Phew! That was a long break from posting. A lot has happened since I last posted, so I will fly by and tell ya'll all about it.
A week ago, Friday, February 26, I finally found my way to the Pava Utca Synagogue next door to my apartment. Thanks to advice from Nurit who works for the Jewish Agency, I was showered, shaved, and ready to go when I walked over to the Holocaust Museum at 5 pm. I wasn't sure where exactly I needed to go, but after some goose chasing with the museum employees and security guards, I found myself standing in a tiny but beautiful sanctuary. After a minute or two a guy named Daniel, who looked about my age, came by and showed me around. He took me upstairs to the dining room where the Kabbalat Shabbat would be held. There were three other people up there hanging out, an adult couple and another younger guy named Andrash. Andrash and Daniel could speak English but the couple could not. Regardless, within five minutes of meeting me, the older man asked me to come to the synagogue for Passover. Everyone was really nice. For the night I was a novelty: a visitor from America. The service started in the downstairs sanctuary at 6:30pm. About 30 people attended the service most of which were from my dad's generation. It was a neolog service, which Daniel told me is a unique Hungarian "traditional" service. More observant than reform but not orthodox. It looked more like the Texas Hillel conservative service to me. The men and women sat in the same room but on different sides without a mehitza in between. Most of the service was conducted in Hebrew with melodies that I was used to back home. I stayed to eat for Kabbalat Shabbat and met more people of the congregation. I'm now Facebook friends with several of the people and on the email listserv for the Pava Synagogue. I'll be in touch with them and plan on going to more services throughout the semester.
After I finished eating I went with my roommate Andy to go see The Book of Eli at the Corvin Mozi (movie theatre) across the street. The movie was in English with Hungarian subtitles. The Corvin Mozi was once the site of a battle between revolutionaries and the Russian army in October 1956 during the Uprising. There are several plaques commemorating the sacrifice made by the Hungarian fighters, many of which were children. There is even a life-size statue of a 13 year old boy holding a rifle outside the theater. Inside the Corvin Mozi looks like any American movie theater. We bought our tickets, 1300 forints ($7), and sat down in the theater. A few minutes later a man shuffled by and said we were in his seats. I was confused since I knew no one was sitting there before, but then he pointed out that seats are assigned. In fact, my ticket had a row and seat number printed on it. By coincidence we were only one row off of our assigned seats, but stayed in the wrong seats anyway since no one seemed to have a problem.
I will update more tomorrow. I've gotta go to sleep.