In April, I traveled to Prague and Budapest. (I also spent a night in Amsterdam, after my KLM flight back to Minnesota last Sunday was cancelled. There was a snowstorm, I hear.) It was my first visit to these storied cities that are rich in Jewish history.
In upcoming issues of the Jewish World, I will relate some of the stories gathered in these two Jewish communities.
Prague is incredibly picturesque, with its Old Town and Charles Bridge, and the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral looming over the city. I toured the Jewish synagogues, including the Old-New Synagogue, the oldest continually functioning synagogue in Europe and the residence of the Golem, the monster created from clay by Rabbi Yehuda Loew ben Bezalel, the 16th century sage of Prague, to protect the Jews.
In Budapest, I met with a number of Jewish activists and communal officials in the more populous Jewish community. On Yom HaShoah, I visited the Great Synagogue on Dohany Street, and the Raoul Wallenberg Garden, a memorial to the Righteous Gentiles, including many courageous Hungarians, who saved Jewish lives in the Shoah. And I talked with people about the ominous political situation, in which Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whose Fidesz Party triumphed again in the April 8 parliamentary elections, is tightening his grip on the levers of power in society.
As soon as the jet lag recedes, I’ll start writing up these stories. In the meantime, here are some pictures. — Mordecai Specktor
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