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Attending a service at Dohany Synagogue

Has anyone ever done this while visiting Budapest? If so, we would be interested in knowing more about your experience. For example, were you able to follow the service, not knowing the language....

Thanks,

Chris

Posted by
9305 posts

I havent been to the Dohany Synagogue, but i have been to the Teleki tér shul in District VIII. A great moment in my life. We once took this tour of District VIII that ended at the shul. If you arent Jewish, a shul is a small synagogue.

This one in particular was located in the back corner of a courtyard in a sort of run down old apartment block. The place had opened before WWII and was first closed by the Nazis and then by the communist under Russian occupation. It had stayed boarded up until just about the time of the Russian withdrawal from Budapest. During the war many of the children of the parishioners had been given to christian families for protection. When the shul reopened one of their first goals was to find those children, now very old; and many not knowing they were Jewish.

On that first visit we made a small contribution and it was a few years of thinking about them before we made contact and asked if we could visit. They invited us Saturday morning. We arrived and sat a table and through an interperter discussed all sorts of subjects. Finally the holocaust came up and I guess I became a bit angry. One old man held my arm and told me I needed to let of of it. I was ashamed, he was a holocaust survivor telling me to relax.

Its an orthodox shul so when the ceremony began the women went behind the curtain and the men met in the main room. They invited me to carry the Torah and then at the end to bind the fasteners back around it. During the ceremony the children danced and pulled me in with them. The Parishioners worked hard to help me follow the text and the processes. It was pretty amazing.

After the service we went back to the front room and we were helped with how to wash, then the cholent and finally the palinka. Prayers, speeches, more prayers and a little singing thanks to the effects of the palinka.

A few years later I saw the Rabbi's son, the one i had danced with, on an Oprah W. special on world religions. He and his father represented Judaism. I haven't been back for service again, but we help out with donations for their renovations, and i get an occasional email from one of the members we met. This is exactly the sort of memory that makes for good travel.

Posted by
72 posts

Thanks for sharing that experience, James. I can appreciate that it would have been a travel highlight, and a memory to last a lifetime. We are looking forward to attending a service at Dohany Synagogue and hope to learn a little of its history, too.
Thanks also for your detailed responses to some of my other posts about our upcoming Eastern European trip.

Chris

Posted by
9305 posts

Other then getting the hours off their website, cant offer much. Sorry.