June 11, 2018
Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement mourning the passing of Charles Fodor, z’’l:
“On behalf of the board of directors and staff of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), we collectively mourn the passing of Charles Fodor, z’’l. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, as well as the many people within and beyond our Jewish community whose lives were enriched by Charles.
“Our beloved board member of many years, Charles Fodor, survived the Holocaust and escaped the Communists in his native Hungary. In the United States he served the American Red Cross and humanity for forty years.
“His was a remarkable life.
“Charles was born in Budapest in 1936. By the time he was eight years old, the Jewish community of his city was one of the last, large surviving enclaves. This would not last long as the Germans and their Arrow Cross Hungarian Nazi allies occupied Budapest in March 1944.
“The next harrowing ten months become the centerpiece of the many talks Charles would give over the years: Charles and his grandmother seeking sanctuary in the safe houses established by Raoul Wallenberg and other neutral diplomats working assiduously to save Jews; the intervention of an unknown man who helped Charles and his grandmother to escape a building during an Arrow Cross round-up—all were murdered who entered the building; and the moment of liberation by the Red Army.
“Charles told his Shoah survival story—in his crisp, compacted manner with a wry smile about his Hungarian accent, throughout the Twin Cities and beyond: video-taped at the American-Swedish Institute in a celebration of Raoul Wallenberg; in Granite Falls at the opening of the Holocaust exhibit at the Fagen Fighters World War II Museum; and at Bismarck, North Dakota, with the North Dakota National Guard and Bismarck State College.
“No matter the geography or the audience, there was always one central theme: ‘Do a mitzvah—a good deed—each day, and thank God for the gift of life.’
“Charles honored the Transfer of Memory project and Witnesses to the Holocaust with his participation by photographic portrait and story. I enjoyed taking a picture of his Transfer of Memory portrait whenever a new venue for the exhibit opened to show Charles another place or cohort he was teaching.
“Charles made enormous contributions to the Jewish community through the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul and Mount Zion Temple where he was formally recognized and honored for his many volunteer contributions.
“The JCRC sends its love and extends its condolences to Charles’ wife, Victoria Fodor, who was his wonderful caregiver who kept us informed via Caringbridge of the Yiddish and classical Hungarian music which made Charles smile in his last days—ever the man of Central European culture and Jewish tradition. May his memory be for a blessing.
“JCRC vice president, Marty Chester, adds: ‘There is a teaching that if someone dies on Shabbat it’s a mark that he was a tzaddik, and that certainly applies to Charles. May his memory be for a blessing.’”
The funeral will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 12, at Mount Zion Temple (1300 Summit Ave., St. Paul) with Shiva at Mount Zion Temple at 6:00 p.m. on June 12.
The JCRC… the public affairs voice of the Jewish community fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice, promoting tolerance and social justice, and representing Jews, individually and collectively, here and abroad.