Shabbos on Teleki (with the rabbi’s eyes) 20/05/2017

Another week in Teleki, and time to put pen to paper about the happenings on the square. Not many guests this week but a good minyan nonetheless.

The pre-shul shmuz was devoted to the science of teleportation, and a minor difference of opinion was offered as to the technical details as to how it is performed followed by a brief discussion as to the ethical components.

If teleportation is achieved by copying data and then destroying old data and transporting the data to reappear elsewhere, as Mayer Gabor proposes, then could we consider that murder? Similarly, if one were to replace that data into a virtual world, a two dimensional computer figure for example, would that character be considered human? What does Judaism say about it?

Andras, based on Einstein argues that teleportation is the result of transforming matter into energy and then returning it to matter in the desired location, which would not necessitate destroying the first, hence no murder and no ethical question.

Would teleportation be permitted on Shabbat? These and other such questions, lea to the question as to whether one is allowed to kill a golem. Rabbi’s have been known to deal with similar strange and far out questions, and I thus took on the challenge and delegated the Meyers brothers the topic for Shavuos night.  Definitely looking forward!

The topic of the drasha was why Jews like cheesecake. Actually it wasn’t but who would know that? The question posed was why does the Torah promise physical rewards and not spiritual ones and why indeed the need to mention reward at all.

Steiner Peter answered, “G-d knew who he was talking to” – which although was said tongue in cheek actually is the answer of many commentators. Another answer was that physical rewards such as rain etc., was not in fact a reward but merely enabling one to fulfill the Torah’s requirements without extra worries.

The Kiddush had a very family feel, without much fanfare. Zelig posed the question why is Shavuot on the 50th day, i.e., the day after seven weeks? Would it not make more sense to be on the forty-ninth day, the seventh day of the seventh week? To which we answered that the significance of seven is nature, or the perfection of nature, whereas eight, or fifty the number after seven (eight after seven days and fifty after seven weeks) represents transcendence. The forty nine days between Passover and Shavuot, we dedicating to perfecting our personal nature, and once we are complete we get an uplift and reach transcendence on Shavuot when we receive the Torah.

Good Shabbos, until next week.

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Lag Baomer on the square 13/05/2017

This week at the square, was something quite unusual; we had a minyan and a half, but the Kiddush/shmuzing room was suspiciously left empty, at least until the Rabbi’s drasha which signaled a new phase in the morning’s services. Perhaps this was due to an absence of some of our veteran shmuzers, creating a void of experience and expertise which the shul room exploited expertly and consequently no reserves were needed to complete parts of prayer requiring a minyan.

There were more guests this week than usual, Yaniv, originally from France but currently in Bratislav/Pozsany who is in Budapest for the Wedding of Tzivia ne Perlaki of Budapest and Mendel Meyers of Bratislava. Other guests were Feivel of “Feivel goes West” fame, a student in the Ziegler Yeshiva currently studying in Israel and Sydney, though not from Australia were the guest scholars who were escorted by Anna and (Bogi?) from Budapest.

It was an emotional service being that Michael Miller and Mihaella of C.E.U. was here, and I was sure to bid them farewell, since who knows how long they are still here.

The drasha was dedicated to Lag Ba’omer, although unfortunately without bonfires and clothes burnings, We were informed that 24 000 students of Rabbi Akiva died in consequence to not giving adequate respect to each other. One of Rabbi Akiva’s most important teachings was “love your fellow man as yourself, this is a major principle of Judaism”. These 24 000 were Rabbi Akiva’s students, how then could they ignore one of their teachers most cherished teachings?

Among the suggested answers:

Kornel, “after they died Rabbi Akiva realized how important loving your fellow as yourself is and began teaching it only after the students died”.

Michael Miller – “maybe they didn’t respect or love themselves – hence, they fulfilled love your fellow as yourself, yet at the same time not respect each other.”

Moshy Hurwitz – “when you repeat something too often we stop listening”.

The guests suggested that Rabbi Akiva taught the principle properly but the students failed to internalize it – it remained a major principle of the Torah but not of their actual lives.

Finally on after some prodding for a Chassidic answer, the Rabbi proffered two solutions based on Hassidic Rebbe’s:

1. The Shem Mishmuel from the Rebbe of Sochetchov. Respect is the result of appreciating areas where ones fellow man is greater than oneself. Since G-d created us as individuals, we naturally all have something that our fellow man does not, and it is this uniqueness that demands from others respect.

However, as mentioned last week, loving ones fellow as oneself is a result of seeing ourselves as parts of one collective whole. We are in essence one body, with different people representing different parts, each part distinct, yet each contributes something to the whole.

Being that it is all part of one whole, each part need not show respect to another, since in essence they are part of the same thing. Just like the hand does not show respect to the head, nor the head to the hand, so we need not respect each other.

This was where they erred, since although true, we are part of one whole, yet at the same time we are all individuals, and as individuals we need to respect each other.

So in a sense, according to the Shem Mishmuel, their error was precisely because of the love for each other, that they viewed themselves as all part of a whole, and in so doing failed to appreciate each component as unique and independent as well.

2. The Rebbe of Lubavitch offers an alternative explanation also attributing their mistake as a byproduct of their love for each other.

Rabbi Akiva had another message for his students, and perhaps no less significant. Religious life should, according to Rabbi Akiva be imbued with “mesiras nefesh” complete self sacrifice and devotion where one does not consider personal hardship or other such obstacles to get in the way of fulfilling ones obligations.

Consequently when one sees a fellow man, in trouble or in need of help, as a result of loving ones’ fellow man, one would stop at nothing in helping him. Don’t forget that helping one spiritually is also an act of love for ones fellow man, and consequently if one finds ones fellow man in error as to how to perform a religious ritual, we would be doing him a favor by helping him.

Try to imagine a Breslover and a Chabadnik among Rabbi Akiva’s students. The Breslover sees that the Chabadnik is not clapping throughout his prayers etc., and he would like to help. He confronts the Chabadnik, out of love of course, and tells him that he should be clapping – to chase away negativity. The Chabadnik also loves the Breslaver of course and would like to help. So he tells the Breslaver that clapping is a disturbance to the prayer and should be avoided like the plague that eventually killed them all.

In normal circumstances this is where it would end, but since they were selfless not letting obstacles prevent them they persisted and persisted and persisted and WALLA – 24 000 dead.

Message, help yes, love yes, but remember other people have brains too, they also have their opinions and even if they differ from yours we have to respect their decisions.

Kiddush was homely and after the guests spoke. One of the memorable points, mentioned by Sydney was that too often we focus on Chilul Hashem – on negative P.R. that we often give ourselves when we don’t act appropriately, but fail to appreciate Kiddush hashem, the good P.R. that we do when we get it right. ”Something we do right at Teleki is creating kidush hashem and we had a great experience so far in Budapest and at Teleki ter” said Sydney and although this is not the exact wording, perhaps not even an accurate retelling of her message, it is a good one nonetheless and better from a guest than myself.

Finally before after eating blessings, Zelig posed a question on the last section of the Parsha. The passage speaks about a quarrel between a son of an Israelite woman and an Israelite man. Rashi informs us that his son converted to Judaism. Among other perplexities of that passage is the problem as to why the need to convert?

Among the answers to the question was;

Maternal lineage began only after the Torah was given, therefore since he was born before the Torah was given, he needed conversion. An alternative explanation is that he did not really convert he just turned his life around from living a life as an Egyptian to that of a Jew.

Whichever solution we prefer, Good Shabbos until next week.

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Shabbos on Teleki (with the rabbi’s eyes) 06/05/2017

After a week’s absence, it was pleasing to see the shul walls still standing and the physical address exactly where it has always been. Perhaps somewhat disconcerting, to hear that things went well in my absence and that the world revolves as always.

In the week of my absence, the Rabbi’s drasha was delivered by Kornel, and although I was not there, I believe that it Is safe to say that it was related to the teachings of the Tzaddik, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, probably containing many tidbits of gematria (numerology) accompanied by the occasional clapping of hands and other object/organs.

This week we  had a full house, with both rooms full almost to minyan capacity, which created the dilemma as to whether the minority in the shul should join the kidush/shmuzing room to pray with a minyan or to recruit a couple from among the reserves and pray in the Shul. Being of conservative constitution, or out of pure laziness we opted to pray in the Shul, evading the need to move the Torah to the room.

We had a couple of Davids as guests, Klopffer David who was also here when I was away and probably on the mistaken assumption that I would be away again, returned. Or perhaps just woke up too late for the long trek to Obuda. Also David Lantai  who I’ve promised an Aliya to the Torah for years, but when the time to call up came, went A.W.O.L. We also had the honor of Gergú Borbás among us.

The topic of the Drasha was holiness, with a discussion as to the precise obligation and definition of holiness as mentioned in the beginning of the Parsha. Rashi connects holiness as concomitant to refraining from violating the sexual prohibitions of the torah, an opinion that clearly disturbed certain members of the congregation. Other opinions view holiness as a result of following all the laws of the Torah, viewing “kedoshim tiye” as a prediction – “you will be holy” as opposed to command, “be holy”.

The Ramba”n follows the view that it is a commandment, which only begins after the laws have been given, giving an extra dimension to religiosity.  Accordingly, it is not enough to fulfill the laws, but even when something is kosher, does not necessarily mean that it is in fact kosher.  The obligation to be holy is a duty to step beyond the call of duty and the narrow confines of the law and find refinement by refraining from excessive lust even when legally permitted.

Nonetheless, that is merely the path to achieve holiness, but what exactly is holiness and how is it in fact achievable?  “Be holy for I am holy…” Holiness is to be apart, transcendent – and somewhat Godly. And the final explanation was that holiness is Godliness, and in effect the command to be holy is the emperative to connect with the spark of the divine within all of us.

With the message of holiness in mind, we finished the prayers and had a wonderful kidush, where Zelig broke bread with us and Gergo led us with birkas hamazon.

Until next week, Good Shabbos.

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After Passover

We had another eventful couple of weeks at the square. We had minyanim on five days of Passover, the first two, the last two and Shabbat in between, but perhaps the highlight of the event was the Shul Pesach Seder at the Rabbi’s house.

As usual, it was a full house, and many met our community for the first time. With our usual cardboard Matza, raw horse radish, lots of pointing to matza while not eating for very long time, and alcohol consumption surely doesn’t create the best first impression. I hope they can trust me that this is not our usual diet. Also during the introduction phase it became abundantly clear that our community attracts a lot of psychologists, which begs the question: Are they here to research psychological anomalies or the clustering of so many of our kind in such close proximity render us a psychological gold mine?  Be that as it may, the seder ran its course with much merriment, singing and joking but as far as the seder goes, “dayeinu” (it would suffice).

Naturally, after so much shul, the obvious concern was a Teleki ter overkill, and that the week after Pesach would suffer, but alas, that was not the case.

We had another double Minyan, one in the Shul, and the other – let’s call it the overflow in the Kiddush/kibbitz room, functioning as substitutes, as with a soccer team, when one player is tired he gets exchanged for fresher legs, so our overflow minyan, always ready, when those in the shul need some shmuzing time, they have eager replacements on hold.

The religious duties were shared among Hurwitz’s and Horowitz’s and the dancing and clapping by the Hassidic wing of the community.

Again some of the guests were given a brief history of the Shul by our own resident historian Andras and it never ceases to amaze me how his excitement doesn’t diminish over time,

Until next week. Good Shabbos.

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Shabbos on Teleki (with the rabbi’s eyes) 08/04/2017

This Shabbos, known as Shabbos Hagadol was another special Shabbos at Teleki, Gadol (great) not just by name. The Shtiebel was bristling with people, and the atmosphere was festive yet serene.

Among the guests was Komoroczy Szonja who came as usual with a mini entourage, and in return merited to experience Zmirois during the kidush, and to come away with a true understanding as to why we don’t do it more often.

As usual we like to mix it up a bit, and as such Kornel Batcsi was the Chazon for Shacharis and Horowitz ur for Musaf. The rabbi was substituted for the Torah reading by junior members of the Hurwitz household and was able to catch up on some of the interesting kibitzing taking place during this time, which was something of a surprise, since as we all know the Rabbi is usually oblivious to all that.

The Drasha was not on the Parsha as usual, but on the Ma nishtana, the excuse being that we read the Magid on Shabbos Hagadol, and although the Ma nishtana is not actually said on Shabbos Hagadol, this sufficed as a valid excuse to focus on the stereotypical Jewish past time, of questioning, and what better way than to focus on 4 of Judaism’s most famous question – why eat this and not that, maror or other vegetables, dipping etc.

The tempo of prayers was punctual and we started Kiddush on time which was somewhere between 12:30 and 16:00. The Kiddush entailed the usual shmuzing (chatting) and prodding guests for the purpose of extra entertainment. As already mentioned, there was Shabbos zmirois, but needless to say that was accompanied by competions between the Breslover community with songs or odes to Rav Nachman and members of another Chassidic group looking for songs of a slightly more vibrant nature.

We merited to hear from Horvath Irma a story relating to Pesach as to what is true bravery, which for the sake of extending this article I will quote here,

“I have a story of four animals, a bird, a snail, a frog and a mouse. They had a contest to determine the bravest of them all. The mouse showed his courage by swimming to and fro a lake with one breath. The frog said, “that’s easy, to which the others answered, that for the mouse it is hard. The frog said, “I will eat an entire lilly pod”, to which the snail said, that if I could reach it I could eat it the whole day. Fair enough said the others, but for a frog it is brave. The snail said that he would leave his house and do a little jig and return, to which the bird protested, big deal, I fly all day out of my nest. So they all asked the bird, ok, so what will you do? “I shall not play”, said the bird to which they all responded in unison, “Wow that is brave”! ” – and with this Irma successfully evaded her responsibility to speak to the community, compensated by the fact that I now have a ready made drasha for next week.

Good Shabbos and see you next week.

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Documentary screenings in the USA

We got to the point, where our film was releasable. Like a fledgling trying it’s wings, the film took off on the Budapest Jewish Film Festival, in the presence of the chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of the United States. The premiere was a huge success, and now the film arrived to America.

The film is going to be screened in Dec 2014 multiple times in Detroit (MI) and NYC.

For further info, check out the website of the film WITH THE TRAILER!

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How to Produce an Argumentative Research Report

How is it possible to own Final Cut Expert on Windows? Listed here is a look at the possibilities you want Cut Pro and have in case you are operating Windows. Windows Problems Final Cut Pro is more than a hype expression in the uniting earth of prosumer and digital video-editing that is qualified. The Last Cut Expert technique it has become a determining editing system that is used in key movies and home movies equally and has pushed the skilled industry popularity of Devoted. The Final Cut Studio, including different packages for example the Coloring of Apple and DVD Studio Expert, is really a comprehensive post-production workflow that has amazingly potent software letting you consider handle that is really unique over almost every aspect of your video. Continue reading

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Research, publications, documentary and a conference

Research: Remembrance and Entertainment

With the cultural grant support of the European Commission called ‘Active European Remembrance’, we could make an old dream of ours come true: to reach the last living generation that can still tell the tales of this forgotten Jewish district. We made dozens of interviews, hundreds of hours of documentary footage, found hundreds of old documents and photographs in archives and family albums, and created our own archive about the history of the Jews of Teleki square, Budapest.

Outcomes of the project:

We create and publish a fine archive-quality book of our most significant photographs, additionally writing essay books about the historical background of the district and finally, produce a documentary. Most of it will be introduced during a few day conference in the autumn of 2014.

The album

It has never been our goal only to show what happened within the walls of the shtiebel. We also aimed to present how the community evolved, and where we are in that process. Through the photos of this album, ‘The Shtiebel – the Last Prayer House on Teleki Square’, the readers can learn about the history of the shtiebel at 22 Teleki Square and get a glimpse into the exceptionally colorful chronicle of the Budapest Jewish community.

This isn’t just a publication about the past. While the opening paragraph quotes the Teleki Square flea market milleu from archive photos of the first decades of the 1900s, the next part brings the shul to life in the various periods between 1920 and 2013.

The album will be published both in English and Hungarian

Essay books

At this work we propose to connect culture and history. During the Oral history interviews we encourage our interviewees to present any objects or pictures dating back to or before the Shoah, and with these digitized items we created our own collection. Many of our volunteers spent days and weeks searching for documents, pictures and any references to the area in public archives, libraries, picture galleries, museums and other collections. Our main goal is to save what only the oldest generation can remember about not only the WW2 but the also the whole 20th century. It needs to be clarified, that this is a never ending story. Now, we are working on five main topics: the history of the market at the Teleki square, the Jewish demographic changes in Józsefváros from 1850 until 1945, the history of the Jewish population in the district during the war and the Jewish resistance. Moreover, we work on the religious life not only at the Teleki square, but also in the whole district. The topics will be published in two separate volumes first only in Hungarian.

Documentary: Uncle Juci

Shootings begin as early as 2003, continued 2009 and ended in 2014. We began to make interviews with some old people about the story of the shtiebel and their life from a Jewish aspect. We had cooperation with a French documentary filmmaker, Barbara Spitzer. The film with a little help could be a French-Hungarian co-production which we could promote in both countries, moreover in Detroit at the end of this year. The first completed section of the film was presented to an audience in the Wörösmarty Cinema, Budapest. However, our main target is the open presentation of this movie in the Autumn 2014.
Through the photography, essay book and documentary  hidden cultural treasures are revealed, that neither residents of Budapest, nor the district (Józsefváros), not even those living around Teleki Square really knew about.

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Follow up

One might think, Teleki is asleep, if one only checks back to this blog occasionally. In reality life is thundering around Teleki, and it is quite a challenge to summarize it up in a blog post.
I was putting off writing all the time, for each of the different topics would deserve a full post, but this logic proved to be counterproductive, since none of these post came to be. Given a little extra time waiting on a forever delayed train, I can do some catching up.
Let’s talk about the future:

On the 6th of July, Shabbat morning the biggest ever Bar Mitzva will take place in Teleki shul.
Menachem Mendel Hurwitz, the eldest son of our beloved Rabbi and Rebetzin is going to get his first ever Aliah to the Torah. Mendel has been putting on Tefillin for 2 months now (Custom of the family to practice prior to the Bar Mitzva), the first time was celebrated in the shul on a special Sunday morning service.
Family and guests will arrive from all around the world, we will practically occupy ground floor ot 22 Teleki square, with a huge tent. The shul is going through constant re- and preparation to be able to host the huge number of people anticipated.
And here I can not go on without mentioning the immediate past. Mendel was chose from all this year’s bar Mitzva boys of the entire planet by Oprah Winfrey to be the Bar Mitzva story in her new series about religion around the world. The filming crew arrived on the 21nd of June, and finished shooting yesterday, on the 27th. For the shooting we staged the Bar Mitzva at Teleki with many members of the community playing the extras, and also accepting “outsiders” from Moishe House Budapest and Obuda Synagogue. The real crowd could not be present, for the shooting took place on a weekday, so most of Teleki’s regulars were at work during that time. The film is going to be aired in about the year, but we hope to get some samples of it before that. The shooting was documented by our very own Photographer and VP András Mayer, photos to be expected online soon.

Talking of media and press presence. Just recently (on Wednesday, 26th June) we were in Jerusalem PostEurope Unexpected Budapests hidden temples.
And also not long ago we had the great chance to be in a highly read article in The Christian Science Monitor: A Jewish renaissance tucked away in a Budapest apartment . This article bounced once or twice, some sent it back to us from ALASKA, and many friends from different countries noted seing it. Unfortunately none of the articles managed to include any of our web addresses or the street address of the shul…

And also important and future/past related announcement is about our Pálinka. If you ever set foot to Hungary, you must have had to try the traditional fruit brandy of the nation, the pálinka.
The anouncement: Teleki tér has it’s own, home made, kosher for pesach apple pálinka. Halachically Supervised by our very own rav Shalom ha levi Hurwitz and his family, technically supervised by our very own distillation expert, Maja Pataki-Raj, distilled on the our very own distillation equipment, that the community bought from the donation (over 60 contributors!). Our very own (of course) pálinka expert, owner of Macesz Huszar (The Jewish Bistro of Budapest) and Doblo Wine Bar (The Prettiest Wine Bar of Budapest), Dávid Popovits rated the spirit 10 points out of 10 on the scale of home made pálinkas and 8.5 points (!) on the scale of professional distillations. Considering, that the professional equipment costs about 100 times as much as ours, it is not a bad result.
The pálinka can be tasted on donated occasions in the shul, during kiddushim and will be available in a very limited amount of numbered bottles.

And there are so many other thrilling things going on, that I just can’t name all of them. But there is one important thing left to mention, and that is the research project.
In December of 2012 Teleki launched it’s research project, “Teleki ’44”, that aims to document the last existing remnants, memories of the once thriving Jewish life of Teleki square and it’s neighborhood. We are seeking for survivors, elderly people still living in the area, who can tell us about life before, during and after WWII. More about the project can be read in the newsletters in both languages, and on the project’s own website: www.teleki44.com (only in Hungarian @ the moment). There will be 2 books, and a documentary film as the results of the project. The project is funded by EACEA and we hope, that once it is finished, we can go on with it, continuing the research and by organizing meetings, lectures, gatherings, exhibitions of he materials we gathered, created.

If you found, this is interesting, you might find interesting things about the fresh president, of the Federation of Jewish Communities András Heisler, the political and religious tensions about different Hungarian and international Jewish trends, antisemitism in Hungary getting stronger and louder, Hungarian Jewish Youth getting a voice through independent NGOs etc. Google is your friend ;)

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