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In The Footsteps Of My Great, Great Grandfather

Reflections from The Ramah Ukraine Leadership Experience

Guest blogger: Jonah Eisen, Camp Ramah in Canada

Today we got to explore the Jewish district in Budapest, specifically three different synagogues which have been restored since the Holocaust. The final synagogue we visited, one of the largest in Europe called the Dohany synagogue, was very special to me. This was the synagogue where my great, great grandfather, Joseph J. Klein, had his bar mitzvah in 1901, before moving to America in 1905. It was really an awe-inspiring feeling walking in the footprints where he once walked. I felt a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the synagogue and for my great, great grandfather who gave me the opportunity to practice and be proud of my Judaism in America. In the midst of the sheer beauty of the architecture and design of the synagogue, my eyes gravitated towards the grand bimah. As I approached this beautifully crafted bimah, I could almost see my great, great grandfather reading from the Torah and chanting the prayers. I imagined what it would be like for his parents and family members to watch him become a bar mitzvah, just as my family watched me. As a descendant of Joseph Klein and a young Jewish teen, I know that this emotional and powerful experience in the synagogue will help mold my Jewish identity and will be in my heart forever. I am thankful and proud that I had the opportunity to explore my own family roots here in Hungary and am very excited to continue to learn about our important Jewish heritage throughout the rest of the trip.

Jonah Eisen

A fantastic group of high school students from Ramah camps across North America are exploring Hungary and Ukraine through the Ramah Ukraine Leadership Experience. They will be serving as counselors at Camp Ramah Yachad, run by The Schechter Institute.

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