As a result of 10 years of research, the large-scale work of cultural historian Viktor Cseh entitled Jewish Heritage – Rural Jewish Religious Communities in Hungary was published. Viktor Cseh is the editor-in-chief of the Kol Jákov orthodox weekly and deputy editor-in-chief of the Egység (“Unity”) magazine, as well as a writer at Zsidó.com and Neokohn.
According to the article published on Zsido.com, in a statement by the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association supporting the publication of the volume, it emphasized that Viktor Cseh’s book repays an old debt:
“Hungarian-Jewish historiography has been focused on Budapest since the end of the 19th century and deals primarily with assimilated communities. After the Holocaust, the Hungarian Jewish memory also became Budapest-centric. This has affected the daily lives of today’s Jewish community, as well as the increasingly vibrant tourism surrounding its Jewish past. This work seeks to counterbalance this trend: It presents rural Hungarian Jewish heritage, making the past and present of rural Jewry visible, as well as the diversity of Jewish religious trends.”
In her book review, Zsuzsanna Toronyi, the director of the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, recalls the little-known villages in which some families promised themselves every year that the next year they would be in Jerusalem, the holiest place in the Jewish world, for the holidays. But then they remained where they were.
“They lived everyday lives, traded in wine and crops, and became diligent craftsmen or famous scientists. They built synagogues and schoolhouses, connected to the homes, temples and tombs of their ancestors. The memory of them today is just a painful hole, but their memory can become a blessing, a layer that enriches the culture of today’s Hungary if we get to know it better. This book helps us do this. Read it in memory of the former Jewish communities who heard the morning rooster here during their morning prayers,” said Zsuzsanna Toronyi.
At the book’s formal presentation, journalist Nóra Winkler and Zsuzsanna Toronyi spoke with the author.