Friday, July 1, 2016

More of the Historical Past of Prague

A day to remind us that unless we remember history we are doomed to repeat it.

We visited the historic Jewish quarter of Prague.  Miraculously, it is preserved despite the horrors of war's destruction. Hitler intended the Jewish quarter to be a "museum of an extinct people."

We visited several synagogues, a ceremonial hall, and the Jewish cemetery.

 Several of the synagogues are museums.  The most notable is the Pinska Synagogue.  On each wall, in upper and lower levels, are inscribed the names of each person from the Prague 'ghetto' and nearby areas who were deported and later exterminated in one of the many concentration camps.  This exhibit stops your heart -- rows and rows and columns and columns of names and dates.  Just that -- nothing more and nothing less.

One of the synagogue/museums shows the art work of the children.  A wondrous woman, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, applied her art skills to work with the children in the Terezin/Theresienstadt ghetto/camp.  She encouraged them to draw memories of the better times and also to represent the horror of their daily life.  Read more here.

We saw silver Torah adornments, silk Torah covers and panels, silver alms trays and chalices.  We learned more about how the cemetery began -- in mid 1300's -- and buried its citizens (with the help of the Burial Society) until the mid 1700's.

We climbed the stairs to the women's landing on three sides of the rectangle worship space with the Torah and 'altar' facing east.  THe Spanish synagogue was the most elaborate, with each square inch covered with elaborate painted patterns and a magnificent dome.

We left humbled, saddened, sober, aware -- appreciating life and sunshine and the prospect of our own free walk to a free and filling lunch.

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