Budapest, 14th July 2023 – Aish UK made history in hosting over 130 Jewish students at the first ever Interrailing Shabbaton, in the heart of Budapest. Set in the magnificent Kazinczy Street Synagogue, one of Europe’s largest synagogues, the event brought together post Year 13 students who were interrailing through Europe.
Traditionally, these students embark on a journey to attend popular dance festivals after completing their A-Levels. This year, a significant number of Jewish students found themselves coincidentally in Budapest for Shabbat. Recognising this unique opportunity, Aish UK stepped in to provide a meaningful Shabbat experience for the interrailing students.
What was initially planned for forty participants quickly gained popularity, with the event selling out within a day of going online. Thanks to the support of Gábor Keszler, the head of the community, additional space was secured at the Hanna Garden Restaurant to accommodate the growing number of people requesting to attend.
The focal point of the event was a moving Kabbalat Shabbat Service held within the Kazinczy Street Synagogue. The synagogue’s grandeur and historical significance created an inspiring backdrop for the students, who immersed themselves in the uplifting service and brought the Synagogue back to life.
The following day, a group of forty students joined Aish UK on a tour of Budapest’s key Jewish sites, gaining deeper insights into the city’s rich Jewish heritage. The journey culminated in a memorable Havdalah ceremony at the Danube River, near a Holocaust memorial honoring the memory of those tragically lost during the dark period of Hungarian Fascism.
Aish UK’s commitment to creating meaningful experiences for young Jewish individuals was typified by this thoughtfully organised program, spearheaded by Rabbi Rafi Stemmer, which left a positive and lasting impact on the participants.
Rabbi Rafi Stemmer from the Aish Schools Department said: “We were delighted to provide an uplifting and inspiring Shabbat experience for so many young Jews. They took the opportunity to connect to their heritage as well as each other whilst interrailing through Europe”
Rachel Pearlman who attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s Girls School said: “What an amazing experience it was to come together with friends and (no longer) new faces for Shabbat dinner in Budapest. Being able to openly celebrate our Judaism, perform Havdalah by the Shoes on the Danube Bank was a moving, spiritual experience and a highlight of our trip.”