Jewish Ghetto

Zidovská ctvrt (Jewish Ghetto)

  The crusades caused, among other things, a downfall in the importance of the international fairs. The importance of local markets became greater. In Prague it was in the Old Town Square. The jewish settlement between the Old Town Square and Siroká ulice grew and had its own religious and selfgoverning system. The centres of social life were the synagogues. There were apparently several of them. The Pinkas Synagogue (Pinkasova synagoga) is one of the oldest. It was built in Siroká ulice on the west side. The so-called Old Synagogue (Stará synagoga) was built on the east side. The synagogues were also a center for teachers and their pupils.

Studies were generally hard, especially in Prague. Efraim of Regensburg wrote, that “there are the wisest of the wise men.” The legal status of the Jewish settlement was resolutely changed by decree of the lateran council in the year 1215. In it the Jewish citizens were proclaimed prisoners and slaves of the Roman Empire. Jews were from then on restricted to only one profession: the exchange of money.

For over a thousand years the city lived in its own special way. Then in between 1893 and 1947 it was renovated in spite of protests from the public. It was to be replaced by more modern buildings. The Oldnew, Pinkas, High, Klaus and Old synagogues and ofcourse the Jewish cemetery still remind us of the ghetto which has disappeared. There is also the Jewish Museum in the Klaus Synagogue that reminds us of the age-old martyrdom of the Jews. There are more than 200 thousand valuable objects. It only had about a thousand in the year 1939. The rest were collected from all over Bohemia and Moravia during the second World War as a result of the, hopefully last, wittinly catastrophic pogrom. On the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue are written 77292 names of Jewish citizens from Bohemia and Moravia, who died in concentration camps.