By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
More than 600 Ukrainian refugees are receiving long-term accommodations at a newly opened kosher camp on the south shore of Hungary’s Lake Balaton, said Rabbi Shlomó Köves.
The rabbi’s Orthodox EMIH-The Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine support the initiative.
They recalled that just before Passover, six weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Hungarian government signed off on their effort to make the palace in Balatonőszöd, a resort town near Lake Balaton, kosher.
Yet the site is controversial. In 2006, it was at the Balatonőszöd palace where the prime minister at the time, speaking in an internal meeting, was recorded using vulgar language to allege corruption within his own party.
The so-called Őszöd Speech propelled Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to power after his Fidesz achieved a landslide victory in the 2010 elections.
Following the speech, political parties and the government, which owns the Balatonőszöd palace, had little appetite for holding events there. That led to its disuse and fall into disrepair despite its prime location in a tourism-friendly region of Hungary.
But with a war in Ukraine and Jewish people among millions fleeing, Jewish groups seek to revive the site to help the most vulnerable Jewish refugees.
It comes despite concerns about antisemitism in Hungary.
The government has come under pressure over its campaign against Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor George Soros, now a U.S. billionaire and philanthropist.
Orbán has denied his government targets Soros’s Jewish roots but says they question the philanthropist liberal ideas and alleged influence over pro-migration groups.
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