The Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities, an affiliate of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement (EMIH), held its Jewish Renaissance Festival in Budapest last week.

The week-long festival celebrated the reopening of two historic Budapest synagogues:

1. The prestigious Újbuda Synagogue, built in 1936, which was desecrated by the Nazis and used as a barn during the occupation of Budapest, and later used an education center by the communist regime, has been renovated and refurbished.

2. The Vörösmarty Street Synagogue, a smaller synagogue, or shtiebel, that closed its doors in 1982, will once again hear sounds of Hebrew prayer.

The festival also commemorated the bicentennial of the Obuda Synagogue, a majestic building renovated by EMIH after the Hungarian government returned it to the Jewish community, and features the largest kosher culinary event in central Europe: the Cholent Festival, which offers the opportunity to sample different varieties of cholent, Eastern-European Jewish soul food.

Festivities included Torah scroll dedications at each of the reopened synagogues; cultural programs and concerts featuring internationally acclaimed Jewish singers Nissim Black, the Hasidic Black rapper, and “Music for the Soul” singer-songwriter Alex Clare.