Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
October 17, 2004
From the Pinkas Synagogue, you enter the Old Jewish Cemetery (Stary Jidovsky Hrbitov) that has existed here since the 14th century. There are old grave stones looking in various directions, not having been attended by anybody for a long time. Trees and grass are growing between them because there is nobody left to take care of them, to remember the people buried here. It’s a whole city of tombstones of people that once were. It is one of the saddest places I’ve ever seen.
From journal Travels in Czech Republic - Prague
September 29, 2004
The Late Gothic Pinkasova Synagóga was founded in 1479 by Rabbi Pinkas, although recent excavations have uncovered a 15th-century mikveh (ritual bath) indicating a much earlier predecessor. In 1535, it passed into the hands of Žalman Horowitz, who incorporated it into his family home as a private worship hall, and, in the 17th century, it was remodeled in Renaissance style with the addition of a council chamber and women’s gallery. It was closed by the Nazis in 1941 and reopened 1958 as a Holocaust memorial after Václav Boštík and Jiří John had covered every inch of wall space in a carved stone list of the names, dates of birth, and dates of transportation of the 77,297 Czech Jews killed in the camps. The Synagogue was closed again by the Communists in 1968 amid the anti-Semitism that followed the Israeli’s victory in the Six Day War. The Synagogue was renovated and reopened following the 1989 Velvet Revolution and now includes a permanent exhibit of children’s drawings, which were hidden away by their art teacher, Friedl Dicker-Brandeisová, from the Terezin concentration camp.
Outside is the Starý Židovský Hřbitov with some 12,000 stones marking 100,000 burials. Dating back to the 15th century, this beit hayim (house of life) is Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery. The oldest known burial is the 1439 stone of Rabbi Avigdor Kara, the court poet of Wenceslas, who lived through the pogrom of 1389 to later eulogize about it. The 18th-century tomb of Rabbi Löw, who died in 1609, and his wife Perl, is a popular tourist draw, as it is covered with stones, coins, and prayers while that of his contemporary, Mordecai Maisel, is largely overlooked, The last burial took place in 1787 and the crowded clusters of stones amongst the twisted ancient trees makes this a truly magical place despite the crush of tour groups. The 1906, neo-Renaissance Obřadní Síň on the edge of the cemetery was built by the Jewish Burial Society for the preparation of bodies for burial at the, now defunct, new cemetery in Žižkov and now hosts an exhibition devoted to Jewish funerary and burial customs. It contains a dazzling array of artifacts in gold and silver that relate to the internment of the dead.
These two sites are possibly the most powerful in the entire quarter, and, taken together, they can be a little overwhelming, but they alone are worth the 450Kč ticket.
From journal Prague’s Jewish Ghetto: Exotic Museum for an Inextinguishable Race