Becoming Kosher and Orthodox in Budapest and NYC

Eating and (Not) Cooking on The Sabbath
2010/06/11, 6:53 am
Filed under: Judaism


This post is written early Friday morning. It will take a look back to last week’s Shabbat and a look forward to tonight/tomorrow.

Last Shabbat was the first of our joint observance. It was wonderful! Although it took a real (and honestly, not always successful) effort to break the old habits of turning on/off lights, etc., we really did appreciate the difference!! No computers, no Blackberries, no tv. We read, talked, napped a bit and in simple terms, RESTED, as God commanded. And this was a rest that went deep, physically as well as mentally and emotionally. We both understood  the concept “Bein Chodesh L’Chol”, the difference between the sacred and the everyday.  We agreed that we could (relatively)easily get used to being Shomer Shabbos. (Although I will miss watching all those sports, especially my beloved Yankees, and European soccer, and College football in the Fall when we are back in the USA).

Although we stocked up on food last Friday afternoon, and although D. made a wonderful Erev Shabbat meal, we realized we would have to eat “cold” on Shabbat itself. We declared the stove “trefe” since we could not Kasher it. So we could not (and did not want to) light a burner and keep it on all Shabbat. We would not use the toaster oven for the obvious reason, and finally, in District V, Budapest, there were no central fires where we could warm up a meal!  Also, I may be wrong, but I don’t think there is an Eruv around the district either! 🙂

So this is going to be a question for us in the future, both for our remaining time in Budapest, and for when we return to the USA. How to have hot food on Shabbat without doing any work-arounds, or dubious tactics that take advantage of Talmudic loopholes.

Anybody got any suggestions?

Late Spring/early Summer are long days here in Central Europe.  We haven’t even gotten to the Summer Solstice (21 June) and Shabbat ended last week at 9:38pm!! So we had a warm meal late.  And we intend to do the same for this Shabbat.

So the plan for today is that we go back to District VII (the Jewish Quarter) and pick up meat from the Kosher Butcher, run over to the Kosher Supermarket (or more accurately, the Kosher hole-in-the-wall), and then run over to the bakery for that fresh Challah. We ordered a 1 kilo loaf (2.2 pounds). Think that will be enough for the two of us, plus a little for the dog???

By the way, a digression on the Bakery. It is called “Cari Pizzeria and Bakery” on Kazincky Street between Dob and Wesselenyi.  It is tiny, with just two tables and a kitchen with the oven! The smell of baked bread, pizza, and Challah is always there and is enticing. D. and I had some pizza there when we ordered our Challah and it was terrific!  A crust like Matzo (but much better!) and great toppings.  Those of you Kosher in Budapest surely know it. Those of you planning to visit Budapest must try it!

So, enough already for today! D. and I wish you a restful Guten Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom, and I will post again early in the week. Topic to be a surprise!


2010/06/02, 7:56 am
Filed under: Judaism | Tags: , ,

Shalom, and welcome to our site. We intend to talk about our experiences regarding the decision to go Kosher and Orthodox.  But first a little background:

Call me M. I am a management consultant in the sci/tech  publishing world. Currently I am on a job requiring me to live in Budapest Hungary. I am Jewish, raised Orthodox by my parents who were Holocaust survivors. I was married for 30+ years, three kids, got divorced, quit my job that I also had for 30+ years to become a consultant. I was involved in the Conservative movement of Judaism for most of my life. Until 3 days ago.

Call my Fiancee D. She had also been married, five kids and two grandchildren. She was born Christian and lived in the U.S. South. How we met will be a story for another time. Just know that we found each other last year, and have lived together in Budapest since November 2009.

The differences in our religions were discussed, and given that our kids are all adults there was none of those really difficult decisions that couples with similar backgrounds  have to make. We were planning to simply respect each other’s religious and cultural backgrounds. Then D. started reading.

D. had gotten hold of Dimont’s book “Jews, God, and History” and almost immediately began asking me questions about Judaism, The questions came fast and furious, night and day. I could barely keep up!! But the questions D. were asking began to have  a profound effect on me. Her questions became my questions. I began to (re)think Judaism from my own perspective.  A few days ago, D. decided that the rules and customs of Judaism, and in particular the humanity and charity-giving aspects,  made perfect sense to her, and  that she is convinced that she wanted to convert. And not just convert the easy way, but through an Orthodox conversion process, which could take a year or more! Although I thought it was great, I wanted D. to understand the difficulties and challenges as well, so I tried to mildly dissuade:

-“It’s really hard to convert, you’ll have to learn some Hebrew”

-“Your family will resent you, and me, if they think I pressured you”

-“You’ll have to face the Beit-Din (a panel of three Rabbis who will certify that the individual knows enough about Judaism and is serious enough about converting) and be questioned. You will be rejected three times. You will be frustrated. You will be overwhelmed!”

-“You’ll have to go to the Mikve (ritual bath) in front of those three guys”

To no avail! D. was convinced this is what she wanted. Great!

A day or two after that discussion, D. felt that we should become Kosher immediately, since that would be the quickest way for her to immerse in Judaism. This resonated instantly with me since I was going through similar thoughts about reconnecting more intensely with Judaism. So, in a matter of hours last Sunday, we cleaned out our fridge and pantry. We got rid of all that delicious Hungarian Mangalica pork, the bacon, the other trefe, and basically emptied out everything!  We felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment, spirituality, and certainty that we were doing the right thing for ourselves.

But wait! Now that we have cleaned out the non-Kosher stuff, and now that there was not a trace of food, what are we going to eat???

To be continued…