The Jewish Communities of Hungary,
Transylvania, Slovakia, Carpathian Russia,
Bachka, Banat and Burgenland

Newsletter No. 41
March 2013 - Nissan 5773

Opening hours:
Sunday through Thursday 9:00-14:00
Friday 9:00-13:00
Group visits: please notify in advance.

Our address:
Haatzmaut Square, Safed

Mailing address:
P.O.Box 1168, Safed 13111, Israel
Telephone: 972-4-6925881
Fax: 972-4-6923880
cup A cup used by Yaakov Reiss for “Coffee with Matzos” during Passover, 1860, Albertirsa

Dear Friends:

In honor of the upcoming Passover holiday, we open with a display of an item that must certainly bring back memories for most of you concerning the household custom “coffee with matzos” (pieces of matzah dipped in a cup of hot coffee).

We hope that you have also found a way to preserve some symbol or custom associated with the Passover holiday tradition in your family.

On behalf of myself and the Museum staff,
I would like to offer you our blessings for a happy and kosher Passover holiday.

Ronny Lustig
Museum Director

Education at the Top of our Priorities

Since its establishment, our Museum has been hosting pupils from schools in Safed and its surrounding area, who visit us in order to learn about the distinctive characteristics of Jewish life in Hungary and also to deepen their knowledge of the tragic story of the Holocaust of this community.

This time, we have chosen to share with you the impression of one of the groups that have recently visited us. During their visit, the group of high school girls split into small session groups, and each group interviewed a Holocaust survivor who volunteers at our museum.

The following is a letter expressing their feelings from this most touching meeting:

“A week ago, you hosted us in the private sanctum jam-packed with your memories and those of the Jewish people, and we wanted to say thank you.
Thank you for letting us into your world, into your most personal experiences.
Thank you for being happy to share and for being patient with our many questions.
Thank you for showing us a world that we have heard so much about, but all that is nothing compared to hearing it from the actual source.
Thank you for your initiative in establishing a museum that teaches us and everyone else about the life of the past and the present and how they merge into the future.
Thank you for passing on your story on so that it will never be forgotten!
It was a moving and powerful experience that reinforced the message – ‘Remember and don’t forget.’
May you be granted many more years of activity through which you will pass that message on, from generation to generation!

With great appreciation, the Safed Girls' High School”
Talit Silver prayer Talis ornament used by the rabbi of the city of Nyíregyháza
Early 20th century

From the archives

As well as dealing with the items that arrive daily, receiving and preserving them, the archive staff initiates projects designed to expand and process the sources of information that have accumulated over the years. For example, the extensive database of rabbis in Hungary recently underwent a comprehensive review, and all the information on the subject is now in a digital format. Along with the biographical information, we store a variety of items in the archive that relate to the lives and work of the rabbis – the holy books that they wrote, their portraits, their correspondence, and the objects that they used, both sacred and everyday. In this area as well, we would be happy to continue receiving material from the public about well-known rabbis or rabbis who were directly connected to your families.

The museum has developed a fruitful collaboration with The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets.
families The Avenue of Families exhibit, part of the Herzl Day Conference, October 2012
Representatives of the company have often found the archival sources kept in the museum invaluable for finding information and for assisting relatives to prove their entitlement to compensation or to some form of payment for assets in Israel that were purchased by their relatives abroad before they were killed in the Holocaust. We take this opportunity to thank the company for its support of the Holocaust guidance and education program for the Russian-speaking population, which has been developed during the past year and has substantially expanded the numbers of visitors and of those interested in the museum.

Diary of events

The Herzl Day Conference that was held during the last Sukkot holiday provided an encounter for the hundreds of guests who came to Safed from near and far in order to participate in the museum’s annual event. Those who attended were rewarded with a particularly fascinating meeting with a high school teacher from the city of Kalocsa in Hungary, Dr. Magóné Tóth Gyöngyi, who initiated and led a special program to commemorate the city’s Jewish community which was destroyed during the Holocaust.

families A photograph from Prof. Yitzhak Kashti’s book, “Longing for Migmon”
A trip in the vineyards near Hódmezővásárhely

The meeting was conducted by media personality Yigal Ravid with simultaneous translation by Ms. Aliza Mermelstein. Selected segments of the film documenting the teacher’s activities added an element of authenticity to the meeting. In addition, those attending the conference were able to view the Avenue of Families exhibit, listen to a musical performance by the Fuego Ensemble, and enjoy a visit to the museum, and a get-together with friends from all over the country. The event was graced by the presence of Dr. Lea Nass, Deputy Minister for Senior Citizens, and the Hungarian Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Szentgyörgyi Zoltán.

Last December, the second in a series of lectures entitled “The Written Word” was held in memory of the late Hassia and Steven Kanitz. The lecture, which was attended by Professor Yitzhak Kashti, director David Fisher, and Professor Guy Miron, was entitled “No School Teaches You How to Escape from a Ghetto,” and focused on the process of writing memoirs and testimony and their contribution to research, while examining how the children of survivors relate to their parents’ memories of the Holocaust period.


Collaboration to renovate a cemetery in a town in northern Hungary

Ms. Keren Radkowsky, a resident of New York City, recently approached the museum with a request to help her find a solution for taking care of and maintaining the Jewish cemetery in the town of Tiszadorogma, where her mother was born to the Horowitz-Bruner family. She also wanted to conduct a survey and to complete the information about those buried there. In response, we were happy to tell Ms. Radkowsky that we have detailed documentation, including photographs of most of the tombstones, and that we would be happy to provide her with the required information. Within a very short time, we managed to complete the photographic documentation of all the graves, arrange the repair of dilapidated tombstones, and plant a hedge around the cemetery. The project could not have been completed without the assistance and personal involvement of Dr. Szegő Ágnes of Budapest, the mayor of Tiszadorogma, Mr. Tóth Zoltán, Museum board member Mr. Steven R. Koltai of Washington D.C., and of course representatives of our association in Budapest. We thank all of them from the bottom of our hearts.
Matza cover Matzah cover sewn as a pillow
The embroidery includes the blessing recited over matzah, 1885

We extend our gratitude for the support of the following:

Our heartfelt thanks to:

Making a Donation for the Museum

Your generous donation will help us maintain the Museum and further develop it.

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 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!

On behalf of our staff and board members

Ronny Lustig
Executive Director
Prof. Hanna Yablonka
Chair of the Board