THE HAGUE (JTA) — 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 took Hebrew off 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 the community has lobbied for Hebrew to re-enter 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.”
He added this was “a matter of principle” unconnected to “making aliya for the young people.”
Some 90,000 Jews live in Hungary today, according to the European Jewish Congress, making that community the largest in East-Central Europe.