Old Jewish Cemetery (Prague)

Gili Orr

Haarlem, Netherlands

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“Old Jewish Cemetery (Prague)” was featured in the groups
Historic Landmarks of Europe and
Bagels and Lox – Jewish Photographers Unite!

3510 views (11 August 2011)

Photo taken with a Canon PowerShot S70 camera.
Must admit: I got quite emotional while taking photos in that unique cemetery, which brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings concerning my people, the Jews. I got emotional again while going through my file, looking for the photo I would post here.

Following is info from two Internet sources:

One of the most impressive sights in Prague [Czech Republic] is the Old Jewish cemetery in Josefov, the former Jewish ghetto. This cemetery was used from 1439 to 1787 and it is the oldest existing Jewish cemetery in Europe. The Nazis made it a policy to destroy Jewish cemeteries, sometimes using the tombstones for target practice, but Hitler ordered that this cemetery be left intact, since he was planning to build a Jewish museum in Prague after all the Jews in Europe had been exterminated according to his diabolical plan.

There are more than 100,000 Jews buried in this small plot, the graves being layered 12 deep in some places. This is not unusual for European cemeteries where space is at a premium. In Germany where the graves are also 12 layers deep, the tombstones mark only the top layer of the buried coffins. In the Old Jewish Cemetery in Josefov, there are around 12,000 tombstones, crowded closely together with almost no grass between them.
Source: Josefov

The Old Jewish Cemetery lies in the Josefov (the Jewish Quarter of Prague). It was in use from the early 15th century (the oldest preserved tombstone, the one of Avigdor Kara, dates back to 1439) until 1787. Its ancestor was a cemetery called “The Jewish Garden”, which was found in archaeological excavations under the Vladislavova street, New Town.

The numbers of grave stones and numbers of people buried there are uncertain, because there are layers of tombs. However, it has been estimated that there are approximately 12,000 graves. The most important personalities buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery are Yehuda ben Bezalel known as the Maharal Rabbi Löw (d. 1609), Mordechai Maisel (d. 1601), David Gans (d. 1613) a David Oppenheim (d. 1736).

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