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A word from the Director

Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities


A word from the Director

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Leo Pavlát - DirectorWelcome to the website of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Attracting between 500,000 to 600,000 visitors each year, our institution is consistently the most frequented museum in the Czech Republic. This proves, more than anything else, that the tour of its synagogues (which date from various historical periods) and its exhibitions (which feature a remarkable variety of ritual objects) provides a unique cultural experience, in fact one of the greatest on offer in the capital of the Czech Republic. The Jewish Museum in Prague is a memorable place not only, however, because of the unique connection between the architecture of its buildings and the craftsmanship of those who made its individual artefacts. For it does not owe the diversity of its collections to patrons of art, collectors, foundations or to support from the city or state, as is usual in other places in the world. The Jewish Museum in Prague achieved its renown mainly through a cruel blow of fate, because, in its basic form, it emerged from the tragedy of the Jewish nation during the Second World War. The Nazi-controlled shipment of objects from the liquidated Bohemian and Moravian Jewish communities to the Jewish Museum was a preliminary to the gathering together of people. First, the objects were given numbers, then the people who had used them. However, it was the objects – not the people – that survived the rage of war.

The objects that were gathered in our museum were, in fact, silenced twice. Firstly, when the Nazis took them from those to whom they had belonged for centuries; and secondly, through the actions of the Communist authorities which, throughout the more than forty years they were in power, did not allow exhibitions to be held within the Jewish spiritual or historical context. The Jewish Museum in Prague which, since October 1994, has been active as an independent, non-state organization, managed by the Czech Jewish community, has removed this debt, having become both a dignified memorial to the victims of the Shoah, and an eternal reminder of the beauty and greatness of Jewish culture.

I would like to express the conviction that our website will be of interest to you and, above all, will encourage you to make a personal visit to Prague and the Jewish Museum. The development of the museum also owes a great deal to its sponsors and supporters – among others, The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, ORT, The Rich Foundation and The Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. We would like to thank all our sponsors and supporters, as well as our visitors and all those who are interested in our activities. Welcome to the Jewish Museum in Prague.

Leo Pavlát


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