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
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.
Only 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 of Levitus.
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
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.
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 as well).
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
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
Jewish Phenomenon - A Journey across Europe”
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.