In collaboration with Rabbi Slomó Köves, the Budapest Festival Orchestra has launched a new community programme series in abandoned synagogues in Hungary in order to raise awareness of Jewish heritage and to educate local communities of the diversity that was once prevalent throughout Hungary.
After the BFO’s first three synagogue concerts, Iván Fischer described the impressions he had: “It was a wonderful experience to give concerts in abandoned synagogues. I heard so many interesting and moving stories! I felt endless love from the people. There was no trace of antipathy or hatred. Despite being a Catholic, the 78-year-old man from Mád has maintained the abandoned synagogue for fifty years, because he had so much respect for the Neumann family, where his father worked. That anonymous lady in Albertirsa, whose eyes were blinded with tears when she remembered her classmates. Such an enthusiastic reception, the way people rejoiced at the music, such interest in what the rabbi said about the synagogue! We have to continue.”
To get a more comprehensive picture, one concert-goer has also shared his thoughts with the Budapest Festival Orchestra: “It was both very poignant and uplifting. There was both catharsis and learning from Slomó Köves. I will never forget the commemorative plaque of the Grünwald family. Mother, father and their 18-year-old son died in Auschwitz, and there were unfortunately plenty more marble slabs, all quite similar. It was wonderful to hear conductor Iván Fischer again. It was great, but painful, to be there.”
Our concerts will continue later since there are still a lot of abandoned synagogues in Hungary and a lot of righteous people fond of music and interested in the history of the Jews.
Photo: István Kurcsák, Mád, Hungary