29 Sep Faces, Part One: Budapest
I’m in Budapest for the High Holidays this year, praying, studying and celebrating with my good friends at Dor Hadash and Marom These are the two wonderful Masorti organizations here in this city, which serve a good part of the younger generation in the Jewish community here. Yes, there are many who claim that Judaism is dying in Europe, and that especially recently, it is no place to live a full and thriving life as a Jew. But these young people are solid proof that at least here in Budapest, the opposite is true.
Budapest is a study in contrasts: the old and the new, the Western and the former Communist, the recently renovated buildings and the literally crumbling structures; the modern well stocked supermarkets and the tiny family grocery stores – all mixed together in what I find to be a lovely and colorful urban setting.
There are many architectural gems, some quite famous, others, one just stumbles upon on any random street. I am most fond of those older buildings that feature the art nouveau faces – human and otherwise – carved into the stone above a doorway, below a window or at various other locations on the structure’s facade.
Here are some of the faces I’ve run into over the last few days:
Some of these faces might have been inspired by those of real people. Still others clearly come from the realm of fantasy and mythology. I’m guessing that most are purely for decorative purposes, but they do seem to echo an ancient practice of “protecting” the outer walls of dwelling place with the images of creatures designed to strike fear in the hearts of would be predators.
These faces have seen wealth and prosperity, peace and war, capitalism and communism, monarchy and democracy – so many changes! If only they could speak!
I’m thinking about my own face. What does it take in, what does it tell others and what does it succeed in hiding. So much of how we interact and communicate with others revolves around the face.
Let us make use of our own faces during these days of reflexion and accountability between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, to reflect our own reality of what we have been and what we are, yet also our own fantasy and mythology or what we tried to be and what we might become.
G’mar Hatimah Tovah!