A MUST SEE DESTINATION – Discover the hidden heritage treasures of JEWISH BUDAPEST – HUNGARY
I was recently invited to participate in a Jewish Heritage press trip to Budapest,Hungary.
During this press trip. I experienced the most amazing and unforgettable
City of Budapest filled with rich history and exotic beauty. It is considered the most sophisticated of all central European capital cities and it is often referred to as “the Paris of the East”. After being there for a week, I now understand why.
Our journey began with a luxurious and ultra comfortable flight on Air Berlin. Flying business class was a real treat as they provided us with all the amenities we could hope for. The full flat extending seat into bed was amazing and made the trip ultra comfortable.
Upon our arrival we were welcomed at the five star historic luxury Corinthia Budapest Hotel.
Beautifully restored for the new generation of travelers -a truly a hotel to experience. The Corinthia Budapest Hotel is one of the grandest in the city. It is an impressive landmark building located in heart of city with great bars and restaurants, spacious rooms, and The Royal Spa: spa treatments and jacuzzi sauna for your ultimate relaxation. Even the most discerning traveler would be impressed!
The Corinthia Budapest Hotel – Royal Spa
The beautiful city of Budapest is the third largest Jewish community of approx 100,000 jews in Europe. Jewish history dates back to Roman times, and Jews have always played an outstanding role in the city’s economic, political and cultural life.
Today, Budapest has many fine synagogues, kosher restaurants and Jewish schools. The unique Dohany Street Synagogue, the most impressive and biggest in Europe, stands next to the moving Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to over 600,000 Jews who perished during the Nazi reign of terror. The Jewish Museum has a wealth of artifacts and documents relating to Jewish history in Hungary.
Budapest is definitely one more pearl strung on the Danube necklace, a vibrant metropolis offering warm hospitality and an abundance of Jewish interest.
The city is famed for its distinctive art nouveau architecture incorporating colorful Hungarian folk motifs. Some of the outstanding examples of this style are the Applied Arts museum on Ulloi ut; the Greshem Palace on the Pest side of the Chain Bridge – now being converted into a deluxe hotel, the buildings on and around Szabadsag square, including the Postal Bank on Hold St., and the Theater on Paulay Edy street.
Below are of my top highlights of Jewish Budapest not to be missed during your visit:
– Visiting the Old Jewish District in the historic heart of Budapest, a narrow, triangular and busy area. Walking through the quarter’s streets, you can witness the history of the Jews of Hungary and Budapest. But if you observe closely, you can discover today’s life, too.
Discover the four Synagogues and Jewish places of Workship.
The Great Synagogue
Dohány Street Synagogue
The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as The Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, is a historical building in Erzsébetváros, the 7th district of Budapest, Hungary. It is the largest synagogue in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It seats 3,000 people and is a center of Neolog Judaism.
The Dohány Street Synagogue complex consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial and the Jewish Museum, which was built on the site on which Theodore Herzl’s house of birth stood
The Jewish Museum was constructed on the plot where Theodor Herzl’s two-story Classicist style house used to stand, adjoining the Dohány synagogue. The Jewish Museum was built in 1930 in accordance with the synagogue’s architectural style and attached in 1931 to the main building. It holds the Jewish Religious and Historical Collection, a collection of religious relics of the Pest Hevrah Kaddishah (Jewish Burial Society), ritual objects of Shabbat and the High Holidays and a Holocaust room.
The arcade and the Heroes’ Temple, which seats 250 people and is used for religious services on weekdays and during the winter time, was added the Dohány Street Synagogue complex in 1931. The Heroes’ Temple was designed by Lázlo Vágó and Ferenc Faragó and serves as a memorial to Hungarian Jews who gave their lives during World War I.
In 1944, the Dohány street Synagogue was part of the Jewish Ghetto for the city Jews and served as shelter for a lot of people. Over two thousand of those who died in the ghetto from hunger and cold during the winter 1944-1945 are buried in the courtyard of the synagogue.
MONUMENTS TO RESCUERS: This was very sentimental visit that resonated to many of us. Here are monuments in Budapest to the Gentiles who worked to save Jews during the Nazi occupation by providing them with false papers.
In memory of those who had died, there is a memorial by the sculptor, Imre Varga, depicting a weeping willow with the names and tattoo numbers of the dead and disappeared just behind the Synagogue, in the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park.
The Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark ( memory park) in the rear courtyard holds the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs — at least 600,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis.
Other memorial Among the Nations included;
Swiss Vice-consul Carl Lutz; Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian man who, with a strategic escamotage, declared himself the Spanish consul, releasing documents of protection and current passports to Jews in Budapest without distinction (he saved five thousand); Mons. Angelo Rotta, an Italian Prelate Bishop and Apostolic Nuncio of the State of Vatican City in Budapest, which issued protective sheets, misrepresentations of baptism (to save them from forced labor) and Vatican passports to Jews, without distinction of any kind present in Budapest (saving fifteen thousand), who saved, with his secretary Mons. Gennaro Verolino tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.
Kozma Utca Jewish cemetery
Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of Budapest is a visit well worth. This Jewish cemetery is located next to a large general and special Catholic cemetery. Since 1891 over 300,000 persons of Jewish origin are buried here. The cemetery is still in use.
Beside of the magnificent crypts designed in the early 20th century, there are to find many other special monuments, including the monument to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.
At this cemetery, many famous Hungarians of Jewish origin are buried, for example the architect Béla Lajta (1873 – 1920) and Hungary’s first winner of an Olympic Golden medal Alfréd Hájos (1875-1955)
Holocaust Memorial Center
The Holocaust Memorial Center pays tribute to the victims of the Hungarian Holocaust. The complex, inaugurated in 2004, houses a synagogue, a museum and an inner courtyard with a glass memorial wall dedicated to the over 500,000 victims with their names inscribed on the wall. The museum’s permanent exhibition tells the history of the Holocaust through the stories of individuals in an interactive way. Original documents and personal belongings are on display.
Castle District – the first Jews of Buda settled in the 13th century.
We see the small, medieval synagogue in the former Jewish street, learn about the Jewish life during the Turkish occupation in the 16th -17th centuries and get to know how does it possible that in the 21st century there are two Synagogues from the Medieval time still unexcavated. Unbelievable, but true, they are underground of the Castle District.
Lubavitch of Hungary
I was invited for the Shabbat dinner by Rabbi Shmuel Raskin and Rabbi Shlomo Koves.
An amazing Shabbat dinner surrounded by many invited guest from around the globe, from Australian, Brazil, Las Vegas, Israel with a night full of singing and good food! DON’T MISS IT!
Perfect Shabbat Dinner- Make your reservation – email or phone!
The Jewish Summer Festival – Not to be missed – August through September
With the initiative of the Jewish Community of Budapest, the Jewish Tourism and Cultural Center organized the first festival in 1998, with the central location being Europe’s biggest and one of its most beautiful synagogues, the Dohány Street Synagogue. Internationally renowned artists from European and around the globe made the festival more and more exquisite year after year, with growing fame, meant for both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.
Rachel Raj Flodni – How to make the perfect FLODNI – Traditional Hungarian Jewish Cake
Rachel specializes in Flódni, a traditional Eastern European Jewish pastry.
Prepare traditional family recipe, contains an abundance of poppy seeds, apples, walnuts and homemade plum jam.
Taste of Budapest perhaps the finest Flódniját! A must destination@ Raj Ráchel TortaszalonVeres Pálné utca
Discover Hungary’s other biggest treasures:
Schechenyi Thermal bath: The healing waters of the country – Indoor and outdoor pools with thermal water –
Macesz Huszar Restaurant: A Jewish- Hungarian bistro in the Old Jewish District of Budapest – http://maceszhuszar.com (Not kosher)
Spinoza Restaurant: Traditional Hungarian Jewish food in the heart of Budapest, in the middle the old Jewish quarter, very closed to the great Synagogue. ( Not Kosher)
Mazal Tov “ruin restaurant” Located next door to Fogasház in the Jewish Quarter of District VII – It is an idyllic covered inner courtyard, so typical for the Budapest Jewish quarter, but some trees and plants make it a comfy urban garden.
Hanna’s Kosher Kitchen VII., Dob utca 35.
Tel:+(361) 342-1072 Supervision: Rabbi Menakhem Adler – Rabbanut Ramat Gan.
Karmel (Carmel) Restaurant.
Kazincy u. 31. Budapest, Hungary
Tel: (++36-1) 322-1834 / Tel: (++36-1) 342-4585
Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.carmel.hu/
I recommend visiting Budapest and all the places representing Jewish heritage. It may be a physically small country but it is packed with such rich history and architecture within its borders. After visiting Budapest I now understand why this city ranks among the world’s most scenic and entertaining capitals as is often referred as the “Pearl of the Danube” It is the perfect destination: beautiful architecture, rich cultural life, delightful gastronomy and plenty of thermal spas. Something of interest for everyone and very educational and aesthetically pleasing to the eye and the locals could not have been more welcoming to us.
Hungary has always been part of a civilization that shares cultural and intellectual values as well as common religious traditions. It can be said without exaggeration that each historic city in the country is a rare gem and a priceless treasure. I would not have missed this trip for anything.
To plan a trip to Budapest, call the Hungary National Tourist Office at 212-695-1221 or log on to: www.gotohungary.com
Story & photography by Meyer Harroch -New York Jewish Guide
Royal Spa photograph courtesy Corinthia Hotel Budapest Airberlin photograph courtesy Airberlin.com
Fly Air Berlin with a great connection to Budapest via Berlin: www.airberlin.com
For luxurious accommodations stay at the five star Corinthia Hotel Budapest : www.corinthia.com/hotels/budapest/
The Great Dohány Street Synagogue: www.dohanystreetsynagogue.hu.
Jewish Summer Festival: www.budapestbylocals.com/jewish-summer-festival-in-budapest.html
Information and listing on the ruin pubs: www.ruinpubs.com