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First day of Hanukkah marked

"Waiting for a miracle is not the antidote to action, but a prerequisite," the chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) said late on Sunday, the first day of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.

“If we work for a miracle, it will happen,” Slomo Koves said, lighting the first candle for the eight-day holiday in Budapest’s Nyugati Square.

The Hungarian Jewish community knows that “the past 25-30 years are a real miracle,” Koves said. It is a miracle that Jews in Hungary can proudly practice their faith and it is the Jewish commnity itself that needed to make this happen, he added.

Balazs Furjes, a state secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, wished the Jewish community a happy holiday on behalf of the government. He said the country’s Christian and Jewish communities “somewhere deep down are one”. Furjes said he was convinced that there would come a moment “when we will be fully one”. But, he added, “we can already say today that there is a lot more that unites us than divides us.”

The celebration of Hanukkah — the Festival of Light — goes back to the Jewish retaking of the Temple of Jerusalem from the Greeks in 165 BC.

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