By COLlive staff
Division among various segments of the Hungarian Jewish community is not news. It dates back, in fact, to the second half of the 19th century, specifically pitting the liberal-reform (“Neologs”) against the traditional Orthodox. The deep-seated conflict recently resurfaced, directed this time against the Chabad Lubavitch movement, while dragging the European Jewish Congress (EJC) and Hungary’s MAZSIHISZ (Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities) into the fray.
At issue is an inflammatory and highly damaging statement singling out Chabad, and reportedly publicized by MAZSIHISZ, Hungary’s liberal-reform Jewish umbrella organization, a few months ago.
The statement, attributed to a decision by the executive committee of the European Jewish Congress, claimed that the organization found Chabad to be “a serious threat to the advocacy work of Europe’s Jewish communities.”
More specifically, the statement “condemned… non-representative Jewish organizations which both disrupt government and legislative activity and Jewish public life… The decision was mostly motivated by the aspirations of the rapidly expanding Chabad movement, which in many countries of the continent seriously threaten the advocacy work of traditional, historically embedded Jewish communities.”
When news of the statement reached Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters in New York, they immediately reached out to the European Jewish Congress for clarification. While attributed to the EJC, the statement was nowhere to be found on its website.
“Recently it has come to our attention that Hungary’s MAZSIHISZ community website featured a review of decisions made at a meeting in Brussels by the executive committee of the EJC concerning the Jewish communities of the 24 countries it represents,” wrote a Chabad representative via email. “The website claims that the European Jewish Congress finds Chabad a threat to the European Jewish communities and their work. However, when we reviewed the EJC website, we could not find anything to confirm this in your discussion about the meeting.”
“Please confirm if, in fact, these statements reflect the truth of what transpired at the meeting vis-a-vis Chabad, as we have not found anything to corroborate them on your EJC website in its report of the February meeting and its resolutions.”
In responding to Chabad’s inquiry, an EJC representative said they were unable to find the article on the MAZSHISZ website and therefore could not comment on it. The representative confirmed the passage of a resolution “On Legitimacy and Unity” during the Brussels meeting in January “adopted unanimously by the EJC’s 42 affiliated national Jewish communities.” Further, the General Assembly resolved “to reject all attempts to spread division among European Jewry.”
“We can also confirm that the resolution in question does not refer to the Chabad movement, but relates to specific concerns over unelected, non-representative organizations which have on numerous occasions claimed to speak on behalf of European Jewry.”
COLlive.com reached out last week to a representative of MAZSIHISZ for comment. It has yet to be answered.