By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — Zsuzsa Fritz, whose family in Hungary concealed her Jewish identity until her father’s death when she was 16, has an amazing story to tell.
Fritz will be the March 29 guest speaker at the Lion Pomegranate Lunch ’n Learn event sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
Growing up, Fritz’s family kept her heritage a secret — even from her — for many, many years. They worried she could never advance in communist Hungary if openly Jewish.
But then her father died, and she realized at his highly traditional funeral that she was, indeed, Jewish.
This realization would sweep her away into an adventure of education and self-discovery. She would eventually become one of the founding board members of the Haver Foundation, which provides education about Judaism and the Holocaust in public schools across Hungary.
The March 29 program during which Fritz will speak is titled “Jewish Revival Inside Budapest.”
Fritz’s ascent to leadership in the Hungarian Jewish community is said to be reflective of the story of Hungarian Jewry since the fall of Communism.
Laurie Judson, a co-chair for the event, said the guest speaker’s reputation precedes her.
“I have heard she is fabulous,” Judson said. “People who have heard her before say she is phenomenal. We are really excited to have her.”
The special luncheon takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 29 at the home of Wendy Stanley, 7403 Midbury Drive. The cost is $18, which includes lunch and program.
According to biographical information provided by Lisa Shaoul, the director of Women’s Philanthropy at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Fritz traveled to Israel and became swept away in a lifelong career in informal Jewish education after her discovery of her heritage.
Hungary now is home to 120,000 Jews and the largest Jewish community in central Europe.
The Balint JCC at which she works is a focal point for Jewish life in Budapest. She also is educational director of the JDC-Ronald S. Lauder Camp in Szarvas, Hungary.
Fritz’s compelling story should be thrilling to hear for the donors who contribute to the Jewish Women’s Philanthropy Center, event organizers said.
Event Co-Chair Cathy Brook said it is gratifying to offer this program for those donors.
“We’re so excited to offer the special programming,” Brook said. “It has been a really fun, successful way to reach these women through the Jewish Women’s Philanthropy Center.”
Another of the co-chairs, Carol Kreditor, chair of Federation’s Jewish Women’s Philanthropy Center, agreed.
“The event is our way of giving something back to our larger donors,” she said. “We get a nice group of women together and share a unique experience.”
The JWPC donors contribute thousands of dollars in Dallas a year. About 146 special donors are dubbed “Lions of Judah,” and almost 200 “Pomegranates.”
Together all donations make up an annual campaign of more than $860,000 a year.
Kreditor said between 24 and 40 people are expected to attend this upcoming luncheon event.