Hungary’s Annual Cholent Festival

On August 29, a Hungarian Jewish organization held its sixth annual cholent festival in Budapest, named for the slow-cooked stew that is traditionally placed in an oven or on a stove on Friday, to be served for the afternoon meal the next day without violating restrictions on cooking on Shabbat. Last year, the celebration—which attracts both Jews and non-Jews—had been canceled due to the pandemic. Eliana Rudee reports:

According to a 1941 census, Hungary had a Jewish population of 825,000, less than 6 percent of the total population. Nearly two-thirds—as many as 568,000—perished during the years of World War II and the Holocaust, the majority in the final year of the war, one of the last major European Jewish populations to be rounded up by Nazi Germans.

Between December 1944 and the end of January 1945, the fascist Arrow Cross Party installed in Hungary at the time took as many as 20,000 Jews from the ghetto in Budapest, shot them along the banks of the Danube and threw their bodies into the river. A monument called “Shoes on the Danube Bank” pays homage to the victims.

The Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Eliezer Nogradi, who invited Jewish festivalgoers to wrap tefillin, estimated that 30-to-40 percent of the festival participants were Jewish. The non-Jews among the crowd have nevertheless shown “respect and interest,” he [stated]. The Jews, [according to Nogradi], are still “careful about being Jewish outside, some are even scared to tell their children [that they are Jews], . . . after the Holocaust and Communism.”

By midday, more than half of the 6,000 portions of kosher cholent were sold. The festival offered hundreds of pounds and several varieties of it—vegan, Hungarian, Israeli, Tunisian. The festival also featured live performances by the ḥasidic rapper Nissim Black, an American who made aliyah, and the English singer/songwriter Alex Clare, who also lives in Israel.

Read more at JNS

More about: Holocaust, Hungarian Jewry, Jewish food

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy