Annual Report 2002

Annual Report 2002

Overall membership has approximately doubled in the last two years. This is evidenced in the following numbers. Attendance at Kabbalat Shabbat Services is now 10-20; twice what it was last year. Partly as a result of invitations sent to all members, there were 100 worshippers for Rosh Hashanah, 120 people for the Pesach Community Seder, and 50 for the Yom Kippur day service, also at least double last years attendance. This last is a real change for people not used to making Yom Kippur an all-day event. The afternoon Shiur was a strong attraction followed by a short Neilah and breaking the fast together.

New Programs and Activities
Major new programs in the past year included a residential  family weekend camp attended by 80 people; three new monthly program series on Mixed Marriages  (run by member Judit Burg and psychologist Gyula Kapussy), Jewish Identity (member Klari Laszlo) and Sephardic Music (Judit Burg and Miklos Budai) The Balint Haz lecture series on the Reform approach to various Jewish topics continued through June, and attracted many new members to Sim Shalom. A Youth Group was founded last fall with 14 founding members, and has an active biweekly program of events. Kabbalat Shabbat services were continued throughout the summer for the first time, with help from Sim Shalom members and Rabbi Jonathan Black to lead  the service. Rabbi Black also brought 40 members of the Hertsmere Progressive Synagogue to Budapest last spring for a joint Hertsmere-Sim Shalom Kabbalat Shabbat service on a Danube river boat. The total attendance was 120 and the evening was a huge success. The 10th anniversary of the start of the popular Torah Study program coincided with the end of the reading of Genesis, and was celebrated with a heavily attended Sijjum. The Havdalah Club instituted a Jewish Arts and Crafts program for pre-teens, lead by Aniko Kardos and accompanying parents program lead by the Rabbi. An English language section was added to the Sim Shalom website.

Life Cycle Events, Visitors and Travel
One conversion of a Sim Shalom member took place at the Barcelona European Region Conference, which the Rabbi attended. Last fall saw two adult B”nai Mitzvah ceremonies. Beautiful B’nai Mitzvah certificates were designed and printed by Sim Shalom member Eszter Kass. As a followup to the Rabbi’s attempt to participate at a congregant’s funeral, the Orthodox/Neolog Rabbinical leadership has instituted a new policy that they will supply a Rabbi for all funerals, even when none is requested by the family. This is to ensure that Rabbi Kelemen does not participate at any Jewish funeral.

In addition to the above-mentioned visits by Rabbi J. Black, Rabbi Joel Abraham from New Jersey brought his confirmation class to our services last spring. Many other individuals from the U.S, United Kingdom, Israel, and Europe attended Shabbat Services or holiday celebrations. Rabbi Colin Eimer from London was in Budapest twice to consult with and support Rabbi Kelemen.

Future Plans and Needs
The Family Camp was so successful that it will be repeated this year. The Youth Group is in the midst of plans for an International youth weekend in Budapest, culminating in a Purim Ball, to take place on a Danube riverboat. A series of Shabbat Teaching Services is planned as well as a continuation of liturgical music workshops The first Progressive Hungarian Kabbalat Shabbat Siddur will be completed and printed, and work will commence on prayers for special occasions. Continuing our program of producing ritual art objects like our new Torah Ark and B’nai Mitzvah certificates, artist member Eszter Kass has plans for a Ketubah, for artwork on our homepage, and for the new Siddur. To broaden our members’ experience in Jewish matters, it was decided to award Study Grants to active members and potential leaders to attend the Limmud and JCM Bendorf Conference.
The main problem we face, with expanding membership and program offerings is a growing lack of space. We badly need to find the financial resources to buy larger premises. Our finance committee is busy on this, but it is a daunting task.

Rabbi Kelemen was featured in a video interview shown at the Jewish Women Exhibition at the Budapest Jewish Museum.
Above all, the current Sim Shalom Board members are to be congratulated for their diligence and for the very considerable progress that is reported above. It is in large part the fruits of their work.

George Hajnal
vice-president at time of report