The Jewish Heritage – Jewish Parishes in the Hungarian Countryside debuted on Monday evening at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences event. The book, by the young cultural historian Viktor Cseh, may open a new chapter in the general Hungarian history of science.
“This day is very important for the Hungarian culture,” stated Szilveszter E. Vizi (84), former president of the Hungarian Academy of Science (MTA). The Széchenyi Prize-winning professor, also the president of the Christian-Jewish Society, believes that it is high time to write such a great book about the less-known history of Jews living in the countryside.
Before the conversation, Péter Kirschner, chairman of the book’s publishing company Mazsike [Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association], welcomed the guests. He expressed his gratitude towards the leadership of the Hungarian Academy of Science, which during its 33 years of operation, always supported their work.
The conversation members were Viktor Cseh, the author of the book, Zsuzsa Toronyi, the chairman of the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archive, and Nóra Winkler, a journalist.
The author initially planned to write a 100-page-long travel book. Still, the ever-growing scientific research, and the vast amount of resulting material, led to the publishing of this grandiose book, which is believed to be the historic cultural sensation of the year.
The enormous A4 book weighs almost two kilograms and was first presented a few weeks ago in Tapolca; nevertheless, the event at the Hungarian Academy of Science was the official premiere. Following its launch, ceremonies are planned at several locations in the countryside.
According to Zsuzsa Toronyi, the mission of Viktor Cseh produced research material that proved to be a valuable resource for their organisation since the book covers locations that were not part of the Jewish remembrance. She believes that the research on Hungarian Jews has been selective due to the consideration of the decision-makers. Therefore, the book of Viktor Cseh is not only a great story but also a milestone in the scientific research of Jewish cultural history and a significant step towards the inclusion of the ethnography of Hungarian Jews in the canon of the universal culture of Hungary.
The Jewish Heritage – Jewish Parishes in the Hungarian Countryside introduces the communities of 134 Hungarian villages, and the author has already started to cover an additional 140 locations. Altogether, there are believed to be about 600 countryside parishes, so there is much more work to be done.
Photo credit: Neokohn