Research, publications, documentary and a conference

Research: Remembrance and Entertainment

With the cultural grant support of the European Commission called ‘Active European Remembrance’, we could make an old dream of ours come true: to reach the last living generation that can still tell the tales of this forgotten Jewish district. We made dozens of interviews, hundreds of hours of documentary footage, found hundreds of old documents and photographs in archives and family albums, and created our own archive about the history of the Jews of Teleki square, Budapest.

Outcomes of the project:

We create and publish a fine archive-quality book of our most significant photographs, additionally writing essay books about the historical background of the district and finally, produce a documentary. Most of it will be introduced during a few day conference in the autumn of 2014.

The album

It has never been our goal only to show what happened within the walls of the shtiebel. We also aimed to present how the community evolved, and where we are in that process. Through the photos of this album, ‘The Shtiebel – the Last Prayer House on Teleki Square’, the readers can learn about the history of the shtiebel at 22 Teleki Square and get a glimpse into the exceptionally colorful chronicle of the Budapest Jewish community.

This isn’t just a publication about the past. While the opening paragraph quotes the Teleki Square flea market milleu from archive photos of the first decades of the 1900s, the next part brings the shul to life in the various periods between 1920 and 2013.

The album will be published both in English and Hungarian

Essay books

At this work we propose to connect culture and history. During the Oral history interviews we encourage our interviewees to present any objects or pictures dating back to or before the Shoah, and with these digitized items we created our own collection. Many of our volunteers spent days and weeks searching for documents, pictures and any references to the area in public archives, libraries, picture galleries, museums and other collections. Our main goal is to save what only the oldest generation can remember about not only the WW2 but the also the whole 20th century. It needs to be clarified, that this is a never ending story. Now, we are working on five main topics: the history of the market at the Teleki square, the Jewish demographic changes in Józsefváros from 1850 until 1945, the history of the Jewish population in the district during the war and the Jewish resistance. Moreover, we work on the religious life not only at the Teleki square, but also in the whole district. The topics will be published in two separate volumes first only in Hungarian.

Documentary: Uncle Juci

Shootings begin as early as 2003, continued 2009 and ended in 2014. We began to make interviews with some old people about the story of the shtiebel and their life from a Jewish aspect. We had cooperation with a French documentary filmmaker, Barbara Spitzer. The film with a little help could be a French-Hungarian co-production which we could promote in both countries, moreover in Detroit at the end of this year. The first completed section of the film was presented to an audience in the Wörösmarty Cinema, Budapest. However, our main target is the open presentation of this movie in the Autumn 2014.
Through the photography, essay book and documentary  hidden cultural treasures are revealed, that neither residents of Budapest, nor the district (Józsefváros), not even those living around Teleki Square really knew about.

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Follow up

One might think, Teleki is asleep, if one only checks back to this blog occasionally. In reality life is thundering around Teleki, and it is quite a challenge to summarize it up in a blog post.
I was putting off writing all the time, for each of the different topics would deserve a full post, but this logic proved to be counterproductive, since none of these post came to be. Given a little extra time waiting on a forever delayed train, I can do some catching up.
Let’s talk about the future:

On the 6th of July, Shabbat morning the biggest ever Bar Mitzva will take place in Teleki shul.
Menachem Mendel Hurwitz, the eldest son of our beloved Rabbi and Rebetzin is going to get his first ever Aliah to the Torah. Mendel has been putting on Tefillin for 2 months now (Custom of the family to practice prior to the Bar Mitzva), the first time was celebrated in the shul on a special Sunday morning service.
Family and guests will arrive from all around the world, we will practically occupy ground floor ot 22 Teleki square, with a huge tent. The shul is going through constant re- and preparation to be able to host the huge number of people anticipated.
And here I can not go on without mentioning the immediate past. Mendel was chose from all this year’s bar Mitzva boys of the entire planet by Oprah Winfrey to be the Bar Mitzva story in her new series about religion around the world. The filming crew arrived on the 21nd of June, and finished shooting yesterday, on the 27th. For the shooting we staged the Bar Mitzva at Teleki with many members of the community playing the extras, and also accepting “outsiders” from Moishe House Budapest and Obuda Synagogue. The real crowd could not be present, for the shooting took place on a weekday, so most of Teleki’s regulars were at work during that time. The film is going to be aired in about the year, but we hope to get some samples of it before that. The shooting was documented by our very own Photographer and VP András Mayer, photos to be expected online soon.

Talking of media and press presence. Just recently (on Wednesday, 26th June) we were in Jerusalem PostEurope Unexpected Budapests hidden temples.
And also not long ago we had the great chance to be in a highly read article in The Christian Science Monitor: A Jewish renaissance tucked away in a Budapest apartment . This article bounced once or twice, some sent it back to us from ALASKA, and many friends from different countries noted seing it. Unfortunately none of the articles managed to include any of our web addresses or the street address of the shul…

And also important and future/past related announcement is about our Pálinka. If you ever set foot to Hungary, you must have had to try the traditional fruit brandy of the nation, the pálinka.
The anouncement: Teleki tér has it’s own, home made, kosher for pesach apple pálinka. Halachically Supervised by our very own rav Shalom ha levi Hurwitz and his family, technically supervised by our very own distillation expert, Maja Pataki-Raj, distilled on the our very own distillation equipment, that the community bought from the donation (over 60 contributors!). Our very own (of course) pálinka expert, owner of Macesz Huszar (The Jewish Bistro of Budapest) and Doblo Wine Bar (The Prettiest Wine Bar of Budapest), Dávid Popovits rated the spirit 10 points out of 10 on the scale of home made pálinkas and 8.5 points (!) on the scale of professional distillations. Considering, that the professional equipment costs about 100 times as much as ours, it is not a bad result.
The pálinka can be tasted on donated occasions in the shul, during kiddushim and will be available in a very limited amount of numbered bottles.

And there are so many other thrilling things going on, that I just can’t name all of them. But there is one important thing left to mention, and that is the research project.
In December of 2012 Teleki launched it’s research project, “Teleki ’44”, that aims to document the last existing remnants, memories of the once thriving Jewish life of Teleki square and it’s neighborhood. We are seeking for survivors, elderly people still living in the area, who can tell us about life before, during and after WWII. More about the project can be read in the newsletters in both languages, and on the project’s own website: (only in Hungarian @ the moment). There will be 2 books, and a documentary film as the results of the project. The project is funded by EACEA and we hope, that once it is finished, we can go on with it, continuing the research and by organizing meetings, lectures, gatherings, exhibitions of he materials we gathered, created.

If you found, this is interesting, you might find interesting things about the fresh president, of the Federation of Jewish Communities András Heisler, the political and religious tensions about different Hungarian and international Jewish trends, antisemitism in Hungary getting stronger and louder, Hungarian Jewish Youth getting a voice through independent NGOs etc. Google is your friend ;)

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Tu biSvat – Rabbi 40!

This year’s Tu biSvat, holiday of the trees was special. Apart from the almost traditional Teleki fruit seder, the lasagne and gorgeous chicken wings there was another reason to celebrate.

The reason there was, that this year it was also the 40th birthday, od Rabbi Solom Hurwitz.

Therefor our community (a million thanks to all of you again) put together the money, to surprise him with a great present!

Rabbi Hurwitz will get his own fruit brandy (pálinka) distiller! Production of the distilles is on the way already, from the amount gathered before and at the event.

Therefor TELEKI TÉR KOSHER PÁLINKA’s kosher distiller is on the way!

On the side of the distiller a plaque will hold the names of all donors for eternity.

Anyone can join us in the fruit smashing, and pálinka distilling process. helpers are welcomed, and will be greeted with a special gift ;)

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Chanukah ’12

We had another hilarious Chanukah party. As part of the event we installed a brand new, computer controlled Chanuka security fence on the entrance door, we hed tombola, and a great time. Let the pictures speak for themselves!

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Glaser 100

Gláser Jakab (Juci bácsi) 94 évesen egy füredi cukrászdában

Jakab Gláser (Juci bácsi) age 94 in a Balatonfüred cakeshop

Mr. Gláser, or as his family and closer acquaintances called him, Juci Bácsi (cca. Uncle Judy) was born of the day of Jom Kippur on the 22th of September 100 years ago.

He stopped attending Teleki 5 years ago from his nearby house, place of his birth, 42 József street.

We could be celebrating with him, if it wasn’t for on pointless Hospital quarantine.

Shell we think and remember with with telling a moderate or very piggy joke.

For his birthday, he received lately a posthumous  medal of honour (Hungarian).

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EU Grant WON!

After wrinting many offers for EU and other international grants, at last one of them succeeded!
Our offer for the EACEA “Action 4 – Active European Remembrance” program is the biggest, most thourough material we created, with it’s 61 pages documentation, and received the work title TELEKI ’44.

As described in the offer we are aiming at tracking down and finding thoses elderly people, who might still remember about Teleki tér before and around WWII.

Our main goal in this project is to research and document the history of Teleki Square and the shul itself during the 20th century.

This square and the neighborhood with it’s unique background and history – compared to other Jewish neighborhoods in Budapest – has been under-documented by historians, anthropologists and sociologists, therefore research and documentation has a vital importance.
As a result of the documentation process apart from the scientific papers we wish to publish a photo book, a thematic essay book while the creation of a documentary film is under way.
The project will enable us to reach the last ones of the generation that can still remember and are able to tell the stories about the shul and Teleki square and then to document this outstanding oral history. Nevertheless the project enables us to collect all written and printed materials from archives of the local government, the Jewish community, in libraries and create an exceptional collection. During the course of the project we will publish books, photo albums, make documentary films, organize meetings, events and attend to all sorts of different events, conferences.

The project officially starts in December 2012.

Any stories or photos that any of you may be able to contribute to this effort would be of great help. Please contact us at:

Out partners in the project (in alphabetical order):

Art Sector alapítvány
Bet Orim közösség
Beyond Budapest Sightseeing
Izraeli Kulturális Intézet
MiNYanim (Sochnut)
MTA Szociológiai Intézet, Társadalomtudományi Kutatóközpont
Múlt és  Jövő könyvkiadó
Páva utcai körzet 

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Medal of Uncle Judy

Jakab Gláser, Juci bácsi (~Uncle Judy) name giver of our NGO would be 100 years and on 22 September 2012. On this occasion he was posthumous awarded a governmental medal of honour.

More: Posthumous medal “Great Cross of 56’s Fidelity for Home Land”

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From a visitor from Polland

Dear Teleki Ter Shul. I am still impressed by my visit to your shul last Shabbat. I think I found my favourite shul in the whole world – open, welcoming and warm. Keep up the good work!

Jan, from Polland

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Last week our collection of prayer books (sidurim) grew with a big amount. Éva Karácsonyi donated 5 bilingual (Hungarian-Hebrew) prayerbooks for the women section, thereby helping the women’s club training activities.

2012-06-27 12.49.48Also this week we received with the help of Zsolt Kárpáti the presents of our  sofer, Micha Farnadi-Jerusalmi‘s these beautiful blue Nusach Sfarad prayerbooks printed in 2011 from the very same Jerusalem printing house (Sinai printing house) who published the red ones we use printed in 1977. These new blue ones that we received 10 pieces now are reprints of the old red ones, so with matching page numbers we can use them together with the previous ones.

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Celebrating the return of the Torah scroll!

To celebrate the return and the first usage of the second renewed scroll, the shul was filled with life once again! Children were running around everywhere. It was uplifting to see all those shining young and elderly faces. The ceremony was held according to the usual Teleki platz manners. Maybe a slightly more vivid singing and of course the ceremonial dance around and with the returned scroll.

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