Re: Center for Jewish History #hungary

Louis Schonfeld <lmagyar@...> wrote on 9-2-98

I would like to suggest that the term "Hungarian Jew" be defined. Do you mean "Pre-Trianon Hungary"? Do you mean Jews of the Carpathian Basin? Do you include the Jews of the former Czechoslovakia? Many of these people never set foot in Hungary.
Louis has been a great champion for the Carpathian Jews, so I know he must have meant to include them in "Hungarian Jews".I would just like to make sure.
Louis Schonfeld responds:

One answer to the question of who is a Hungarian Jew can be found on our web

In the geographical areas that concern our SIG, Jews residing there prior to
1919 were considered by others and for the most part by themselves to be
Hungararian Jews. Since the geographical areas under discussion have a
variety of names and territorial designations and political boundaries on
many occasions were subject to policy changes and conflict we may find it
easier to apply a linguistic definition: Any Jewish person who COULD
communicate (on any level)in Hungarian should be considered a Hungarian Jew.

At first glance this may appear to be a rather lame (and certainly
unprofessional) definition. However, after much thought I could only think
of two examples that might contradict the linguistic definition that I
posit. There may be Jews who lived in the Burgenland who could not
communicate in Hungarian (speak or understand the language). This may have
been due to their proximity to Vienna, or perhaps a snobbish disdain for
Hungarian culture when compared to Miteleuropa Kultur (read German culture).
Another group that might not meet my rather simplistic definition of who is
a Hungarian Jew would be the Jews >from Slovakia (excluding Kosice and the
surrounding area). However, this is not meant to exclude these two groups
from the corpus of Hungarian Jewry, I only wish to point out that these two
groups did not incorporate Hungarian culture (and language) to the same
degree that other Jews did who lived in Hungary prior to 1919. The
descendants of Jews who lived in areas that were once part of Hungary and
that were later transferred to other countries are free to call themselves
what they wish. However, I think it would behoove them to ask the question,
if my parents and grandparents etc. were Hungarian Jews what makes me a
Czech Jew, Ukrainian Jew, Romanian Jew or a Slovak Jew. There are in fact
Czech, Ukrainian, Romanian and Slovak Jews who can legitimately make such a
claim , however, in my opinion that designation should be justified by the
historical facts, and not because of a personal desire.

Finally, this is only the quick definition. A more comprehensive answer to
the question of who are Hungarian Jews can be understood by reading Raphael
Patai's book, The Jews of Hungary.

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