Pragueâ€™s Jewish quarter is not a large area, but donâ€™t be fooled, the six sites operated by the Jewish Museum of Prague offer enough information and artifacts to fill your day. The museum consists of The Maisel Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Klausen Synagogue, and the Ceremonial Hall. Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed in the museum, except for the Old Jewish Cemetery which charges a small fee.
Each site offers something different: a different exhibition, a different historical time period, a different part of the Jewish culture. All have an incredible wealth of information, almost an overwhelming amount of information. So much so, that to read and process everything is a wonderful, albeit frustrating, experience.
While all six sites are beautiful, one site stands above the rest. The Pinkas Synagogue. I was, quite simply, not prepared to enter the synagogue. Staring back at me when I turned the corner was a 16th century synagogue with whitewashed walls. But these whitewashed walls were not the effect of some sort of renovation project. They were instead covered in black and red hand writing. From wall to wall. Floor to ceiling. The black and red writing screamed silently at me as I walked through the synagogue.
The walls of Pinkas Synagogue are lined with the names, dates of birth and death, and last known area of residence of each of the nearly 80,000 Holocaust victims in Bohemia and Moravia. The small handwriting and tight style gives scope to that number, 80,000.
Upstairs is an exhibition displaying artwork created by the children of the Terezin Concentration Camp, where many of those 80,000 names met their end. The artwork of the children, coupled with the thousands of names on the wall, is a chilling reminder of the Holocaust and the devastating effect on cities like Prague.
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