Shabbat Shalom
Shabbat Vayakehel-Pikudei / 22 Adar 5775
Exodus 35:1-37:16| Ezekiel 36:22-36

This Shabbat, Lisa Sachs shares 
A Hungarian Shabbat 
On our trip through Eastern Europe last summer, my husband Howard and I attended Friday evening Shabbat Services in Budapest, Hungary with Congregation Szim Shalom. In my family of origin, although I grew up with a strong sense of Jewish identity, Shabbat and other religious rituals weren't observed. I learned about Shabbat as an adult but still find that what's most important to me are the social connections. Thus, when planning our trip to Eastern Europe, Howard and I thought that spending Shabbat with Jews in Hungary would be very meaningful.

From the minute that we entered Szim Shalom, we felt the warmth and closeness. Many of the people there, seeing that we were strangers, welcomed us to their services. The rabbi hugged us and thanked us for coming to celebrate Shabbat with them. Many of the prayers at the service were the same ones that we say at Beth Emet. For our benefit, the rabbi led some of them in English. Although the Hebrew prayers were transliterated into Hungarian, I was completely at home feeling a link to my Hungarian roots (one set of my great-grandparents had emigrated from Hungary in the 1870's); the connection was palpable.

Szim Shalom is a small congregation (fewer than 100 families) and is housed in a rented apartment. They have a full roster of learning and other activities, even with scant resources - as a Progressive (Reform) congregation, Szim Shalom receives no government support and has lost its tax-exempt status. We worried that they were even struggling to pay their rent.

When we arrived at Szim Shalom, the tables were set for Shabbat dinner. A couple of the congregants quickly added more place settings when they saw us come in and invited us to stay for their weekly vegetarian potluck dinner. Most of the people attending services that evening spoke English fluently and we conversed with several of them. We learned about their lives in Hungary, where there is a very strong resurgence of Anti-Semitism. Although Jews aren't being physically attacked, many people at Szim Shalom said that their situation was very shaky. When we left, I felt that I had inherited a large branch of extended family with that many more people to worry about. For me, it was the essence of Shabbat - being together and caring about and taking care of one another.

Being at Szim Shalom made me appreciate my great-grandparents for having made the journey in the opposite direction 140 years ago. I returned to the United States grateful for the freedom that we enjoy as American Jews to attend Shabbat services without fear and without worry about our future in this country. Shabbat Shalom, and may you all enjoy a peaceful Shabbat with family and friends.

If you are interested in learning more about Cong. Szim Shalom, you can go to their website If you would like to make donations to them, you can connect to the website The Friends of Szim Shalom.

LISA SACHS and her husband have lived in Evanston and been members of Beth Emet for about 10 years. A retired social worker, Lisa enjoys participating and volunteering in projects that contribute to Tikkun Olam.

Each Friday during 5775, we are featuring writings from you, our congregants, sharing reflections on Shabbat. We hope you will be inspired to share your reflections with the community. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact Stacey Zisook Robinson
This Shabbat at Beth Emet

Friday, March 13
8:00 p.m.  Kabbalat Shabbat in the Sanctuary with Torah reading in Meturgaman-style with Lee Weintraub and Rebecca Raus.
Saturday, March 14
9:30 a.m. Kahal Worship in the Weiner Room with Torah Reader Rebecca Raus and Torah Discussion Leader Stacey Robinson

9:30 a.m. Shabbat Minyan in Room 208.
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