Although the flourishing religious activity of Hungary’s Jewish population after the 1989 regime change has mainly had beneficial effects, it is not without its problems: no less than five Jewish organizations are now squabbling over a decades-old state restitution program.
The dispute, which began between three organizations of the Hungarian Jewish community, goes all the way back to an 1991 restitution law, in which the Hungarian state granted Jewish organizations reparations for 153 properties confiscated by the country during the Holocaust from Jews who have no legal heirs.
One smaller Orthodox Hungarian organization, MAOIH, claims that it owns 40 percent of the properties in question, while the largest umbrella group of Hungarian Jews, the Neolog Mazsihisz, only transferred five percent to them; thus, Mazsihisz owes MAOIH $33 million. This claim is also supported by another Orthodox Hungarian group, EMIH, affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
According to Magyar Hírlap, Mazsihizs – in a departure from its original reluctance to negotiate – finally sat down last week with representatives of the four other groups, MAOIH, EMIH, and the progressive groups Beth Orim and Sim Salom. Though the parties involved said after the first meeting that their positions are still far apart, discussions will continue in the first half of July.
Title image: Leader of the EMIH Orthodox Jewish group Slomó Köves and András Heisler, president of the largest, Neolog MAZSIHISZ. (source: Magyar Hírlap/Péter Papajcsik)