Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jewish Quarter

One of the more interesting parts in Prague is known as the Jewish quarter. Although the buildings are not the same as the ghetto in which the Jews were forced to live, there are still original synagogues and, of course, the famous Jewish cemetery. We toured the quarter today with the history professor. Throughout this summer, there will be tours of various historical parts of Prague, and this tour of the Jewish quarter was a great start.
Interestingly, I think I have visited two of the buildings we toured yesterday. The Spanish Synagogue had a very ornamental style and reminded me of the ornamentation found in Catholic Cathedrals. I had faint memories of visiting the synagogue and remembered that the women had to live on the second floor. I also remembered the Jewish cemetery. The gravestones all looked like crooked teeth coming out of the ground; the coffins are stacked underneath the gravestones as many as 10 thick; it seemed like an interesting way to continue using a full graveyard. It was also to look at which gravestones had stones on them; in the Jewish tradition, rocks are placed on gravestones rather than flowers to show that someone is still remembered.
It was, of course, also a very touching tour. We walked through a synagogue that displayed the paintings produced by children that were victims of the holocaust. Each painting had a story- from metaphors of escape and the end of the tragedy to paintings that just displayed children being children. At the end, I read the display, which described the plights of the children. Many were shipped to Auschwitz, while only a few escaped. With all this hope, their lives were destroyed before they even could experience the joys of adulthood because some psychopath believed that their race was inferior. The human race is capable of such great evil, it boggles my mind. Of course, there are also the amazing accomplishments we have achieved and the great good we have done. I don’t know... I want to learn more about the holocaust and visit some of the concentration camps nearby. We are thinking of visiting Krakow...

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