‘Cholent Festival’ brings Jewish culture to Hungary via food, music, traditions

Lili Erdos (far right) and her family at the Cholent Festival in Budapest, Hungary, on Aug. 27, 2021. Photo By Eliana Rudee.

It’s part of a rejuvenation of Jewish life, particularly in Budapest, that has come about in the last decade after the dark shadow of the Holocaust and then years of Communist rule.

 Thousands of people took part in the Sixth Hungarian ‘Cholent Festival’ (“Sólet” in Hungarian) at the Újbuda outdoor theater in Budapest before the start of the High Holidays, organized by the Chabad Lubavitch organization Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities (EMIH).

Jews and non-Jews alike gathered for the Aug. 29 festival, which was first held in 2015 and has since come back after a hiatus last summer due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Cholent is a slow-cooked meat stew that simmers overnight, often made by observant Jews in accordance with the laws that prohibit cooking on the Sabbath. It is traditionally served for Shabbat lunch and contains whole eggs in their shell, meat, beans, potatoes, barley and spices.

“We love this food,” said festival-goer and Budapest resident Lili Erdos, who brought her family to the event. Erdos, whose Hungarian father’s side of the family was Jewish, does not identify as such but “loves to learn about and is interested in Jewish traditions.”

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