A house of worship and a tourist center were inaugurated in the courtyard of the Miskolc Synagogue. Although the old synagogue is still not receptive, the local community is still optimistic as it has reached a milestone.
The ceremony created an uplifting feeling. If it wasn’t for this pandemic, we could have had a real celebration of joy.
— rabbi Zsolt Markovics, the head of the neolog community in Miskolc, recalled the recent week’s memory of the official opening to The Origin Living in Me by telephone.
As the local press recently reported, re-enchanted buildings, including a new kosher kitchen, were handed over to the local community. Moreover, as a result of the — state given — many hundreds of millions of investments, it is also said that in the county seat of Borsod,
one of the significant new complexes of religious tourism may develop, which is also connected to the pilgrimage route of the well-known „footsteps of the wonder-rabbis„.
The eastern half of Hungary is characterized by significant religious tourism, as the Catholic, Reformed and Lutheran churches have each shared travelers for many years.
There were several Jewish communities in many settlements of the region before World War II. Some also had world-famous rabbis. It is natural, therefore, that the development of Jewish religious pilgrimage tourism is a legitimate idea.
Now the people of Miskolc can catch up significantly with the given sufficient state support. The tourist infrastructure serving those interested mainly in the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish past has been flourishing in the region for some time.
We are thinking not only of the completely renovated baroque synagogue of Mád and the building transformed from a former rabbi’s house into a home hosted place and a cultural events, but also to the cemeteries, the monuments and even kosher food in places like Bodrogkeresztúr, Olaszliszka or Tállya.
Although we could not be as many as we would have liked, there were still prominent figures from our public life during the inauguration. The mayor of Miskolc felt important to come so did representatives of the state and our Budapest-based main Jewish organization, Mazsihisz. There has been a huge change from previous years, bringing great happiness to our community
— said rabbi Markovics, who has been serving the Jewish community of Miskolc for three years. And what exactly has changed? The unpleasant odor disappeared, it is good and healthy to come to us again – the rabbi added. Although the famous Kazinczy Street Synagogue is still inaccessible – its years of renovation are still underway -, a modern visitor center has opened in the complex, which used to house the former rabbi room and the archive next to the building.
This will be the first place to find upon arrival, so it makes sense that in addition to the general info-function, an exhibition presenting the community will also open here.
This new room is scheduled to open its doors to everyone by springtime. A former old building has also been renovated, with a new house of worship, a kosher kitchen and a spacious communal space inside. With this, they will be able to comfortably accommodate 100-120 people, said rabbi Markovic, who is confident that community celebrations will be held there at the next spring Passover.
And the kosher food supply may return to the everyday life of the city’s neolog community after a break of several decades.
According to Markovics, after the synagogue is hopefully renewed as soon as possible, it can not only return to the life of the community as a sacred place, but can also serve the whole city and even the region as a cultural venue. The community also plans to accommodate a thirty-person tourist accommodation in one of the outbuildings, in line with current developments, and to build an old mikveh. As for Miskolc:
the city is home to one of the largest countryside Jewish communities. About three hundred to four hundred Jews live in the city, a quarter of whom are religiously or culturally connected to the community. They also live a strong religious life during the coronavirus, worshiping four times a week in the online space.
There is an opportunity for joint studying on Saturdays, and on Sundays they have a cultural talk show with a local journalist, István Flecker, who interviews well-known public figures from Miskolc and invites guests from elsewhere too. It is the intention of The Origin Living in Me to soon present in detail the past and present of the Jews living in the region.