The History of Hungarian Jews


Hungarian Jews are one of 8,000 unreached people groups (less than 2% genuine believers) remaining in the world. Only 0.1% of the 100,000 Hungarian Jews living in Budapest are Christians. Using texts, personal interviews, and by visiting historical sites I have researched the history of Jews in Hungary and the current work among this people group in Budapest as part of my seminary coursework. I’m excited to share a little of what I have learned so we can pray more effectively for Hungarian Jews together. As far back as the middle ages, Hungarian Jews have been persecuted by people calling themselves Christians. It wasn’t until 1868 that the Jews were given equality before the law in Hungary. Hungarian Jews blossomed under their freedom and by 1910, they controlled the vast majority of the financial institutions and businesses in the country which fostered anti-Semitism. After World War I, anti-Semitism only worsened as a Hungarian Jew named Bela Kuhn took over the country in 1919 in an attempt to replicate the communist revolution in Russia. While his efforts lasted less than a year, reprisals against the Jews, known as the White Terror, lasted for years. As the Great Depression set in during the 1930s, anti-Semitism only increased as Hungarians blamed the Jews who controlled the financial institutions. By the advent of World War II, Hungarians were readily enticed by the promises Hitler offered them of a restoration of their land, people, and economy. Despite the anti-Semitism that plagued the country, Hungary was the last country to which the Holocaust came. There were over 800,000 Jews in Hungary before the war and by the end fewer than 124,000 remained. The “liberation” of Hungary by the Soviets marked the end of Jewish extermination at the hands of the Nazis. The prime minister of the new communist government, Mátyás Rákosi, was himself a Hungarian Jew who gave favors to Jews who supported his regime and violently oppressed all others. This support of the communist regime by prominent Jews only served to further fuel anti-Semitism in Hungarians. While communism has fallen and the Jews have full legal protection and rights, recent polls show 41% of the Hungarian population admits to having anti-Semitic sentiments, one of the highest concentrations of anti-Semitism in Europe! This has prompted Jews to embrace their cultural identity, even concentrating in one district in Budapest. They have their own schools, kosher food stores, some 30 synagogues, library, museum, university, etc. You can be a part of bringing the gospel to unreached Jews in Hungary. Jews for Jesus is currently hosting a campaign right here in Budapest to reach Hungarian Jews for Christ. Please pray for the final days of the event on August 7-8 (see prayer requests below). They have already handed out almost 200,000 tracts, made hundreds of contacts and led over three dozen people to Christ.

Pray With Us

The last days of Jews for Jesus' evangelistic campaign are this weekend. Here are specific ways you can pray:

  • thousands of young Israelis will be attending a special festival on August 7-8 that evangelists will also attend in an attempt to share the gospel; please pray for receptive hearts

  • pray for strength for the men and women who are spending long hours in 90+ degree weather sharing the gospel

  • pray that Jews and people with anti-Semitic tendencies would both come to know Christ through the conversations that develop.

#HungarianHistory #Jews

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