“This enormous Offense to the Torah”: New Discoveries About the Controversy over the Escape of the Rabbis from Budapest, 1943-1944
The author’s analysis of the controversy over the escape of Hasidic rabbis from Budapest, in 1943-1944, leaving their flocks behind just before the Nazi takeover, uncovers barely known wartime documentation and publications that shed light both on the controversy itself and on how a variety of rabbis and other people related to it then and ever since. Hershkowitz shows that the rabbis’ escape evoked debate in rabbinic circles in Hungary and the Jewish world at the time, as reflected in the contemporary polemic, apparently written by Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Katzburg, that he examines here. Many rabbis in Hungary expressed their discomfort with the escape of their colleagues, some even publishing their profound opposition. Katzburg’s polemic took the escaping rabbis to task for what he saw as their ethical failure as communal leaders and for their use of Aliyah certificates to Palestine, despite their own long-standing opposition to Aliyah.