Young Families Bringing New Life to Budapest Synagogues

May 2, 2012

Source: JTA


Ruth Ellen Gruber writes about a handful of Budapest synagogues that have seen an upsurge of membership and communal engagement in recent years thanks to active young rabbis and a family-friendly focus. With an estimated 80,000 Jews, Budapest has the largest Jewish population of any central European city. It is home to about 20 Jewish congregations, ranging from the dominant Neolog (moderate Conservative) stream to traditional Orthodox and Chabad, to American-style Reform, to informal minyanim such as Dor Hadash, an independent egalitarian congregation that is associated with the Masorti (Conservative) movement.


As in other post-communist countries, there has been a revival of Jewish life and identity since the Iron Curtain came down more than 20 years ago. But the rate of intermarriage remains high, according to surveys about 50 percent -- and most of the city’s Jews have nothing to do with organized Jewish life.


Against this background, the Frankel Leo, Dozsa Gyorgy and Bet Shalom synagogues are, some say, changing the face of Jewish religious life in Hungary.


Led by local rabbis who came of age after the fall of communism, they are attempting to engage young people within the organized mainstream and promote the synagogue as the focus of community, learning and long-term Jewish continuity.


Read the full article at JTA.

Updated: May. 15, 2012