Greetings from Saint Louis, Missouri (USA)!
May wife Prof. Rita M. Csapó-Sweet and I are interested to establish contact with the Jewish community in Györ to explore obtaining financial aid for preserving the Györ Synagogue.
We are no strangers to Györ. My wife, Prof. Csapó-Sweet http://www.umsl.edu/~comrcsap/ has for several years attended the Mediawave International Film Festival as a member of the film jury. Earlier this year, she was a Fulbright Scholar to Hungary for several months, and together with the cultural attaché at the American Embassy in Budapest she raised significant money to support the musical program at the Mediawave Festival. This event was held in the Györ Synagogue in April 2002, which I also attended. The Synagogue made a big impression on my wife and me.
Afterwards, we discussed the Györ Synagogue with our Jewish friends the Katz family in Saint Louis (whose grandparents are from Hungary). They suggested that we contact an organization in New York City called, The Jewish Heritage Program of the World Monuments Fund. When I looked them up, I noticed something very interesting. In the year 2000, they sent US$65,000 to preserve the synagogue in Subotica, former-Yugoslavia http://www.sos-sinagoga.org.yu/
The official description of the Subotica Synagogue by World Monuments Fund is
even more interesting:
However, the Subotica Synagogue was built in 1902. I am not sure about this but I believe that the Györ Synagogue is older. Also, because the Subotica Synagogue is so similar in its unusual architecture to the Györ Synagogue, it would not surprise me to find out that this building was also designed by Marcel Komor and Deszo Jakab of Budapest. If this is true then it would mean the Subotica Synagogue and the Györ Synagogue are directly related.
My wife and I will be in Hungary between December 28 and January 16. During this time we plan to visit Györ. If the above prospectus interests your group and if you have an official connection with the Györ Synagogue then we should meet to discuss applying for a grant to the World Monuments Fund for preserving this building. I am both willing and also able to apply for this grant. It proceeds in two parts. First, application must be made to nominate the Györ Synagogue for the World Monuments Watch Program. Each year, the deadline for this application is December 1. After it is accepted for the Watch Program by The Jewish Heritage Program of the World Monuments Fund then application can be made for funds to protect the building. However, this would only be a starting point. After the Györ Synagogue would be given a grant then other organizations would be attracted to Györ for sponsoring other Jewish programs.
I am prepared to complete and submit all of the applications required by the The Jewish Heritage Program of the World Monuments Fund.
There is a second motive for meeting with your organization in Györ. My wife is a well known documentary filmmaker both in Hungary and in the United States http://www.umsl.edu/~comrcsap/ During our many discussions the same question kept coming up which would serve as the title for her next film: "What became of the Jews of Györ?" Perhaps your organization would be interested to assist her in the research phase of such a project.
The main question is this: When we visit Györ some time in January 2003, can we meet with members of the Györ Jewish community to discuss the above two projects? Since my wife and I both speak Hungarian fluently (learned from our parents), such a meeting should be much less difficult than you can imagine.
Thank you for your kind attention.
With best wishes,
Frederick Sweet, Ph.D..