History of the Jewish inhabitants in the Czech lands

Rembrandt van Rijn  Mojzis s deskami Zakona

During the formation of the Czech state not only the arrival of Cyril and Methodius but also the presence of many cultures and religions was important. Judaism was one of them. Based on the extant historical records, the Jews occured in the Czech territory already in the 10th century. There are many sources mentioning arrival of the Jewish inhabitants. One of them is the oldest Bohemian chronicle – Kosmova kronika by Cosmas of Prague.

Central page: all about Jewish Prague more click here

Jewish Life Jewish pogrom of Easter in 1389
Jews have never been accepted well in general but the acute Jewish situation was caused due to crusades and various anti-semitic religious measures. Jews could have expected some level of protection from the monarchs whose profits were raising as they were levying high taxes from the Jewish inhabitants. However, the protection was no obligatory duty of the ruler. In 1262 according to the statement of Přemysl Otakar II the Jews were marked as „the slaves of the king´s chamber“, which literally meant they were the king´s property. However, the riots continued and in the Easter of 1389 the bloodiest pogrom ever took place in Prague. Three thousands of people were massacred during this bloodshed which in fact covered the entire population of the Prague ghetto.

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Rudolphinian Age
It is the end of the 16th century and the rule period of the Emporor Rudolph II is just starting. This noted monarch was a great lover of the arts, science and education. He summoned the most important astronomers and alchemists of the contemporary age to his court. This historical period is considered the golden age of the Jewish community in Bohemia because due to these scholars and rabbis the Jewish community was growing rich, the standard of living in the ghetto suddenly encreased and there was an expansion in architecture.

Significant personalities
At that time, the ghetto was full of significant personalities who had merit in performance of the gems we can still view today. One of them was the „court Jew“ of Rudolph II –Mordechaj Maisl, an alderman of the Jewish community. He was a wealthy man who financed many constructions within the community. Other personalities were a very noted rabbi – rabbi Löw, and for instance the chronicler David Gans who is considered the first author of the chronicle of the Jewish and world history. We must not forget the name of Jakub Baševi, too. He was a very significant banker who was later very popular with the Emperor and King Ferdinand II. There would not be anything strange about this fact, if he had not been conferred an aristocratic title and his own coat of arms in 1622.

Josephinian Age Looting of Prague Jewish Town in December 1744
The social status of the Jews was completely disadvantaged in the mid 18th century. The Empress Maria Theresa expelled the Jews from the whole kingdom. However, her son Emperor Joseph II did not share his mother´s points of view and due to the Josephinian reforms the rights of the Jews improved. One of the most important reforms was the permission and mainly access to education. They could also rent land and perform jobs that had been restricted to them before. These new views of the Jewish inhabitants were just the first steps in effort to gain liberation and certain sovereignty. In 1867, they became the full-fledged citizens due to the anchoring of the rights in the constitution which provided the Jewish inhabitants with the basic civil laws and freedom. It mainly concerned their personal and religious rights and they had a quarantee of freedom of residence and settlement.

Conclusion Jan Minařík - Old Jewish Town
During the national revival movement fighting for the protection of the Czech language the Jews markedly started to endorse to the Czech nationality, however the revivalists rather considered them Germans. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk – the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic played an important part during the so-called hilsneriáda (Hilsner Trial) when he supported the accused. It was a trial of the Jew Leopold Hilsner who had been accussed of murdering a young girl Anežka Hrůzová. There were numerous speculations concerning the murder of the girl because of a Jewish ritual. The Hilsner Affair ranked among the worst outbursts of antisemitism in our territory of the 19th century. After this incident a strong part of the Jewish community started to endorse to the Czech nationality. The greatest interference with the lifes of all Jews was caused by WW2 when antisemitism reached its highest point. The Jews had been deported to the annihilation camps, where about eighteen thousands of Czech and Slovak Jews were murdered.

The articles are divided into thematic parts:

  • In the first part we have prepared general information on Judaism for you.
  • In the second part we will introduce the main view points of the Old Jewish Town to you.
  • And the third part involves other Jewish landmarks of Prague.

How the site Jewish Prague works:

Description of the Jewish Prague is given in form of the articles that can be found below.

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GENERAL INFORMATION ON JUDAISM:

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Life in the name of the Torah 
Jewish traditions and customs

Meaning of „Kosher“
Synagogue
Jewish prayer 
Mordechai Maisel

Rabi Löw
Franz Kafka 
Noted Jewish Personalities
 
Legend of Prague´s Golem

History of the Jewish inhabitants in the Czech lands
Sanitation of the Jewish ghetto

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Map of the Old Jewish Town- Josefov  in Prague:

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načítám mapu - prosím čekejte...

Pinkasova synagoga: 50.089283, 14.417005
Starý židovský hřbitov: 50.088983, 14.417166
Maiselova synagoga: 50.088781, 14.418677
Obřadní síň - budova pražského Pohřebního bratrstva: 50.090037, 14.417031
Staronová synagoga: 50.089926, 14.418488
Klausová synagoga: 50.090350, 14.421120
Vysoká synagoga a židovská radnice: 50.089971, 14.418582
Španělská synagoga: 50.090209, 14.421019
Jewish Museum in Prague (Židovské muzeum): 50.090649, 14.420930

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MAIN MONUMENTS OF THE PRAGUE OLD JEWISH TOWN:

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Prague Jewish Town – Josefov (Pražské židovské město)
Maisel Synagogue (Maiselova synagoga)
Pinkas Synagogue (Pinkasova synagoga)
Old Jewish Cemetery (Starý Židovský Hřbitov)
Klausen Synagogue (Klausová synagoga)
Jewish Ceremonial Hall – building of Prague Burial Society
Old New Synagogue (Staronová Synagoga)
Jewish Town Hall (Židovská radnice)
High Synagogue (Vysoká synagoga) 
Spanish Synagogue (Španělská synagoga)
Jewish Museum (Židovské muzeum)

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Map of the other Jewish Monuments in Prague:

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načítám mapu - prosím čekejte...

Židovské památky mimo cetrum: 50.087371, 14.420820

Jubilee Synagogue in Jerusalem Street (Jubilejní synagoga v Jerusalémské ulici)
The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague´s Žižkov(Starý židovský hřbitov na Žižkově)
New Jewish Cemetery (Nový židovský hřbitov)
Smíchov Synagogue (Smíchovská synagoga)
Old Jewish Cemetery in Smíchov
(Starý židovský hřbitov na Smíchově)

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DOWNLOAD: Tourist guide PRAGUE PRAGUE CITY LINE 1

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Průvodce Praha 1 - ENG - úvodní stránka

  Tourist guide PRAGUE CITY LINE - Prague 1 (14,7 MiB)

Prague 1 still belongs to one of the most attractive parts of the whole Prague. Probably nowhere else you can find such a concentration of historic monuments and places where the history and romance of bygone times are all around you. Hardly anywhere you can walk on the same paths where were walking Franz Kafka, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Golem of Prague.

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PHOTO GALLERY :

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