Old Jewish Cemetery
By Eric Ianuzi
17 Sep 2013
Old Jewish Cemetery - Prague, Czech Republic
The following is a brief description and series of images of the Old Jewish Cemetery. It was one of the more moving, unexpected and emotional parts of my trip. Located in the Jewish Quarter you enter the cemetery at the Pinkas Synagogue. The Pinkas Synagogue hasn't been used for service since prior to World War II and the Nazi occupation. After which the synagogue was turned into Holocaust museum.
You are unable to take picture inside the synagogue, but imagine a completely white temple. Light colored stone flooring with linen white walls and ceilings. The only color is from some warm wooden tone beams that provide some symmetry and structure to the space. One the walls from the floor to the ceiling in red and black inscribe the names of 80,000 victims murdered in the Holocaust.
Upstairs stairs is a haunting exhibit of drawings created by children from WWII. Crayon images depicting life in the ghettos and children camps. Leaving the synagogue you walk through a courtyard and enter the cemetery.
The Old Jewish Cemetery pre-dates the synagogue; the oldest grave is from 1429 and the cemetery was closed in 1787. For over 300 years is was illegal for the Jews in Prague to be buried anywhere else. Given the cemeteries small size it is assumed that earth was brought in to create layers and prevent from disturbing the graves. Then headstone moved to the top layer. There is about 12,000 stones in this cemetery, but estimated 100,000 burials. There are as many as 12 layers of graves.
The cemetery contains many prominent Jewish scholars and religious leaders. Stones are piled upon and next to one another. Throughout them you can see a series of interesting marking such as the Bless Hands, Star of David, Horse and Lion of Judah.
Included below are a few other images of Prague and the Jewish Quarter.