26 Sacred Sights
27
The Jewish population came
to Bohemia and Moravia
by way of the old trade
routes. The first written
records of their presence
in these lands come from
the 10th century, although
Jews certainly passed
through the region as early
as in Roman times.
Paths
of Judaism
In the 13th century, certain rights
were granted to Jews, and it was just
at this time that construction of the
Old-New Synagogue in Prague began.
Jews settled also in Brno, Olomouc,
Jihlava, Litoměřice and Příbram,
where they built enclosed settlements
for religious and political reasons.
In the 16th century, new synagogues
and new centres arose. They gained
emancipation in the Czech lands
in 1848 and were granted legal equality
19 years later. Until 1939, Jewish
culture flourished in the Czech lands,
yielding many architectural and artistic
masterpieces.
Prague
In the 13th century, the Prague Jewish
settlement expanded into the area
around Dušní street and the Old-New
Synagogue. This settlement was called
the Jewish Quarter, or the ghetto.
In 1851, it became a district of the city
and was renamed Josefov. From the
original quarter full of winding alleys,
the town hall and six synagogues have
survived.
One of the surviving synagogues
is the Neo-Gothic
Maisel Synagogue
(Maiselova synagoga), which was built
in the Renaissance style in 1590–92
at the behest of Mordechai Maisel,
the mayor of the Prague Jewish
Community at that time. Today it houses
an exhibition on the history of Bohemian
and Moravian Jews. The exhibition
continues in the
Spanish Synagogue
(Španělská synagoga), which
was built on site of the city’s oldest
synagogue, called the Old School.
The second oldest surviving synagogue
in Prague is the
Pinkas Synagogue
(Pinkasova synagoga). On its walls
are inscribed almost 80,000 names
of victims of the Nazi Holocaust,
or Shoah. Adjacent to the synagogue
is the
Jewish cemetery
(Starý židovský
hřbitov), where the oldest tombstone,
that of Avigdor Kara, dates to 1439.
Also located here is the tomb
of the famous Rabbi Löw, creator
of the legendary Golem.
On the right-hand side, in the direction
of the cemetery, is the early Baroque
Klausen Synagogue
(Klausova
synagoga).
Kosher restaurants
Shalom Kosher Restaurant
Maiselova 18, Praha 1
Dinitz Kosher Restaurant
Bílkova 12, Praha 1
Chabad‘s Shelanu Kosher Restaurant
Břehová 208/8, Praha 1
Old Jewish Cemetery
Old-New Synagogue
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