Nestled in the beautiful Homorod Valley of the Transylvanian region of Romania lies the small village of Homoródújfalu. Here, about 100 families, primarily Unitarian and ethnically Hungarian, form a close knit agricultural community. Each household owns sheep and cows that pasture in the hills surrounding the village during the day, and return in the evening. Kitchen gardens abound and the village is surrounded by corn fields. While some villagers have found work in nearby cities, many of the young adults have left the village, and the elders remain to work the ancestral land for their livelihood.
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This is a bit of an unusual year for Balázs Scholars, the Unitarian ministers and professors from Transylvania studying at Starr King School for the Ministry. This year there are two, each visiting for a semester. Rev. Dr. Szabolcs (Szabi) Czire has departed and Rev. Dr. Sándor Kovács has arrived. Sándor is actually a Balázs Scholar for the second time around, having been here in 1995-96. He visited UUCB on February 15 and was delighted to see our Transylvanian Gate. The “Szekely Kapu” was given to the church by Dr. Kati Lynn Kadar, symbolizing our partnership with the Unitarian Church of Homoródújfalu in Transylvania, Romania. It was dedicated in April 2007.
Sándor will be speaking at Personal Theology on Easter Sunday, April 5, on “A Transylvanian Unitarian Professor Discusses Differing Perspectives in Europe vs. America.” Rev. Greg Ward has also invited him to preach on May 24. The Balázs Scholars bridge modern and more traditional worlds, and their talks are always intellectually stimulating. Please join us on those dates.
The people have spoken! They like goulash, and Hoa’s sandwiches, too. The Partner Church Committee has brought in over $300 at each of our last two snack tables. Thank you for enjoying delicious food and helping support the students from Homoródújfalu.
If you check the kiosk outside the office you’ll see that we’ve posted the list of current students from the village. The list has their names, grade level in high school or university, and the name of their institution. But there’s a lot that you don’t see on that list; it’s why we’re so passionate about our partnership with Homoródújfalu and the students. When I first went to Transylvania, Alpár Dakó was a kid. On my second visit, he was a high school student and was the translator for me and Anne Greenwood. Now Alpár is a fourth-year university student. Anne has seen many more children grow to adulthood from her many trips over a period of more than 20 years.
This is part of why we call our trips "pilgrimages." We’re not there to sight-see, we’re there to deepen our Unitarian roots and to become involved in the lives of our partner church. The embroidered pieces we sell are made by people we know. From mother to daughter, the craft of weaving cloth and the art of embroidery are handed down. Fathers teach their trades to their sons. There is the paradox of our wanting to preserve the traditional ways of life, while encouraging education of the young for life in the modern world. We are happy to have this conundrum.
The Transylvanian Partner Church Committee sent $4,000 to Homoródújfalu in December. $3,700 was directed to scholarships for students from the village, while $200 went for gifts for the children and $100 went to Reverend Arpad Ilkei to help defray his expenses. The $4,000 came directly from your donations to our Village Education Fund as well as those bowls of goulash you bought at our snack table fundraisers. Many thanks to all of you from the committee and our partners in Romania.
Winter is not an easy time in Homoródújfalu. It’s too expensive and difficult to heat the church for Sunday services. Trudging up the hill through the snow is too hard for the older people. Instead, they meet in their smaller two-room building down in the village. The rooms are plain and austere but are decorated with supercards sent from UUCB. Greetings made by our children in RE classes are on display too.
Come to the snack table on January 18 and warm up with a bowl of hot goulash! We’ll have sandwiches and other treats too.
Thanks to all of you who have made contributions to our Village Education Fund. Whether you made a direct cash donation or bought goulash or other treat at our snack table it will all end up supporting students in our partner village. Right now we plan on sending $3000 in late November. $2700 will be designated for the students while the rest goes to the village for the holiday season, including a small amount for the minister’s expenses.
And it’s never too late to make a donation, whether it’s one time or a recurring monthly amount!
Köszönöm, Thank you!
In an effort to elicit a response from Arpad, minister of our partner church in Transylvania, we asked this year’s Balazs Scholar at Starr King to send him an email. Here is what Szabi Czire sent:
Szeretnénk gyakrabban hallani felőletek! Jó lenne tudnunk, hogy hány diák van az oktatási programban, segítene a gyűjtésben.
Mi történt azokkal a családokkal, akiknek leégett a csűrje? Csak úgy tudjuk az itteni embereket érdekeltté tenni, ha elégséges információt kapunk az ott lakóktól.
A berkeleyi testvérek várják a mihamarabbi válaszotokat!
Sure enough, that got a response from Arpad. He promised to send us the list of students and other information we requested. OK, so we’re still waiting, but at least we have another channel of communication with our partners.
All of this is important because they celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6 as the principal gift-giving time of the season. We like to have our R.E. children make holiday greetings for the village children and send them not too long after December 6. We also like to send our monetary gifts from UUCB around the same time, but we need Arpad’s cooperation in that department. Köszönöm! Thank you to all of you who have contributed this year.
Kellemes Karácsonyt! Merry Christmas!
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