The Jews of Prague between Reality and Fiction
Jews arrived to the Czechlands before the 9th century, and historians still argue whether these were the Ashkenazic or Byzantine Jews. The first mention of the royal city of Prague comes from a Jewish source. Eventually the town became home to once the largest Jewish community in the world; a great Torah centre, home not only of timeless giants such as the Or Zarua, the Maharal or the Noda B’yehuda, but also to tens of thousands of ordinary Jews who sleep their everlasting dream at one of the most iconic cemeteries of the world.
The former Jewish Quarter of Prague is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, and modern personalities of unquestionable influence on the course of history such as Zecharias Fränkel, Isaac Wise, Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein or Madeleine Albright have all once called the Czechlands their home.
The city’s yiddishkeit is so immense and ever-present that the ancient Old New Synagogue, the oldest working shul of the world, inspired Theodore Herzl to write his pivotal text of modern Zionism. Did Hitler really build a “Museum of Extinct Race” in Prague – and how did the Golem oppose him? Why is the story of interwar Czechoslovakia and Terezín a key to unlocking aspects of modern Jewish identity? We will also cover the revival of the Czech Jewish community that almost ceased to exist in the 1980’s due to Holocaust and Communism, and its current renaissance, which brings along new challenges.
David Kraus was born in Prague into a Czech Jewish family whose ancestors first appear in the records of the town already by the 14th Century. David’s paternal grandfather František R. Kraus Z”L was a famous liberal journalist, writer, anti-nazi activist before WWII, friend with Kafka, Kisch and Masaryk – and a well-known holocaust survivor after the war.
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- Timezone: America/New_York
- Date: Mar 06 2022
- Time: 1:30 pm