Becoming Kosher and Orthodox in Budapest and NYC


…And just like that, Budapest is past

Shalom!

We left Budapest this past Friday, July 30, and got “home” to New York that afternoon.  Now, as I write this on Wednesday morning, August 4, we are mostly unpacked, but still have a lot to do. We have not even given thought as to how and when to Kasher our New York City apartment. In Budapest, it took D. 5 days of heroic work to Kasher everything. It will take at least that long here, if not longer. But we will start. We are now looking to “interview” Rabbis in the area to see about D.’s conversion. More to come about that soon. But it is great to be back home, and to feel secure and comfortable. Even our dog C. loves it here! New sights, smells, and TONS of other dogs to sniff!

Things we will miss about Budapest:

-The city itself. Beautiful architecture and topology. Old and new mixed together in the neighborhoods, the houses and buildings, and the Squares.

-The trams, and the public transportation system in general: clean, fast, efficient.

-The people: MOSTLY nice and friendly; and they like and respect Americans

-The Danube –  it is beautiful, and flowing past the magnificent Parliament building is our favorite view.

Things we will NOT miss about Budapest:

-Above all, the poverty. People eating out of garbage cans; people sleeping in the streets; the beggars;  the hustlers; the prostitutes, some maybe as young as 14.

-The bars opening at 9am, and people waiting for them at 8:30am.

– The people: many of them are not very “socialized”-spitting in the streets; grumbling, cursing, aggressive.

-The political situation: The far-right party holds 18% of the Parliament. They campaigned against “foreign influences” and there were posters “Do you want to live in Judapest? The “moderate” right-wing party holds 52%. There is extreme bias towards Gypsies. Sound familiar?????

-The drunks

-The almost constant sirens of ambulances and/or maybe police cars.

-The pollution

-The lack of Kosher stores: only one Kosher butcher, and only one Kosher grocery store.

We now turn the page and the next posting will talk about New York, and becoming Kosher and Orthodox here.



Like Sisyphus, Rollin’ that Kosher rock up a hill …
2010/07/07, 5:38 am
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D. and I did it again last week, with a kind-of last minute trip to Prague, taking along D.’s two sons who were visiting us.  And we got the same, young brother and sister pair to take care of our dog and birds while staying in our apartment. We went over the Kosher items and different plates and silverware with them, as previously, and explained about non-Kosher food and using paper plates, etc, etc.

Prague, like Krakow, is a city experiencing a re-birth of Judaism and Jewish heritage. There are the ancient artifacts here too, the Old-New Synagogue, for example (What a name!). Here is the reason for the name, from Wikipedia:

There are two explanations for the name “Alt-Neu.” The first is based on the German and Yiddish translation of Alt-Neu as “Old-New.” According to this explanation, the synagogue was originally called the New or Great Synagogue and later, when newer synagogues were built in the 16th century, it became known as the Old-New Synagogue. Another view says this may be a mistranslation. According to this version, the synagogue is believed to have been built from stones from the Temple in Jerusalem, and the synagogue was built “on condition”, in Hebrew: Al-Tnai, that the stones would be returned after the reconstruction of the Temple.

And there is the ancient cemetery, with headstones piled on top of each other, and stones so old the rock is smooth, and there is nothing to read about the person’s life. Truly gone. And the strangest thing? Many of the stones had pebbles on them! So, still, after hundreds of years, families do remember and honor their ancestors. Or, is a more rational answer that random visitors placed these stones on random sites???

There are several other Synagogues to visit, as well as poking around various buildings and museums in the Old Town and Jewish Quarter. And it was fun to pursue the Golem legend that originated with Rabbi Loew in Prague in the 1500s.

But the enjoyment of Prague was tempered by what we found upon return to Budapest: A Kosher apartment “unKoshered” by well-meaning, but still ignorant, kids. There were dairy dishes in the meat sink; mixed silverware in the dishwasher;  unKosher food left on Kosher plates; unKosher milk and other foods in the fridge. Simply put, all of D.’s hard work went down the drain (pun intended!).  Our Kosher apartment was no longer Kosher, and it was 5pm on Friday night, certainly too late to do anything remotely recapturing the Kashrut. Shabbat was not the same, and we felt, deeply the loss, as of a family member gone. It was uncomfortable and annoying, We did enjoy the time with D.s boys, but it was a definite step back on our path to Kashrut and Shomer Shabbos.

Nobody ever said it was easy being Jewish, and nobody ever said Orthodoxy conversion would be a Garden of Eden. But still, it hurt. We have no resentment for the kids that watched the animals, they could not know all the details and requirements, and perhaps we should have spent more time teaching them, or perhaps we should have stayed home. NOT! It was worth this aggravation seeing Prague, getting closer with the boys over the 6-hour ride each way, and still keeping in mind that we are getting closer to God, even with having to push that Kosher rock back up the hill.