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Hoping to Avoid Another Shortage, Hungarian Jews Importing Matzah

March 5, 2002
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Hungarian Jewish leaders are importing matzah in an attempt to avoid a shortage that plagued the community last year.

Reform, Conservative and Orthodox leaders are importing matzah from Israel to avoid last year’s fiasco, when the country’s 100,000 Jews were saved by a last-minute shipment from the Jewish state.

Some 15 to 20 tons of matzah — double the normal amount — is coming from Israel, according to Peter Tordai, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities.

“We ordered 7 tons of matzot, which is enough not only for the local Orthodox Jews, but we will donate” some of this “as a charity to neighboring Ukrainian Jews,” said Hermann Fixler, the head of Hungary’s Orthodox community.

The Orthodox community also will send kosher products, like sugar, salt, oil and margarine to the mainly Hungarian-speaking Jewish community that lives just across the border in Ukraine.

The local factory in Budapest, which had been responsible for the matzah supply here for decades, closed down two years ago after its owners decided it was no longer financially viable.

“It is sad that our local matzah production has been stopped,” Fixler said.

What’s sad for some is a business opportunity for others.

Private dealers and distributors have begun to import matzah from neighboring Slovakia. Matzah is cheaper to produce in Slovakia, in part because labor is cheaper there, said Zoltan Kondorosi, manager of a local Hungarian company that imports the product from Slovakia.

Kondorosi’s grandfather received a Righteous Gentile designation from Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

“Due mainly to our family tradition, I want matzah to get once again to all Hungarian shops, as part of Jewish culture and tradition,” Kondorosi says.

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