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Prague's Jewish year by: Leslie Bunder

If your planning a visit to Prague, this year could well be a good time to go as the city celebrates 100 years of having a Jewish museum and marks it through a series of events under the name Year of Jewish Culture.

To mark the event which both celebrates Jewish life as well as remembers those who perished during the Nazi occupation, a series of events will be happening each month.

As well as showing the contribution of Jews from Prague, events will also feature Jewish life throughout the Czech Republic.

So make some time for Prague this year.  Information for events can be found directly at the Jewish Museum website.

Here at Daily Jews, we also offer a guide to see and do Jewish Prague in an effective way so you can make the most of your time. If you are only there for a short weekend, here's our five top tips.

1. Visit the Old-New Synagogue. Located right in the middle of the city’s historic Jewish quarter, the Old-New Synagogue was built around 1270 and is the oldest working synagogue in Central Europe. Services are still held here, so if you find yourself in Prague on Shabbat or a festival you can experience a Czech shul service for yourself. The ladies section, built in the 18th Century, offers only limited views of the main synagogue, which can be glimpsed through slots in the wall.

Top Tip: This is best seen as part of one of the many walking tours of the Jewish quarter.

Address: Cervena Street, Prague 1

2. Have a kosher dinner, Czech-style. There aren’t many kosher restaurants in Prague but the best, King Solomon, serves kosher versions of Czech specialities (schnitzels, duck) as well as traditional Jewish fare.

Top Tip: Wash down your meal with a spot of local liqueur – we recommend the cherry.

Address: Siroka 8, Prague 1

Tel: 248 18 752

3. Visit the Pinkas Synagogue. Another of the shuls located in the Jewish Quarter, the shul recently re-opened after being damaged in the floods that hit Prague in 2002. The shul is notable for its memorial to the Holocaust victims of Bohemia and Moravia, with all 80,000 victims’ names inscribed on the walls. An exhibition of drawings from children imprisoned in Terezin is housed on the upper level.

Top Tip: It’s a good idea to do the Old-New Synagogue and the Pinkas on the same day as they are literally a stone’s throw from each other.

Address: Siroka Street, Prague 1

4. Go to the Old Jewish Cemetery. With its slanted tombstones, this historic graveyard is like no other cemetery you’ll have seen – the oldest stone dates back to 1437 although people were buried there until 1787. Although it houses 12,000 gravestones, many more people are thought to be there since bodies were buried on top of each other in the cemetery. The most famous grave belongs to that of Rabbi Loewe, who legend has it created the Golem to protect the Jews in the Prague ghetto.

Top Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and be careful as the ground can be a little uneven.

Address: Siroka Street, Prague 1

5. Visit Prague’s other synagogues. The Old-New and the Pinkas are the most famous, but the Jewish quarter boasts a number of other shuls, including The Maisel Synagogue (named after Mordechai Maisel, who was a prominent Jewish businessman in Prague in the 16th Century and who built the shul), the Klausen Synagogue (which houses a fascinating exhibition focusing on Jewish customs and traditions) and the Spanish Synagogue which is an ornate Sephardi shul.

Top Tip: You can take a guided tour of all the synagogues but if you only want to see one or two, then they can be explored just as easily without the benefit of a tour guide.

Address: The Maisel Synagogue, Maisel Street, Prague 1

Address: The Klausen Synagogue, U Stareho Hrbitova 3a, Prague 1

Address: The Spanish synagogue, Vezenska Street, Prague 1

For more information: www.jewishmuseum.cz/aindex.htm



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