Budapest: Jewish Synagogue

There are days where humanity just gets me down.  And, when traveling in Europe, these days often center around days where we study WWII.  This week, we visited the Jewish Synagogue in Budapest. It is the 2nd largest synagogue in the world, and was the heart of Jewish life in Budapest….

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The building has Moorish influences on the outside (8 pointed stars).

During WWII, the Holocaust did not start in Hungary until April 1944.  They began in the countryside.  The collection of Jews in Budapest did not begin until November 1944, with the establishment of the Jewish Ghetto.  70,000 Jews were rounded up, and walled into a tiny area of Budapest, and the walls shut in early December.

(To put this in perspective, D-Day was in June, Paris was recaptured by the Allies in August, and the US was in Aachen Germany in October.)

Here is a memorial/map of ghetto (lit up at night). The synagogue is located at the bottom left:

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It was a frigid winter, and 6 weeks later, when the Russians liberated Budapest, 10,000 Jews had died of starvation, exposure, or murder at the hands of the Hungarian fascists. There are is a mass grave in the courtyard of the synagogue, and thousands more buried on a nearby square (since exhumed and now a popular playground).

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There was also a small museum.  When prisoners arrived at Auschwitz, they were forced to write postcards about how “all was well.”

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In the rear courtyard is a memorial.  A weeping willow (in the form of an upside down menorah), with names printed on all of the leaves.  The large arch actually is not 2 arches, but meant to portray the absence of the 2 tablets with the 10 Commandments on them during this time.

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There were other horrors that were shared during our tour (we need to go see the “shoes by the Danube.”)

On days like this I hurt at the way human beings can treat one another.

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