Huge crowds were expected to descend on Budapest beginning Sunday for the 16th annual Hungarian Jewish Summer Festival.
Organizers believe approximately 100,000 visitors from across Europe will attend the array of cultural performances and other events, including concerts by Israeli music stars Ivri Lider and David D’or. Eli Jaffe, the conductor at the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem, will also participate in the nine-day festival, which lasts through Sept. 2.
The gathering, billed as one of the largest cultural events in Europe, is organized by the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, and will kick off with a ceremony attended by local Jewish leaders, representatives of the Hungarian government and an Israeli delegation including Deputy Knesset Speaker Meir Sheetrit and Ilan Mor, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary. An opening concert will be held for an audience of 3,000 at historic Dohány Street Synagogue, the second-largest Jewish house of worship in the world.
The Dohány, also known as the Great Synagogue, is one of eight festival venues, which also include the A38 Ship (a converted cargo ship on the Danube), the Frankel Street Synagogue, the Uránia National Movie Theatre and the Rumbach Street Synagogue.
The program features musical performances including klezmer, cantorial and jazz, as well as art and photography exhibitions, literary events, a book fair and film screenings. An event aimed at Barbra Streisand fans will celebrate the Brooklyn-born singer, and — this being a Jewish gathering — there will also be plenty of food.
A closing concert will benefit underprivileged Hungarian children, with a delegation of Israeli youth ambassadors taking part.
Hungary has the fourth-largest Jewish population in western and central Europe. An estimated 120,000 Jews live in the country, with most in Budapest.
Despite its relative size, the community has faced growing antagonism by one of the country’s leading political parties in recent years.