Applications are open for volunteers to attend the annual 11-day “work camp” to clean-up and restore the Jewish cemetery and historic Schach synagogue in Holešov, Czech Republic, as well as to learn about Jewish heritage and help with the organization of the town’s annual Jewish Culture Festival.
The action takes place July 20-31 and is organized by the NGO INEX Association for Voluntary Activities. Organizers are seeking five volunteers, who will pay €10 participation fee.
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We list the work camp each year as part of the round-ups we post of the many Jewish cemetery clean-up initiatives, but this year we’re in time to post the call for volunteers.
Volunteers will mainly “help with maintenance of outdoor areas (cleaning pavements, weeding, cutting and raking grass, maintaining graveyard, etc.),” the call for volunteers says.
You will also help with preparation of the Jewish Culture Festival which takes place in Holesov during the workcamp. Please, bring suitable shoes and working clothes. You will also work on the weekend (because of the festival) but you will get enough time off.
The workcamp also supports the work of the Cultural Center of Holešov which maintains the local cemetery and other Jewish monuments and organizes the annual Jewish Culture Festival.
The Shach synagogue, on Příční Street, was originally built in 1560. It was later named for Rabbi Shabtai ben Meir Kohen, known as Shach, a noted scholar who served as rabbi here from 1648 to 1663.
Opened to the public in the mid-1960s, it was one of the few synagogues fully restored in the communist period and is now a regional Jewish museum.
It conserves the interior fittings, furnishings (including a central bimah with elaborate iron grille) and wall paintings dating from the 1730s.
Each February, hundreds of pilgrims visit Holesov to pay homage at Shach’s tomb in the nearby Jewish cemetery, which was established as early as the 15th century (the oldest legible gravestone is from the early 17th century).
Before WW2, another, modern, synagogue stood in the town, built in Moorish style in the early 1890s and designed by the noted architect Jakob Gartner (who designed several other synagogues, including the Status Quo synagogue in Trnava, Slovakia.)
This New Synagogue was torched and destroyed by the Nazi occupiers in 1941-42.