Friday night – Kabbalat shabat

The English phrase “T.G.I.F” –took on a new shade of meaning for our community, this week. After a break of many decades, we resumed the age old tradition of holding Friday night services followed by Kiddush and a warm and modest Friday night meal.

As far as I am concerned, each individual who attends our services is a dignitary and therefore it is fair to say that we had many V.I.P.’s present at the event, I shall not bore you with particulars.

People were charmed by the authentic aura of the evening and the warm and homely atmosphere that we have created.

“Mitzvah goreret mitzvah” – “one positive act produces another positive act”; a particularly insightful statement of our sages implying that through a simple virtuous act we can produce a ripple effect of positivity. A single act, even modest has the potential to serve as the catalyst to something infinitely greater and a state of reality incomparably more sublime than the actual act that started the whole process. (Much like Larry Burrows [James Belushi] in Mr. Destiny.)

After each successful event, we are inspired to continue and to host more and more events. The previous events have spurred on additional events, leading up to the Friday night prayer service, which leads to the monthly Friday night services followed by Kiddush and dinner. This monthly service, I anticipate to lead to weekly Friday night services, which in turn can lead to ….

It is therefore with real gratitude that I applaud all who are part of this renaissance; in this exciting project of propelling our community into a fully functioning Jewish kehillah.

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2010 Hanukkah – with pictures

On 2 December 2010 we held the first Hanukah event at Teleki Tér Shtiebel of the last few decades.

We had all the fun, dozghuts, chocolate hanukah geld, playing driedel, Chinese market…

The event was made possible thank to the Teleki Tér Women’s club!! :D

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Deed of Foundation for the Mishnah Society from 1927

Deed of Foundation for the Mishnah Society from 1927

Our old fancied dream is to collect as many living stories about the Jewish history and traditions of Teleki tér Budapest.  This was the reason we started shooting our own Jakab Gláser movie, in the foot steps of  Jancsó Milkós.

Lately we have a very big support in our efforts from historian Michael Miller, who decided to track down the memories and descendants of the Mishnah Society. Fortunately he DID succeed! He managed to get in touch with a few old, abroad living Teleki tér people. As their stories, memories arrive to us, we will upload all of their pictures, stories to the History section of our website.

Here we present the first from Yechiel Arie Hahn (originally Hahn István György).

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Anual progress :)

Looking at it from any angle, this is a new year. The autumn holidays are gone, it’s high time we thought about what we gained in 5770 – for Teleki tér.

The most-most-most important thing is the enthusiastic team, the community that got formed around the synagogue. With them and for them is there any sense for such a – now – community place to function.

Just at Rabbi Hurwitz put it in his Simchat Torah report post the last year’s Shabbat morning prayer group converted into a community.

And indeed:

A community room was added to the Teleki, from MAZSIHISZ (Hungarian Federation of Jewish Communities) support, and from our own joint efforts, since the amount of the support covered about half of the costs of the revenue so far. The furniture, fixtures, facilities for cooking, tsunt cooker, refrigerator, water heater, microwave, the plates, all are from donations, from offerings of our members.

Incredible gigs and events were held, the kinds this house of prayer has not seen in decades. Was invited to the famous Bostoner Rebbe for a m’lave malke, we held every major holidays, Yom Kippur, Simchat Torah, Purim, Rosh Hashana, etc. We hog drunk at Purim, and in fact, at Simchat Torah too (respect for exceptions, of course). :)

We established a non-profit organisation to support the Teleki Square Shul The Jakab Glaser Memorial Foundation, (named after are late Uncle Jacob Gláser), which organizes the fundraising, and brings news of the house of prayer now in 3 languages to the world, through web sites it funded and manages (like this one here).

A wonderful small team joined the supporting of the shul, named the Budapest Beyond. This company directed by György Baglyas leads alternative Jewish guided tours in the eighth district showing the remains of the district’s Jewish memories, either for foreign-language speaking visitors or to Hungarians. BB’s Jewish-themed the background is provided by the Bálint Ház. Anna Bálint, and Csaba Gyula Szikra led the groups throughout the summer, through the district up to the Teleki Square. Big cheers to them for this, as through their wonderful PR activities we received a substantial support, from visitors who felt like supporting the shul who, in exchange for a beautiful postcard – from – threw wome money in the Tzedokoh glass.
And a very important fact that shall not get forgotten, thanks to their tours this ancient colour patch of this old District become widely known.

One of the two highest peaks of tourism at Teleki is also connected to the Beyond Budapest, the other is to the pair of two organisations, Mazsike and Kidma (organised by Andrea Deak and Viktor Czech), when at both times there was about 200 people visited the praying house one afternoon.

We formed (perhaps re-formed?) the Teleki Square Women’s Club, which undertook the necessary “woman jobs” associated with community life (organising cooking before the holidays and the kosher kitchen etc) and also carries out educational work, lessons and thematic presentations held every 2 weeks at Teleki Square.

So in general, Teleki Tér Shtiebel is up to the bigest reforming of all times.


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Simchas Torah

by R. Shalom Hurwitz

Simchas Torah stands out as one of the most cherished festivals in the Jewish calendar. As a child growing up in a very secular Jewish society, there were not that many opportunities for a youth such as myself, untrained in all the sublime beauty inherent in sitting down on a chair staring blankly into a book that I could barely read let alone understand.

Simchas Torah was different. This was the day that I actually wanted to go to the synagogue. I still remember with tremendous sentimental joy the fun we had when we attended synagogue, received chocolate and danced with flags while the elderly (anyone over 20) would amuse themselves with Sifrei Torah.

It was with these sentiments in mind that the idea occurred to me to provide the members of our wonderful community an experience of Simchas Torah – an experience which I hope would fill the young ones as well as the elderly (anyone over 13) with similar memories of a positive Jewish experience.

Initially – I was apprehensive. Why should I, a rabbi, and a rabbi who happens to be in love with Simchas Torah, its customs its message and alas, I confess, particularly the dancing and festivity, be reluctant to celebrate Simcahs Torah with his community? Furthermore the question begs, why indeed was it necessary to innovate this practice of Simchas Torah, is it not natural that a synagogue has “hakafois” and dances with the Torah as is customary?

To answer, one needs to know the particular history of our community. When I first came to the synagogue, it was a Yom Kippur, and I was to pray at the prayer podium. I brought with me a Cohen (for priestly blessings) and an assistant Rabbi to help out. There was a Chabad student from England visiting Hungary who came to the synagogue as Chazan/cantor for the morning (shachris) prayers.

With the four of us, the synagogue was able to pray on Yom Kippur, a day when all the synagogues of our large planet are filled to capacity – yet this small shul needed four guest rabbis and bochurim to just survive a minyan scare!

In such a shul, making hakafois for Simchas Torah was only the stuff of illusion and fancy. Indeed, just for the shul to survive and function as a Saturday morning prayer group, required a miracle of biblical proportion.

However over time and dedication by an incredibly committed congregation, we have succeeded in converting our shul into a Saturday morning minyan (not just prayer group). A room has been added (one that belonged to the shul but was in ruins) and events have started happening in the Shul.

We made a Purim seudah/festive meal, and people came. We then made a melaveh malkah with a Chassidic Rebbe and again people came. Again we were pleasantly surprised by a large turnout on the first night of Rosh Hashana, where there was barely place to stand let alone sit. Wow! What a difference from that Yom kippur of 5 years ago.

By the time sukkot came, It was no longer strange nor weird to see more than a half dozen people in the shul. In fact large crowds turning up to our events are now the expectation.

However, with regards to Simchas Torah, I had my fears. Doubts and concerns entered my mind in typical neurotic fashion. Would people come? True people had been coming to our events, but coming for Rosh Hashona or Yom Kippur does not guarantee a turnout for Simchas Torah. What would be if they do show up – but decide that Simchas Torah is a theatre where they are the audience and I the actor and worse yet, a show which they believe to be a comedy?

My fears turned out to be in vain; people showed up. They did not come to merely see a show, whether a comedy or a horror, but they came to dance – to rejoice with the Torah in celebration of a strengthened pride in their Jewishness – although it is also possible that they believed me to be a comedy.

The atmosphere was electric, and songs were sung with gusto. The hakafois and concurrent dancing which lasted for an hour and a half climaxed with a proud congregation taking to the streets armed with holy Torah’s in their hands.

This final act in the Simchas Torah of Teleki ter saga turned out to be highly symbolic. Present among the congregants were Miklos and Rahel ,the daughter and son in law of the late Rabbi Raj Tomas who was a former Rabbi of the Shul.

In 1956 while Raj Tomas was in the shul, was the last time that the congregants took to the streets in celebration on Simchas Torah, since then as the crowds changed as did demographics, the synagogue went into decline.

The fact that on this years Simchas Torah 54 years later, this tradition was revived portends to a new reality of the shul. A reality in which we are no longer merely struggling for survival, rather  the current goal is for a return to its prior state in all its pre-1956 glory.

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Unfortunatelly our blog is only in Hungarian, with time we will try to add posts in English, and translate the old ones too.

Thank you for you understanding.

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