One of the Jewish cemeteries in Prague is in danger after the
Czech Insurance co. has started building in a former Jewish
cemetery. During the construction of an underground parking lot,
graves with bones were found.
The news were spread on the web and inter net users were
considered about the danger to the graves ,especially former
Prague Jewish citizens who started organizing a petition against
the building actions. The message on the web was that the
Rabbinate in Prague is asking Jews all over the world to do their
best to stop the building actions.
The web site TIP has asked the Chief Rabbi Efraim Sidon a
comment about the subject.The Rabbi denied the fact that he has
asked such help .According to the Rabbi,the constructions in
question are not related to the worldwide famous old Jewish
Cemetery near the Old Jewish Quarter,but are taking place in
another old Cemetery abolished 500 years ago.
The Jewish Cemetery in question was abolished in 1478.In the
course of following centuries buildings were erected on the territory
of this abolished cemetery and skeletal remains were found during
the construction works.those remains were exhumed & reburied at
the still existing Old Jewish Cemetery. According to Prague's Chief
Rabbi ,after such a prolonged period of construction activities in a
densely populated urban area,no one could foresee the existence of
any preserved parts of the former cemetery.
The Rabbi Efraim Sidon warns against actions to halt the
construction:"The construction work has been executed on the basis
of a valid construction permit. Interruption the construction work
would entail a loss amounting 10 millon US dollars.
The ministry of Culture is unable to pay such an indemnification"
Those are some of the Rabbi's comments on the proposals.
According to the Rabbi, to halt the construction work is not practical
at this stage.The solution could be to exhume the bones and rebury
them at a protected Jewish cemetery.This would create a dangerous
precedent leading in the future destruction of further Jewish
cemeteries. Under those circumstances,The Ministry of Culture, the
insurance co. and the Jewish Community in Prague concluded a
trilateral agreement involving the following components:
The locality will be declared as a cultural monument.The Czech
Insurance Co. will, under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate,
protect the graves against all damage, it will lower the entire part of
the burial ground and this space will be accessible to all visitors.
The Ministry of Culture will contribute part of the cost of the entire
operation,jointly with the Insurance Co.
Following the reactions to the subject all over the world and the
suitability of the above described decision,Prague's Chief
Rabbinate consulted members of the respective Rabbinical Court
in Israel whereupon the court approved of the position of Prague's
Rabbinate. In a situation where some influential Jewish institutions
have expressed their objections regarding the aforesaid approach,
the Chief Rabbi of Prague has asked the Chief Rabbi of Israel to
present his final opinion.
The worldwide famous old Jewish Cemetery,which survived the
Nazi destruction contains the grave of the Maharal from Prague,
among other Torah Greats.Those opposing the construction works ,
are organizing an international petition calling to stop all works
within the cemetery.
The web site TIP is not taking any side on this dispute but for the
sake of net users we bring here the petition as it was published
on the net: To the Minister of Culture,Mr. Pavel Dorstel
I'm writing to you to protest the pressure being applied on
Prague's Jewish Community by the Czech Government, to allow
construction of residential properties on the site of the Jewish
cemetery in the Jewish Quarter in Prague.This ancient cemetery,
which survived the Nazi destruction of Jewish religious sites in
Central and East Europe ,is the last of its kind and contains the
graves of many important Jewish Scholars.
I appeal to you,as the Czech Minister of Culture,to act immediately
to prevent the desecration of the cemetery.Building residential
properties on this site will hurt sentiments and international
tourism to your country who is in need of hard currency earnings.