Prague. History of Golem

There are many wonders of the world that are worth seeing and capturing for memories and reasons to look back on an amazing trip and smile. Traveling provides you with the opportunity to experience different cultures, histories, landmarks, foods and overall life experiences. As visitors or even locals looking to explore, those memories live with us as we return back to narrate our experiences, but those gaps that even our minds can’t hold on to can be filled in by the photos and videos we capture on the journey. While on memorable trips, the fun of photography is intensified when there is a picturesque scenery, statues, historical landmarks, phobic tales landmarks or just something worth remembering, but discovering those locations doesn’t always come easy. Many times, the most picturesque captures are those not mentioned on the travel blogs, nor outlined in big city reviews, but in the smallest villages and towns with a small population that you discover and dig out yourself or through word of mouth. For example, a city like Prague offers countless attractions with phobic tales that tell a story and a history that would make for an “ooh-ahh” photo trip, such as The Legend of Golem.

Golem of Prague

A Golem by the name of Joseph was a popular, long standing tale in Prague, while its existence is debatable and doubted, there is no question that the Golem does indeed belong to Prague.

The most popular story line of the Legend of Golem is one that dates very far back, the Jews sought after protection from Anti-Semitic attacks, which led to the breeding of the Golem named Joseph. Joseph, the Golem, was created using the five elements, earth (mud), fire and water (process of sculpting), and air (breath), all combined together by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, as he possessed the powers that were necessary to complete such a task. With his special protection necklace, made of deerskin and mystic signs, Joseph was able to successfully protect the Jewish Prague community and overtime was not distinguishable from everyday human beings, except for his inability to speak. Rabbi Loew has total control over Joseph, but with time he became stronger and his heroic acts transitioned to uncontrollable destruction. During a spree of destruction, the Golem was destroying Rabbi Loew’s synagogue while he was reciting Psalm ninety-two, but the Rabbi stopped mid recital to put an end to Joseph’s existence, place him in the synagogue’s attic and returned to continue the recital. Because of this, Rabbi Loew’s synagogue is the only synagogue where Psalm ninety-two is sung twice. Although the Rabbi destroyed the stairs to the attic to prevent from reviving the Golem, a while later, the synagogue’s attic was explored, but no Golem was found and the mystery has continued ever since.

Jewish Quarters

The initiation of the Golem was for protection as the Jewish people in Prague suffered a historical time of violent Anti-Semitic attacks. Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic or also known as the Prague Ghetto began when Jewish tradesmen decided to permanently settle and establish Josefov or better known as the Jewish Quarters in the 16th century. Although the community was meant to stay behind closed walls, it quickly spread far beyond those walls and the Jews were left to protect their city from takeover, while still facing execution. After years of fighting, the ghetto was terminated, the Jewish Quarters were finally emancipated in the 19th century and temporary civil equality was granted to the small group. With this emancipation emerged popular finding of the Czech-Jewish culture, but those not in support of this continued to follow the German culture that had significantly influenced the Jewish community and a different group continued following the ideas of Zionism. This arose a long-standing battle between the Czech-Jewish and Zionist while German was still being spoken, taught and used to produce literature within the Jewish community.

In 1938, Czechoslovakia became, Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler’s next target and the Jews of this community and the country’s cooperation with Nazi Germany made them a direct target. During World War II and after the resignation of the president, Czechoslovakia found itself separated and divided into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia of the Third Reich and the Slovak Republic and the rest were split up to Poland and Hungary. Over the next few years, a number of regulations such as banking limits, living quarters, personal belongings were placed on day to day lives of Jews in Prague as they were continuously executed. At the beginning of the invasion in 1939, there were over 56,000 Jews in Prague, but after, in 1942, the amount of Jews were reduced to just about 1,000. Although the fighting completely ceased in 1945, the takeover put a stop to the continuation of Jewish lifestyles and cultures as a large portion of the population had been killed, relocated to Israel or migrated to other countries. Majority of the Jews were branded as “class enemies of the working people” and faced imprisonment, exile, forced labor, continuous execution, Jewish emigration out of the country was banned, along with most Jewish practices. With the “Velvet Resolution” in 1989, Judaism was slowly rediscovered, the synagogues were reinstated, their beauty was brought back to life, kosher restaurants were opened in the Jewish Quarter and made the city a significant attraction to tourists from all over the world.

Tourism in Prague

Tourism has become a significantly popular aspect of life in Prague because travelers and those with great appreciation of the history pour in from all around the world to witness the historical city and its surviving of the trying World War II. From the tales and past of the Golem, the overall Prague Ghetto to the emancipation of the Jewish community and takeover of Nazi Germany, the city doesn’t disappoint sightseers who come for travel photography and knowledge on the past of the city. Because of the overwhelming information and attractions, there are many offers to take a photo tour to help make sure you have access to the best the city has to offer for pictures and memories to revert back to while learning about the ins-and-outs of all the city has celebrated and endured over the past few years. These tours allow visitors and appreciators of art and photograph to give their best shot by capturing the beauty of the city through their own eyes and different angles of their lenses. There is so much history the city offers to sightseers, which includes the Josefov (Jewish Quarters), the Jewish museum, the old Jewish cemetery, the Old-New Synagogue and much more.

Jewish cemetery

The Old Jewish cemetery is at the top of the list of important historical sites in Prague. The cemetery dates all the way back to the 15th century and is listed as one of the top 10 cemeteries to visit around the world by in the National Geographic magazine. While the first burial in a tombstone dates as far back as the 1400s, the last one was conducted almost 350 years ago. With scarcity of space, upon its establishment, the cemetery underwent expansions over the centuries, but it never seemed to be big enough to house the needs of the town, even with bodies layered on top of one another and digging as deep as 10 feet. Some significant figures in history buried at the Old Jewish Cemetery include Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, scholar and poet, Avigdor Kara, Pinkas Synagogue founder, Aaron Meshulam Horowitz, mayor of the Prague Jewish town, Mordecai Maisel, Renaissance scholar, David Gans, and collector of Hebrew manuscripts and books, Rabbi David Oppenheim. Tours of this site are very descriptive, knowledgeable and allow you to take pictures to go along with the history lessons you have receive.

Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum is also another landmark that is significant to Jewish Prague history and is fulfilling to those with high interest in learning, art and photography. The museum consists of expositions that have been placed in the most historical synagogues in Jewish Prague history, the Maisel Synagogue, Klausen Synagogue with the ceremonial hall, Pinkas Synagogue and the Spanish Synagogue. The Jewish Museum includes permanent information and artifacts of Jews in the Bohemian land, history of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia, Synagogue Silver from Bohemia and Moravia, 2 installations of Jewish traditions and customs, monument of Bohemian and Moravian victims of the Shoah and children’s drawings from the Terezin ghetto. The museum also includes temporary exhibitions, which are time sensitive so it is best to determine the temporary exhibition you want to witness and make sure to document your experience because the opportunity might not present itself again. Traveling exhibitions are also offered and include exhibitions that feature Baroque Synagogues in the Czech lands, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from the perspective of 6 children, experience of senior citizens at a social care facility in Silver Tide, the Torah Scrolls and the roles they play in the synagogue.

Old-New Synagogue

One of the most popular landmarks for visitors is the Old-New Synagogue and it has been appreciated by many around the world for years. This synagogue is popular and known to be the oldest standing synagogue in the Prague Jewish Ghetto and the oldest preserved synagogue in the entire history of Europe. Being one of the most highly praised and cherished landmarks, it is also among some of the best protected old gothic buildings in Prague. It was initially known as the New or Great Synagogue, but that name later changed to the Old-New Synagogue as more synagogues were added, but with its firm foundation, it has out survived others through fire, floods, pogroms, and the initial clearing of the Jewish Quarters and consistently served as the main place of worship for the Prague Jewish community. Within the walls of the synagogue lie tales of legends of angels and the Golem, along with Rabbi Loew’s chair, which still has not been sat on, even after so many years.

Photo tour in Prague

Video and photography is a sure way to grasp and hold on to a memory or snapshot in time. Many who travel will agree that there are many experiences and lessons learned on a trip that our memories can’t always seem to hold on to it all, so photography is the best alternative to be able to have and display when your memory fails you or falls short of remembering all the amazing experiences you have had. From picturesque scenery to historical landmarks and site, those who appreciate art and photography understand the feeling of seeing a really awesome statue, memorial, painting, drawing or even just a sunset or sunrise above the ocean and quickly shuffling to grab your camera to capture such a perfect sight. A highly rated and popular city for travelers who appreciate rich history, art and the combination of the two in historical sites is Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. Prague is a city with plenty of history from the Jewish tradesmen that decided to permanently settled there, commencing the beginning of the Prague Jewish community or the Prague Ghetto to the genocide by Nazi Germans during the World War II. The Prague Jewish community have endured plenty of violent Anti-Semitic experiences, which is rooted deep down in their history and is the cause of much heartache. In dealing with Anti-Semitic violence and actions, a rabbi, Rabbi Loew created a Golem that would only obey his commands and protect the Prague Jewish community. After successfully protecting the community, the Rabbi was forced to dismantle the Golem because of its significant growth of power and sudden tendency of destruction instead heroism. This Golem was forever locked in, what is known today as the Old-New synagogue. The Old-New Synagogue is one of many famous attractions that the rest of the world pours into Prague to witness. Some of these popular historical sites and landmarks include the old Jewish Cemetery, the Jewish museum, the Old-New Synagogue and all of these offer visitors a long list of history that dates far back and conveys the city to be the beautiful photography worthy city that it is today. During the most beautiful parts of the year, the busy city is bustling with people taking photography tours and looking to capture the most unforgettable pictures that will last forever as memorabilia to reveal to their friends, family and loved ones as a representation of the beautiful experience they encountered in the historical and monumental Prague Jewish community.

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