Jewish singles converge on Budapest

BUDAPEST, March 26 (JTA) – They came, they checked each other out, they partied.

That was the agenda for some 500 Jewish singles from around the world who came to Budapest earlier this month to search for love – or just have fun for a weekend.

Some – like Gabor K. from Munich and a blond woman from New York who would not give her name – said they found love at first sight.

Others came to the March 16-18 “Jewish European Ball” and – well, didn’t find that special someone.

The weekend, which included a traditional Friday night dinner and a walking tour of Jewish Budapest, was the brainchild of two Austrians, Dana Teichner and Ariela Gluck.

Two years ago, they organized a similar gathering in Vienna, and last year in Marbella, on Spain’s Costa del Sol. The next event also will be held in Marbella on July 8-15.

“We both come from the relatively small Jewish community of Vienna, and our idea was to bring young people together for a special weekend each year in a Jewish atmosphere,” Teichner told JTA.

Both religious and secular Jews may attend, she said. Organizers maintain a strict age limit of between 20 and 40.

“Someone over 40 wouldn’t fit in with the group,” Teichner said.

Most of the guests were singles, but Teichner preferred not to call it a singles event, saying some participants came to “develop relationships for business purposes.”

The highlight of the weekend, the Saturday night ball, was held in Budapest’s historic Museum of Fine Arts.

The formal event was held amid sculptures by Rodin and paintings by the likes of Delacroix and Goya.

The band was imported from France. Most of the kosher food came from Vienna, but Budapest’s famed Gundel Restaurant provided chicken paprikash.

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Judit Varnai Shorer, endorsed the idea of bringing young Jews together, telling ball participants that the event “demonstrates the awakening of Judaism and Zionism in Europe.”

The cost for the weekend was $433 plus airfare, Teichner said.

That was too much for some local Hungarian Jews, however, who could not afford to attend.

“This event is too expensive to us,” said one young man in his 20s.

Teichner said most attendees came from England, Germany, the United States and Canada, adding that some came from as far away as South Africa and Australia.

“For those who could not afford it, we tried to find sponsors,” she added.

One attendee called the weekend a “great way to have fun – especially for those who find a match.”

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