Prague A poignant Reminder

Tuesday was the day we chose to visit what is referred to by the guidebooks as 'The Jewish Quarter' in Prague. The day itself began rather grey which fitted the sobering start to our visit to the various Synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery.

The entrance to the Pinkas Synagogue and Old Jewish Cemetery - captured later in the day.

After paying the entry fee the 'Pinkas Synagogue' is the first place to be visited.. Here listed on the various internal walls, the Jewish victims of the Holocaust are listed by their home village and name. You soon begin to get an understanding of how large the Jewish community was and how many suffered so cruelly.

As you enter the Synagogue, there facing you on the wall, is a quotation from the Writer of Lamentations. There the Biblical writer poses the question, "Let it not come unto you, all ye that pass by! Behold, and see if there by any pain like unto my pain . . ." Was the writer referring to his own suffering? Here at the Synagogue the Jewish people see in the quote a reference to their own suffering. For disciples of Jesus, the Messiah, it ultimately finds fulfilment in his suffering in the events leading up to and in his death on the cross outside the city of Jerusalem.

The Old Jewish Cemetery

It is hard to portray in words and even photographs the sight that so many hundred graves has on you. Here the leaning crumbling headstones are a witness to the treatment of the Jewish people in Prague - confined to their own ghetto in life and even in death. There is no record of the number of graves but grave had to be built on top of grave until the graveyard stands high above the road outside. It is estimated there could be as many as 100,00 graves, with final burial here taking place in 1787

Admission ticket to all synagogues other than the 'Old-New Synagogue'
The Ceremonial Hall

The Ceremonial Hall was home to the Jewish Community's Burial Society. Inside are various exits detailing the complex Jewish rituals for preparing the dead for the grave.

The Interior of the Klausen Synagogue

Leaving the Old Jewish Cemetery we visited the Ceremonial Hall and the the Klausen Synagogue. Like most of the synagogues in the area it is an exhibition centre focusing on Jewish life and worship.

The Spanish Synagogue

Again housing various Jewish exhibitions the Spanish Synagogue is the most ornate of the buildings which we visited on our tour of this historic quarter.

The Spanish Synagogue

The Maisel Synagogue was the last synagogue to be visited we had chosen not to pay to visit what is known as the Old-New Synagogue.

The Maisel Synagogue

In each of the synagogues it was very clear that men and women were kept apart. Often the women occupied a gallery or a vestibule with narrow windows permitting them to follow the services being conducted.

The Old-New Synagogue with its roof and attic

When conditions were relaxed for the Jewish people many left the Ghetto and it became a slum for the city's poorest. Late in the 19th Century much of the quarter was raised to the ground and was replaced by fine Art Nouveau houses. The Old Jewish Town Hall is topped by a clock with Hebraic and Roman numerals.

Time passes and this concentration camp is for visitors

On several lampposts were reminders that this is a residential area and that the drinking of alcohol is not permitted in the streets. Additional posters advertise visits to the Terezin Concentration Camp. Although this was a historical visit we found ourselves considering the fact that discrimination still exists in society and that the horrors of war and man's inhumanity to man continues to this day.

Vysok√° synagoga

Our visit to the Jewish Quarter was indeed a poignant reminder of the consequences of discrimination and hatred that continues to this very day. As we left the area the grey skies overhead began to turn blue.

Created By
Alan Millar


Photographs copyright to Ursula and Alan Millar

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