František Zelenka, architectural design for the Jewish Museum's exhibition in the Klausen Synagogue 1943
acquired from the architect; Zelenka worked on the design while employed at the Jewish Community in Prague
not included in the collection (part of documentary material relating to the Jewish Museum's exhibitions)
At the start of August 1942, the Prague Jewish Community's Department for Rural Affairs published a circular, which ordered the Jewish communities in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia to send liturgical objects from synagogues, books and archival materials to Prague for the purpose of developing the Central Jewish Museum.
'Museum' was a cover name for the Prague community's plan to protect the property of Jewish communities for the period after the war. The Central Office for Jewish Emigration – the Nazi authority with power over the Jewish communities in the Protectorate – agreed with the community's proposal, albeit motivated by the Nazi world view and by an interest in the value of the assets.
The staff at the Central Jewish Museum put together several private exhibitions in Prague synagogues. The architectural and graphic design for the Klausen Synagogue exhibition on Jewish holidays and the Jewish life cycle was done by the architect and set designer František Zelenka, who was born 110 years ago and died 70 years ago.
Zelenka divided the synagogue space into separate sections, each focusing on a particular topic. The curators of the exhibition, however, deliberately avoided depicting the holiday of Purim, which recalls the story of Queen Esther and the evil Haman whose plan was to wipe out the Jews. Similarly, they left out the holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai and their being chosen to serve God. This was one of a number of attempts aimed at positively influencing the war-time fate of Bohemian and Moravian Jews, and an act of clandestine heroism.
The objects gathered in the museum's collections took on a truly memorial character for the Jewish community only after the end of the war, when the scale of the tragedy that had afflicted the Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia and the price that was paid for the establishment of the museum became apparent. The museum turned into a cultural and spiritual memorial for the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia, becoming an integral part of their identity.
ink drawing on tracing paper
1385 x 1005 mm