The Czech 10 Stars project — my article and links

Interior of restored synagogue in Brandys nad Labem, CZ.

I have an article in The Forward on the  Czech 10 Stars project of revitalizing Jewish heritage in the Czech Republic, an ambitious project that I have been following for the past few years. I’ve posted a lot about this project on the Jewish Heritage Europe web site, including Photo Galleries of seven of the 10 Stars sites.

Uniting Jewish Heritage Sites Across Czech Republic

Ten Points of the Jewish Star

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

NOVA CEREKEV, CZECH REPUBLIC — No Jews have lived in this nondescript little town 80 miles southeast of Prague since the Holocaust, but driving in, you can’t miss the synagogue.

Rose-pink and ochre, with fanciful arched windows and a central peaked roof flanked by two squat towers, it rises dramatically over the rooftops, dominating the otherwise drab surroundings.

Inside, chandeliers glow above cream-colored walls and graceful arched galleries.

Though built in the 1850s, the synagogue looks brand-new — and in some ways it is. Derelict for decades, it has been painstakingly restored, inside and out, over the past few years.

This summer it was opened to the public as part of one of the most ambitious Jewish heritage revitalization projects in Europe — the Czech 10 Stars.

Carried out by the Federation of Czech Jewish Communities and financed by an approximately $14 million grant from the European Union, with further funding from the Czech Culture Ministry, the 10 Stars project links newly restored historic synagogues and other Jewish buildings in 10 towns, cities and villages widely scattered over all parts of the country.

Each site hosts a permanent exhibit focusing on one specific aspect of Jewish history, culture, religious life or traditions. There is space for concerts and other cultural events, and in several places Jewish cemeteries dating back centuries (and even a couple of mikvehs) lie within an easy walk.

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En Route to Oxford


I’m in London, well, in Richmond, just off Richmond Park… en route to Oxford tomorrow, where I’ll be taking part in a conference at the Yarnton Manor Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies on The Place of European Jewry in the Global Jewish Community.

It is often felt that contemporary Jewish life in North America and Israel eclipses that of European Jewry, which seems mostly concerned with the security agenda and the perception that Europe is becoming more hostile to Jews. Equally, though, European Jewish society is experiencing a renaissance through immigration, new identity patterns and innovation.

The conference will investigate the political, economic and social contexts of European Jewry, the demographic and sociological data, and the extent to which Jewish life in Europe is indeed threatened and/or experiencing a renaissance. The data will focus on the four communities in Europe that comprise 80% of European Jews – the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Hungary.

I haven’t been in the UK for about 7 years, so it’s been fun walking around this beautiful part of town…. tomorrow, before heading to Oxford, plans are to take a walk in Richmond Park, where (as a longtime fan of W.H. Hudson) I’m hoping perhaps to see a Hind…. Hudson’s book (A Hind in Richmond Park) is available for download on — I recommend it!