Chabad-Lubavitch of Hungary announced the installment of new representatives to serve the Jewish community of Debrecen.
Rabbi Shmuel Feigin and his wife Rivki will join the team of seven Chabad emissaries to Hungary led by Rabbi Boruch Oberlander, said Chabad emissary Rabbi Shlomo Köves, Executive Rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.
Debrecen, home to a large Jewish population before the Holocaust, was known for several leading Hungarian rabbis, among them Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl, an activist credited with achieving a two year freeze that prevented the deportation of Slovakian Jewry to Nazi death camps.
Since the fall of Communism, Debrecen has grown in stature and population. Today it boasts Hungary’s second largest population, exceeded only by Budapest.
The new emissaries were announced at a special banquet held in the newly renovated Óbuda synagogue. The synagogue, the oldest still standing in Hungary, was renovated with a grant from the Rohr Family Foundation.
Addressing the banquet, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky of Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, who helped spearhead the renovation of the synagogue, spoke of the rekindling of Jewish life in Hungary.
Rabbi Kotlarsky described the reemergence of Jewish life in Hungary as “nothing short of a spiritual renaissance. Who would have thought that from the ashes of the Holocaust and the suppressive Communist regime, Jews would once more gather in the Óbuda synagogue.”
Rabbi Kotlarsky and a delegation from the Jewish community met with Hungarian President Pál Schmitt. In their hour-long meeting, they discussed the need for increased education to help combat growing anti-Semitism in Hungary.
Before leaving, President Schmitt expressed warm feelings for the activities of Chabad in Hungary.
“Here,” he said, “they always have an open door.”