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Silver plaque honoring a Hungarian rabbi for 20 years of leadership

Object | Accession Number: 1990.245.13

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    Silver plaque honoring a Hungarian rabbi for 20 years of leadership

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Ornate, engraved silver plaque presented to Dr. Simon Hevesi, chief rabbi of Hungary, by the National Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association in recognition of his 20 years of service. Simon Handler became an ordained rabbi in 1894, and was appointed chief rabbi in Kassa, Hungary (now Košice, Slovakia) followed by Lugos (now Lugoj, Romania) in 1897. As part of a pilgrimage study trip to Palestine, Simon met the leaders of the Jewish community in Budapest. At their invitation, Simon moved with his wife and five children to Budapest in 1905 and changed their last name to Hevesi. As a rabbi in the Dohány Street synagogue, Simon became a leader in the community, was a beloved speaker, and held a professorship in oratory at the Rabbinical Institute. He was elected chief rabbi of Hungary in 1927 and became president of the National Rabbinical Association. In 1930, Simon’s son, Ferenc, moved to Budapest with his wife and daughter, and also became a rabbi at the Dohány synagogue. In 1939, Simon traveled to the United States, and was given an honorary doctorate by the Jewish Theological Society of America. During his tenure in Budapest, Simon founded or served as a board member of numerous institutions and organizations, and was a prolific writer and editor of Jewish scholarly works. When Simon died in 1943, Ferenc and a colleague succeeded him as co-chief rabbis.
    Date
    commemoration:  1909 March 21-1929 March 21
    manufacture:  approximately 1929
    Geography
    received: Budapest (Hungary)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Eva Ehrlich
    Markings
    front, lower left corner, stamped : SCB1 520
    front, lower left corner, inside torch, stamped : 867 [may be 827 or 627]
    front, lower right corner, stamped : [head in right profile on 5 petal flower] [silver purity mark] / 880
    Contributor
    Subject: Simon Hevesi
    Issuer: Orsza?gos Magyar Izraelita Ko?zmu?velo?de?si Egyesu?let
    Biography
    Simon Hevesi (1868-1943) was born Simon Handler in Aszód, Hungary, to Márk (1837-1911) and Julianna (nee Rosenberg) Handler. He had four siblings: Rudolf (1873-?), Illes (Elijah, 1878-1955), Nora (?-?), and Irma (?-?). Márk was a well-respected rabbi, and as a result, Simon and his siblings grew up in a very religious household. After attending grammar school, Simon was admitted to the National Rabbinical Training Institute. He also attended lectures in philosophy, history, and linguistics at the University of Budapest. Simon obtained a doctorate in humanities in 1892, and became an ordained rabbi in 1894. That same year, he became chief rabbi in Kassa, Hungary (now Košice, Slovakia) followed by Lugos (now Lugoj, Romania) in 1897. Simon married Janka Brody (Johanna, 1872-1945), the daughter of a respected Talmudic scholar. They had four sons and a daughter: Jenő (later Eugene, 1895-1983), Géza (1897-?), Ferenc (1898-1952), Imre (1904-1998), and Nóra (later Kürschner).

    In Lugos, Simon organized multiple educational institutions (the first of their kind in southern Hungary), and worked with non-Jewish intellectuals. As part of a pilgrimage study trip to Palestine, Simon met the leaders of the Jewish community in Budapest. At their invitation, the family moved to Budapest in 1905 and changed their last name to Hevesi. Simon became a leader in the community and held a professorship in oratory at the Rabbinical Institute. He was elected chief rabbi in 1927 and became president of the National Rabbinical Association. During his tenure in Budapest, Simon founded or served as a board member of numerous institutions and organizations, including the National Hungarian Israelite Public Education Association, Hungarian Revision League, the Israelite Hungarian Literary Society, the National Israelite Patronage Association, and the Hungarian Israelite Handicraft and Agricultural Association. He was also a prolific writer and editor of Jewish scholarly works. He wrote around six hundred pieces, 31 of which were published, and contributed to 26 journals and newspapers.

    In 1930, Simon’s son, Ferenc, who followed him as a rabbi, moved to Budapest with his wife and daughter. They shared a large apartment with Simon and Janka. Ferenc worked under his father at the Dohany Street synagogue. The combined household was very traditional, and they observed all of the holidays and ate exclusively kosher. They had a close extended family, and they regularly met at Simon and Janka’s home for meals. Around 1933 or 1934, Ferenc’s family moved into their own apartment.

    In 1939, Simon traveled to the United States, and was given an honorary doctorate by the Jewish Theological Society of America. His son, Jenő, was sent to the US as a diplomat with his family in 1938. Jenő changed his name to Eugene while there, and during his visit, Simon convinced him to remain in the US instead of returning to Hungary.

    Things began to change for the Jewish population as Hungary began instituting anti-Jewish policies modeled after German laws in 1938, and then joined the Axis alliance in November 1940. Young males were conscripted into forced labor battalions to support the war effort. When Simon’s granddaughter, Eva, graduated high school in 1942, most Jews were prohibited from attending university. While a connection of the family was able to get Eva enrolled, she was prohibited from attending medical school as she had wanted. The family was able to keep abreast of the war by illegally listening to Allied radio broadcasts. When Simon died in 1943, Ferenc and a colleague succeeded him as co-chief rabbis. The situation in Hungary continued to worsen as the German army occupied the country and the radically antisemitic Arrow Cross Party came to power. Janka starved to death in a sanitarium after the nurse who was caring for her began stealing her food. Ferenc, his wife, and daughter survived the war in hiding and immigrated to the United States afterward.

    Physical Details

    Language
    Hungarian
    Classification
    Awards
    Genre/Form
    Plaques.
    Physical Description
    Shiny, pressed silver iregular square plaque with a decorative border and a central engraved inscription in Hungary. The border design has Jewish symbols in the corners linked by scrollwork flourishes: at the top, a menorah; on the right, a Torah scroll with a Ten Commandants tablet and a book over a scroll and 2 crossed feather quills; on the left, stacked books with a Ten Commandants tablet and an owl perched on a book over 2 crossed torches; on the bottom, a 6 pointed Star of David held by 2 lions. The center is smooth with 10 lines are engraved text. There are 5 stamped maker and silver marks in the lower corners.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 10.875 inches (27.623 cm) | Width: 10.750 inches (27.305 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    Materials
    overall : silver
    Inscription
    front, center, engraved : AZ ORSZÁGOS MAGYAR IZR KÖZMŰVELŐDÉSI EGYESÜLET / HÚSZ EVES FENNÁLLÁSÁNAK JUBILEUMA ALKALMÁBÓL / DR HEVESI SIMON VEZETŐFŐRABBINAK, / AZ EGYESÜLET MEGALAPITÓJÁNAK, EGYHÁZI ELNÖKÉNEK, / A MAGYAR ZSIDÓ KULTURTÖREKVÉSEK LÁNGLELKŰ VEZÉRÉNEK, / HÚSZ ÉVES MUNKÁSSÁGA EMLEKÉÜL / SOK SZERETETTEL ÉS NAGYRABECSÜLÉSSEL / BUDAPEST, 1909 MARCIUS 21 – 1929 MARCIUS 21 / AZ OMIKE ELNÖKI TANÁCSA NEVÉBEN / Veśzi Jórsefve / ELNÖK ASSZONY / D Weiller(?) / ÜGYV. ALELNÖK / D Jube(?)r(?)c(?) / [?] AL ELNÖK / ELNÖK [The National Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association / twenty year anniversary of / Dr Hevesi Simon chief rabbi / founder of the association, church president, / the ardet leader of Hungarian Jewish cultural endeavors, / commemorating the work of twenty years / much love and appreciation / Budapest, 1909 March 21 – 1929 March 21 / on behalf of the President’s Council of Omics / Veśzi Jórsefve / Ms. President / D Weiller(?) / lawyer. Vice-president / D Jube(?(?)c(?) / President]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name
    Dohány Street Synagogue

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The plaque was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1990 by Eva Ehrlich, the granddaughter of Simon Hevesi.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-07 07:14:56
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn3320

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