Talmidim of the Budapest Yeshiva gather for a Shabbos Hakhel in Budapest, the location of their old yeshiva where they learned and taught together 23 years prior.
By: Anash.org reporter
Twenty-three years after they were the founding group of the Budapest Yeshiva, five classmates from around the world gathered for a reunion.
The bochurim who served as shluchim in the Budapest Yeshiva gathered for a reunion. Rabbis Yochanan Posner, Naftoli Marrus, Meir Moscowitz, Shlomo Rapoport and Shmuel Slavin who were joined local Rabbi Shlomo Koves for a Shabbos Hakhel reunion. The Shabbaton was held in honor of shnas hakhel, to reunite in the place where they once studied and taught together.
The Budapest Yeshiva was founded by Rabbi Baruch Oberlander in 1998 within the building of the Vasvári Pál Street Synagogue in Budapest. This location had previously housed a yeshiva in the 1940s after World War II. The students of the yeshiva had a dual purpose: to continue their rabbinical studies and also to contribute to the Jewish community’s life by teaching, participating in programs, and establishing connections with Jews who had become disconnected from their roots.
The group heard shiurim from their beloved Rosh Yeshiva, head shliach Rabbi Baruch Oberlander and spent Shabbos with the community including with many whose involvement in Yidishkeit is a direct result of the efforts some 23 years ago.
“The Budapest Yeshiva helped Chabad Lubavitch open up to a broader segment of the community,” Rabbi Oberlander shared during the class reunion. “The Friday night Shabbos meal was very moving, as those who attended, who had been at Vasvári around the turn of the millennium, recalled how the students helped them discover their roots and shape their Jewish identity. This identity continues to accompany them and has led them to have their own Jewish families, raising their children in a Jewish spirit.”
Chazzan Naftoli Marrus inspired the shul with his davening. The group had the opportunity to visit some of the many new and renewed shuls, schools, kosher establishments and institutions led by their chaver, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Koves.
Rabbi Koves warmly welcomed his old friends and proudly showcased the developments of the past 23 years.
“Some of us hadn’t seen each other in twenty years, yet we could continue our conversations as if we had met yesterday,” the rabbi explained. “Regarding the community, it was heartening to hear from them how much has changed, how much Jewish life has developed. When you see things day by day, you don’t feel the growth as strongly, so receiving this feedback from those who haven’t been here for more than twenty years is very rewarding.”
Each of the Talmidim Hashluchim of the Budapest Yeshiva are remembered dearly by Budapest Jewry for their individual contributions to the overall impact of the Yeshiva. Especially noteworthy is Rabbi Shmulik Raskin who came to Budapest as a bachur and never left, and today serves as the Rabbi of the Israeli community in Hungary and director of Keren-Or Chabad Israeli Center of Budapest.
The impact of the Budapest Yeshiva is still felt in Jewish life, according to Rabbi Koves: “Many aspects of Jewish practice today are based on the Budapest Yeshiva—for example, the Friday evening kiddush, which is now present in all synagogues, originated from Vasvári, just like the nusach and the songs we sing. The Shabbos Table Companion and many other publications was compiled by one of the returning students, Rabbi Yochanan Posner. The impact of that year was profound on our lives”.