Central Europe Discovery #1: The Largest Synagogue in Europe

This journey gets more exciting as the days go on. First off, we took a drive on the bus through the Buda side of Hungary (Buda and Pest is split by the Danube River) to a memorial of 60 pairs of shoes on the ledge of the Danube Riverwalk to commemorate 60 Hungarian Jews who were shot by Nazis, and discussed the meaning behind such a small percentage of Jews who died versus large statistics. From a somber start, we walked to the grandeur Parliament building of Budapest, and then another bus ride to the 7th district of Hungary- the Jewish quarter.

Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe and one of the largest in the world, was our second stop. After the extravagant visit of one of a few synagogues that survived World War 2, we meandered into the garden memorial with 24 sectors of mass graves. Outside stands a metal Tree of Life with names of Hungarian Jews that perished on the leaves of the tree.

From there, we walked to lunch in a large Hungarian market, where groups of our teens found traditional style Hungarian food and fresh vegetables, fruits, chocolates and other tchotchkes.

To survive the heat, we took a trip to a thermal spa with 12+ different temperature pools. The teens cooled off, warmed up with the sauna, and suntanned in the Hungarian sun. Feeling refreshed, we headed to the hotel to prepare for a kosher dinner at Hanna.

For the highlight of the day, a night cruise on the Danube closes out the night. The sun set as we watched the city light up. From the riverboat we could see the Parliament building, Fishermen’s Bastille, the “Plague” Tower, and the numerous bridges above us all decorated with soft lighting when the sun went down.

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