Standing in the old Jewish Quarter in Prague, I was experiencing a flood of different emotions. History is all around as the area contains the oldest Jewish European synagogue, cemetery and other artifacts. It is some of the only surviving Jewish buildings of WWII, thanks to a bizarre and rather grotesquely ironic act of WWII.
Czechoslovakia was a protectorate of Germany, as a result of the the Munich agreement in which England, France, Italy and Russia traded Czech for protection. The Nazis decided to expand the existing Prague Jewish Museum to contain all of the Jewish artifacts they gathered with the unimaginable intention of creating a museum of an extinct race.
Now the world has a beautiful museum filled with Jewish treasures, yet surrounded by sorrow and loss. The artifacts are housed in several locations through out Prague’s Jewish Quarter, and no photos were allowed in most of the indoor areas.
The Old Jewish Cemetery was in use from the early 1400s until 1787. In the Jewish religion bodies cannot be unearthed and moved. So, as the cemetery become too small new graves were built on top of other graves, only the stones moved to the surface. It is estimated that there are approximately 12,000 tombstones presently visible, and there may be as many as 100,000 burials in all.
Interestingly, Prague’s largest and possibly most beautiful synagogue does not reside in the Old Jewish Quarter. I blogged a few photos of Prague’s Jerusalem Temple today at my other blog: www.kibitzspot,com
All photos on this page © Rhonda Albom 2012
Travel Counter: We are in week 8 of our 250 day overseas adventure.
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