On the 7th of April, 2011, US Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis met with Sim Shalom’s Rabbi Katalin Kelemen and Vice President Gabor Radvanszki in her office in the US Embassy in Budapest. Topics discussed included the history and present state of Sim Shalom Congregation and of Hungarian Reform Jewry, the opportunities to fight anti-Semitism through education and community life, and the pending reforms in Jewish-governmental relationships in Hungary.
The introduction included the roots and the birth of our community, including the very first Yom haShoah program where we could support several generations of survivors in their grief with the first joint Kaddish prayer.
Regarding the Shoa, the Ambassador emphasized the importance of education, following which which we then described Sim Shalom’s efforts for the “open synagogue” where people from all religious and ethnic background can be introduced to the everyday life of a Jewish congregation. Interfaith initiatives also can be very useful in learning about each other. This knowledge and mutual trust can develop into a common platform for civil society which can support worthwhile causes.
As a closing topic we requested the support of the US Government in the pending overdue reforms of the Jewish representation framework. This includes the restitution and community development issues being currently discussed by the Hungarian government and the Jewish communities.