Director Gabor Balazs says the aim of the institute opening to the public Friday is to show the diversity of Israel's "mosaic-like" culture, including works and performances by Jews, Christians, Arabs and other writers and artists.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky says the institute was set up in Hungary partly because of the country's large Jewish community, estimated at 100,000.
The center, established by the Jewish Agency with Israeli philanthropist Motti Zisser, will host classes and lectures, a music, theater and art center and serve as meeting place for Israeli and local artists.
It aims to serve as a social and educational hub for Jewish youth from Hungary and neighboring countries and to expose Hungarians – Jews as well as non-Jews – to Israeli culture and art. The center, the first of its kind in Europe, will be run by a board comprised of Jewish Agency and local community representatives and Israeli philanthropists. Today, there are 100,000 Jews living in Hungary, most of them in Budapest.
Speaking at the inaugural event, Sharansky said that the Jewish Agency’s work to found the center underscores its mission to support local Jewish communities and help them build platforms to strengthen Jewish identity and connect with Israel.
Local Jewish businessmen and entrepreneurs have also partnered with his agency, which deals with Israel's relations with Jews abroad.
Israeli cellist Hillel Zori was due to perform at the institute on Saturday with Hungarian Roma pianists.
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