Budapest Jewish Quarter

On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, we decided to go to the Jewish Quarter and see what was there.  The Carpenters had left us a little Downtown Walking Map of the Jewish Quarter, so we at least knew where to go!  We used the metro, which we accessed from Déli Palyudvar.  We started at the main synagogue, and asked about the various tours and bought our tickets.

The Moorish look make the building stand out.

The Moorish look makes the building stand out.

The Walking Tour was to start in 40 minutes, so why don’t you start upstairs in the museum, the man suggested.

Some beautiful stained glass windows and other artwork

Some beautiful stained glass windows and other artwork

One of the largest menorahs in the museum

One of the largest menorahs in the museum.  Many of the other menorahs and artifacts were silver.

Many historical items that showed off handiwork.

Some of the historical items showed off handiwork, like embroidery and crocheting.

The passover meal is usually eaten in another area out of the main house (or maybe used to be?)

This is a sample area set up for the passover meal.

This is a sample area set up for the passover meal.

The little square in front of the Great Synagogue is dedicated to this man.

The little square in front of the Great Synagogue is dedicated to this man.

Herzl Tivadar is considered to have been the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the founder of the State of Israel. Herzl formed the World Zionist Organization and promoted Jewish migration to Palestine in an effort to form a Jewish state.  He was born in Pest.  (Wikipedia)  So he is very much revered in Hungary.

Our walking tour included a viewing of an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue down the street from the Great Synagogue.  It is called the Kacinczy Synagogue.

The inside of the orthodox synagogue.

The inside of the  synagogue.

Looking up at the two upper decks where the women sit.

Looking up at the two upper decks where the women sit.

Memorial to Carl Lutz

Memorial to Carl Lutz – Look carefully for a menorah in the background.

Memorial to Carl Lutz

Memorial to Carl Lutz

Carl Lutz was a Swiss vice-counsel, who issued 10,000 safe conduct documents for Hungarian Jewish children to emigrate to Palestine in 1942 and 1943.  In 1944, when the Nazis came, he helped 8,000 Hungarian families to emigrate to Palestine – instead of 8000 persons that the Nazis allowed him to do.

Walls were erected between buildings along the outside perimeter of the Jewish Ghetto to form an enclosed area.  They had barbed wire on top to prevent anyone helping with food or to prevent escape.  Here is what Wikipedia says about the ghetto,

“The area consisted of several blocks of the old Jewish quarter which included the 2 main synagogues of the city, the Neolog Dohány Street Synagogue and Orthodox Kazinczy Street Synagogue.[1] The ghetto was created on 1944 November 29 by a decree of the Royal Hungarian Government.[2] It was surrounded by a high fence and stone wall that was guarded so that contraband could not be sneaked in, and people could not get out. The Nazi occupation of Budapest (Operation Margarethe) started on March 19, 1944. The ghetto was established in November, 1944, and lasted for less than three months, until the liberation of Budapest on January 17, 1945 by the Soviet Army during the Battle of Budapest.

As with other ghettos that had been set up in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe the area was completely cut off from the outside world: no food was allowed in, rubbish and waste were not collected, the dead lay on the streets and piled up in the bombed-out store fronts and the buildings were overcrowded, leading to the spread of diseases such as typhoid.

More than half of those that were forced into the ghetto in 1944 were sent to concentration camps, starting almost immediately from the establishment of the ghetto. From occupation to liberation the Jewish population of Budapest was reduced from 200,000 to 70,000 in the ghetto, and about 20,000 housed in specially marked houses outside the ghetto having been granted diplomatic protection by neutral politicians, including Raoul Wallenberg, who issued Protective Passports on behalf of the Swedish Legation, and Carl Lutz, who did the same via the Swiss Government. Of those that were deported (most of them to a concentration camp on the Austrian border), the vast majority were liberated by the advancing Red Army.”

Inside the Great Synagogue

Inside the Great Synagogue

The Great Synagogue houses a group of Orthodox Jews called Neolog.  There are some differences in their building that the Orthodox Jews feel is not proper – like no curtains in front of the women’s sections upstairs.  The Neologs also have a wonderful organ in this building.  Playing music is not allowed on their Sabbath – it is work and considered frivolous.  The Neologs hire a non-Jew to play their organ.  In the Jewish Quarter there are several other types of Jewish congregations.  It was built with a definite Moorish influence that was popular at the time.  Instead of 6-sided Stars of David, 8-sided stars were used everywhere – inside and out.

Patrons were able to buy their pew seats before the synagogue was restored.  This furnished the money to restore the building after deliberate bombing during WWII.  Their names are on plaques in front of the seats.  Today one can still do that to help with upkeep.  You can see the plaques in the picture above.

Upper decks where women sit

Upper decks where women used to sit.  Not necessary today.

In January 1945, the Russians liberated the ghetto.  In this garden which was the playground for ghetto children at one time, the murdered Jews were buried.  Normally, in the Jewish tradition, the deceased are buried the same day as they die, and NEVER on the grounds of a synagogue. There is a famous Jewish Cemetery in the outskirts of the city. But since the bodies had been lying there for so long, they buried them on the spot, in mass graves, as fast as they could.


Garden adjacent to the Great Synagogue with a poster on the pillar.

A poster showing the bodies in the same garden in 1945

The poster showing the bodies in the same garden in 1945.

In the back of the synagogue, there are other memorials.  This one is for Raul Wallenberg and other wonderful men and women who helped the Hungarian Jews.

Putting stones on a memorial or gravesite is a Jewish tradition.

Putting stones on a memorial or grave site is a Jewish tradition.

By far the most outstanding memorial to those who died is this stainless steel weeping willow tree.  It is covered in silver.  Names are on the leaves.  It was paid for in large part by a Jew with Hungarian parents – Bernie Schwartz – Tony Curtis.

A picture does not do this beautiful tree justice.

A picture does not do this beautiful tree justice.

Individual names on leaves to remember those who died here

Individual names on leaves to remember those who died here.

For more pictures of the synagogue:

Be sure to scroll down and see the 3-D tour…

A beautiful building with remembrances of man’s inhumanity to man….

Perbal 2

On February 1, 2014, we finally got back to Perbal with our fleece blankets!  Most of the youth there seemed pretty interested in them and Timi was in charge of announcing come and pick one out.  Some very pretty colors this year! (I know the fabric store was happy that the Humanitarian couple had spent so much money in their store!  They were unhappy to hear that they would be not be back next fall for more fabric.)

On a side note, we LDS spend a LOT of money in Hungary – and anywhere else we are.  We buy local goods:  food, clothing, office and cleaning supplies, entertainment, gifts to bring back home, and the mission even buys cars and hires workers to clean and fix our buildings, etc. One senior missionary couple bought 11 (ELEVEN) hand-made pottery nativity scenes for all their children.

At the bus station

At the bus station: Viki, Timi, Eszter, Taci, Adri, Szandi, Lavi, Feri

This trip was paid for with Humanitarian money from the Church, since we were delivering the blankets that were funded by the Church.

Timi was in charge

Timi was in charge

Some of the young men and women at Perbal this day were the same as we met before; but there were others that we had not met before.  There are 3 buildings where they stay and sometimes they come to this main recreation room.

After the blankets were passed out, Eszter and Adri picked out some music to play.

Adri, Eszter, Viki and Taci sitting next to girl in wheel chair

Adri, Eszter, Viki and Taci sitting next to girl in wheel chair

Eszter is a very accomplished folk dancer and she ended up encouraging the youth to join in some dancing…

IMG_5411They seemed to enjoy this very much…

One of the care-takers got Gabor to join in.

One of the care-takers got Gabor to join in.


Also she helped this young woman.

One of the young women started having what appeared to be an epileptic seizure when we were there.  The care-takers immediately took care of her and got her out of it pretty quickly.  I had the feeling that sometimes too much activity – too much stimulation – can bring these on.

Elder Felsted and I had bought some inexpensive, brightly colored picture frames for the pictures that I had taken of some of the youth last time we went.  I passed them out to the kids that were there. They seemed pleased to have a picture of themselves.  I took pictures of those that I had not seen before and hopefully we can go again one more time before we leave to hand those out.  We also noted that everyone had new beds!  The company that came in August arranged for that purchase.

We could not stay too long – Viki had an appointment in another town.  We left treats for them and off we went.

Here we are waiting for the bus home.

Here we are waiting for the bus home.

Some cute buildings and a store I liked….

IMG_5478IMG_5466Viki said she learned a valuable lesson on this trip.  She really did not want to go – she had so many things to, do and this was just one more thing.  However, she decided to just do it!  And as she was on the bus traveling to get to Perbal, she received some answers to her prayers that she had been seeking – ideas just flowing into her mind, etc.  She decided that SERVICE was the answer.  When we give service to others, it puts us in the mode to get the answers that we need for other issues and problems in our lives.  A very valuable lesson for us all!

From the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 2:

17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn awisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the bservice of your cfellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

New Year Goals Including The 40 Day Fast

Our new council decided that our YSA needed some goals for 2014. One of those goals was to try to re-activate some YSA members who have not been attending Church for a while.  On Friday, Jan 3, 2014 Gabor had our members write letters to some of these…

IMG_4986Another one of our council’s goals was to have 50 new Young Single Adults join the Church in the year 2014.  They advertised this on our Facebook Budapest YSA page and with the leaders of the YSA in other cities.  Soon they had 40 YSA (and a few other members, like the Smiths, the Felsteds, etc) who agreed to fast and pray on 40 different days, with the purpose of pleading with the Lord for our Hungarian Missionaries to find and baptize 50 new YSA!  Our YSA council realized that if the Church is to grow in Hungary, they need to marry other LDS members.

IMG_5004Viki introduced the details and led the discussion about this fast and helping more with missionary work with a power point presentation. on Friday, January 10th.   The YSA were very attentive and supportive.   (Another aside:  Mormons fast regularly for 24 hours once a month and give the money we would spend on food for the poor and needy.  We also fast whenever we desire special blessings – like when a family member is sick or when parents are worried about a child, etc.)

Another goal was to have our YSA more actively involved with the missionaries.  Some are just naturally inclined to do this and others are more shy.  Many participate with the missionaries by attending discussions (called programs here) with investigators.  This is very helpful..  One, it introduces the investigator to a person in the Church who is about the same age.  It also lets the investigator see that our members are just normal people.  (There are a lot of misconceptions out there!)

Marietta and Anna

Here is an example of a member befriending an investigator (Marietta) … Unfortunately, Anna (on right) left soon after this picture to the USA to marry a missionary who served in Hungary.  Not to worry – Marietta has other LDS friends..

However, there are other ways that the YSA can be helpful to the missionary effort besides attending discussions.  The council decided that we should invite the missionaries to some of our meetings to teach the YSA how to accomplish this goal.

The APs, Assistants to President Smith, leading the discussion

The APs, Assistants to President Smith, leading the discussion on Jan 10th.

BTW, the APs counsel with President Smith about the everyday running of the missionary effort in Hungary.  APs are chosen by the Mission President and are usually called to this position because of their excellent and exemplary missionary service.   And ours are excellent teachers, too.  In this lesson, they asked the YSA what did they talk about when they talk to others not of our faith…  A list was made on the board.  Then they used that list to see how discussions could be inserted about faith, God, values, etc. to see if their non-member friends had any questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Then they divided up into role-playing groups… (very common missionary training practice)

IMG_5019Our Church is at the forefront of using technology and I am on several LDS lists that keep me informed about the latest things.  I found two posters the week we were going to have this lesson that helped explain members usefulness in the missionary program.  (See them on the board in the first picture.)  Here is one.  Could not find the other one – I deleted the file after I printed it off as a poster… and could not find it anywhere online.  Where do things go???

young-man-church-website-1186900-wallpaperWe have continued to have the missionaries come once a month and review good missionary practices and help our YSA be better “member missionaries.”

We have started keeping track of all the YSA throughout Hungary who join the Church. I invite them to join the Budapest YSA Facebook group so they can see what kind of activities we do here.  They can attend any that they wish and some of our activities are geared especially for all the YSA in Hungary!  It is very special for me to “meet” (some only through the internet) these wonderful new converts and touch base with them.  I was one of them!  I joined the Church at age 18!!!  At this moment in time (Mar 14, 2014), we have 9 baptisms in 10 weeks and many more to come!

Here is our first YSA baptism in Hungary in the year 2014!

Marietta and her mother and sister

Marietta and her mother and sister

This will be an exciting year for the YSA!  Let’s hope they can achieve their goals!

Eszter’s Baptism…

Gabor joined the Church in Atlanta, Georgia in August 2012, when he went to visit a friend he made on Facebook.  He came to the Buda Building shortly thereafter, with one of our YSA whom he had met – also on Facebook!  We were there that evening and immediately greeted him and took his picture!  He was in his final year of college and came to our events as much as he could.

Picture taken Aug 12, 2012, the day after our 50th wedding anniversary.

Picture taken Aug 12, 2012, the day after our 50th wedding anniversary.

He and Timi became great friends and they soon became inseparable!  Timi helped him study for his English exams he needed to pass for graduation.

Timi and Gabor - cooking demonstration April 2013.

Timi and Gabor – cooking demonstration April 2013.

Eszter, one of Gabor’s younger sisters, soon became Timi’s friend and Timi started coaching Eszter in German.  They usually met in one of the lounges at our YSA center. Timi first brought Eszter to one of our Friday meetings the 11th October 2013.

IMG_2993One day one of the sets of missionaries here in Buda came into the building complaining that all their programs (discussions) had dogged them.  Timi and Eszter were having a lesson.  So Timi said, Teach Eszter, she will listen to a lesson.  So that is how Eszter got involved with the Church and started taking missionary discussions.  (Of course, she knew that her brother had joined the Church and I am sure he was a good example to her. He has taken his Church membership very seriously.)  And she had been coming to our activities, too!  She knew in a very short time that the Church was true because the Holy Ghost had testified to her!

Meanwhile, her brother Gabor was on another trip to Atlanta to visit his friend and take out his endowments in the Atlanta Temple.  Gabor’s friend had relatives in  St. George, so they went there for Thanksgiving.  By the time he got home, Eszter was beyond ready to be baptized, but she wanted her older brother to baptize her.  Very exciting time!

Eszter Baptism CGabor and Eszter’s parents have been very supportive for their children’s endeavors.  In fact, the little sister now comes to Church with them and attends Primary.

Thanks, Timi!

Eszter Baptism w:TimiPest Ward is ROCKING!


December Cooking Show

December 20, 2013, Barbie wanted to demonstrate making her home-made muffin recipe.  Of course, her fiancé, Péti, was her helper…

IMG_4530The kids always seem to like these demonstrations and we never have any trouble finding others who want to demonstrate some favorite recipe!

IMG_4537Lemon is a big part of Hungarian cuisine – desserts, breads, pasta dishes, you name it!

IMG_4546Our YSA kitchen has all kinds of baking accessories – including no-stick muffin pans…

IMG_4550 Another fun evening.  But there was a VERY exciting thing coming up the next day: Gabor H was back in town and was baptizing his sister Eszter tomorrow… see next posting!

Another Pest Ward Baptism

On December 14, 2013 another Gabor was baptized in the Pest Ward.  I was unable to attend because Sister Smith, Sister Carpenter and I were working on food preparation for the upcoming Christmas Zone Conferences.  But Elder Felsted attended.  Gabor is another great young man, 33, so he is over YSA age – but again, we have formed a bond with him because he is in our ward.

IMG_3790He also investigated the church for many months.  He is very strong in the Church and has received the Priesthood and has a ward calling of being the Ward Employment Specialist.  He is an engineer.  We hope he can give a presentation to our YSA as the employment specialist.

The wards always have a little food for a after the baptisms gathering.

The wards always have a little food for a after the baptisms gathering.

Gabor asked Elder Felsted to perform the Ordinance of the Gift of the Holy Ghost the following Sunday.

Anikó and Krisztian

We all love LOVE STORIES!  Anikó was baptized in September 2012 right after we came to Hungary.  Krisztian was a returned missionary who lived in another town in Hungary.  They first met at an Institute Graduation on June 8, 2013.  Then they met up again at a Budapest Stake dance put on by some of our YSA.  From then on, they spent as much time together as they could – commuting between the two towns…

Their engagement picture.

Their engagement picture.

Their marriage was set for December 7, 2013.  Unfortunately, downtown Saturday construction traffic prevented us from being on time for the wedding, so we sat outside the room at the government building.  Here is a picture from her Facebook page, right after the wedding…

1480735_10202344996999443_1856868331_nAnikó’s sister is on her right and was the matron of honor.  Three YSA bridesmaids…

Lots of YSA support for their wedding...

Lots of YSA support for their wedding…

Viki made these bridesmaids dresses out of FREE materials… These kids are something else!

IMG_4287White thick jumpsuit material is under the sheer turquoise.  I found a white ribbon to blend the top to the bottom and a little lace to overlay on the ribbon.  Perfect!

Two down...

Two down…

First dance...

First dance…

Another YSA couple married.  They are currently living in Germany – as they were having trouble finding work in Hungary.  This is a common issue with many in Hungary at this time.