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July 19, 2012 2:21 am

Re-emerging Mezuzah

avatar by Todd Weinstein

Re-emerging Mezuzah. Photograph by © Todd Weinstein

This is a Mezuzah that I found in the Jewish Ghetto of Budapest re-emerge before my eyes.


The area consisted of several blocks of the old Jewish quarter which included the 2 main synagogues of the city, the Neolog Dohány Street Synagogue and Orthodox Kazinczy Street Synagogue. The ghetto was created on November 29, 1944 by a decree of the Royal Hungarian Government. It was surrounded by a high fence and stone wall that was guarded so that contraband could not be sneaked in, and people could not get out. The Nazi occupation of Budapest (Operation Margarethe) started on March 19, 1944. The ghetto was established in November, 1944, and lasted for less than three months, until the liberation of Budapest on January 17, 1945 by the Soviet Army during the Battle of Budapest.

As with other ghettos that had been set up in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe the area was completely cut off from the outside world: no food was allowed in, rubbish and waste were not collected, the dead lay on the streets and piled up in the bombed-out store fronts and the buildings were overcrowded, leading to the spread of diseases such as typhoid.

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More than half of those that were forced into the ghetto in 1944 were sent to concentration camps, starting almost immediately from the establishment of the ghetto. From occupation to liberation the Jewish population of Budapest was reduced from 200,000 to 70,000 in the ghetto, and about 20,000 were housed in specially marked houses outside the ghetto having been granted diplomatic protection by neutral politicians, including Raoul Wallenberg, who issued Protective Passports on behalf of the Swedish Legation, and Carl Lutz, who did the same via the Swiss Government. Of those that were deported (most of them to a concentration camp on the Austrian border), the vast majority were liberated by the advancing Red Army.

Symbols and Traditions. Written by Jaakov, B. Orban:

The original signification of the word mezuzah is: Doorpost (Exodus 12,7)

The word indicates this object, kind of little box containing the parchment on which the words of the Torah are registered and which is placed on the right post of the doors of Jewish homes turned towards the heart of the house.

In the Torah, we find the instructions concerning its placement: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD”

“And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 6, 4.9.)

It is placed on the doorpost of living places and not at the entry of bathrooms and toilets.

It is generally placed in the first third of the post from the top, to be visible and easily touchable.

The case can be made of wood, metal, plastic and even of stone. The matter used does not much matter.

The letters written on it are more important: the letter SHIN the diminutive of the word SHADDAI, or even the inscription of the whole word SHADDAI. This word has different significations.

Weinstein is an internationally acclaimed photographer living in New York, he can be emailed at: ionruach at

Re-emerging Mezuzah. Photograph by © Todd Weinstein

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