Pinkas Synagogue

Pinkas Synagogue

The Pinkas Synagogue is in the Prague quarter of Josefov. This synagogue was founded as the private house of worship of Aaron Meshullam Horowitz who built it in 1535 between his house and the Old Jewish Cemetery wall. The building protrudes from the cemetery wall and is situated below the present street level. In its central courtyard you might find two doors, one of them leading directly to the building, and the other one serving as the entrance to the Old Jewish Cemetery. The Pinkas synagogue was built in two phases. In the first half of the 16th century, it was built as a Late Gothic building with Renaissance features. It gained its final Renaissance appearance at the beginning of the 17th century.

 

Memorial Of The Jewish Victims

The Pinkas Synagogue has become a memorial of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust from Bohemia and Moravia. Their names are written on the walls of the main nave and adjoining areas. Moreover, in addition to the names of Holocaust victims, there are also their dates of birth and death inscribed on all the interior walls. If the precise date of death is not known – as is usually the case – then the date of deportation to the ghettos or extermination concentration camps in the east is stated instead – this is often the last information we have about the victims. Their names are arranged by the towns and villages where they lived prior to deportation or arrest and all are presented in alphabetical order. The main part of the building bears the names of people whose last address prior to thein deportation was in Prague; the rest of the interior space commemorates victims from towns and villages outside of Prague. The interior of the synagogue comprises over 80 000  names of Jews from the Czech lands. The Memorial was designed and created by the painters Václav Boštík and Jiří John between 1954 and 1959. The Synagogue was converted into the memorial of the Czech Holocaust victims as early as 1958. Ten years later the Communist government of Czechoslovakia closed the memorial and removed the names from the wall.

 

Renovation Of The Memorial

Between 1992 and 1996, the Memorial was successfully renovated and the names were rewritten on the walls of the synagogue. Interestingly, Madeline Albright visited the synagogue in 1997 to see the proof that her parental grandfathers were also victims of the Holocaust. Today, in Pinkas Synagogue is also an exhibition of paintings by the children from the Terezín concentration camp.

 

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