Jewish Heritage tour in Hungary and Slovakia
oin us our Jewish Heritage tour in these two countries, leading you via picturesque hills, world-famous wine regions, high mountains, gorgeous synagogues! Learn about the past and present biggest Jewish communities!
Both being parts of the Kingdom of Hungary until 1919, Slovakia and Hungary has much to offer to those looking to quest the remaining yet rich architectural, cultural and religious heritage of Hungarian Jewry.
Leading you via picturesque countryside hills, world-renowned wine regions, high mountains, this marvelous tour will show you gorgeous synagogues, cemeteries with graves of famous rabbis and You will learn about the past of the once-vibrant community and witness the strong presence of one of Europe’s biggest Jewish communities.
A multiethnic city of the Habsburg empire, Budapest had been a German-speaking settlement mainly inhabited by German and Jewish merchants, craftsmen and tycoons before Hungarian became widely spoken. The city has a lot to show: its nicely designed and built avenues and boulevards with marvelous old apartment and office buildings, the Opera, theaters, the Castle, the very first underground in continental Europe and among others, the biggest synagogue of the world. Budapest had more than 150 praying houses and temples before the Great war many of which are still around and we will show you the most outstanding ones.
– The Dohány street Great Synagogue, built at the end of 1850’s, was the pioneer among many of conservative temples. See the treasures of the Jewish Museum in where the house where Theodor Herzl was born once stood, walk around the memorial garden to see mass graves from the dark days of European history and stop at the Emanuel Memorial Park, inaugurated by the late Tony Curtis in memory of his Hungarian father.
– The Kazincy street orthodox synagogue: built in the first decade of the XX. Century in late Art Noveau style as part of a bigger community center, the freshly renovated temple is almost just like when it had been finished a hundred years ago. Take a short walk in the courtyard to witness the remaining traces of religious Jewish life: see the wedding canopy, the kosher butcher and deli and the community center.
– Rumbach street orthodox temple: finished in the early 1870’s by the then-famous Austrian architect, Otto Wagner and his young colleague, Mór Kallina, the building is now in desperate need of repair and is mainly used as a concert and exhibition hall. Still, the richly ornate interior is still breathtaking. Used as a concentration point during the deportation of alien Jews in 1941, there has been more then 4 decades since the last service was held here.
– The classical style Óbuda orthodox synagogue, now center of the Chabad Lubavitsh movement is another fine example of Jewish synagogue construction.
– The Holocaust Memorial Center, located at the corner of two small streets, shows you the life of Hungarian Jewish past and the years during the Shoah period. Wisely planned, the exhibition starts in the dark and uses all our senses to show us the tragic moments of the persecution just to lead the visitor back up into the light, right into a former synagogue.
The breathtaking baroque style synagogue situated on a hilltop is one of the very few old Jewish temples surviving the turmoil of the last century. It is located in one of the cities of the Tokaj wine region, home of the world-famous wines. Stop and get yourself acquainted with the history of simple pious Jews of the region in the amazingly beautiful temple and see the nearby building of the former yeshiva and the rabbi’s house.
Once home of the famous Reb Shayele Keresztirer or Yeshaye Steiner, Keresztur still offers two highlights for people looking for Jewish heritage sites: take the magical winding road up the wine hill just to visit the grave of the tzadik in the ohel at the cemetery surrounded by precious Tokaj vineyards and stop for a meal and a prayer at the Jewish community house which had once been the rebbe’s home.
Ujhely, right on the border with Slovakia, had always had a unique and lively Jewish community. Before the Second World War about half of the local population was Jewish and in 1910, a person of Jewish origin, Dr. Salamon Reichard had been elected to the seat of the mayor.
Local Jews were split in several communities: there was a strong orthodox and a status quo ante (Hungarian united orthodox) presence and there was a smaller Hassidic group as well. Although the city only has three Jewish families left, one of them is running the visitor center right next to the town’s most important highlight, the grave of the famous Yismach Moshe (rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum). As Teitelbaum was the founder of the local Hassidic group and father of the founder of Satmar Hassidism, tens of thousands of religious Jews come every year to see the grave of the much-respected teacher. If you wish, just immerse yourself in the kosher mikvah or pray in the praying house near the graveyard.
Formerly a Hungarian town where kings were crowned, the city still has a sizeable Hungarian minority including many Hungarian-speaking Jews. People of the Mosaic faith had played an important role in the modernization of this marvelous city. There are two remaining synagogues in town, one of which, the Orthodox temple, houses a collection of Jewish history.
Jews have been present in this town for many centuries so they created three graveyards, built several praying facilities including the breathtaking orthodox temple. This synagogue, built at the very end of the nineteenth century in Moorish style has been restored and is open for visitors wishing to feel its brilliant yet intimate atmosphere.
Bratislava (Pozsony, Pressburg):
Once the Hungarian capitol, now the administrative heart of the young state of Slovakia, Pressburg (as it is called in German and Yiddish) has always been an important center for Jewish life and religion in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Still having a substantial Jewish community, Bratislava is a beautiful city on the Danube where German and Hungarian culture created a very unique architectural mix.
- In the past the city had several smaller and bigger places of prayer but now the only remaining synagogue is a modern style temple built in the late 1920’s.
- Rabbi and renowned scholar, yeshiva-leader Moshe Schreiber who had later become known by the acronym Hatam Sofer, was buried in the old Jewish cemetery of the town. The graveyard was later almost fully demolished in the 1940’s but the area where the respected leader and a couple of other personalities are buried was spared and is now seen in an intimately articulated underground cave, giving all respectful people a chance to pray by the rebbe’s grave.
- The National Museum of Slovakia maintains a nice collection dedicated to the history of Israelites in the country in the Museum of Jewish culture in the only surviving house of the former Jewish quarter.
There are so much to see in Budapest, so we plan to stay here 2 nights at the beginning of the programme.
Tarcal (Tokaj region) 1 night
Kosice (Kassa) Slovakia 1 night
Bratislava (Pozsony) Slovakia 1 night
Budapest (at the end of the tour) 1 more night
This is a special Jewish Heritage tour, including Budapest, North-Hungary and South Slovakia, guided by our historian and genealogist tour-guide, who majors in Jewish Heritage and speaks fluent English. (Studied in the USA) The trip is based on good quality 4 star hotels everywhere, in the countryside as well. High standard accommodation, comfortable coach with AC, full board on the trip, buffet breakfast, set meals for lunch and dinner, 3 courses, without drink. Entrance fees everywhere, where needed, free still water on board, maps and descriptions of the places we visit prepared in a travel kit upon arrival.
This wonderful region of the European Jewish Heritage welcomes you! Waiting for your honorable application; we are always at your disposal!