Monday, April 28, 2014

Final Reflections On An Amazing Trip

Our final day and reflections.

Today we had a free day to explore Budapest on our own. We navigated subways and buses to see the ancient Roman city and the Great Central Market. Both had history and charm. The market deserves its reputation for great pickles. We finished our day with dinner and a cruise on the Danube.

I never wanted to visit any of these places except for Prague. But I have certainly changed my mind after this trip. Each of these cities has a unique history and charm that one should not miss. For centuries our people lived, and continue to live in the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. Some of my ancestors and yours came to these lands for same reasons they left them generations later - to seek a better life for themselves and for us. Those who choose to stay in these countries do so for many reasons yet, with one common purpose, to keep Judaism and Jewish culture alive and thriving. Of all the countries I have doubts about the future of Jews in Hungary. But we know more than we did 70 years ago and they and we remain ever vigilant.

In the course of our travels we met many people. Yes, a few were odd, or rude or unfriendly. But the vast majority treated us in the tradition of Abraham who welcomed strangers into his home, washed their feet and fed them.

Everyone we asked felt the Russians and Putin breathing down their necks and had no desire to fall back under Russian influence. The countries we visited all belong to the European Union which offers them more protection than afforded the Ukraine. Poland, as a member of NATO falls under our protective umbrella. We pray for peace in their lands and yet stay ever watchful.

Thank you to all our new friends. Thank you to our incredible travel agent. Thank you to the friends with whom we travelled. Thank you for the opportunity to take this journey and return in peace.

And thanks to all of you who have followed this blog.

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