A Jerusalem rabbinical court has made a ruling in favor of two smaller Orthodox Jewish organizations in Hungary concerning state reparations of Jewish properties confiscated during World War II, Hungarian Jewish news portal Neokohn reports.
“Real estate and other assets taken from communities during World War II or during communist rule must be returned to the original religious community or their successors,” the civic section of the Jerusalem Supreme Rabbinate Court said in its ruling, adding that “if the distribution has not previously prevailed on the basis of the above criteria, it is correct to apply positive discrimination that corrects the already established disproportionate distribution, so that the past erroneous distribution is compensated in the direction of all concerned.”
The dispute between the three organizations of the Hungarian Jewish community goes 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 5 percent to them, hence Mazsihisz owes MAOIH $33 million. Their claim is also supported by another Orthodox Hungarian group, EMIH, affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
Mazsihisz did not send its representatives to the Jerusalem court hearing, saying that the dispute should be handled by Hungarian courts. While the Jerusalem Supreme Rabbinate Court is part of the Israeli judicial system, its rulings are restricted to religious matters and even in Israel, only Orthodox groups accept their jurisdiction.
Title image: András Heisler, President of Hungary’s largest Jewish umbrella group Mazsihisz. (source: Mazsihisz)