"Holy Ground" Jewish Cemetery Tip by rexvaughan

Jewish Cemetery, Prague: 80 reviews and 130 photos

by rexvaughan
  • Holy Ground - Prague
  • Holy Ground - Prague
  • Medieval headstone fragments - Prague
      Medieval headstone fragments
    by rexvaughan
  • Holy Ground - Prague
  • Yarmulka - Prague
    by rexvaughan

Over the centuries the Jews have been excluded, isolated, persecuted and frequently treated most brutally. Prague is no exception to this history although in the 18th C Emperor Josef II eased the discrimination to an extent I found surprising for the time. A few decades later the walls around one of the biggest ghettos in Europe were torn down and the neighborhood incorporated as a district of Prague.

The old Jewish cemetery in Josefov, the Jewish Quarter, was created in the 15th C when Jews were forbidden to bury their dead outside their own district. Space was scarce and I understand that Jewish religious beliefs prohibited moving bodies once they were buried. As a consequence bodies were buried on top of one another in an estimated 12 layers. Over the centuries, lopsided tombstones formed unruly but poetic groupings. It is said that there are 12,000 gravesites here but some estimate that as many as 100,000 are interred in this small plot. An interesting sidenote: I read that Hitler had this spot preserved from destruction with the plan in mind to build a musem to the Jews whom he planned to eradicate. Macbre and crazy but that was Hitler.

The third photo shows fragments of medieval tombstones from the mid 14th C. Notice the small stones placed here. They represent prayers offered. You can also see some very small bits of paper stuffed into the crevices. I think these are also prayers for the dead and wishes for the living.

Men must have their heads covered to enter the cemetery. I understand most hats and caps are acceptable or you can , as I did, purchase an inexpensive paper yarmulka. I hate to call it a souvenir but it is a reminder of a most moving morning in Prague.

Address: Stary zidovsky hrbitov, Josefov.
Directions: Josefov
Phone: +420-224 819 456
Website: http://www.jewishmuseum.cz/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 28, 2005
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