Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Elegant Elbe: Prague 3b Jewish Quarter II (5/22/2018)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 (continued)
View of the Jewish City Hall with the lower
Hebrew clock that runs counterclockwise
View of the Jewish City Hall (12/24/1981)
Jewish Town Hall/Židovská radnice 
(1570-1577, designed by Panacius Roder)
The Jewish Quarter was initially located in the Castle District starting in the 10C, but during the time of the Crusades, the Pope declared that Jews and Christians could not live together. The Jews moved across the river, and in the Middle Ages, they were divided into two communities. Those from the West settled around the Old-New Synagogue, and those from the Byzantine Empire settled around what is now the Spanish Synagogue. The two communities eventually merged, and then were enclosed in a ghetto that suffered the pogrom of 1389. Times were more enlightened during the reign of Rudolf II, when the Jewish Town mayor, Morodecai Maisel, was appointed as the emperor's chief financial advisor. Discrimination was further relaxed under Joseph II, and the quarter was named after him (Josefov). In 1848, the ghetto walls were torn down, and in 1850 the quarter merged with the city of Prague. In 1897 it was decided to raze much of the quarter that was slums, saving some of the landmarks. The result was a town of Art Nouveau buildings, which prospered through the 1930s. In 1939, 55,000 Jews lived in the area, now there are only 1,700 "registered" here, and only 3,000 in all the Czech Republic.
Maisel Synagogue/Maiselova synagoga (rebuilt 1689) was built
as private house of prayer for Mordechai Maisel and his family
Mordechai Maisel made his fortune by lending money to Rudolph II to finance war against Turks. The façade features the Ten Commandments and the portal rooftop holds the symbol of Prague Jews: the Star of David with the pointed hat worn during medieval times. Since the 1960s, the synagogue has housed a collection of Jewish silver and other metalwork dating from the Renaissance to the 20C. It is ironic that these items were collected by Nazis from synagogues in Bohemia and Moravia, as they planned a museum about the "vanished people."
Maisel Synagogue interior, with the Ark, according
to tradition, on the wall facing Jerusalem
An emblem (1715, pewter) of the
Jewish Cobblers' Guild of Prague,
and samples of the silver Prague Groschen, a
stable unit of currency in Europe from 1300-1547
Gold signet ring with Hebrew inscription, discovered in 2004
during excavation in Republic Square/Náměstí Republiky
Another Art Nouveau (?) building at Široká #11
Statue of St John of Nepomuk distributing
alms (1727, by Ferdinand Maxmilián Brokoff)
Church of the Holy Ghost/Kostel sv. Ducha
(mid 14C) on narrow strip of Christian land
 between the two Jewish communities
Nearby is the statue of Franz Kafka (2003,
by Jaroslav Róna based on a scene
from his first novel, Amerika) (KSS)
Spanish Synagogue/Španělská Synagoga (late 19c,
in Moorish Revival style based on Alhambra in Spain)
The Spanish Synagogue was built at time of the formation of Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867, when Jews were granted full rights.
The Spanish Synagogue with a rose window
 (1882-1883) of a stylized Star of David, and intricate
designs covering every square inch of wall
Chandelier in the dome of the Spanish Synagogue
Spanish Synagogue organ in the south balcony
Crate of tefillin/prayer boxes, apparently found
at the Terezín/Theresianstadt concentration camp
Part of the silver collection on display in the Winter Synagogue;
these are spice boxes that held fragrant spices and were used
in a ritual at the end of Shabbat/the seventh day of rest
Pinkas Synagogue/Pinkasova synagoge (founded 1479)
Pinkas Synagogue serves as memorial to all Czech citizens sent to Terezín concentration camp and later deported to other Nazi camps. You can hear the reading of the names, alternating with a cantor singing psalms.
The names of 77,297 who did not return
to Prague are inscribed on the walls (KSS)
Among the names are those of Madeleine Albright's grandparents,
here you can see the family name Korbel, and the name Arnošt
The second line under Korach has the dates for Arnošt,
and the name of Olga with her dates (KSS)
Pinkas Synagogue also had a display of artwork by the children
at the Terezín/Theresianstadt concentration camp
Next: Prague 3c.

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