Reconstruction of Gravestones in MIKULOV, CZECH REPUBLIC
These fallen gravestones are typical of the hundreds of gravestones that have toppled or are in disrepair. JPI has provided funds for 70 tombstones to be repaired. Restoration involved straightening the tombstones and setting them upright. Stone surfaces were cleaned and rinsed. Moss, algae and lichens were removed using brushes and scalpels. Cracks were filled in with mineral filler matching the color and structure of the stone.
→ Click through the slideshow below to view before and after images from the Mikulov cemetery reconstruction.
Jewish Cemetery in Holešov
Our second grant was to the Jewish cemetery in Holešov, a town located in the southern portion of the Czech Republic, to restore 136 gravestones. The Jewish cemetery was founded in the 15th century and has more than 1,500 gravestones. The oldest one is from 1647. Many tombstones had disintegrated and others had deteriorated. Engravings were rapidly disappearing. With special restoration techniques, we successfully restored the crumbling and dilapidated tombstones.
→ Click through the slideshow below to view before and after images from the Holešov cemetery reconstruction.
Educational Walking Trail
We have just recently made our third grant to fund a self-guided walking tour in Mikulov. We are paying for the production of printed maps, as well as to develop a smartphone app that allows tourists to self-guide through the Jewish Quarter and Jewish Cemetery.
→ Walking trail map:
We are reviewing a request to restore tombstones in Ivančice, a small southern Czech town. The Jewish settlement began in 1490, when the town mayor promised the Jews that he would protect them, for a fee. In the second half of the 15th century, when the Jewish community was established in Ivančice, they built a cemetery. There are now 1,800 tombstones, with the oldest dating back to 1580. The tombstones reflect Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist styles. Remarkable features include reliefs depicting Jewish symbolism: a hand with a cash box, a flower pot, ouroboros, a well, lions, deer, crowns. There is a memorial that honors |Jewish soldiers killed in World War I. Located in the cemetery are 40 tombstones erected in memory of the Jews who died in the local detention camp during 1938-1942.
Every year a multi-day event celebrating Jewish culture occurs in Mikulov. Events include Jewish music, lectures, theatre, art and food. There are tours of local landmarks. Kosher wine is served. Tens of thousands of local Czechs attend. JPI is considering a project that will research the lives of Jewish soldiers killed in World War I. For more about the Jewish Festival, visit http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ivysilani/11690334848-sousede/417236100111010/obsah/574800-dny-zidovske-kultury-v-mikulove
Translation of TV Interview About Jewish festival in Mikulov
The Jewish Festival in Mikulov began nine years ago and occurs annually. The theme of the 2017 Festival was Jewish cuisine.
The interview begins with a concert in Efram Gallery in Mikulov.
The cook speaks: I am interested in ethnic cuisines because it is not only about the food but also about history. There are similarities between Czech and Jewish cuisine. Jews ate carp with potato salad, as do Czechs at Christmas. The cook speaks about the religious rules which affect cooking. For example, he can not cut the onion the day before; and, when he cooks vegetables, to ensure there are no no insects he is required to soak them first in salted water. This process adversely affects the taste. The cook thinks that it was men who made rules such as these, even though it was was women who cooked.
Leskovjanová prepares Chala and repeats a well known saying: “The nation who does not remember its history has to live it again“. That is what we do not want to happen.. It is why we remind outselves again and again about the culture and history of people who lived here for centuries and disappeared.
The events at the Festival will take place in front of the synagogue. People can taste Jewish desserts and wine. Different music groups will be playing and in the end, there will be a guided tour of the synagogue, Jewish quarter and cemetery. The synnagoes is the only one remaiing out of twelve that once existed in Mikulov.
Although they are no Jews living in Mikulov today, many Jews from Israel, New York and other parts of the world visit Mikulov. From time to time services are held in the synagagoue.
At the cemetery, Maria speaks about the cemetery and its history. She likes to read from the gravestones because of the information they provide.
Maria says, today we speak about refugees. Jews were refugees, She wishes that all refugees behaved like the Jews – even though they had their own culture, they did not force it upon others. They were a part of the local community while at the same time retaining their own customs and rules.
The cook says that he does not feel like a Czech. And that is strange – when you live in the Czech Republic and you are not Czech, then who you are? But that is what is great about the Czech Republic, that they are a mixture of people from all over Europe. One does not have to be proud of being Czech; one can be proud of being a good person.