On Sunday, September 22, 2019, the Jewish community of Hungary, the Balint House JCC, and JDC, hosted more than 9,000 people at Judafest, the annual Jewish street festival showcasing the vibrancy of Hungarian Jewish life. Hungary is home today to an estimated Jewish population of 80,000-120,000 Jews living primarily in Budapest.
This year the event explored the Jewish High Holidays – Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot in particular – through music and theater performances, games, quizzes, cooking demonstrations, and workshops on Judaism and Jewish customs. It was held for the first time in Klauzal Square and the Market Hall, main attractions in Budapest’s Jewish quarter.
“We’re proud to share with Budapest residents, visitors to our city, and new participants the wide-ranging forms of Jewish identity and community that exist here today! This festival has always been at the forefront of efforts to introduce the innovative face of Judaism to those seeking to connect and learn about their heritage. What they will find here is an inclusive Hungarian Jewish community, open to the challenges we’re facing and eager to create solutions that be future oriented and focused on building the next generation of Jewish life,” said Zsuzsa Fritz, Director of the Balint House JCC.
The Judafest weekend opened with a public Shabbat service on September 20th in the Heroes Synagogue and the Dohany Street Synagogue, one of the largest in Europe. On Saturday night, visitors could attend several concerts and programs at official partner venues in the 7th district. During the festival, a variety of musical and children’s programs included a special Israeli style polyphonic community choir.
At the same time, 400 festival participants took part in a “fun run” to raise monies for a local charitable cause. Other features included arts and crafts workshops, thematic game stations, interactive educational activities, walking tours, exhibitions, and the opportunity for participants to get acquainted with the Jewish community at a dedicated tent for local Jewish groups to provide information and engagement opportunities.
Founded 12 years ago by JDC, Judafest is today run in partnership with 28 local Jewish organizations and is supported by JDC & the Thalheimer Family. Judafest is officially accredited as a European festival by the European Festival Association.
Photos courtesy JDC