Boring in Israel – Meanwhile in Hungary


Today in Hungary a pointless referendum is taking place. Pointless, because Hungary had already agreed to the EU refugee handling policies, and now the government asked the question if voters wanted to allow the EU to move asylum seekers to Hungary.

People serm to be uninterested, as the expected participation level is around 44%. Anything under 50% means the referendum itself will be unsuccessful or invalid. Also Hungary’s joke party–who are growing into quite a political force–recommended casting invalid votes, like the above one, where both the yes and no are marked as part of the wish for a good year!

L’Shana Tova, everyone!

7 Quick Takes – 12


— 1 —

We are in the middle of spring cleaning. I'm a pack rat, and I have to clean the house out twice a year, or stuff would overtake us. Let us not forget that we have absolutely no storage space in this house. For the past three months a set of boxes and cases were neatly stocked in front of my wardrobe, so I never opened the doors. I removed the boxes yesterday, and I found a bottle of Zubrowka on my summer shirt shelf. I was saving it for Purim, nut I completely forgot about it! Good thing that Purim is an annual thing, it will roll around in 5775 as well.

— 2 —

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the mass murder of the Jews of Hungary. There is quite a kerfuffle about the Holocaust Memorial Year in Hungary right now. The current Hungarian government blames the German take over for the Hungarian Holocaust and refuses to acknowledge any responsibility on the parts of Hungarians. The major Jewish organizations thus refuse to take part in the official memorial year. It's also election year, so everyone is trying to chime in on the issue, but without any real effort, lest they lose votes. It's ugly as usual.

In the mean time a Jewish cemetary was vandalized, with a message spray painted: “There was no Holocaust, but therewill be.” Just lovely. Of course now there is no German “invasion”. But no, there is no anti-semitism, and no, there was no anti-semitism in the remark just recently made by representatives if the governing party….

— 3 —

In connection with the above, it has been 70 years since my family was rounded up and forced to the ghetto near the Great Synagogue. My great-uncles and grandpa taken to forced labour, it would be only a few weeks before the rest of the family was deported to Auschwitz, where most of them would perish.

— 4 —

Did I mention a stomach bug striking just last night? Yep, just what we needed right now. So far it has found Kevin and I, but Bella assures me it was brought home by my grandson. Lovely. Truly lovely. Not. So today is the day when we have store bought challah and gefilte fish from a can, and take out chicken for Shabbat dinner, because I really shouldn't touch food.

— 5 —


— 6 —

We, as a family, are watching the second season of Bron Broen (The Bridge), a Swedish-Danish show that was both remade by the Americans (The Bridge) and the British and french (The Tunnel). I haven't watched The Tunnel yet, but I have blogged about season one of both the original and the American versions before.

Season two is following a similar pattern as season one: you can never be sure who is actually important for the story, who is not, who will survive and who won't. By episode four not only are my kids able to distinguish Swedish and Danish being spoken, but about half the characters I'd thought to last through the season are dead. It's quite awesome, to be honest. I mean their deaths are giving twists to the story at places where I'd least expect it.

So Saga and Martin are back, and Saga is still displaying signs of Autism and Martin is still dealing with grief and anger. And they still have that great chemistry. And I just wish Americans would watch this instead of remaking it… The American show became enjoyable at the point it deviated from the original story, and I'm looking forward to season two, which, I hope, will have nothing to do with the original show. Not that I don't like it, but why watch it twice?

— 7 —

On Tuesday, after confirming with my beloved family members that no one plans to give me Amazon gift certificates for my birthday, I will order the iPod Touch I've been eyeing for months. If you have an Amazon affiliate link, please comment with where it is, so I can use one of my readers' links. 🙂 Thank you, everyone, who shopped through my links!

I am excited to get it by mid-April. It will make life so much easier, and my backpack lighter. I am excited about the freedom in communication this little thing will provide me with. Not to mention the much better camera than my current phone. Instagram, I'll be back!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


31 Days in the Jewish Quarter Day 1 – What’s “The Jewish Quarter”?


31daysWalking in the historic streets of many a European city, the tourist will run into the the Jewish Quarter. Many times people think of them as a “ghetto”, which the given area might or might not have been.

The  Historic Jewish Quarter of Budapest, Hungary was partially turned into the Budapest Ghetto during the Shoah (Holocaust), but it wasn’t a ghetto before it. It was an area settled by many Jews, and it has an abundance of still functioning and now defunct synagogues: Orthodox, Neologue and Chassid alike. The old Jewish schools stood here, and some of the new ones are also located in this area. The Historic Jewish Quarter is also the center of today’s Jewish life, as the survivours settled in their old neighbourhoods upon their return. The Bálint Ház, a Jewish community centre, the kosher butcher, grocer and restaurants are all within a few blocks from each other. Walking tours are organized for locals and tourists alike, and events of the Jewish Summer Festival are usually concentrated in this section of Budapest.

In Cracow, Poland, the historic Jewish Quarter is even better defined: it’s the whole district of Kazimierz, a formerly independent town, settled by Jews. Walking into the area one is greeted by a string of kosher restaurants and Judaica shops, much more public–and tourist aimed–than their counterparts in Budapest. My favourite restaurant and the best café in the city are found here. They, too, have working synagogues, and they, tooPolska 422 have a wonderful Jewish festival each year. Did I mention the best coffee in time? (It can’t get enough mention. If you are in town, you have to try the Cheder.) The market in the New Square sells some of the typical local fast food (huge, one sided heated sandwiches), vegetables, clothes, meat, antiques and Judaica. It’s a must see for anyone, who visits there.  Adding a few hours to the Kazimierz tour one can also visit Oskar Schindler’s factory, made famous in the book and film “Schindler’s List“.

The capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague, also has a beautiful Jewish district, with several functional synagogues, a cultural centre and a historic cemetery. I bought one of my favourite kipot there. It’s also home to the Golem.

What’s common in all three areas, and many others throughout the world, is that as soon as someone enters the area, they can see the past, the footprints of the generations of Jews who lived there, and the memento of a community (mostly) wiped out by the Shoah. Obvious and less obvious signs that they were there, they lived there, and loved there. The signs of the faith, the hope are there. In this way, my life as a secular Jew resembles the old Jewish Quarters: I carry the subtle reminders of my ancestors’ faith, heritage and hopes.

For other 31 Days posts, click here

Five Favourites



Wow. Haven’t done this one for a while. So here come 5 of my recent favourites.

  1. The August 20 Fireworks!
    Source: szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu

    Source: szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu

    Click the photo for more pictures!
    August 20 is St. Stephen’s day in Hungary. He was the first king of Hungary, as well as the first Hungarian saint (along with his son), canonized in 1083. He was also canonized in the Orthodox church in 2000. Several things have been celebrated on this day in the past, and since 1926 (I think) part of the celebrations included fireworks. Traditionally the great fireworks display of the year  is over the Danube, and it lasts about 30 minutes. In recent years special music is written to accompany the display, and this year I really liked it! The television broadcast can be seen here. We watched it from one of the hotels on the bank of the Danube. Very pretty, indeed.

  2. István, a király.
    istvánIf it’s August 20, I’m watching István, a király. It’s a Hungarian rock opera about St. Stephen of Hungary. It will get a more detailed entry soon, because I can’t just let pass the 30th anniversary production without a post why it was brilliant. Till then, here is a song from the 25th anniversary production from 2008.
  3. Jerusalem a Cookbook is another thing that deserves its own post.
    IMGP2537Tomorrow there is a food fest at the therapy centre, and I’m cooking two things, both aubergine (eggplant) based, and both of them will be made using recipes from this book.
  4. Szamos marcipán. I am a big fan of marzipan, and Szamos is an awesome brand. They also have cafés and sell lots of cakes, but their marzipan desserts are the best. Since I ate my piece fast, there is no photo of  it. So here is Theodore at Szamos, holding a Hungarian flag.
  5. Harel Skaat as Aladdin. 🙂

Theodore At Lake Balaton


Thursday Kevin and I were invited to a Shabbat at the lake event hosted by one of his former colleagues. It is a weekend with a bunch of Israeli and US Jewish expats, who are all pretty secular. We used to go to these, but now it was a surprise. My Tatty Teddy, who is now Trendy Theodore, as you can see on one of the pictures. He is wearing the bracelet Bella made me, n hopes to move my coolness factor out of the negative range.

The chocolate bar Thodore is holding is a traditional Hungarian wafle thingy, named after the lake we are at. It comes in several flavours now, but the original dark chocolate covered ones are my favourite. I picked a few up to send home with Kevin. Yes, the milk chocolate one is for Itai.

Being back here is quite awesome. I wish the kids could be here, but maybe next year we can make that family trip. Don't feel too sad for them. They are spending their days with adoring grandparents, days filled with activities. Plus they get chocolate.

Having Kevin here is wonderful. I missed him terribly, and just having this time together is making me feel happy and young again. That said, you'd laugh at how funny my hair now looks, with it kicking the brown dye off at places, so there are chunks of white showing. Vanity, Hevel is thy name. That was a snide note. Back to Kevin. In years past we spent countless nights at lake Balaton, in varios villages and cities, with or without children. Sitting n the dark with msquitoes and ice water, I suddenly remember all of those trips vividly.

Tomorrow we are goibg to the other, northern shore of the lake, to the town where my great- uncle Béni lived his last months and where he was killed. We'll go to the town where my grandpa spent his summers, where he first took my grandma on a date. It willbe just another one of those trips that tie me so strongly to this land. We will take that little teddy bear with theblue nose to keep us cheered up and entertained.


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