Sunday, January 10, 2010
Jews have lived in Prague, the cultured and elegant city of lore and legend, since the 11th century. Waves of persecution marked their history, however. The cemetery, founded in the 15th century, ( bottom three pictures) has 12,000 tombstones crowded together in layers in a small plot of ground since Jews were not allowed to be buried anywhere else. It was used until 1787. Holocaust victims were not buried there.
The Jewish Museum in Prague is visited by half of all the tourists who visit Prague. It consists of several synagogues, the cemetery and the Ceremonial Hall, all located in the Jewish Quarter.
The former Ceremonial Hall and mortuary (second from top) was built in 1911. It housed the Burial Society Hevrah Kaddishah (founded in 1564) now houses a small museum about the customs and ceremonies of Jewish burials.
The Old-New Synagogue (top picture) is not part of the museum but located in the Jewish Quarter as well. It was built in the 13th century and is still in use today. It is the only existing medieval hall of its kind. The golem of Prague legend is from here. It is the oldest extant synagogue in Europe.
A good source for tours in the Jewish Quarter of Prague is www.legacytours.net or contact email@example.com.