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Exhibitions

From 06. 10. To 12. 03. 2016

"Come My Beloved..." Illustrations for the Song of Songs

From 06. 10. 2016 - 09:00 to 12. 03. 2017 - 16:30

Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Praha 1

A new exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Prague, organized in cooperation with the Museum of Czech Literature, presents the Song of Songs, shedding light on its origin, place in Jewish liturgy, historical publications, and translations into Czech. However, the primary focus is on the biblical book’s ornamentation, illustrations, and works it has inspired from the early 20th century up to the present day.
 
The exhibition, which draws on the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague and Museum of Czech Literature, is a loose continuation of previous exhibitions on the history of the museum’s book collections (2007) and Pesach Haggadot in the library of the Jewish Museum in Prague (2010). “Come, my beloved” will be open from October 6, 2016 through March 12, 2017.  

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thursday 06. 04. 2017

Through the Labyrinth of Normalization: The Jewish Community as a Mirror for the Majority Society

From 06. 04. 2017 - 09:00 to 28. 01. 2018 - 16:00

Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Praha 1

Through the Labyrinth of Normalization: The Jewish Community as a Mirror for the Majority Society

The period after the armies of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968 was called by communist ideologues “normalization.” Under the watchful eye of Soviet military occupation, Czechoslovak society was to return to “normal,” that is, to a rigid ideological socialism with a single political force having an unchallenged monopoly of power and wholly subject to Moscow’s dictates. The building of “real socialism,” the primary offshoot of normalization, was ratified at the XIV. Congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPC) in May 1971. True to its anti-Semitic traditions, Soviet propaganda labeled the political liberalization in Czechoslovakia from 1967 to 1968 a Zionist conspiracy, alluding to the show trials of the 1950s. The Kremlin considered a Zionist anyone with Jewish ancestry or who associated with Jews. Many Czechoslovak communists adopted this formulation, and after an interval of many years, State Security once again began to compile lists of names of those with Jewish heritage for “operational usage” in the fight against Zionism. Citizens designated by the communist regime as Zionist, no matter if they considered themselves Jewish or not, began to encounter a variety of problems, the reasons for which they were often unaware. Jewish communities, which operated under the direct supervision of state bodies, experienced enormous pressure, as did other religious institutions, and, as was the case with the population at large, their officials were subjected to extensive vetting and purging. Charter 77, a civic initiative demanding adherence to human and civil rights, was the most important form of resistance to the communist regime and normalization. The fortieth anniversary of its publication in 2017 gives us an opportunity to present the situation of the Jewish community during the normalization period, undeniably unique on the one hand while on the other a microcosm in which similar processes no less intense than those affecting society at large were taking place.

The exhibition presents concrete cases of StB operations against Jewish communities, the dilemmas faced by community members, and the involvement of several members in dissident and other activities outside the official scope of Jewish communities. Yet the exhibition will show more than the myriad forms “anti-Zionist” propaganda took during this period and its impact on individual lives. Normalization also entailed the destruction of Jewish cemeteries, the demolition of synagogues, and the obstruction of research and study into the fate of Jews during the Second World War as well as policies that nearly eradicated Judaism completely. On display will be photographs depicting daily Jewish life, the efforts made to preserve it despite the coordinated attempts of the communist regime to suppress any sort of meaningful activity, especially the passing down of Jewish traditions from one generation to the next. Brought together from a number of archives, the majority of the unique documents and photographs are being exhibited for the very first time.

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