Let me say a few words about Budapest: There are some very beautiful buildings and some truly lovely places in the city. The view from the Buda side of the Danube is is beautiful. But overall, perhaps because of where our apartment is located, it seems like a very sad place.
We are located in the section that has many of the Jewish communal organizations and facilities such as some of the synagogues, two kosher bakeries (one for cakes and one for bread), three kosher restaurants, and the mikveh. However, the area is full of tall, old buildings that almost uniformly are in need of major renovation. The streets smell from mildew, sewage, and garbage. They are narrow and there is no vegetation. To get into an apartment (not just our building, but also the building where our friends are staying) it requires multiple keys to doors and gates placed within the building.
When I think that there are significant numbers of people who call these buildings home, I wonder what it must be like for a child to feel so encased by cold concrete both inside and out. I wonder why the Jews of Hungary, most of whom live in Budapest, don’t just pack up and come to Israel where there is sun and parks and health and life.
The Jewish quarter of Vienna was nicer, but people there also lived in big buildings far from parks and play areas. They all need to come home.