After a late night of Skyping with New Milford High School, we slept soundly, and woke up to our first full day in the beautiful city of Prague. We began the day with our guide Kamila and Shalmi walking with us to the Jewish Quarter, located just off of the Old Town Square.
Shalmi told us about the Old New Synagogue, built in the thirteenth century.
Once the synagogue of the famous Rabbi Loew, which shows the gothic architecture, and to this day has the remains of the legendary Golem in the attic.
After learning about the Jewish culture of Prague in the Jewish Museum, Shalmi talked to us about the entry of the Nazis into Prague. One of their first acts was to make all Jews register. Unknowingly, they were aiding the Nazis in making lists in order to round them up to deport them at a later date.
Following this, we entered the Pinkas Synagogue, which today is a memorial to the 88,000 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered in the Holocaust. The walls of this moving memorial are covered with the names of each of the victims. Each of the towns in which Jews lived are listed, alphabetically, and then the names of the victims from each town are listed, with their date of birth and date of death. All of the names have been painstakingly hand-painted and cover the walls on the three floors of the museum.
After leaving the Pinkas cemetery, we entered the old Jewish cemetery where Jews had been buried from the 14th century through the 18th century. As was the custom, given the limited space for burials, graves were dug one on top of another so that the Jewish cemetery has between twelve and fourteen layers of graves, which explains why the headstones are so close together and appear to be placed haphazardly and askew.
For lunch, we ate pizza and salads near the Jewish Quarter, then continued with our tour in the Spanish Synagogue. Built in 1868, one year after the Jews of Prague became citizens, this ornate synagogue reflects their pride in their elevated economic and social status.
Since we were not allowed to photograph inside, click this link for photos.
After a lovely pasta dinner, we returned to the hotel to debrief, and plan to get a good night's sleep to prepare for our very special day with Holocaust survivor Pavel Stransky.