The leaders of the Mazsihisz (Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities), MAOIH (Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community of Hungary), EMIH (Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities) and Bét Orim and Sim Salom progressive Jewish denominations sat at a table.
The discussion confirmed that the views of those present regarding the fair distribution of the perpetual annuity are very different and that they have not been able to reach a consensus on this issue yet – read the website of Mazsihisz.
Mazsihisz initiated the fulfillment of Article 15 of the assignment agreement under the Government Decree currently determining the distribution of the annuity. According to the provision, if the National Assembly recognizes other organizations as Jewish denominations, their recognized needs must also be taken into account when assigning the perpetual annuity.
Shlomo Köves, head rabbi of EMIH, did not see any obstacle to fulfilling this point of the agreement, but he stressed that there need to be guarantees in place to make sure the method of distributing the perpetual annuity, which is intended to support the religious life of all Hungarian Jews, is based on objective indicators and not on an ad hoc basis determined by current political power relations. He considers the distribution set out in the 2012 agreement to be unfair.
Róbert Deutsch, president of MAOIH, also stressed the unfairness and non-compliance with historical traditions and unfair distribution. He sees an opportunity to come to an agreement, but at the same time, he emphasized that the financial situation of Hungarian Orthodox Jews being on the razor’s edge is the result of many years of unjust division, which must be corrected in some way. It is a common responsibility, as well as in the interest of all Jews, that the historical heritage of the oldest Hungarian Israeli community, which suffered the greatest martyrdom during the hell of the Holocaust, should not be a victim of strife and stinginess. In order for democratic principles to prevail, Róbert Deutsch would also ask for the position of the MAOIH presidency and opinion-makers to be taken into consideration during the settlement process.
András Heisler, on behalf of Mazsihisz, welcomed the openness of the EMIH and the MAOIH in complying with Article 15, but he emphasized that the perpetual annuity agreement had been concluded between Mazsihisz and the Hungarian government and that they did not intend to change this or the assigned proportions of the perpetual annuity, as they considered these to be proportionate and fair.
Those present agreed that the actual value of the annuity has decreased drastically compared to 2012 at the time of the assignment, and its correction requires Government action. They agreed to continue their discussions in the first half of July and to try to reach a common position for the development of Hungarian Jewry. The progressive communities of Bét Orim and Sim Salom also stressed that their current situation is unsustainable in the long run.
On a positive note, the participants were happy that they succeeded, as a first step, in sitting down at a table, with the intention of cooperating, and sharing their concerns with each other, as they all agree that the future of Hungarian Jewry is extremely important to the entire community.
Péter Árvai, Szim Salom vice president
Róbert Deutsch, MAOIH president
András Heisler, Mazsihisz president
Gábor Kálmán, Bét Orim president
Shlomo Köves, EMIH head rabbi