Merkel at Budapest synagogue remembers Hungary’s Holocaust victims

Marcy Oster

BUDAPEST (JTA) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a visit to Budapest’s Dohany Street Synagogue paid tribute to the 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Merkel, who is on a state visit to Hungary, on Monday laid a stone on the Jewish community memorial in the synagogue backyard. Her tour of the historic building was led by Robert Frolich, the synagogue’s chief rabbi.

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Hungarian Jewish leaders and Merkel met for one hour at Budapest Jewish Community headquarters. The meeting lasted about half an hour longer than planned because of the “very sensitive” interest of Merkel, Andras Heisler, president of the Federation of the Hungarian Jewish Communities, told the Hungarian TV channel ATV.

Heisler said the meeting included five Jewish denominations, among them the Reform and the Orthodox religious streams. He said the group discussed “the question of anti-Semitism, which is increasing in Europe and also present in Hungary.”

The talks also touched on Jewish schools and education, which Heisler called the most important issue for the Jewish community’s future in Hungary.

The Dohany Street Synagogue memorial is the only one in Hungary that commemorates the Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust. No public monuments memorialize Hungary’s Jewish Holocaust victims, which is a sore subject with the country’s Jewish community.