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“Blagging” – a new portmanteau. A blend of the words ‘blogging’ and ‘lagging’ (behind). Stay tuned, friends. There are an amplitude of sentiments waiting to be reflected upon and shared…!
Blog One: Third Time’s A Charm
Sunday, March 18, 2019
There’s an expression: “The third time’s a charm.” Today was my third day out and about in Budapest, and that phrase could not ring more true. There have been many “Wow!”s since our arrival Friday – like stopping for a photo in front of the childhood apartment of our dear family friend who was forced from her home into hiding at the age of six due to WWII, our visit to Buda Castle, the architecture, the historical sites, the energy of people in the streets, my opportunity to play a Bösendorfer piano after wandering into the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, the pastries, the incredible (and inexpensive) wine, the goulash, (and the very exciting lactose free milk in the café!) But, today, Alan introduced us to our glorious tour guide, Agi Antal, whose knowledge about, and passion for, Budapest, delivered deeper meaning and inspired awareness, as she walked and talked us through Hungary’s history.
The deeper meaning and awareness began one block away from our hotel – in front of a building I had walked by ten times already. Not once did I notice the shiny brass plaque on the pavement as I passed. What was this brass plaque? A Stolpersteine (a Stumble Stone). Not only did I fail to notice the Stumble Stone – I had never even heard of Stumble Stones – or of Gunter Denmig, the German artist who designed them to honor the victims of National Socialism and ensure their names were never forgotten. One little plaque in front of each person’s “last address of choice,” with the words “itt lakott” (“here lived”) inscribed above the name. How could I have been so painfully unaware of something with this much significance? How? Because I, like so many post-war Jews in Hungary, had not yet been fully educated. But, now, I was in the School of Agi for the remainder of the day, and I could not wait to take notes and photos, make connections, manifest meaning, (and find as many Stolperstienes as I could!)
From the Dohany Synagogue and its painfully beautiful courtyard, to the Castle District where various remnants of WWII climb the castle walls, I found myself soaking up every word, every emotion, every piece of information Agi shared. She set the stage perfectly for us: Budapest then, Budapest now, and Budapest in the future we are here to contribute to. Today was the day my awareness of “why” evolved into my knowledge of “what,” and my awareness of “what” solidified my knowledge of, and commitment to, “why.”
A short rest after touring rejuvenated me for our Getting-to-know-you dinner with our Lauder Javne teaching partners. What a magnificent evening it was! A room filled with passionate educators, excited conversation, lots of laughter, and new-found friendships made for inspiring closure to a wonderful day. With hugs and wishes for a happy sleep, we temporarily parted ways. I smiled my way back to the hotel, fully aware of how deeply moved and grateful I am for this beautiful opportunity to learn and grow among new colleagues and new students.
Today, our third day, truly was a charm.