January 22, 2020

Hungarian Adventist Leader Receives Award for Work With Minorities

Tamás Ócsai, Trans-European Division News

Jenő Szigeti, a former president of the Hungarian Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a church historian, has been awarded a prize for his life-long work in higher education and pastoral care focused on minorities.

The prize is given to individuals or organizations that uplift high ethical standards and demonstrate serving minorities, underprivileged people, and those discriminated against in society.

In his acceptance speech, Szigeti highlighted that every human being is a minority because everyone is unique. “The core of our existence is to understand and accept others,” he said.

The deputy ambassador of Sweden in Hungary, together with the deputy minister of the Hungarian government, handed out the prize, awarded by the Wallenberg Association at a ceremony hosted by the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Jenő Szigeti and his wife after the awards ceremony hosted by the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities in Budapest, Hungary, on January 16, 2020. [Photo: Hungarian Union Conference]

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who served in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II. He is remembered for saving thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary. The prize is given in his honor, to perpetuate his humanitarian ideals and non-violent courage.

Seventh-day Adventists in Hungary, and especially the president of the church at that time, worked with Wallenberg during World War II to help save lives. Wallenberg handed them special passports. Adventist pastor László Michnay aided them by hiding Jews in the central church building in Budapest and other places. The membership helped to feed them and to smuggle them to safety.

Michnay was the first-ever Hungarian to receive the Jad Vashem award on May 5, 1964.

The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.