This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for October 14th, 2013

Pinkas Synagogue, Prague

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 14, 2013

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The Pinkas Synagogue is a memorial to the 80,000 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis during World War Two. The building was built in 1535 by Aaron Meshullam Horowitz between his house and the Old Jewish Cemetery.

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View of the interior of the synagogue, with the names and dates of the victims inscribed on the walls. The work was designed and executed from 1954 to 1959 (for more details, see the Jewish Museum site). Because the synagogue is close to the river and very low, it has suffered extensive flood damage in the past and the names have been repainted.

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On either side of the Torah ark are inscribed the names of the ghettos and camps to which the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia were deported.

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On the second floor is an exhibit of some of the children’s drawings from Terezin (1942-1944), created during a course of art classes taught by  Mrs. Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (1898-1944). Before she was deported to Auschwitz, she filled two suitcases with 4,500 drawings and hid them. They were recovered after the war. See the Jewish Museum site for more details.

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View of the sanctuary from the women’s gallery on the second floor.

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Maisel Synagogue, Prague

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 14, 2013

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The photo above shows the interior of the Maisel Synagogue. I was certain I’d also photographed the exterior of the synagogue but I can’t find the photo at the moment. It might turn up later! We booked a tour of Prague’s Jewish Quarter through Precious Legacy Tours and found it very worthwhile. The guide was knowledgeable and our group was small–just us and a German family with two grown daughters. The Jewish Museum of Prague is housed in several synagogues and a ceremonial hall for the burial society.

The Maisel Synagogue was originally constructed in 1590. Around 1900 it was rebuilt in a pseudo-Gothic style.

The heavily illuminated document below is a legal document granting rights to the Jews.

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The silver objects in the bottom of the next photo are silver “breastplates” that adorn a Torah scroll.

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The white letters at the top of this 16th century Torah ark curtain are actually embroidered with hundreds of tiny pearls. The other threads are tarnished gold thread. Sorry about the reflections. Photography isn’t permitted in the Jewish Museum, so all these photos were taken surreptitiously.

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This Torah ark curtain, also 16th century, was done in an “Italian technique,” according to the guide, although she wasn’t sure what that meant. The parokhet appears to be elaborate appliqued velvet and smooth silk. The edges of the appliqued motifs are covered with a heavy couched cord.

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This elaborate linen robe (ca 1530) belonged to Solomon Molcho, a messianic figure and kabbalist who was burned at the stake in 1532. The Jewish Museum site has a detailed description of the construction of this robe. The body comprises 28 pieces of fabric, flaring outwards, which accounts for the extravagant dimensions of this robe. I can’t even imagine how heavy it must have been to wear.

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