award for the Jewish Museum
A major award - the Dr. Bernard Heller Prize - has been conferred upon
The Jewish Museum in Prague. Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of
Religion handed over the prize to the Director of the Museum, Leo Pavlát,
in Cincinnati, Ohio on 30 May. The College, which established this annual
prize to honour the memory of Dr. Heller (1897-1976), a great scholar
and humanitarian, was founded in 1875 and is the oldest institution of
Jewish higher education in America and the intellectual centre of Reform
Judaism. The College provides professional courses for future rabbis,
cantors and educators with a Reform focus and offers graduate and post-graduate
degree programmes. The libraries of the College, comprising almost 700,000
volumes and 6,000 manuscripts, constitutes one of the largest repositories
of Judaica and Hebraica in the world. The College also maintains the American
Jewish Archives and is home to the Skirball Museum, which is one of the
leading Jewish museums in the US. Educational centres of the College are
active in New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.
Since its inception in 1990, the Heller Prize has been conferred
annually for work that contributes to the betterment of humanity. The
Prize carries an award of $10,000. Past recipients have historians Serge
Klarsfeld and Raul Hilberg, and diplomats Uri Lubrani, Dennis B. Ross,
Richard C. Holbrooke and Stuart Eisenstat. The Jewish Museum in Prague
is the first institution to be awarded the Heller Prize, recognition for
“the clarity of vision with which it has preserved the unique historical
material documenting the centuries of vibrant Jewish life in Bohemia and
Moravia and the destruction of European Jewry during the Shoah”. It was
further stated: “Principle repository for one of the most extensive collections
of Jewish art, silver and textiles, the Museum is today an inspiring example
of an institution governed by conscience and memory. The Museum representing
Jewish history and heritage is a vibrant symbol of Jewish survival as
an institution devoted to memory, scholarship and education for future
Leo Pavlát, the Director of the Museum, received a tremendous
welcome from Hebrew Union College and was treated to an eventful programme
during which he was shown around the institution and introduced to its
leading representatives, including the Acting President Dr. Norman J.
Cohen, Dr. Paul M. Steinberg, and Co-Trustees of the Dr. Bernard Heller
Foundation, Ruth O. Freedlander and Beatrice Weidman. Both institutions
expressed the desire for close ties in the future.
The Dr. Bernard Heller Prize is a great honour for the Jewish
Museum in Prague as well as a commitment for all its future activities.
The Museum expresses its sincere thanks to Hebrew Union College - Jewish
Institute of Religion.