Hungary’s largest Jewish group expelled a clergyman who has accused Israel of appropriating the money of Holocaust victims and putting Diaspora Jews in danger.
The rabbinical council of the Mazsihisz umbrella announced in a letter to Israeli Ambassador Yacov Hadas-Handelsman that it was “terminating its relationship” with Rabbi Gabor Finali. The letter said it was “an indefinite suspension” of Finali, 43, who since 2017 has served as the resident religious leader of a Mazsihisz-affiliated congregation, the Ohel Avraham Synagogue in Budapest.
It’s an unusual development for Eastern and Central Europe, where leaders of Jewish communities are rarely expelled and seldom express acrimonious public criticism of Israel.
The most controversial remarks by Finali, who supports multiple left-wing causes, came in July on his Facebook page.
“Israel took all the benefits and most of the compensation from Germany for the death and suffering of our relatives,” he wrote. “The chaos that Israel has been causing since 1948 is the reason for most, if not all, attacks on Jews in the Diaspora. The money spent on security until recently (2018) was because we suffer the consequences, we’re the soft targets … Herzl’s mission failed because it didn’t stop the Holocaust, but soon it will lead to a new one.”
Finali apologized for and retracted the post, but Mazsihisz in its letter to the ambassador last week said it was cutting its ties with the clergyman because he “is more loyal in his writings to the enemies of Israel than to Israel.”
Finali belongs to the Neolog movement, a stream that evolved in Central Europe in the 19th century and is somewhere between the Reform and Conservative movements.
In a 2018 interview with the Szombat Jewish magazine, Finali said: “The state of Israel lives and thrives thanks to God, I wholeheartedly support its existence,” but added he doesn’t consider it to be “a pure virgin.”