Hungarian president Katalin Novák visits historic Mád synagogue

Constructed in 1795, the Mád synagogue is one of the oldest surviving synagogues in Hungary.

Hungarian president Katalin Novák and EMIH Chief Rabbi Shlomo Köves at the Mád synagogue, Mád, Hungary, September 20, 2022 (photo credit: EMIH)
Hungarian president Katalin Novák and EMIH Chief Rabbi Shlomo Köves at the Mád synagogue, Mád, Hungary, September 20, 2022
(photo credit: EMIH)

Hungarian president Katalin Novák on Tuesday visited the Mád synagogue and yeshiva in her first official meeting with members of the Jewish community since she was elected in March.

Novák was accompanied by Shlomo Köves, Chief Rabbi of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH organization, and his wife Rebetzen Devorah.

Constructed in 1795, the Mád synagogue is one of the oldest surviving synagogues in Hungary.

The Tokaj Hegyalja region, where the synagogue is located, has seen an increase in Jewish tourism as people visit the Tokaj Mountains, where multiple great rabbis, or tzadikim, are buried.

In fact, there were so many tourists at one point that there was a lack of sufficient accommodations for the guests.

Hungarian president Katalin Novák and EMIH Chief Rabbi Shlomo Köves at the Mád synagogue, Mád, Hungary, September 20, 2022 (credit: EMIH)Hungarian president Katalin Novák and EMIH Chief Rabbi Shlomo Köves at the Mád synagogue, Mád, Hungary, September 20, 2022 (credit: EMIH)

Luckily, the Köveses kindly hosted numerous visitors, both Jewish and non-Jewish, at their home, where the group learned about the Jewish heritage of the village.

Rabbi Köves, the EMIH organization and Gábor Tóth, EMIH Chief of Staff made sure that the region offers overnight accommodations and a kosher kitchen.

Hungarian president Katalin Novák and EMIH Chief Rabbi Shlomo Köves at the Mád synagogue, Mád, Hungary, September 20, 2022 (credit: EMIH)Hungarian president Katalin Novák and EMIH Chief Rabbi Shlomo Köves at the Mád synagogue, Mád, Hungary, September 20, 2022 (credit: EMIH)

Rabbi Köves explains the significance of the Rosh Hashanah holiday

To conclude the visit, the group held a discussion about the meaning of Rosh Hashanah, the upcoming Jewish new year. Rabbi Köves explained that the fate of everyone in the world is determined on the holiday and that the main obligation, or mitzvah, of the holiday is to hear the blowing of the shofar, a ceremonial ram's horn. Rabbi Köves then presented Novák with a shofar, which she successfully used.