History of Sim Shalom

Further reading

Sim Shalom – Bridge Towards Spirituality
A Shabbat in Budapest” – a 1988 report by Rabbi Robert F Shafritz Zt”l
Induction service speech
in 1999 by Rabbi Kelemen
Sermon for Shabbat Zachor from 2000, by Rabbi Kelemen
Back to My Roots” – a sermon by Rabbi Ferenc Raj from 2003
The First Hungarian Jewish Reform Community – article by Gabor Por from 2005
Jewish Budapest (including the historic presence of Reform in Hungary) by Prof. Komoróczy


Our history – a brief overview

19th century The first Reform Jewish community is established in the city of Pest in 1848 during the revolution. It is later shut down by authorities in 1852, but the rabbi emigrating to the USA (David Einhorn) became a founder of US Reform movement.
1987 First Reform Pesach Seder held with British Reform Jews visiting Budapest
1989-1994 Community gatherings are held in apartments of members and in the Lauder Javne Jewish School and Kindergarten. Occasional visits by rabbis from UK.
1992 Sim Shalom is legally founded as an association. Regular religious services, festivals, and study sessions start. Rabbi Fred Morgan (UK) spends his three month Sabbatical in Budapest as Associate Rabbi helping to set up the main areas of community-life.
1994-1998 Community gatherings are held at the premises of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association on Garay utca.  Sim Shalom was not allowed to use the Torah ark in the building.
1995 We acquire our Torah scroll, donated by the North West Surrey Synagogue, Weybridge. The scroll belonged to a Hungarian Hassidic community before the WWII. Torah silvers were donated by Ernest and Valery Bello and Jeffrey and Joyce Rose.
1998 Katalin Kelemen is ordained as a Rabbi after studying in LeoBaeck College in London.  She is inducted as Sim Shalom’s Rabbi the following year.
1999 Sim Shalom moves to an apartment on Filler utca for all its programs. In the same year we have to move out.
2000-2006 Weekly programs are held in another rented three room apartment on Csalogany utca, with large festivals in a rented hall.
2002 Szimchaz youth group was founded, at that time the only youth group in Hungary associated with a synagogue.
2003 Eurojews was established in Budapest, with the involvement of Szimchaz members and Nathan Alfred student rabbi.
2004 Sim Shalom is legally registered as a religious congregation by the state. Sim Shalom can accept Hungarian personal income tax 1% donations that can be made only to religious organizations.
2006 The congregation is forced out of the now-outgrown apartment by legal decision. All programs are now being held at the Jewish Community Center. A search for permanent premises commences;  we find a state-owned building that can be utilized by Sim Shalom.
2007 Contract for the state-owned building signed.
Fund-raising begins for the renovation of the Synagogue.
2008 Serious Contract problems were found and the contract resignation process was started. Life goes on in Balint House. Search continued for suitable premises to buy or rent.
2009 A suitable apartment for rent was found in Raday Street. A contract was drawn up and renovation started with the support of a grant program from the Hungarian Government.
2010 Sim Shalom moved into the Raday Street synagogue in February, and program expansion started almost immediately.