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September 21, 1990 - Image 122

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


• i
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L'Shona Tova



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To All Our Customers and Friends ,
Wishing Everyone A Year Filled
With The Greatest Of Health,
Happiness and Prosperity,



4 %:---




1 11



Czech Cemeteries
Are Falling Apart


Special to The Jewish News



14 Plus

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Emily, Lisa, Dolores, Pat and Deborah

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To all of our friends and customers...
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from three generations of the Weintraub family

• Saul & Sarah Weintraub

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122 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 1990

Southfield, MI 48034



ouring his country
during the pre-
election campaign in
May, Czechoslovak Presi-
dent Vaclav Havel stopped
at the ancient Jewish
cemetery in Dobris and
walked through a graveyard
littered with the debris of
desecrations and neglect.
Angered by the sight of
broken and overturned
headstones, Mr. Havel
scolded the local authorities
in Dobris, about 25 miles
from Prague, for disregar-
ding the cultural heritage of
former fellow-citizens and
irreverence toward their
The state of the Dobris
cemetery would doubtlessly
surprise American visitors
taking a guided tour of a
different place, the
magnificently preserved old
Jewish cemetery in the
center of Prague, one of the
historic landmarks in the
Czechoslovakian capital.
Surrounded by busy
streets, the cemetery, in
what was for centuries the
Prague ghetto, contains 13
layers of graves pressed one
atop the other.
Many visitors gaze in si-
lence at the large stone-
covered tomb of the famous
Maharal of Prague — the
Rabbi Yehuda Low ben
Bezalel, who died in 1609
and who is said to have been
on friendly terms with
Emperor Rudolf II.
Legend has it that the
Maharal created an ar-
tificial man —the Golem.
At the newerJewish
cemetery in Prague's Oleany
District, tourists can see the
graves of writer Franz
Kafka and other famous
Prague Jews who died before
the Holocaust.
But the well-cared-for Jew-
ish cemeteries in the capital
are unfortunately an excep-
Except in the few towns
where small Jewish com-
munities still exist, the con-
dition of Jewish burial
grounds outside of Prague is
Without a Jewish con-
gregation or conscientious
town counselors to care for
them, hundreds of Jewish
graveyards have been
deserted and fallen into
ruin, prey to vandals and
thieves. Some were
destroyed by the Nazis dur-
ing the war, while others

gave way to housing projects
or were put to different uses=
by the post-war Communist
Valuable marble tomb-
stones stolen from abandon=
ed cemeteries have turned
up as stairs in newly-built
private houses. When a new
pavement was laid on
Wenceslas Square in Prague
a few years ago, some tiles
brought to the construction
site were marked with Heb-
rew letters.
That some deserted Jewish
graveyards still exist is due
only to their inaccessible
There still is a Jewish
cemetery in the small town
of Hroznetin near the
Karlevy Vary (Carlsbad)
spa, a region which was part
of Sudetenland before World
War II with a largely Ger-
man population.
The cemetery survived the
Nazi era because it is hidden -

Some of the oldest
memorials and the
more modest ones
remain intact.

deep in a forest where no
cranes or trucks could reach
it to uproot and cart away
200-year-old gravestones.
Because there are no Jew-
ish survivors in the area, a ,
visitor must ask the local
Catholic priest to show the
way to this forgotten burial
In contrast, Jewish burial
grounds are easily accessible,
in Divisov in Central
Bohemia and in Sabinov in
Slovakia. But their walls
have crumbled. Many
gravestones are missing.
Others are overturned and
broken. But some of the
oldest memorials and the
more modest ones remain in-
tact, though the inscriptions
are hardly legible anymore.
Occasional visitors to some
abandoned cemeteries have
a hard time getting inside.
President Havel's angry
reaction to the condition of
the Jewish cemetery in
Dobris may help save some
of the deserted Jewish
graveyards in
But without assistance
from abroad, the surviving
Jewish cemeteries of
Czechoslovakia are doomed
to disappear.

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