Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jewish Quarter Prague

Keith and I partook in a wonderful walking tour of Prague Sunday afternoon.  Three parts of the tour had powerful effects on me.  The first being the old Jewish Quarter. 

The earliest records of Jews living in Prague are from 956 C.E.  The Jewish Quarter's history began in the 13th century when all the Jewish people of Prague were ordered to vacate their homes and settle in one area of the city.  Over the centuries more and more people were crowded into the area, as Jews were banned from living anywhere else.  To leave the Quarters, the people were forced to wear yellow hats to indicate to the greater public that they were Jewish.

Starý židovský hřbitov (Old Jewish Cemetery)
The cemetery was founded in 1478, and it is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish cemetery.  As centuries past, people had to be buried on top of each other due of the lack of space. There are about 12 layer and over 12,000 gravestones.  As they added new layers, they would bring the intact tombstones to the surface.  It looks like a yard of large bricks packed together.  About 100,000 people are thought to have been buried here.
One of my favorite pictures we have from this part of the tour are the two clocks next to each other--the Hebrew Clock and the Roman Clock.
I don't know why this never occurred to me before, but the Hebrew clock moves what I see as "counter clockwise" since they read right to left. 

A lot of the original buildings were torn down to improve the sanitation of the quarters.  On the sidewalks where people used to live, regardless if their house is still there or not, are memorial plaques so we may never forget the Holocaust.
Seeing this image still causes me to tear up.  It's incredibly powerful to walk the the Jewish Quarters--to listen to the history that occurred there. 

It is here where I can easily fall into my conflict of "culture"...anytime an "us" is created, a "them" is automatically created.  In November, 2001, George W. Bush said, "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror." (to read the news story HERE)  I feel that this black and white mentality is the source of all world problems.  The Nazis considered themselves a "Christian" group--set out to purify the world.  Feelings of hatred and superiority stem from these labels and us versus them mentalities.  How do we end this? 

But more on this later... 

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