We spent several hours this morning visiting the Jewish Museum in Prague. The museum is comprised of several synagogues as well as the old Jewish cemetery.
From restrictions on trade in the thirteenth century to pograms in the eighteenth century to the experience under Nazism, the Jews in Prague (as in many other parts of Europe) suffered greatly.
I can’t say it was a fun morning, but it was a powerful one. For me the most difficult was the Pinkasova synagogue. In the 1950s, the names of the more than 80,000 Czech and Moravian men woman and children who died in the Holicaust were inscribed on the walls of the synagogue. Wall after wall through several rooms covered with names, grouped by families. I could barely breathe and certainly could not speak as I walked through, eyes brimming over with tears.
If that were not enough, the upper floor houses an exhibition of drawings by Jewish children interned in Terezon, a holding camp for those destined for the death camps further east. Pictures of the transport, of life in the camp, of death, of a hoped for life after the camp. (The adults in the camp tried to make things as “normal” as possible for the children; encouraging the children to draw as a way to deal with difficult emotions was part of that.) Many of the pictures had the birth and death dates of the children who drew them. Dead at age 8 or 10 or 6. It was heartbreaking.
I would love to believe we have grown to the point where something like this horror could never happen again. But then I look at what is happening in our world and know it is naive to think it could not.
The names are not legible, but here is one of the walls of the synagogue.