“Festivals should make us more appreciative of the little wonders of everyday life: the smile of our children, the gentle gestures of family members, the wisdom of the elderly”, András Heisler, the head of Hungarian Jewish federation Mazsihisz, said late on Monday.
Heisler addressed a celebration marking the second day of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, organised by Mazsihisz and the local government of the Castle District.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said at the celebration that “Hanukkah, the festival of lights… reminds us that light will always overcome darkness”.
The histories of Hungarians and Jews cannot be separated, but that past “was often burdened by painful wounds”, Karácsony said, adding that “honest reflection is crucial so that we can learn from that history”. Reflection is not possible without declaring that “the Holocaust is a tragedy in Hungary’s national history; it happened to us and we committed a painfully large part of it”, the mayor said.
“We must overcome indifference, turn to each other and make it clear in our daily actions that understanding and unity are stronger than stigmatisation or division”, Karacsony said. Budapest must be made a place where Jews and non-Jews can live in peace and security,” he added.
District mayor Márta V Naszályi said in her address that the local council would discuss opportunities to unearth an ancient synagogue in Buda Castle. “We want to demonstrate that new ways to celebrate and build a community can only be found in our shared heritage”.
The celebration was attended by Yakov Hadas-Handelsman Israel’s ambassador-designate to Hungary.
featured image: Karácsony (l) with Heisler; via MTI/Zsolt Szigetváry