Rita is 6, Rasi 13, Vince 15, Iza 14, Robi 23, Péter and Kriszta are 33 years old. All of them have spent their childhoods behind the walls of the Budapest Peto Institute. One day they are leaving. All of them. Out into the life...
My great grandfather, János Hoffmann was born in 1895, in Szombathely, Hungary. Perished in Auschwitz, in 1944. I never met him although I could have… I could have some early recollections of his figure if there had been no Holocaust. It seems to me that my mother’s existence in this world is out of God’s special grace and so is mine, for supposing my grandmother, a young girl of 17 in 1944, had not survived Auschwitz, history would have put an end to my family tree with a great thud forever. But my grandmother stood through, here she is, along with my mother who was later born to her, and so here I am as well. And here is my great grandfather, János Hoffman, too. No, not in his physical form. He died in one of those gas chambers for doctor Mengele happened to point to the right one day. If I had had the chance to know my great grandfather I might have heard some family legends from him. He might have told me stories about the family, my background. I might have been given a clearer picture of where I was coming from, how my ancestors lived. His voice might still resound in my ears, I could remember his face the expression in his eyes, feel his vibration. Through him I could have flown back centuries into the past. I would have been able to picture true stories on the screen of my imagination, I could have asked him about facts and events… If…if…if…
I was found with the story of Regina Jonas. My first feature film was premiered at the Jewish Film Festival in Amsterdam, with opening remarks by Rabbi Eliza Klapechek. Later, she came up to me and asked if I wanted to make a film about the world’s first woman rabbi. I didn’t think the topic interested me. I only remembered Regina Jonas’s name and had no idea when and where she’d lived. Years later, out of curiosity, I checked up on who she actually was. That’s when I learned that she lived in the Germany of the 1930s, in Berlin, and her greatest dream was to become a rabbi. She felt that she was born to be a rabbi. This was what she had to do. She knew it from the time she was a little girl. But a woman could not be a rabbi according to the laws of Jewish religion.