Hungary’s Jewish leaders at odds over use of synagogue renovation funds

November 6, 2014


The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) president András Heisler thinks that last year’s achievements improved the reputation of the country’s Jewish community. But there are those within the community who strongly disagree. Dávid Schwezoff, who was elected CEO of Budapest Jewish Community this summer, is literally waging an “e-mail war” against the leadership. His activities have already resulted in a loss of confidence in Budapest Jewish Community president Péter Tordai.

According to private emails between Schwezoff and Tordai, secured by the Budapest Beacon, Schwezoff accused Tordai of “secretly discussing” the redevelopment of Rumbach Street synagogue with Heisler and the government without consulting the synagogue’s owner, the Budapest Jewish Community. In an email, Schwezoff argues that financial plans for the Rumbach redevelopment are not transparent and that Jewish organizations are to receive HUF 2.7 billion (around USD 11 million) from the state budget for the project.

Tordai answered by writing that he will not tolerate Schwezoff’s public accusations and consequently will initiate an extraordinary session to remove Schwezoff from his position.

“First of all, I would like to definitely refuse all the insinuations and accusations articulated against me by Dávid Schwezoff. He called me a liar and a corrupt person. However, I agree with him in the point that we have to make things clear at last.

I have attempted to work with him but cannot, and do not wish to work with him after all this. This is why I will execute the points of the Basic Regulations of Budapest Jewish Community to initiate the removal of him from the position of CEO.”

After the general assembly of the community, the audience gave credit to Schwezoff’s accusations and voted for Tordai to leave his position.

Among those accused by Schwezoff of not handling the state funds in a transparent way is Heisler, who admitted that the amount of support from the government amounts exactly to the sum designated by Schwezoff. He denies any allegations of mismanagement. Schwezoff started to accuse Heisler in emails about not being honest as to his intentions for using the funds. In an answer, Heisler firmly refused to react to what he called “Dávid Schwezoff’s lack of manners”. Following this, the Budapest community CEO warned Heisler that he can “easily share the fate of Tordai”.

In reaction to the newest email debate, the Mazsihisz board called a general assembly for Thursday, at which they hope to settle differences and clear up controversies as well as hold a vote of confidence in Heisler himself.

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