Dan’s free day (April 30, 2017)

We both slept like logs last night … me until 1:30 am and Dan until 3:30. We both drifted back off around 4:30 and slept soundly until 8:30 when we decided we had better get the day started for fear of sleeping it away and making the jet lag worse. A shower and breakfast had us both revived and ready to take on the day. We met our friends, Robin and Rich, around 11:30 and headed toward the Jewish Quarter.

First stop and highlight of the day: Dohany Street Synagogue (Great Synagogue). I had never been to a synagogue so had no idea what to expect. In some ways I still don’t because it was explained to us that this particular one, the largest in Europe and second largest in the world, is not typical. It dates back to the mid-18th century when the large Jewish community of Budapest wanted to be more fully integrated into the community at large, so they built the synagogue in the shape of a rectangle (a typical synagogue is square we were told), installed an organ, two pulpits, kneelers in front of all the pews, and concert hall style light fixture; and conducted services in Hungarian, not Yiddish. It is beautiful. All men are required to cover their heads, even those taking a tour. Not having a hat, Dan and Rick were given a paper yarmulke, and a bobby pin to secure it with, to use for his visit.

We did a quick tour of the Jewish museum and then visited the the small cemetery (also not typical of synagogues) where the Soviets buried more than 2,000 Jews in mass graves after they liberated the city in 1945. Behind the cemetery is a small garden, the centerpiece of which is a beautiful weeping willow tree of life made of steel that honors the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who were murdered in World War II. Many of the leaves have names ingraved on them. It is stunning. There are also memorials to the men and women who risked their lives to help save Jews during the war.

To lift our spirits after the visit to the synagogue we went to an antique market in the Jewish quarter and then headed back toward the hotel to have a snack (salmon cooked on a plank over an open fire) at the fun Christkindlmarkt-esque market we happened upon yesterday. Delicious.

From there we walked across the Danube, took a funicular up the mountain, strolled around, and enjoyed the spectacular views. We hustled back in time to join Dan’s fellow conference attendees for a cocktail reception and dinner before heading to the room to get organized for tomorrow.

It was a great first day with the sun peeking in and out, a soft breeze, and temperatures in the 60s.


One thought on “Dan’s free day (April 30, 2017)

  1. Sounds like a nice day…so very sad though about how many Jews were murdered…I LOVED the tree with the names on the leaves…stunning memorial.


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