BUDAPEST, Jan. 8 (JTA) — An Orthodox rabbi was ordained in Budapest this week in what was described as the first such ceremony since the Holocaust. Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu and one of Russia’s two chief rabbis, Berel Lazar, attended the ordination Tuesday of Shlomo Koves at Budapest’s Chabad Lubavitch synagogue. Eliahu and Lazar joined Rabbi Baruch Oberlander, a Lubavitch rabbi who has been based in Budapest since 1989, in placing a prayer shawl over Koves’ shoulders. Born in Budapest, Koves graduated from high school in Pittsburgh before studying to be a rabbi in Paris, New York and Israel. Koves will work in Budapest, where he lives with his wife and son. The president of Hungary, Ferenc Madl, and the mayor of Budapest, Gabor Demszky, attended the event. Greetings were sent for the occasion by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), himself a native of Budapest and a Holocaust survivor, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.). Koves’ ordination brings the number of Orthodox rabbis in Hungary to three, but only a small percentage of Hungary’s estimated 80,000-100,000 Jews are Orthodox. The Holocaust and communism closed Jewish schools and ended Hungary’s once-proud tradition of Orthodox instruction. Koves was educated by the Chabad Lubavitch of Hungary, which is celebrating 13 years of activity in Budapest since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since then the movement, led by Oberlander, a native New Yorker born to Hungarian Holocaust survivors, has reopened many Orthodox institutions. “More than 50 years after the Holocaust, we are finally moving uphill,” Oberlander said at the ceremony.
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