Prof. dr. Andor Grósz, President of Mazsihisz

2024. Február 02. / 14:52

Prof. dr. Andor Grósz, President of Mazsihisz

- 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 Mazsihisz.

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 his successor.

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 matter.

Regarding religious 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.

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