Police question Budapest rabbi over misuse of information

A whistle-blowing Budapest rabbi was questioned by police for what has been described as the misuse of sensitive private information stemming from a personal conflict within the Jewish community.

Rabbi Zoltan Radnoti was interrogated June 22 at a local police station, fingerprinted and photographed. The investigation stems from a case last year in which Radnoti revealed that a high-level official in the Jewish community was not Jewish according to Jewish law, as his mother was Christian.

At the time, the man, who was identified publicly as E.O., was the president of a Budapest synagogue and also a senior legal adviser to the leadership of Mazsihisz, the main Jewish umbrella organization. As a result of Radnoti’s revelations, E.O. lost his position.

O.E. subsequently complained to police that Radnoti’s revelations had prevented him from practicing his religion and that the rabbi had misused his personal data. Radnoti said that as a religious authority, he was maintaining halachah, or Jewish law.

On Tuesday, Mazsihisz and Hungary’s chief rabbi issued statements pledging to support Radnoti, saying that the case was an internal Jewish religious affair and should not be dealt with by the police or civil court.