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Magyar Zsido Muzeum

The Jewish Museum in Budapest
Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives
#About the Jewish Museum of Budapest

The Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives (Magyar Zsidó Múzeum) was built in 1930 in the childhood home of Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl, in the neighborhood of the Big Synagogue in Budapest. The museum presents the story of the Jewish community in the city, a community that was destroyed and almost completely erased in the Holocaust.

The museum, the second largest Jewish museum in Europe, includes many display items from the daily lives of the Hungarian Jews, and in Budapest in general. It exhibits very well the wealthy community that lived here for hundreds of years.

In the museum there are 4 wings. Each focuses on a different aspect of the daily lives of the Jews in the community. The themes are; daily Jewish lives, Jewish holidays, the Hungarian Jew's Holocaust and Judaica items used for the Sabbath. The Judaica items on display were collected from all around the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Like in the next-door synagogue, the Jewish Museum also took on itself the job of preserving and commemorating. It includes a dark memorial room with many photos from World War II, like the Hungarian Jewish community experienced it. There is a column that tells the tale and commemorates the poet Hannah Szenes. In the courtyard of the building is an impressive monument for the Jews of Budapest, to the diplomat and Righteous Among Nations Raoul Wallenberg, and others who helped the Hungarian Jews hide from the Nazis.



#History of the Museum

The museum, built in 1930 in the childhood home of Theodore Herzl, and filled an important and brave job in the years when antisemitism in Hungary grew, and prevented Jewish artists from showcasing their work. This is when the museum stood strong, who back then didn't even have to do with art. The museum began displaying exhibits by Jewish artists, whose religion prevented them from displaying in other museums or galleries around Budapest.

In the tough years of the war, the National Museum employees helped hide displays from the Jewish Museum in the basement of the National Museum. This is how items were saved from the tough bombings of the allied air raids and from the hands of the Nazis themselves.
Tree of Life
Tree of Life Memorial
#About the Holocaust Memorial for the Jews of Budapest

At the Jewish Museum garden, you can see the impressive memorial of the Tree of Life, for those who perished in the Holocaust. The memorial that was donated by Hungarian Jews from around the world, a memorial in the shape of a metal weeping willow, and on each leaf the name of a Jewish person who perished in the Holocaust.

The memorial was designed in 1991 by the Hungarian artist Imre Varga. From a different direction, you can notice that the weeping willow has a sort of Menorah shape, with 7 stems facing upwards.

The statue is located in the back garden of the building, a place where 24 mass graves were forced to be buried, with a total of 2,281 Jews buried, who died from the coldness of the last winter during the Holocaust. Jews who passed away from all around the Ghetto were brought here at the end of the war.

The names of the dead etched on the leaves on the tree in the memorial were requested by donors, and the tradition continues throughout the years, in a yearly ceremony where new leaves are added to the tree. On the leaf before the last one on each branch a number is written, like is common in all Hungarian Jewish cemeteries.


#Additional Memorials in the Complex

Not less important than the weeping willow are the two memorials near it. The first is in the shape of a marble board, meant to commemorate the actions of Raoul Wallenberg, who was a Swedish diplomat that saved thousands of Hungarian Jews and has been named Righteous Among the Nations, probably the most well-known one. His personal fate was not good, as Wallenberg disappeared at the end of the war, and years later it was discovered that he had apparently died in Soviet captivity.

Nearby, 4 marble plaques are placed, with the names of 240 Hungarian Righteous Among the Nations, who saved Jews during the Holocaust, while risking their own lives, and the lives of their family.



#Tips

Even if the museum and the synagogue are closed, you can still see the memorial, beyond the fence. Just go towards the back of the building on the left side.



A Closer Look:

https://youtu.be/a4Eza6vX03Y


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