The first Day of Jewish Monuments will be held in the Czech Republic on Sunday, August 14. On that day, 41 selected Jewish heritage sites around the country will be open to visitors.
They include synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other buildings — among them the 10 synagogues and five associated Jewish buildings that form the Czech 10 Stars network of revitalized Jewish heritage.
The Day of Jewish Monuments initiative is organized by Jewish community in Prague in collaboration with Matana, the administrative body for Jewish buildings and cemeteries; the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic; the Jewish community in Brno; and the Jewish community in Teplice.
It apparently is an independent initiative and not linked to the European Day of Jewish Culture, marked in September in many European countries. (It was not clear why this was so.)
August 14 in fact coincides with the fast day of Tisha B’av — the 9th of Av — a day of mourning in Jewish religious tradition commemorating the destruction of the Temple and other catastrophes.
The Day of Jewish Monuments organizers said it would be particularly important on this day that commemorates destruction to recognize the recovery and rehabilitation of Jewish Heritage and memory.
It’s so symbolic that on this day, visitors will see what the rich cultural heritage of the Jewish monuments represents and what are the efforts to rescue them.
During World War II in what is now the Czech Republic, the Nazis burned or destroyed 70 synagogues, and another 105 synagogues were demolished during the 40 years of the postwar communist regime.
Today, about 200 synagogues (that still are identifiable as synagogues) and 370 Jewish cemeteries still stand.
The Jewish community in Prague owns 30 synagogues and 175 Jewish cemeteries. Others are owned by some of the 10 Jews communities or the Federation of Jewish Communities,. Others still are in the possession of towns, churches and private owners.
Since the fall of communism, around 70 synagogues have been restored, most of them for cultural use — so the Day of Jewish Monuments actually only takes in a fraction of restored Jewish heritage sites in the country.