Sharansky opens Budapest’s Israeli Cultural Institute


BUDAPEST (JTA) — Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky was in Budapest for the inauguration of the Israeli Cultural Institute.

Organizers say the institute, which staged several inaugural events this week, is the first of its kind.

Located at the edge of the former main Jewish Quarter in downtown Budapest, the institute will host and organize concerts, exhibitions, film screenings and club activities for Jews and non-Jews.

A cafe will feature Israeli-style snacks, a bookstore, an information center and an education center featuring Hebrew lessons and other classes.

Institute director Gabor Balazs said the idea was to present to a broad public the diversity of Israel’s "mosaic-like" culture.

The institute has been set up as a Hungarian-based foundation, formed via cooperation among the Jewish Agency and Hungarian and Israeli individuals. Sharansky told the media that the institute would demonstrate the Jewish Agency’s aim to "support and strengthen," rather than direct, local Jewish communities.

As many as 100,000 Jews live in Hungary, nearly all of them in Budapest. Only a small minority is Jewishly affiliated, but there is an array of Jewish religious, cultural and social institutions. Budapest also is a popular hub for Israeli visitors, including tourists, students and businesspeople.

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