Israel’s pride celebration has just finished. So let’s talk about queer issues. How does Judaism feel about homosexuality? How does it work in Budapest?
Gay life has become much better in Hungary in the past 10 years. Straight people became more open, and their acceptance towards gays has increased. Gay couples are allowed to have open, registered relationships. They can ask a bank for a loan, and they are able to live together in an official way.
There are many Jewish congregations in Budapest, but there are only a few communities in which it is openly allowed to be gay, and where the straight community members don’t care much about it. There is a community, called Dor Chadash (in cooperation with Moishe House), where there are mostly young people praying on Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday evenings, and having Shacharit service a few times on Saturday mornings. Dor Chadash was established 3 years ago, and membership is still growing. Moishe House is located in the city center, and it is very easy to access by public transportation, by car or by a short walk. This young community is organizing a lots of programs together with Marom Association. They always organize a big Rosh Hashanah event, they build a sukkah for Sukkot, they light the candles for Hannukah, and they sing together from the Haggadah on the Seder Eve of Pesach.
During the summer they organize a festival around a lake, what is called Bánki tó. This festival also includes gay-friendly and gypsy- friendly programs for everyone.
Another Jewish community, called Sim Shalom, is also gay friendly. They are a member of World Union (WUPJ) and European Union (EUPJ) for Progressive Judaism. Sim Shalom has been serving the reform movement in Budapest, Hungary for almost 20 years. The community has its official synagogue in a flat in the city center. They have the first and only woman rabbi in Hungary. Sim Shalom also offers many programs for their community members, and for people who are interested in Judaism. They study the Torah together, and they celebrate Jewish festivals, Yom Yerushalayim and Yom Haatzmaut together.
It is also good to know that Sim Shalom has its own conversion program, what is acceptable in Israel through Sochnut-Budapest even for Aliyah.
Aside from these reform movements, Jewish communities in Hungary tend not to be gay friendly at all. But if a Jewish gay person wants to to practice active religious life, he can choose to go to these places.
Why? Because both of them are welcoming, friendly, and patient. They have a peaceful atmosphere, where you can study, sing, and pray together. If you have any questions of Judaism, they will be happy to help you.