According to Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, the Hungarian government is using an additional budget resource to support the traditions of Hungarian-speaking Jewry and bring to life the traditions of Hungarian Neology, as well as preserve and pass them along.
The agreement on the support was announced by Zsolt Semjén after he received the leading representatives of the Hungarian Jewish Prayer Association (Zsima), established against Mazsihis, at a formal meeting on Thursday.
Semjén said that he considered it the duty of the government to conscientiously, as with Christian and Protestant priests and pastors, provide support to the representatives of the Jewish religion for the performance of their „soul and spirit-lifting work.”
The Deputy Prime Minister emphasized that while it seeks to support activities related to faith, the government does not interfere in the autonomy, internal affairs or interfaith relations of any religious institution.
According to him, the government will provide Zsima with HUF 51 million a year from 2021 to 2025 for this purpose. As he said, this resource is built into the budget, so it provides predictable support for them. He added that in addition to this, Zsima can participate in various tenders in the same way as any other organization.
Referring to the new form of support, Zsolt Semjén said:
„We don’t take anything from anyone; everyone here simply receives. There is no exception for anyone.”
The Deputy Prime Minister recalled that the government had previously — when Péter Feldmájer was president of Mazsihisz — concluded a comprehensive agreement of historical significance with Mazsihisz, wherein, starting with a real estate settlement, all issues were covered. Later, at the request of Mazsihisz, it was also agreed that they would not seek support for the additional income of religious persons, including rabbis (as pastors and priests receive in the case of Catholics and Protestants) but would spend money on taking care of their cemeteries.
In an interview, President of Zsima Tamás Róna also emphasized that they wanted to settle relations with organizations moving away from Neology, such as EMIH and the Hungarian Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community. The Hungarian Jewish Prayer Association (Zsima) was established to help people practice Judaism and eliminate passivity in certain areas of faith and religion.
Last year, the government doubled the amount of support, for religious persons in Hungary and abroad.
Semjén said that under the agreement signed with Zsima on Thursday, Hungarian-speaking Jews will now receive a new budget source, which can be used for the financial support of rabbis, religious teachers, cantors, and persons necessary for the practice of religion. Zsolt Semjén emphasized that this extra money serves the „purposes of the living.”
He added that the maintenance of Jewish cemeteries is also an important goal, with the government providing special subsidies for it, as it has always done.
At the meeting, Tamás Róna thanked the government for the new support and called the signing of the agreement a historic moment. As he said, thanks to this new funding, they will be able to build the future of Neology more strongly and decisively, and he expressed his hope that those who perform the noble work in service of their religion would gain strength from it. He said the grant would already help 18 people, including a rabbi, deputy rabbi and cantor.
Zsima was founded in October 2020 by 10 Hungarian Neolog Jews from Mazsihisz. Mazsihisz has regarded the new Neolog organization as an enemy since its formation. Under the pressure of András Heisler, president of Mazsihisz, many were forced to leave the organization led by Tamás Róna.