- My mission is to work with
integrity for our church and to stand up for the values and interests of
Hungarian Neolog Jewry. Joining our efforts, working together is the last
chance to preserve the place Neology has gained in the Jewish life in Hungary
during the past 150 years, in order that the labor and sacrifice of our
ancestors would not be wasted - said Dr. Andor Grósz, the new president of
Consistent representation of
Jewish interests is mandatory
As we had reported, András
Heisler completed his maximum two terms as president of the Federation of
Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz); the Assembly of the Federation
elected Prof. dr. Andor Grósz, medical doctor and retired brigadier general as
Dr. Andor Grósz was born in a
traditional Jewish family in Győr in 1951. His parents raised him and his
younger sister to respect dignity, honor, diligence, other human beings and the
importance of belonging to the Jewish community. From his father, he learned
the lesson for life: "never forget where I came from and where I'm
going." Together with his sister, he embraced the importance of the
cohesion of family and broader community in everyday life.
He graduated from Miklós Révai
High School in Győr, and then completed his university studies at the Faculty
of General Medicine of the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy, where he
graduated in 1977. From 1970 to 2013, he worked in various positions as a
military doctor in the Hungarian Armed Forces. Between 2005-2007, he was
director of the Kecskemét Aviation Hospital, between 2007 and 2013, first
deputy director, then general director of the Budapest Military Hospital. In
2013, he retired from service as a brigadier general and medical chief of the
Hungarian Armed Forces.
In 2000, he was the founder of
the Department of Aviation and Space Medicine of the University of Szeged, and
in 2010 the President of the Republic appointed him a professor of the
institution. He has three medical specialisations and a PhD degree, an elected
member of the International Academy of Aeronautical and Space Medicine and the
American Society of Aeronautical and Space Medicine. In 2008, he was awarded
the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, and in
2014, the Middle Cross. From 2015, he is the chairman of the Board of Trustees
of the Holocaust Documentation Center and Memorial Collection Public
Foundation, and parallel being elected to the head of Mazsihisz, he was also
known as the ophthalmologist of the Mazsihisz Charity Hospital.
Dr. Andor Grósz was elected
president of the Jewish Community of Kecskemét in 1990, and he became a member
of the general assembly of Mazsihisz. He served as a member of the management
team at the Federation for three terms. In Kecskemét, during his presidency,
the local Jewish cemetery containing more than 2,200 graves was completely renovated,
the new ceremonial hall of the religious community was completed, and the
renovation of the listed synagogue in Kecskemét is underway.
He is a widower, father of two
daughters. His younger child has a bachelor's degree in psychology and is now studying for a master's degree, while her
older daughter is an English language teacher.
The following text is an
edited summary of the introductory article written by Dr. Andor Grósz and
delivered to the delegates of the Assembly.
On the inspiration to run for
the position of president of Mazsihisz?
In his opinion, modern
Hungarian Jewry is in a multi-factorial crisis situation. According to him, the
biggest problem is that Hungarian Neologism is divided into many interest
groups, which are tearing the community apart. While articulating their differences
of opinion, the opposing groups do not seek even the slightest compromise. The
relationship between Mazsihisz and the Budapest Jewish Community (BZSH) is not
without tension either, he believes that the presidents of the two
organizations should work closely together. The Budapest religious community
has always been the flagship of Hungarian progressive Jewry, without them it is
impossible to run the national organization effectively. At the same time, Jews
in the countryside, who suffered the greatest losses in the Holocaust and in
the following decades, often feel left out. As the president of the Kecskemét
Jewish Community, he knows exactly what the difficulties are that Jews outside
Budapest have to deal with.
In his opinion, this role of
Mazsihisz, as a historical church recognized by the state, has significantly
decreased in recent years. His primary goal is to strengthen the faith-based
character of Mazsihisz, which requires inner peace, mitigation and elimination
of the gaps between the different opposing groups. This can only be achieved by
a common will, reducing the level of contradictions, striving for compromises,
and respecting each other's opinions.
According to the new
president, it is necessary to start the dialogue between the parties first
within the rabbinic corpus, and if this does not bring the expected result,
then the secular leadership should be involved. In addition to all of this, he
is aware that a significant part of Hungarian Jews is secular, so they should
also be given the opportunity to be an active part of community life through
cooperation in wide-ranging cultural, scientific and educational programs.
Speaking about his plans, dr.
Andor Grósz put it this way: "The problem is that the age of visitors to
Jewish religious and cultural community spaces is constantly increasing, and we
cannot even adequately address the interested younger generation.” According to
him, the youth organizations do not operate efficiently enough, there is no
serious supporting professional background behind them and sufficient financial
resources. The young age group must therefore be integrated into Jewish
community life, and the first step to this can be staging cultural programs
that touch Jewish youth, such as concerts, festivals, sports events, joint
learning, and the organization of performances concerning Judaism. These can
help young people to become active members of the organization."
According to the new
president, there is also room for improvement in organizational efficiency, as
he stated: our background institutions are struggling with logistical problems,
while our university, hospital and public education organizations are struggling
with financial problems. He would pay special attention to the Mazsihisz
Charity Hospital so that it could provide as many different types of care as
possible. The aim is to create a healthcare background in which the broadest
spectrum of specialist care would be available not only for the elderly, but
also for the younger ones.
Dr. Andor Grósz sees the
biggest problem of the Jewish Theological Seminary – University of Jewish
Studies (OR-ZSE) in the infrastructural deterioration related to the lack of
funds, therefore the university's structural problems must be solved, and its international
relations system needs to be strengthened. The goal for the university is to
become a clear intellectual and community center of modern Hungarian Jewry. The
important task of Jewish higher education is to educate the indispensable
actors of everyday Jewish life.
According to the new
president, the full screening of Mazsihisz and the rearrangement of the
emphasis in economy cannot be postponed either, after which the association's
organizational structure needs to be adjusted to its strategic goals. In his
opinion, it is essential to present elements dealing with the issues and
problems of culture, education, and youth, as well as external and internal
communication with the religious communities outside Budapest. The
above-mentioned also requires a significant financial contribution, which is, at
the moment, difficult to solve without government support.
According to the new
president's point of view, in order to mitigate the problems of religious
communities in the countryside, it should be considered that the religious
communities belonging to the same region - in addition to preserving their
organizational and operational independence - create groups on a voluntary
basis, so that the existing human resources – the rabbi, intercessor, religious
teacher, minyan - can be used together for this purpose. To the best of its
ability, Mazsihisz needs to provide additional financial resources to this aim.
Dr. Andor Grósz emphasized
that Mazsihisz must strive for a fair relationship with the current Hungarian
government, the state's considerations must be respected, but the consistent
representation of the interests of domestic and universal Jewry is mandatory.
Mazsihisz is a church organization where there is no place for resolutions that
directly interfere in daily politics, but this should not affect the issue of
anti-Semitism and hate speech, because we can never remain silent in this
affiliation, Dr. Andor Grósz does not distinguish between Jewish people, for
him only Jewish people exist in this respect. If there are disagreements with
other Jewish organizations on certain issues, they must be resolved jointly, striving
for a compromise. The views must converge in such a way that the sovereignty of
Mazsihisz cannot be harmed.
The new president emphasized
that Neology - as the Jewish church with the largest base in Hungary - cannot
subordinate itself to the will and aspirations of other Jewish denominations in
any way to its own detriment.
He added finally that peace,
tranquility, stability, a common will, thinking together, and respect for the
opinions of others are necessary to achieve the above-mentioned goals. The
collaboration is the last chance for Neology to retain the place it has gained
in the past 150 years in Hungarian Jewish life, and for the work and sacrifice
of our ancestors not to be wasted, declared the new Mazsihisz president.