The reconstruction of the building became necessary due to the fact that in October 2016 it was gutted by fire.

At the ceremony, Balázs Orbán, Parliamentary and Strategic State Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, said today we can say that there is a Jewish cultural renaissance in Hungary.

This is in part owing to the fact that in the past ten years the three established churches for the exercise of the Jewish faith have received state grants to the value of almost HUF 26 billion in total, he added.

He stressed that preserving and enhancing Hungarian Jewish cultural heritage in the Carpathian Basin is a particular priority of the government. It was in this spirit that the Rumbach Sebestyén street synagogue in Budapest, several houses of worship in the countryside and – among others – the Szabadka (Subotica) synagogue built in the Hungarian secession style have been refurbished, the State Secretary highlighted.

Mr Orbán said the Hungarian government regards the protection of Jewish identity as its historical responsibility in order to ensure that the Hungarian State should never again turn against its own citizens.

In light of this responsibility, the government regards any aggression on religious grounds in any part of the world as unacceptable, he added.

At the same time, they observe with concern Western European aspirations which urge the artificial separation of religion and public life as these, he said, erode the very foundations of European civilisation.

The villa on Thököly út was purchased and turned into a synagogue by the Jewish association in 1930. Until it was gutted by fire in 2016, the building had been used by the Neolog community of around 200 members.

In the fire which was caused by an electrical fault, the structure of the building sustained extensive damage and the Torah scrolls were also destroyed.

During the renovation project, the villa was restored to its original 1890 state, while in the attic space a communal space was created. The Hungarian State contributed HUF 142 million to the total refurbishment cost of around HUF 300 million. The remaining amount was donated by the Budapest Jewish Community, organisations and private individuals.

(Prime Minister’s Office / MTI)