Orthodox Jews in Hungary threaten to sue non-Orthodox group for alleged $33 million debt


(JTA) — An Orthodox Jewish group in Hungary is threatening to sue a predominantly non-Orthodox one over an alleged shortfall of $33 million in Holocaust restitution funds.

On Thursday, the Autonomous Haredi Jewish Community of Hungary, or MAOIH, gave a one-week ultimatum to the Mazsihisz umbrella group of Jewish communities, which is predominantly Neolog, a Central European denomination of Judaism that is similar to the Conservative stream. If Mazsihisz does not pay by March 11, it will face a civil lawsuit, MAOIH said in a statement.

The dispute, which marks a new low in the deteriorating relations between factions of Hungary’s Jewish community, goes back to a law passed in 1991 that ensures funding to Jewish organizations for 153 properties without heirs that were stolen from Jewish communities during and after the Holocaust.

In 2018, MAOIH left Mazsihisz to become an independent umbrella group. Mazsihisz has not given MAOIH its cut of the funding, the haredi group said. Also, when MAOIH was part of Mazsihsz, it did not receive its fair share, MAOIH President Robert Deutsch said in Thursday’s statement.

Deutsch wrote that MAOIH represents a community that owned 40% of the 153 properties but has received only 5% of the funding from Mazsihisz, resulting in the $33 million figure.

Relations among Mazsihsz, MAOIH and EMIH, an Orthodox Jewish umbrella group affiliated with Chabad-Lubavitch, have worsened in recent years amid disputes over faith, politics and money. None of the groups have litigated one another.

Mazsihisz did not immediately reply to a request for comment on MAOIH’s claims.

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