Friends “In Hiding”

I was born in another generation before the word “computer” had been invented. I am ashamed to admit that I am computer illiterate. I write articles, I send and receive e-mails, and that is the limit to my computer skills. I think I have a Facebook account but I never use it…or hardly ever. If anyone writes to me on that account it would be ages before I knew how to log on.

One of the things that bothers me most of all is my inability to reply to people who are kind enough to write comments about some article I have written and published. Most of the comments have been warm and generous. Some have been critical. But I want to reply to all who write a comment and I simply don’t know how to do it.

I go online to google and print the name of the individual to whom I wish to thank. Frequently the name I search for has 42 others bearing the same name. What should I do?

One such individual is a Hungarian gentleman named Tamas Somogyi. He comments frequently on something I wrote and he is always kind with his words. Today I tried an experiment (I felt brave) and posted his name on Facebook. 30 men came up with the same name.

But one listed a marriage in 2014 with a photo of a very beautiful little boy born in 2016, being carried on the shoulders of a happy and smiling bearded daddy. I tried to write a reply but did not know where to click to send it. I wonder how many others of my generation are as computer illiterate as I am. I am embarrassed to admit my ignorance but my mama always told me to tell the truth. Even if it hurts!

If Mr. Somogyi reads this item I sincerely hope that he will understand how grateful I am to him for sharing his opinions with me. It is helpful to me as a writer to understand what my readers like or dislike.

Nem besel magyarol. Nem ertem magyarol. Much more than that I can’t remember from my 2014 visit to Budapest. The Hotel Hungaria City Center on utca Rackoszi was a delightful place to relax and walking distance to the magnificent Dohyani synagogue, the place where Teodor Herzl became a Bar Mitzvah. His family lived adjacent to the neo-Orthodox synagogue, the largest one on the European continent. It is said that it could seat six thousand worshippers.

In the garden of the synagogue, monuments are erected with names of those taken to their deaths in Poland engraved on gold leaves hanging from artificial trees. It was at that spot that I chanted the K’El Malai Rachamim prayer and recited the memorial kaddish for our murdered brethren. It is known that hundreds of ordinary Hungarian citizens watched as their Jewish neighbors were being transported to the death camps in Poland.

There was one kosher restaurant not far from the Dohyani synagogue and I took my nightly meals there. In a Hebrew-language conversation with the proprietor I asked candidly about the situation of Jews presently in Hungary. His response that anti-Semitism was no longer supported by government policy as it was in the regime of Admiral Horthy who was allied with the Nazis, but commented that anti-Semitism was still popular among the Hungarian people. In his words, “old sentiments and old hatreds never die”.

Responses from readers often indicate the country of their origin. I can reply in French, German, Dutch and Polish to those who write from their respective countries. They are for me what I refer to as my friends in hiding because they are invisible and I know them only by their words.

So if Tamas Somogyi from Hungary reads these lines, I say to him: Koszonom a kedvesseget… thank you for your kindness. I hope you will not remain a friend in hiding. It will be a pleasure to communicate with you. And please give your beautiful little son a kiss from an old Israeli Jew.

(Esor Ben-Sorek

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.