner Train' is
part of his series of documentaries on Hungarian Jewry.
Our New Educational Workshop
We have recently taken over a room in the adjacent building, which has
been converted into an educational workshop through the praiseworthy
Ayelet Shalgi, our curator and Ruthi Gilad, the educational coordinator.
In the unique atmosphere of the workshop, children enjoy fascinating
educational activities: 'Childhood Cut Short', 'Taking Risks in order to
Rescue', 'Grandpa Tibi's Suitcase', 'The Scroll of the Jewish Scouts' etc.
Schoolgirls from Safed attending the Museum. (Photo: Yossi Zeliger).
The new director of the Jewish Agency in Budapest is no other than
Eran El-Bar, son of Elisheva Halbersberg of Safed, a former volunteer in
the Museum. We extend warm wishes for success to the young director,
who is well acquainted with our work.
The Museum's Association in Hungary, headed by chairman
Dr. Medgyesi Iván, is working energetically to promote our
contacts with various institutions and communities. The Association was
also represented at an international convention held in Komarom, Slovakia.
The Museum for War History in Budapest has held a seminar & exhibition on
Hungarian Colonel Reviczky Imre, Righteous of all Nations.
Our Museum also has extensive material on the activities of this officer,
who saved many Jews serving in labor battalion.
Organized groups continue to visit us, some of them under the auspices of
the Jewish Agency. A traditional visit was paid by a group of teachers
from Hungary attending a course at Yad Vashem. A delegation from the town
of Siófok also visited us, accompanied by former ambassador
Dr. Hóvári János.
Our board member Steven R. Koltai, who heads the Museum Friends Association
in Los Angeles, and his mother Mrs. Kathy Koltai, are now engaged in
planning ways of improving fund-raising in the United States on behalf of
the Museum. Thanks to their efforts, we have already received several
donations from friends abroad.
To Whom Do We Owe Thanks?
To all of you, dear friends, who support the Museum's activities, donate
items to enrich our collection or give us financial donations to further
Claims Conference, for its ongoing support of documentary and
educational projects at the Museum, including the establishment of the
computerized information center and the website on the underground
activities during WWII, as well as development of various educational
The Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport.
The Leslie & Vera Keller Fund for the Nurturing of Jewish Heritage
for its generous support.
A glimpse at some of our new exhibits
The lapel badge of a 'graduate scout' member of the
Hashomer Hatzair movement, donated by
Fonyódi Tivadar of Budapest.
An impressive collection from the estate of the actor
of blessed memory was donated by his son,
Elhanan Tenzer. The collection
includes documents and testimonials he received for his activities, as
well as recordings, various mementos and many books.
We received generous donations of books also from
Yehudit Gidali and
A service book from the 'popular uprising', dated 1897, was donated by
Kornfeld Tibor, leader of the Dunaszerdahely community.
The full, uncensored version of the book by the anti-fascist spy and
Dr. Radó Sándor, has recently been published in
Hungary. It will be recalled that the manuscript and other items are
available in our archives thanks to
Dr. Trom András, his step-son.
Rachel & Mordechai Fisch have enriched the collection with a
portrait of Rabbi Aharon Horin, chief rabbi of the Arad community,
Very valuable documentary material on the activities of the Zionist
underground in Hungary during the Holocaust has been received from
Peretz Révész, who was one of the main operatives.
Magda Berger donated decorated strips for a wooden cabinet,
embroidered by her mother in 1916.
The Staff and members of the Board of the Museum share in the grief of the families of the Friends of the Museum who passed away this year. Blessed be their memory.
Our heartfelt thanks
and best wishes
for the upcoming holidays go to:
Our volunteers, activists, Board members and members of the Association in Israel, Hungary, U.S.A. & Australia
Organizations supporting the Museum
Thousands of friends of the Museum worldwide.
Annual Membership Renewal
Please pay attention to renewal of your membership as a friend of the
Your generous donation will help us maintain the Museum and further develop
it for the benefit of all generations.
Our friends in the U.S.A. may contribute a tax-deductible donation for the
Museum through the P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds Inc. If you wish to
donate this way, please print the form, make a check payable to
P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds Inc.
and send it to their New York office along with the enclosed form.
We greatly appreciate your ongoing support and contribution to our Museum.
On behalf of the Staff and the Board,
Prof. Hanna Yablonka