We are very busy here in Budapest, Hungary. Two Seders will take place, in Obuda and Budapest, with two hundred people expected at each, so we definitely have our hands full!

Budapest was once a thriving Jewish metropolis, but now, unfortunately, only a small fraction of the Jewish population has ties to communal life. There is overt anti-Semitism—we walked around to meet Jews, not letting the spits, shoves and name-calling deter us. We distributed many pounds of matzah, and put on tefillin with locals and tourists, including several people who have not had the opportunity to do this mitzvah before. One person we met, the owner of an exclusive restaurant, told us that his mother was rescued during the Holocaust by an Irish nobleman, and he was raised in the Irishman’s home, with hardly any exposure to his heritage. He was incredibly moved when we presented him with matzah, and happily put on tefillin, the first time since his bar mitzvah. On Shabbat, we had over 100 people join us for Friday night dinner at the Chabad House, and similar numbers on Shabbat day.

Because of their tragic history, the Jewish people in Budapest are generally guarded about their Judaism. We feel privileged to witness their eagerness and joy in embracing their birthright.