At the synagogue
At the synagogue MTI/Szigetváry Zsolt

Hungarian president János Áder lit a candle at the Old Buda Synagogue earlier today at a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Speaking at the commemoration, Shlomó Köves, Chief Rabbi of the EMIH – Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities, said that "remembering the darkness on its own makes no sense, and that according to Jewish tradition, the purpose of remembrance is for us to draw hope and strength.”

Rabbi Koves recalled a story about the late Rabbi Meizles, Chief Rabbi of Vác, whose followers offered to hide him in the spring of 1944. He refused and insisted on staying with his community. He was soon sent to Auschwitz where he learned of the death of many of his followers.

Rather than fall into bitterness and despair, the rabbi instead sought to become a source of light in the darkness of Auschwitz. He discovered three barracks that housed young rabbinical students who had been deported from Northeastern Hungary and Transcarpathia. The rabbi took the boys under his wing, prayed with them, and gave them hope. On Rosh Hashanah 1944, the rabbi risked his life by running to their barracks to blow the shofar.

Rabbi Köves noted that this was just one of many stories that were characteristic of Rabbi Meizles’ heroism. "If there is a reason to remember the darkness of the Holocaust all these years later, it can only be to find these small points of light that give us hope," he said.

In 2005, the UN General Assembly designated January 27 as an International Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Holocaust, commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on January 27, 1945.