Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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6 Kislev 5762 - November 21, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Memorial Held For Jewish Remains
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

A tombstone and memorial for Jewish remains removed from a construction site in Prague were dedicated at Prague's New Jewish Cemetery. Last year the remains were returned to the Jewish community, and were reburied at the New Cemetery in a ceremony conducted by the country's chief rabbi, Karol Sidon.

The insurance company that owns the construction site gained permission three years ago to build a high-rise apartment block and underground garage at the site on Vladislavova Street. When workers encountered a 13th-century burial site, the construction plans drew the attention of Orthodox groups dedicated to preserving Jewish cemeteries throughout Europe.

The medieval cemetery that was unearthed had been voluntarily relinquished by Prague's Jewish community in the 15th century.

The memorial ceremony, which was organized by the Prague Jewish Community, paid tribute not only to the 160 remains at the New Cemetery but also to the hundreds of graves currently being encased in concrete at Vladislavova Street. That arrangement was part of a compromise with the Czech state that enabled construction to proceed with minimal harm to the medieval burial site.

Attended by the Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic, the ceremony also marked a warming of relations between Prague's Jewish community and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe

A London-based Orthodox group, the Committee had organized a series of protests at the Vladislavova Street construction site, as well as at Czech embassies in London and Brussels. Prague's Jewish Community, on the other hand, preferred a negotiated settlement with Czech officials that allowed work to continue.

The memorial thanks the Czech state, Prague's Jewish community and "foreign Jewish institutions" for preserving the remains.

It reads, in Czech: "Let them be in everlasting memory, as well as those holy remains that still rest in their place of original burial at the cemetery in Vladislavova Street.

"If only G-d grant compassion over those whose graves are in a concrete sarcophagus built into the new building" in Vladislavova Street.

Plans are well advanced for a memorial at the original burial site, which is part of a much wider cemetery thought to stretch for hundreds of yards under the center of Prague.


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