I have now been in Hungary for 4 nights, although it feels like 2 weeks. It’s hard to believe that this past weekend was only my first Shabbat here.
When I first arrived, Linda and Rabbi Tomi picked me up from the airport and brought me straight to the JDC-Hungary office. The office is a part of a larger complex that contains many of the offices related to jobs in the Jewish community. The block also includes the second largest synagogue in the world, and is the site of Herzl’s birthplace.
Everyone in the JDC office was very nice. The first and most urgent order of business was to book me an apartment, which Linda had been searching for, and JDC is supposed to pay for. The thing is, the Hungarian housing market is so intense that you can’t tell an owner you’re interested, or even very interested, without actually making the deal. Moreover, you can’t even just sign your contract and be done with it. You need to show up with 2 months rent as a security deposit, and your first month’s rent. You need all of that money in CASH no later than the day after visiting the apartment. Because my visa isn’t worked out (and won’t be for a few months.. but that’s a story for another post), I am not yet an official JDC employee. But even more complicated is that my fellowship is through JDC-Entwine, and JDC-Hungary expressed great ambivalence about withdrawing such a large sum of cash for someone with whom they have no contractual relationship. JDC-Hungary answers to JDC-Europe, so they needed to appeal to those bosses for the cash, but those bosses were having a conference in JDC-Israel. Ultimately, they were able to secure me the cash by having me sign a loan agreement (which will be repaid internally by JDC), and I carried 3/4 of a million forints in my backpack to sign my apartment.
My apartment is a really nice, renovated, modern apartment in a nice part of town, and it will be very nice to finally move in and unpack my belongings. In the meantime, I stayed in a single apartment that someone at the JDC office happened to own, and was gracious to let me stay there. The kitchen is under renovation, so there was no wifi and no working kitchen. Still, I had a bed and a bathroom.
Tonight, I will move in to the new apartment, which has wifi, a working kitchen, and furniture. I will work over the course of the week to fill it with many basics, including food, bedding, and kitchen appliances. There is an IKEA here and various other shops around the city. I'm looking forward to feeling settled in my own place and starting to develop a sense of routine.