Full Recognition of Progressive Judaism in Hungary is Distrupted by New “Church Law”

Based on the final version of the legislation passed by the Parliament of Hungary on Monday night 11 July, 2011, the Progressive movement’s Hungarian congregations, Sim Shalom and Bet Orim, are presently not included in the category of Jewish religious institutions. This means that the Parliament only recognized Orthodoxy, the local Conservative-like Neolog and a third (Chabad affiliated) organization.

Even though the registration list is open-ended, and it may be possible to become registered within the next 5 month before the new law is enforced, the entire process and the requirements to be fulfilled are very challenging. The final decision to approve registration as “a church level religious organization” will be in the hands of the Hungarian Parliament, with 2/3rd voting majority requirement.

If our organizations are prevented from being registered, we would be forced to operate solely as “civil associations” which does not allow receipt of certain tax donations, and has other legal implications that would endanger our daily operations.

The lack of recognition is even stranger if one takes into account that Sim Shalom was previously registered as a religious institution and was included in a pre-final draft of the law’s registration list. The last-minute changes to the draft by the governing Fidesz-KDNP party removed Sim Shalom from the list. During the parliamentary debate preceding the vote, Sim Shalom, a Deputy Secretary of the government and the broader Jewish community all became the target of anti-Semitic outbursts by a Member of Parliament from the Jobbik party.

The Board of Sim Shalom Congregation and Rabbi Katalin Kelemen

Previous post:

Next post: