Called “Secrets of the Attic” it runs from April 7 to June 30 at the Regional Museum in Chrudim, a small town in central Czech Republic between Prague and Brno.
Genizas are depositories of worn out or disused ritual and other objects. Sometimes they are buried in Jewish cemeteries; often they are hidden away in the attics or walls of synagogues.
On display are prayer books and texts, as well as synagogue textiles, Torah scrolls, tallit, tefillen straps, amulets, remnants of candlesticks, and also unexpected items such as dishes and utensils, and even shoes.
“Eastern Bohemia is a very rich area for genizas – the geniza in the synagogue in Luže especially has provided a unique testimony of the life of the local Jewish population, ” the exhibit web site says. The Luže synagogue was built or rebuilt from an earlier synagogue around 1780. Its geniza was discovered in 1996.
The exhibit is the first of two planned exhibitions based on the findings of research conducted by the Prague Jewish Museum (JMP) starting in the 1990s, in a project called Secrets of the Attic: Findings from the Genizas of Czech and Moravian Synagogues. (The project has an active Facebook page, with photos and other details.)
The JMP museum staff “surveyed 13 sites and obtained over 3,000 finds, the oldest from the 16th century and the most recent from the 19th century. Some of these findings have already been made available to the public, but most are still awaiting processing,” the JMP web site said.
From the material, researchers prepared a restored collection of 1,650 items to be displayed, it says.
The project envisages thematic exhibitions that will be mounted “directly in the regions where the findings come from, as well as through the online collection catalog, upcoming websites and social networks,” it said.
In addition to the JMP and the Regional Museum in Chrudim, the West Bohemian Museum in Plzen and the Norwegian Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Minorities in Oslo are cooperating in the project.
Following the exhibit in Chrudim, focusing on eastern Bohemia, there will be an exhibition in Plzen, focusing on western Bohemia, in the second quarter of 2023.
“An extensive bilingual catalogue will be published for exhibitions,” the JMP said.
The project, it said, is supported by the EEA and Norway Funds, which provided 90 percent of the “total eligible project expenses of CZK 18,774,834.00 (€768,000).