The village of Kerestir (Bodrogkeresztúr) is located in northeastern Hungary, near the border with Slovakia.
Jews came to Kerestir as early as the 18th century and established a small community there. At the end of the 19th century, Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner came to the town and established his court there.
Before World War II, the Jewish community in Kerestir numbered 535 Jews, most of whom were murdered in the Holocaust.
Reb Shaya’la of Kerestir is attributed a virtue for guarding against mice, which is why in many homes it is customary to hang his picture. But most of all, Reb Shaya’la is known for his great devotion to hospitality and caring for the needy.
In recent years a mass ascent to his tomb has begun, which has been expanded and renovated. And in the house where he lived and act, his descendants established an institution for hospitality.
How to get to Kerestir?
Kerestir is located in northeastern Hungary, about an hour and a half drive from the city of Debrecen. There are several convenient options to get to Kerestir:
- Debrecen – Debrecen is an hour and a half drive from Kerestir. But, the airport in Debrecen is not developed, the supply of vehicles for rent is limited (and at more expensive prices than Budapest), and the road from there to Kerestir is also less convenient.
You can combine a visit to Debrecen, where there is a Jewish past and fascinating sites.
Direct flight to Budapest – the most convenient option, but not the shortest. The journey time from Budapest to Kerestir by car is about two and a half hours. There are shuttle and drivers that offer travel service (private or group) from Budapest to Kerestir.
From Budapest you can also reach Kerestir by public transport:
Train – there is a direct train that goes from Budapest to Kerestir. The train leaves from Keleti station (Budapest-Keleti) and the journey takes a little less than three hours.
From the train station in Krestyre, you can walk about 25 minutes to The Tzion/Guest House or take a taxi. The direct train leaves every two hours from both Budapest and Kerestir (there is also an option to travel by indirect train, through Szerencs, and change trains on the way). You can find all the information here on the railway website >
Important tip: It’s not recommended to arrive at Kerestir by train at night (unless you have coordinated in advance with a driver who will drive you from the station). The train station in Kerestir is dark and remote, and the place isn’t very sympathetic.
A regular shuttle service from Budapest to Kerestir will begin on Rosh Chodesh Iyyar (21/4/23).
The shuttle will leave daily at 10:00 am from Kazinczy Street in Budapest directly to the Tzion in Kerestir.
Return to Budapest the same day at 16:00.
The cost: $50 round trip.
for further details:
- Kosice, Slovakia – Kosice is about an hour and a half drive from Kerestir, and car rental prices in the place are very cheap.
- Poprad, Slovakia – is about two and a half hours drive from Kerestir.
The grave of Reb Shaya'la of Kerestir (Kerestirer)
Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner served as a rebbe in Kerestir from the end of the 19th century until his death in 1925. The Rebbe was known as a great hospitator and distributor of charity to the needy. It’s said that even when there was no penny left in his pocket he borrowed to continue giving.
The “Malva Malka” meal was a big deal in his yard, and was held in a large audience with the best delicacies. Even today, a glorious “Malva Malka” feast is held every Motza’ei Shabbat in the two guest synagogues in Kerestir.
Today Rabbi Yeshayahu is known as a particularly exemplary husband in matters of livelihood, something that attracts masses seeking salvation to come and pray at his grave in Kerestir.
Address: Bodrogkeresztúr, Felső u., 3916 Hungary.
Cemetery Guard: Ms. Katy, Phone: + 36303539111.
The Tzion is in the cemetery on a hill above Kerestir. The score is usually wide open, but if it is closed, call the guard who will open it.
On the Yahrzeit day (3 Iyar), the area is particularly crowded, and it’s not possible to get to the Tzion by car. It’s possible to park in the village, and go to the grave in free organized shuttles.
In Kerestir there are two guest synagogues all year round.
The Yahrzeit day – 3 Iyar, marks a record number of guests at Kerestir, and the guest synagogues are open these days around the clock, for 24 hours a day.
Reb Shaya’la House (Rubin)
A guest synagogue that operates in the house where Reb Shaya’la lived and acted.
The place has an active synagogue and even a mikveh. You can insert a note for blessing (Kvitel). Hot meals, drinks and sandwiches are served to the large crowd.
You can book accommodation for a fee.
Sabbath: You can book accommodation + Sabbath meals.
Address: Bodrogkeresztúr, Kossuth u. 67, 3916 Hungary. (At the entrance below).
Reb Shaya’la Guest House (Friedlander)
A new guest synagogue located on the way to the Tzion of Reb Shaya’la.
There is a beit midrash for study and prayer, a mikveh and guest rooms.
Meals, drinks and specially invested refreshments are served to the masses of guests.
You can book accommodation for a fee.
Sabbath: You can book accommodation + Sabbath meals.
Address: Bodrogkeresztúr, Sipos köz 3, 3916 Hungary.
The guest synagogues in Kerestir offer their services to every Jew free of charge, but it’s acceptable and desirable to contribute to the maintenance of the place and for blessing.
Accommodation in Kerestir
A 5-star spa hotel in Tretzel, a 7-minute drive from Kerestir. The hotel rooms are luxurious and air conditioned. The hotel has a spacious indoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness center and free attached parking.
Particularly affordable price.
A modern, well-kept and modern guest house in Kerestir, a few minutes’ drive from the Tzion. Located among the vineyards in a quiet place with a wonderful view.
Spacious, air-conditioned rooms with a modern design that includes a refrigerator and an electric kettle. There is also a terrace overlooking the surrounding vineyards and mountains. Free private parking.
Guest house in the center of Kerestir, 2 minutes walk from the house of Reb Shaya’la.
Air-conditioned rooms with minibar and electric kettle. There are also rooms suitable for families. Free private parking.
An excellent 4-star hotel less than a ten-minute drive from Kerestir. Located in a quiet and green place with great views. The hotel has a swimming pool, and the rooms are air conditioned and have a minibar. Free adjacent parking.
An excellent and cheap 3-star hotel in Tokai, about a ten minute drive from Kerestir.
It features air-conditioned rooms and an apartment with a kitchenette suitable for families. Rooms have a minibar fridge, safe and work desk. The apartment also has a kitchenette with a fridge, hob and microwave.
Reception 24/7. Free private parking.
New and clean guest apartments in Tokai, about a ten minute drive from the Tzion in Kerestir.
The apartments are air conditioned and suitable for up to 5 people. They have a kitchen / van with a fridge, microwave and electric kettle.
An excellent hotel, housed in a building that was formerly a yeshiva of the Kol Aryeh responsa in the town of Mád.
Clean, air-conditioned rooms. The staff of the place speaks Hebrew. Extremely cheap prices – excellent value for money.
Tip: Please note when booking that some rooms share a shared bathroom and toilet.
Sites and Attractions in the Vicinity of Kerestir
An excellent and inexpensive park about a half hour drive from Kerestir. The park extends over three levels in the open landscape and offers fun entertainment for the whole family at cheap prices.
At the first stop there is a chair lift, mountain slides, a climbing wall and an ice rink. The central station has omega trails, hiking and nature trails, tubing trails and playgrounds for children. The summit has a spectacular vantage point over the landscape.
Address: Sátoraljaújhely, Torzsás u. 25, 3980 Hungary.
The “Yishmach Moshe” Tzion in Ihel Sátoraljaújhely
In the old cemetery in Ihel, about half an hour from Kerestir, is the Tzion of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, the owner of the “Yishmach Moshe” and his wife. Nearby is also the Tzion of the “Zichron Devarim” Alexander Sender from Komarno.
Also in the “Yishmach Moshe” Tzion there is a hospitality with rich refreshments, from the US, from cholent to stuffed cabbage, and everything is self-service. There are prepared dishes that need to be heated (there is even a meat and dairy microwave), and sandwiches.
Address: Sátoraljaújhely, Pataki u. 2, 3980 Hungary.
The Tzion of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch of Liska
Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Friedman of Liska, founder of the Liska Chassidut and one of the leaders of the Chassidut movement in Hungary.
Reb Shaya’la of Kerestir was sent to the house of the Rabbi of Liska at the age of 12 by his mother.
The town of Liska is about a quarter of an hour’s drive from Kerestir, on the way between Kerestir and the “Yishmach Moshe” Tzion in Ihel.
Address: Olaszliszka, Belsőkocsord 29, 3933 Hungary
Lillafüred is a beautiful resort and tourist town an hour’s drive from Kerestir.
The town is located on the edge of a magical lake where you can rent boats in the summer and take a cruise. There are three natural limestone caves in the area that can be explored. The hanging gardens are also a beautiful attraction and have the highest waterfall in Hungary, at a height of 20 meters.
Wineries and Vineyards
The Tokai area is known for the fine wines produced from the manicured vineyards. You can visit the winery and be impressed by the production process (but not to drink the wine – Yayin Nesekh)
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