Jewish research center opened in Debrecen

Now it is worth it to research rural Jewry! At least in Debrecen, they think so. The university of the city and the Jewish community there have recently officially launched a research institute, where experts are also expected to receive a cost-reimbursement incentive to pursue research into the history of Jewish life in the area. 

The Jewish Cultural and Scientific Research Institute in Debrecen was inaugurated last week. The official presentation of the institution was attended by the Deputy Secretary of State for Civil and Social Relations of the government, reported Bennem Élő Eredet per a story in a local paper.

Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky said at the event that 

„the cooperation is also a unique initiative at the national level, which, in addition to the innovative plans of young researchers, can later enrich research into Jewish history and the knowledge base between the parties through international professional exchange programs.” 

In addition to the national government, the local government of Debrecen also played an important role in the establishment of the institute, the politician added. 

After several years of organization, the University of Debrecen and the Jewish Community of Debrecen have finally opened their research institute, whose physical home will be the headquarters of the religious community. 

At the beginning of October, we will hand over the library room, which has been collecting our rare books from the beginning of the 1770s, and in the future, the institute will have an independent research area. 

– explained Zsolt Heller, President of the Foundation for the Jewish Synagogue and Cemetery in Debrecen and who is one of the leaders of the new project; Heller has also recently performed more and more cultural and scientific tasks for the local community on behalf of Tamás Horovitz, President of the Debrecen Jewish Community. 

„The institute creates an opportunity for anyone who turns to us with a well-founded research plan to do their work locally, under professional conditions. For this, we also provide accommodation and meals for non-Debrecen applicants if necessary. There would be room for at least 10 researchers at the moment, but we could even double that later” 

– said Tamás Horovitz, the president of the community, who did not rule out the possibility of even announcing a scholarship in order to make the professional work at the institute even more attractive. 

In the beginning, we imagine primarily local and Israeli researchers at the institute, but because the treasure trove of the city and the region is huge, we welcome others who are looking to draw from this part of rural Jewry for their work, Horovitz said. He also believes that international cooperation would also provide an opportunity to utilize, for example, Israeli innovation techniques and developments in Hungary in even other areas of research.

Last week’s opening was attended by the Deputy Rector for Education of the University of Debrecen and the Director General of the Teacher Training Center. This also demonstrates that the integration of the new Jewish research institute into their own academic portfolio is relevant for the long-established higher education institution, which is particularly popular with Israeli students. 

Dr. Elek Bartha, Vice Rector, emphasized that the University of Debrecen has long maintained close relations with the denominations that have an impact on Hungarian culture. „We have also dealt with the cultural and scientific life of Jews at an international level through conferences and research, and these programs were usually held at the center of the Jewish Community of Debrecen,” he said. 

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