Israeli entrepreneur Mordechai Zisser, Chair of the Executive Natan Sharansky,
and Jewish Agency Delegation Head Eran El-Bar
September 19, 2010 / 11 Tishrei 5771
In a ceremony attended by Natan Sharansky, Chair of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Aryeh Abir, Eran El-Bar and Gerda Feuerstein, Israeli businessman Mordechai Zisser dedicated a four-story Israel Culture Center in the heart of the Hungarian capital of Budapest in memory of his mother, Mala Zisser z"l.
The culture center, located at 1 Paulay Ede St. in the heart of Budapest, was bustling with people when the sign commemorating the mother of the main donor, Mordechai Zisser, was installed at the entrance. The building bears the name of his mother, Mala Zisser z"l. Prominent members of Hungary’s Jewish and Zionist community were in attendance, as were prominent Israelis, including Aryeh Abir, director of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Europe region.
Mordechai Zisser spoke passionately at the ceremony about his mother, who was born in 1918 and died in 2001:
This was my mother!
She was born in Ozorków in 1918.
She was an exceptionally talented girl, and although she came from an ultra-Orthodox family, she was sent to a secular high school – a rarity in those days.
During the war, the family was relocated to the Lodz ghetto, where my mother lost everyone: her mother, father, and three sisters with their husbands and children.
Alone, with nobody in the whole world, she arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she shared a cot with three other girls. They were kept alive by three slices of bread that my mother, risking her own life, pilfered every from the German homes where she worked as a seamstress sewing dresses for German women – a craft that she had a great talent for. Thanks to the bread she provided daily, the four girls survived the war and established families whose progeny now numbers in the hundreds.
She married my father, R. Moshe Yitzhak Zisser, after the war, in which he lost his wife and two children. My parents were drawn to each other, were wed, and immigrated to the Land of Israel to raise a generation of proud children who would never have to withstand another Holocaust.
Throughout her life, my mother fed the hungry and shared whatever she had.
Despite the difficulties of life and livelihood in the Israel of old, she made sure to buy me books with whatever money she had left, so that I would develop a love for great literature and culture.
My debt to her is profound and unrivaled.
What ever is mine – is from her.
Zisser placed a sign commemorating his mother at the building’s entrance.
Vicki Angel, Director of the Department of Resource Development and Public Affairs Donor Relations Division and formerly the director of the Aliyah Department's Tnuat Aliyah related in her letter to Eran El-Bar, Director of the Budapest Delegation, how things have come full circle through the opening of this building:
“It was a privilege to take part in planning the opening of the Israel Culture Center in Hungary. In 1991, I had the honor of bringing the first youth pilot trip to Israel – the youngsters had never been to Israel before. This was also the first time that Hungary’s doors had been opened to Jewish Agency operations. Since then, Hungary has become a way station for thousands of olim who pass through it on the way to Israel, and the Jewish Agency has continued to organize and encourage Aliyah from Hungary as well. I am grateful for the opportunity that you have given us to come full circle in this personal and Zionist project, thanks to your efforts and the efforts of donors, especially Moti Zisser.”
The building contains:
- Ground Flood: Café, lobby, bookstore;
- First Floor: Israel Culture Center offices, exhibition hall, and concert hall (up to 100 people);
- Second Floor: Jewish Agency offices, classrooms for Hebrew language and other courses, library;
- Fourth Floor: Youth movement offices, hall for youth activities, pre-Taglit events, and student activities;
The Mala Zisser Building also serves as a host for various organizations that work in cooperation with the Israel Culture Center, including: The Jewish Agency, The Mensch International Foundation, Maccabi VAC Hungary, Hanoar Hatzioni, Hashomer Hatzair, Kidma
Read more about the building here. (Hebrew)
An article about the building appears here. (English)