The Jewish Museum in Prague has launched an informative web site with online exhibits about the eclectic material discovered in genizas in a dozen synagogue buildings that have been researched in the country since the 1990s.
The web site, in Czech and English, grows out of its “Secrets in the Attic” project, which — as we posted last year — has displayed geniza material in two thematic exhibitions mounted in regions where the findings come from.
The current exhibition, at the West Bohemian Museum in Plzen, is up until June 25.
Genizas are depositories of worn out or disused ritual and other objects which for religious reasons cannot simply be thrown away. Sometimes they are buried in Jewish cemeteries; often they are hidden away in the attics or walls of synagogues.
Since the 1990s, researchers from the JMP surveyed 13 sites in Bohemia and Moravia and obtained more than 3,000 finds, the oldest from the 16th century and the most recent from the 19th century.
The new web site displays and links to some of the 1,650 newly conserved objects found in the attics of 12 synagogues — in Dambořice, Bezdružice, Březnice, Holešov, Jičín, Kasejovice, Luže, Neveklov, Rychnov nad Knĕžnou, Úsov, Zalužany, and Spálené Poříčí.
Most of these are in villages or small towns; some of the genizas were discovered during renovation of the synagogue.
The web site organizes the selected pieces into categories:
A map of the country showing where the genizas were located can be found by clicking on the geniza object and scrolling down. What’s lacking is a full list of the synagogues, with information about them, as well as photographs of the buildings and the genizas in situ (though some of these pictures can be found in a downloadable bilingual brochure.)
The Secrets in the Attic project was supported by a €700,000 grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants 2014–2021.