exhibition in the winter prayer hall of the Spanish synanogue
beginning of September saw the open- ing in the Winter Prayer Hall of
the Spanish Synagogue of the exhibition ”Bejt Levitus - Memories
of a Family House” which features the work of Czech-born Israeli
artist Chava Pressburger. Originally from Prague, she stud-ied graphic
art and paper-making in Israel, where she emigrated and now creates
art works from paper she produces herself.
The paper works by Chava Pressburger have an extraordinary ability to
give expression to hidden feelings and to revive forgotten memories.
They take form from various materials, mostly from plants which grow
in the parched desert.
In her latest exhibition Chava Pressburger returns to her most hidden
memories of childhood. Née Eva Ginzová, she was born into a Prague Jewish
family originally from East Bohemia. Her grandfather, Josef Ginz, was
a school teacher in the village of Ždánice near Kouřim who later opened
an second hand book and antique shop in Prague. He passed on his literary
and artistic interests to the next generation. His grandson Petr was
a multi-talented child, loved by his parents and admired by his younger
sister Eva. The Ginzes maintained close links with the family of Eva’s
aunt Herma and uncle Karel Levitus, who built a family house in the
late 1920s in Podolí, a suburb in South Prague. It was here that both
children grew up and spent their happiest childhood moments. There were
often family picnics and parties in the garden, which was where the
extended family would come together.
All this was suddenly changed after the occupation, when the childhood
world disap- peared for ever and plans for the future overnight became
part of the past. Despite the increasing number of prohibitions and
orders, the family gath-erings continued for a few more years in the
Levitus’ house, which became their last safe refuge.
Her grandmother Berta, aunt Herma and uncle Karel Levitus were deported
in the summer of 1942, followed by her fourteen-year-old brother Peter
in the autumn, and then the other Jewish members of the Ginz family,
and finally Eva herself and her father. In Theresienstadt Petr was a
re-spected figure among his peers and became editor-in-chief of the
well-known magazine ”Vedem” (We are Leading). The entry of 28 September
1944 in Eva’s diary marked her last farewell to Peter before he was
deported to Auschwitz.
a few years had passed, but the images of a happy childhood and a loving
family were gone for ever, and the future had become meaning- less.
It seemed impossible to live in an environment that had been afflicted
by so many losses. Eva and her parents did survive the Holocaust, but
they had lost what was most valuable, what had kept them together. Memories
had to be erased and obliterated, although they remained hidden somewhere
in the darkest corners of the soul.
In this exhibition Chava Pressburger seeks to uncover her forgotten
memories of child- hood, which are dominated by memories of the House
In her own words, ”this exhibition is of great personal significance
to me, a sacred duty I am fulfilling towards my family, which, on my
father’s side, almost entirely perished in the Holocaust. The greatest
loss for me was my sixteen-year-old brother Peter.
Even though I was only a young girl at the end of World War Two, the
Holocaust marked a decisive turn in my life. I saw and experienced things
that are important not only for myself, things that demand to be told.
Translating this message into a visual experience was a real challenge.
Being unable to understand the reason, the purpose, the monstrosity
of the disaster of the Holocaust, I have always turned to Nature, in
which I feel the eternal continuity that stands against the unexplainable.”
The curator is Dr. Arno Pařík from the Jewish Museum. The exhibition
runs until the end of November.
programmes of the Museum’s Educational and Cultural Centre
new educational programmes have been prepared by the Educational and
Cultural Centre in co-operation with a number of primary and secondary
schools, universities and regional educational and cultural centres.
So far this year over 4,000 people have taken part in these programmes.
Apart from a series of three-day seminars on How to teach
on the topic of the Holocaust (to which over 500 teach-
ers have applied this year), there are two further interesting projects
concerning Jewish culture.
The Lost Neighbours
project, which is held under the auspices of the Office of the President
of the Czech Republic, aims to make today’s young generation (especially
14 to18-year-old students) aware of the fate of those who lived through
or perished in the Second World War in their own neighbour- hood. New
approaches to education in this area are encouraged by the recent opening
of archives and a general change of atmosphere in the Czech Republic.
It is expected that students will collate the information gained from
school and local archives, narratives and documents (photographs and
letters etc.) and, in particular, from personal encounters with those
who witnessed and survived the Holocaust. This will produce a literary
and documentary testimony to a time when people disappeared from schools
and public life simply because of their origins.
The results achieved by the project to date have exceeded all expectations.
Some of the work goes to show that after the fall of Communism people
in the Czech Republic both in large and small communities can realize
their allegiance to the Jewish faith without any fear. The project outlines
the overall situation and, at the same time, should have a positive
impact on changes taking place in Czech society.
One of the results of the project will be a volume compiled from student
work which will later enable online contact between the students. The
initiation and implementation of the project received financial support
from Prague City Hall and the Czech Ministry of Education.
Workshop 2000 is the
most recent project prepared by the Educational and Cultural Centre
of the Jewish Museum in Prague. It is intended for secondary pedagogical
schools, primary and secondary pedagogical faculties, teach- ers and,
above all, primary school children.
The main aim of the project is to contrib-ute to alternative educational
approaches aimed at promoting tolerance. Workshop 2000 offers an encounter
with another culture through art, drama, dance and music. This gives
children have an opportunity to find out about Jewish cultural and religious
traditions which relate to general human qualities, notably the ancient
principles of love, humility and fidelity.
In connection with this project, the Jewish Museum’s Educational and
Cultural Centre has provided newly refurbished ground-floor space at
15 Maiselova Street for primary schools (in the future for kindergartens
Since opening in April the workshop has been visited by over 500 primary
school chil-dren. On 13 June the Jewish Wedding project was attended
by the wife of the Czech President, Dagmar Havlová.
Implementation of the project is supported by Prague City Hall and the
Prague 1 local authority.
sale of Jewish Museum publications
of July you can send email orders for material published by the Jewish
Museum in Prague at. On offer, for example, is a complete list of back
numbers of the Judaica Bohemiae journal (published since 1965). These
volumes include specialist articles on the history of the Jewish community
in Bohemia and Moravia and are in English and German (early issues are
also in French). You can also order Czech/English guides to the permanent
exhibitions in the Klausen and Spanish synagogues and a selection of
drawings and poems
Bright (formerly František Brichta) from England sent us a photograph
of his class in the Jewish school in Jáchymova Street, Prague. This
dates from the last year he stud-ied here, probably June or July 1942.
The Jewish school was later closed down, the school building being allocated
to the war-time Jewish museum.
F. Brichta, who was 13 at the time, is stand- ing in the middle of the
last row (as indicated by the arrow); the class teacher Dr. Jiří Glanzberg
is on the far left. F. Brichta never saw any of his fellow pupils after
the war and seems to be the only one from the whole class to have survived.
On the occasion of a new exhibition in the Imperial War Museum in London
he is once again trying to find out if any of his fellow pupils are
still alive. Should you have any information on any of the children
in this photograph, please inform the Imperial War Museum in London
or the Jewish Museum in Prague.
Jewish Museum in Polná
three years of reconstruction the syn- agogue in Polná opened on 5 September.
The reconstruction was carried out by the Jewish Religious Federation
of the Czech Republic and the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish
Sites with financial support from the town of Polná, the district of
Jihlava and the Czech Ministry of Culture.
An exhibition dedicated to the history of the Jewish Museum in Polná
and to other Jewish sites of the region is housed in the syn- agogue.
This took form in co-operation between the Jewish Museum in Prague and
the Regional Museum of Vysočina in Jihlava and Polná.
The exhibition also contains a short-term display in the refurbished
women’s gallery which covers the story of Leopold Hilsner (also held
in co-operation with the Jewish Museum in Prague). The exhibition will
be open throughout September and October and may be seen be-tween November
and February upon prior agreement with the regional museum or the Polná
local authority offices.
Jewish Phenomenon - A Journey across Europe”
This is the title of a series of literary and music programmes launched
by the AGADA Agency in the Spanish Synagogue. Intended for people both
from Prague and abroad (English translation provided), these programmes
include recitations and music. There will be ten performances featuring
extracts from European literature and music which are thematically linked
to the Jewish faith. High quality is guaran- teed by the participation
of such distinguished performers as actors Ondřej Vetchý, Jiří Ornest
and Pavel Rimský, violinists Pavel Šporcl and Petr Maceček , violoncellist
Jiří Bárta and the Jupiter Quartet.
18 July the Jewish Museum in Prague was visited by a delegation from
the People’s Republic of China:
Li Yuanchao, Vice-Minister of Culture.
In early July the film director Vojtěch
Jasný made a documentary film about the Holocaust for the SHOAH
FOUNDATION in the Jewish Museum in Prague. Based primarily on the testimonies
of those who survived the Holocaust, the film made use of documents
and photographs from the Museum’s Holocaust archive and of the Museum’s
collection of Terezín children drawings.
The unique interior of the Spanish Synagogue in Prague was selected
by the US Picture Start Films, inc. (under director Elliot Caplan)
for the filming of the musical section of the film ”Hidden Things” (a
portrait of holocaust children and the objects they carried). And so
in the twilight hours of late June the synagogue resounded to the velvet
tones of mezzo-soprano Edita Adlerová, accompanied by the Czech
Clarinet Quartet performing works by Erwin Schulhoff and George
Gershwin and original improvisations on Hebrew texts.
At the beginning of July an Israeli
TV crew were filming in the Museum’s exhibition rooms and depositories.
The director, A. Kushnier, focused on the Museum while
preparing a film on Jewish Prague. The film met with great success when
broadcast in Israel on 10 August.