Last month I told you about a controversial Holocaust memorial in Budapest. Today, on this last day before Hanukkah, let me share a photo I received this week from Budapest. It requires no explanation.
This past Shabbos we had a very nice Kiddush in honor of two members of the Sherman family: Connie and Dr. Sam Sherman. It was hosted by their daughter Patty Barnet and her husband Alan. Sam was the youngest child of Markus Sherman, our shul’s founder. I told Patty that each year on the Shabbos before Markus’ yahrzeit we have what amounts to an informal “founders day” simply by remembering Markus and his contribution to us. This year that will fall on Feb 28, and Patty said she would like to be present. Many of you know that the Carnegie Shul was founded primarily by Hungarians, and that includes the Sherman family. Most of the Hungarian immigrants came to Carnegie well over 100 years ago, but the path to Carnegie was not always direct. There were many Hungarian Jews in the Homestead-Braddock area and some of those families came to Carnegie. Others took a different path. Ike and Miriam Sax left Hungary in 1952 (not a simple feat to accomplish during the early Cold War years) and after some intermediate transit stops, came to settle directly in Carnegie. Aside from Patty, we have contact with the descendants of other original charter signers Benjamin Turk and Falk Kantor. Perhaps this year we can embellish our “founders day” remembrance by inviting them. Mark your calendar: February 28.
I hope you have a festive Hanukkah, and I welcome your comments about the Hungarian families in our shul.
The Giant Eagle GetGo in Gibsonia
For many months we have been reporting that Giant Eagle was in the process of purchasing property across the street from the shul. Well, things are finally happening. On Friday, October 31, they completed the property closings. Last Monday, Borough Council approved the “vacation” of a portion of Williams Street that runs through the middle of the property. And yesterday, the demolition crew started razing buildings.
What does this mean for us? Firstly, it means some parking concerns that we will need to address. The parking lot directly across from the shul had belonged to the Fulton family. About 40 years Al Fulton, who owned the Buick dealership on Main St., had given us permission to use his lot on Saturday mornings indefinitely. Fulton Buick is now long closed. Al’s son Pete owned the property in recent years. Now it belongs to Giant Eagle. In that parking lot there will soon be a convenience store. Certainly, when they open we will approach the manager about using some spaces on Saturday mornings. But in the meantime we will need to use what we can. There are generally about 6 spaces on the street near the shul. And I have spoken with the manager of CVS. She has given us permission to use available spaces in the farthest row from the store (the row next to Lydia Street). That should take care of our normal Saturday morning minyan. But we will also be talking with the new owners of the Xytec building (the glass and aluminum office building on Lydia Street just past the shul). That company is called Heyl & Patterson. They purchased the building earlier this year.
The good news is that this vacant property will now be renovated and be an asset to our community. The long term viability of our congregation depends on us being in a healthy neighborhood. Having a new GetGo across the street will bring some new life to the area, just as the CVS did.
This is the lot where we normally park on Shabbos. We may still be able to park there for a few more Saturdays, but I can’t predict.
The J&L Travel building was right there, until yesterday. Blink, and it’s gone.
A backhoe razes the Fulton Buick garage in the background. That’s where the gas pumps will be located, adjacent to Main St. The convenience store will be located in the area where this pickup truck is sitting, adjacent to Lydia St.
click on any picture for enlargement
On Monday I returned from a two week trip to Europe that included business, politics, and visiting with a lot of old friends. The first leg of that trip was Budapest. I was there to support my friend Andor Schmuck, President of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party. I attended a number of events during my 4 days there including this press conference leading up to municipal elections on Oct 12.
But that’s not what I want to tell you about. This press conference took place at in a small coffee shop in the center of Freedom Square, a park in the middle of Budapest that contains various political statues and memorials. On the edge of the square the government has erected a memorial to the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. This project was completed without consulting the remnant Jewish population (about 40,000). When you understand the purpose of the memorial you will understand why the Jewish community was not consulted and why they have, and continue to, protest loudly.
The purpose of the memorial is to lay the blame entirely on the Germans. The inscription on the memorial disavows any cooperation by the Hungarian government or the Hungarian people. This is a total fabrication and everyone in Hungary knows it. Goebbels himself stated that within weeks of his arrival in Budapest he received thousands of letters from Hungarians giving the names and addresses of their Jewish neighbors. And the Hungarian police volunteered to round up Hungarian Jews. In this letter, Goebbels commented on how cooperative the Hungarians were. It should therefore be expected that Hungarian Jews would protest this memorial. In the pictures below you will see the nature of the protest. People place photos of dead family members, personal memorabilia, written stories, and candles. They also place stones— I think all of us recognize the significance of the stones. They have in fact created their own Holocaust memorial in front of the government version. It’s a powerful statement. Frankly, I am quite amazed that the government permits this protest. It has been going on for many months now, with no sign of abatement. In the following pictures you will see Andor explaining the memorial and the protest to me. Then we head off to the press conference.