Hungary returns Hebrew to list for matriculation exams

Hungary’s Education Ministry has re-introduced Hebrew to its list of optional matriculation exam subjects.

High school students who wish to take a final exam on the Hebrew language and its grammar may do so as of this year, the country’s minister of human resources, Zoltan Balog, said in a letter to the country’s Jewish community.

The ministry had removed Hebrew from the list last year but returned it “after considering the received opinions and suggestions,” Balog wrote in a letter to the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary. The exam is written in Hungarian.

Most high school students who take the final exam in Hebrew were born in Hungary, according to Moishe Czink of the Keren Or Chabad House, Budapest’s community center for Israelis. There are approximately 1,000 Israelis living in Hungary, he said. Most of them are university students, but there are also some families of Israeli businessmen.

Peter Feldmajer, president of Hungary’s Federation of Jewish Communities, told JTA that the community has lobbied for Hebrew's return to the list, “since this is the language of prayers."

"This issue is very important in the sense of the Jewish spirit that must have the young Jewish people in Hungary as spearhead of the next generations,” Feldmajer said.

He added that it was “a matter of principle” unconnected to “making aliyah for the young people.”

Some 90,000 Jews are living in Hungary, according to the European Jewish Congress, making it the largest community in East-Central Europe.


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