web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Reflections On Jewish Budapest

The Shoes At The Danube Promenade

The Shoes At The Danube Promenade

Share Button

In the quaint and picturesque Hungarian town of Szentendre (Saint Andrew), just outside of Budapest, our group of five new friends who had gathered from throughout the Jewish world bask in the sunlight, seemingly frozen in time. We weave along the cobblestone streets browsing in and out of charming little shops offering handmade crafts, delicate latticework, whimsical wooden toys and intricately painted porcelain. We sit outside and feast on pastries that look more like art than edibles and ice coffee is reminiscent of ice cream floats.

The conversation, however, quickly turns from sweets and souvenirs to anti-Semitism – for even the perfection of this setting won’t allow for us to forget why we are here. It’s as if the beauty of this town is painted as a mere distraction.

“It is a shame,” I think, “that a place this beautiful has a past so terrible and a future that looks to be more of the same.” Every bit of beauty is tarnished by the reality of Hungary’s anti-Semitic past and present.

We spend a perfect Shabbat evening, albeit long, worshipping in both the Dohany Street Synagogue and then at the Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue followed by dinner with the community. I take in the peacefulness of the spring air and glance back at the majestic beauty of the Dohany Synagogue’s iconic domes dressed in what locals refer to as “Oriental” splendor. It is a magnificent structure; one of the largest synagogues in the world and it also holds the distinction of lying on the land that was once the site of Theodor Herzl’s home. The Dohany Street Synagogue complex today also houses the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park, the Jewish cemetery and the Jewish Museum.

We take a walk through a nearby park, en-route to our hotel, a park dotted with historic grand statues and a contemporary installation piece of street art; a walk that would have been the perfect end to the perfect evening had it not been for the sounds that greeted us. A wave of ‘Sshhhh…shhhh…shhhh….” was sounded by locals as we passed. “Shhhhhh” fills the night air. We are told it’s the sounds of gas chambers. Our security team rushes to move us along and form a barrier between us and them. We hurry though the park but the sound follows us through the night.

And as for the Jobbik rally that was to be staved off during our visit, it continued as planned. As Lauwrence Weinbaum, of the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, remarked after having witnessed their display, “The words of Max Lieberman immediately come to mind who while watching the Nazis march through Brandenburg Gate stated, ‘I cannot eat as much, as I would like to puke’”.

A day later, I wander down the Danube with a few other World Jewish Congress delegates to have a look at The Shoes on the Danube Promenade, a beautiful and extremely moving tribute to the Jews murdered by Hungary’s Arrow Cross during the war. After the incident in the park and the Jobbik rally, I was admittedly surprised to find a respectful and calm atmosphere and the area filled with international tourists paying their respects. The jeering of the neo-Nazi masses, the hooligans shouting anti-Semitic slurs and the gas chamber jeers were notably absent. As we sat in quiet contemplation with only the sounds of camera’s clicking to break the solemnity of the memorial, we noticed stickers on the adjacent bollards that were unmistakably anti-Semitic.

We remove a sticker. While we know no Hungarian, the black and red bold print and picture of Peres crossed out are unmistakably filled with threats and hate, moreover it was a call to join a growing political party. We attempted to get people in the street to translate for us. They saw my friend’s kippah and our World Jewish Congress name badges and refused. We asked members of the massive security force, the force that shadowed us wherever we went, lined the perimeter of our hotel, controlled the two-station airport-quality security check required each time someone entered the hotel, had checked our rooms with bomb-sniffing dogs and guarded us when we travelled as a group outside our fortress. They too refused and demanded that we turn over the sticker. Police detectives soon too demanded the sticker. I wonder why given the physical intimidation of the rally and the hooligans in the park this sticker is deemed to be so dangerous. Eventually my friend relinquished possession of the sticker but we photographed it. While I have seen Nazi-propaganda similar to this in books and museums, I have never before held it in my hand. This is not a historical relic, but neither is it a product of a new reality to the people of Hungary.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

One Response to “Reflections On Jewish Budapest”

  1. Call Alex Katz at the Jewish Agency in Budapest. Come home.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.
America Joins Israel in Canceling Talks with PA
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from Erica Lyons

If your hero is fictional you could be crazy. And if they happen to be real, they are likely human and, unfortunately, inevitably flawed.

Lyons-101813-During

I left my mother a message saying goodbye and pleading with her to make sure my son grew up knowing how much I loved him.

In the quaint and picturesque Hungarian town of Szentendre (Saint Andrew), just outside of Budapest, our group of five new friends who had gathered from throughout the Jewish world bask in the sunlight, seemingly frozen in time. We weave along the cobblestone streets browsing in and out of charming little shops offering handmade crafts, delicate latticework, whimsical wooden toys and intricately painted porcelain. We sit outside and feast on pastries that look more like art than edibles and ice coffee is reminiscent of ice cream floats.

It started as my daughter’s third grade assignment: choose a person to write about, preferably an American, preferably a Jew. We were going to do just that. I intended to help my daughter choose the topic and then to back away yet, Emma Lazarus ended up drawing me in.

I met Mr. E at a poetry reading. Hong Kong’s literary scene is small and two Americans reading in one evening was an unusual event. We became Facebook friends, generally “liking” the same local literary events and book launches.

A Hong Kong symphony of sounds fills the air as local laborers shout across the shul courtyard in Cantonese while tossing bamboo in a pile for the sukkah: Filipino maids chatter in Tagalog hovering over the children in their charge, the radio of the Nepalese gurkhas, the Synagogue security, crackles and jackhammers provide the background music. The thick air and humidity within the walls of the partially constructed bamboo sukkah sharply contrasts with the crisp fall air of Sukkot in the northeastern corridor of the United States, where the sukkahs of my childhood were laden with dried fruit and autumn color. Dozens of colorful miniature Chinese paper lanterns dangle from the sukkah and here replace the burnt orange and golden gourds of autumn.

In an effort to procrastinate, I occasionally like to bounce some ideas around. As I work from home with only my two cats for company, this often means waiting until my children return home from school.

Hong Kong’s Ohel Leah Synagogue recently celebrated the dedication of a new Sefer Torah. Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Lady Elaine Sacks joined Rabbi Asher Oser and Assistant Rabbi Ariel Zamir of Ohel Leah at the festivities. Also present were Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon of Chabad of Hong Kong, Rabbis Meir Azarzar and Avner Cohen from the Shuva Israel community, and the sofer, Rabbi Yehonatan Yitzhak-Halevy. Hundreds of members of the Hong Kong Jewish community participated as well.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/travel/reflections-on-jewish-budapest/2013/06/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: