Fruzsi Hoór earned her MA from Corvinus University of Budapest majoring International Relations and Diplomacy. While in university she was living in Brussels for a month, and in the Netherlands for a semester as an Erasmus student. In Budapest she finished her studies and started to work at an NGO, named Zachor Foundation for Social Remembrance, whose mission is to raise the awareness of educators and students on issues like anti-Semitism, racism, prejudice, and to spread knowledge of Jewish tradition and culture. Fruzsi started this MA program because she wanted to be more educated in this field, and hopes to be a future Holocaust researcher. As a third generation survivor she always had a strong interest in the topic. The increase of anti-Semitism in Hungary made her realize it is time to do something, and the best way to stop these radical threats is the education of the young generations. Fruzsi discusses her experiences as a student in our MA program below:
My name is Fruzsi Hoór, I am 27, and was born and raised in Hungary. I was studying at the Corvinus University of Budapest and hold a MA degree in international relations. During my university years I interned for a month in the European Parliament in Brussels and I spent a semester as an exchange student in the Netherlands.
What led you to pursue an MA degree in Holocaust Studies?
I could talk about this through several pages, but mostly for personal reasons. I was working at Zachor Foundation for Social Remembrance, where among other projects, we were organizing teacher training sessions about how to teach the Holocaust, and I wanted to be more educated in this field. The other reason I was drawn to the program was that I saw the rise of anti-Semitism in Hungary and I decided that I wanted to fight against it. I realized before I could make a difference I needed to study.
How did you pick the University of Haifa?
I found an advertisement on the website of a Hungarian Jewish organization about the program. It sounded exciting and I thought it would be a great opportunity and a fantastic experience. I’ve always wanted to spend a longer time in Israel and this program was a great excuse for that.
What were your first impressions of life in Haifa like? How was it different than what you were expecting?
This is my fifth time in Israel so life here wasn’t totally shocking to me, but it is always different to live somewhere. At first it was hard to find my place here, but for now Haifa has become my home.
Do you have a favorite course so far?
From the first semester Rachel Perry’s course, the Visual Culture and the Holocaust was my favorite. Her passion about the topic was fantastic and inspiring. I liked most of my classes, but this one offered not only the horror like our history based classes did, but also a perspective on topics of the Holocaust through art.
What kind of volunteering work are you involved in?
I’m visiting a Hungarian survivor every week. She was in Auschwitz with her mother and little sister who were killed there. We usually talk about her past and her family, but she also likes to talk about her children and grandchildren. Sadly she is not in the best of health, but she seems happy to talk about all her memories to someone especially in Hungarian. Sometimes she is asking about Budapest and about her old favorite places and she is very surprised when I tell her that some of them still exist.
What do you think of this MA program? How is it different from other academic programs you’ve been involved in?
The teaching method here is absolutely different from the one I’m used to. Here the student’s opinion is important, and the classes are more discussion based. We are helping each other learn, and all the professors are open to debates, questions and new ideas.
What ideas do you have for a thesis topic?
As I’m Hungarian for me it was obvious to write about the Holocaust in Hungary. I don’t have an exact idea at the moment because so many things are happening right now in the country – attempts to whitewash the Horthy-era history, the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary, debates amongst historians, the government and the Jewish organizations. There is a lot for me to consider, so I’m still deciding which aspect I should chose.
Do you have a favorite movie, play or book about the Holocaust?
I have a lot, all of them are the big classics but I have to say that after Rachel Perry’s class I’m more critical, especially with the movies. I took the Literature of the Shoah course this semester so maybe by June I will have new favorites.
What do you hope to do after you finish your degree here?
I hope to find a job in this field either in Europe or here in Israel. But I’m also thinking about doing a PhD. I still have half a year to decide, so in the meantime I’m looking for foundations and museums all around Europe and in Israel, and I will see what comes next in August.
What does it mean to you, on a personal level, to be able to study the Holocaust in Israel?
As I have family connections to Israel it means me a lot to live here and study about the Shoah. In October I had the opportunity to visit Yad Vashem with survivors in the frame of the program called Intergeneration, an unusual Birthright-style trip that brings young adults together with Holocaust survivors who have never visited Israel. We met in every month once, formed couples (one survivor and one young participant) and the survivors were talking about their stories and we were talking about our lives and how we feel about our Judaism as the third generation. As a close of the program the group traveled together to Israel. That experience has strengthened my decision to study the Holocaust here in Israel. This program offers so many different opportunities, that my goal for this year is just to get as much as I can out of my time here.