The History of the Jews of Pacov During the Holocaust by Rabbi Roth

There is exciting news about the progress of a new book that Rabbi Emeritus Ronald Roth of the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel, Fair Lawn, New Jersey is working on. The New Jersey congregation has Pacov Torah Scroll #74. 

Rabbi Emeritus Ronald Roth of the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel, Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Over the past ten years, Rabbi Roth has continued his extensive research on Pacov and its Jewish community. His first book, The Jews of Pacov Remembered in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, was printed in 2014. It includes an English translation of an article written by Jan Zoubek, about the Pacov Jewish community, taken from a chapter of the book by the scholar Hugo Gold written in 1934 on the Jews and Jewish community of Bohemia. Jan Zoubek was an archivist and the manager of the Municipal Museum in Pacov. 

We are working on having internet access to the 2014 publication so that you will be able to click on a link and access a full pdf version of the book. 

The working title for the second book is The History of the Jews of Pacov During the Holocaust. Included in this book will be an explanation of how he was able to create a list of the Pacov Jews in 1939, a short history of the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia, and an explanation of the “Family Camp at Auschwitz” that many of the Jews of Pacov were sent to. 

Also included will be information about Pacov individuals whose stories illustrate how the Holocaust affected the Jews of Pacov. Rabbi Roth is dedicated to sharing how so many of the Jews of Pacov were parts of large extended families, born in Pacov, who moved there after birth, and those who left before the second world war.

The book will be illustrated with many photographs of Pacov, the Jewish families and individuals that once called this city home. There will also be articles by descendants of those that perished and survived.

In gathering his information, Roth has consulted with two Holocaust scholars in the US, researched archives about the Holocaust in the Czech Republic and read from several internet genealogy sites. 

Last November, 2022, the congregants of the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel read the names of the Jews of Pacov who were murdered during the Holocaust. So impressive was this recital of the names, that in the future it will be arranged to have all of those martyrs recalled at the synagogue by the day of their deaths, their yahrzteits. Their names will be announced at the synagogue on the Shabbat of the week before the day of their death, and their names will be added to the congregation’s yahrtziet board memorial, lest the lives of the Pacov Jews that perished in the Holocaust will be forgotten.

Tikkun Pacov looks forward to the publication and will share how interested readers can purchase this publication.

Below is a short passage from the upcoming book:

“Similar to other Jewish communities in Bohemia during in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Jews of Pacov were among the most assimilated and integrated Jewish communities in Europe. We sometimes mistakenly think that all the Jews of rural Europe lived in places just like the fictional shtetl, Anatevka, in eastern Europe from Fiddler on The Roof. That depiction of Jewish life in the Ukraine under the rule of the Russian Czars, in the writings of Sholom Aleichem, was very different from Pacov in 1939. There was less antisemitism in Czechoslovakia than in some other countries in Europe. When we read in the words of the survivors of the Holocaust, we see that they felt at home in Pacov. Nelly Guttmannová Prezmah speaks of this ease and integration with her non-Jewish neighbors. She had non-Jewish friends and attended the Czech school. She tells us that Jews got along well with their non-Jewish neighbors. Her father, Nathan Guttmann, the town’s Rabbi was Reform, not Orthodox. He often helped non-Jews who needed assistance in understanding bureaucratic procedures. One of his best friends was a Roman Catholic dean. Nelly says that she went to school on Jewish holidays and on Shabbat and only stayed home on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover. Vera Lederová, whose father Emil Lederer was one of the most respected Jews in Pacov, and a community and business leader, turned 19 in 1939. She said that her family was completely assimilated and led a Czech life “the way life was lived anywhere in Bohemia where there was no German minority. And so did all our friends at that time.” She adds that “all of her friends were of course, non-Jewish.”  Professor Miloslav Hladilek, a non-Jew, was a young boy in Pacov during the 1930s. He recalls going to school with members of the Lederer family and that, “our family did not distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish persons.”

Prayer shawl from Pacov at Brussels House of European History

A prayer shawl (tallit), which was found in Pacov synagogue during its archaeological assessment, has now been renovated and placed in a prestigious spot at the very beginning of the temporary exhibition “Throwaway – the History of a Modern Crisis” at the House of European History in Brussels. The exhibition continues until January 2024.

Further information on the exhibition is available here:

The prayer shawl from Pacov synagogue. Photo by Pavel Tychtl

2022 Jewish Heritage Day

Photos from the Pacov and Černovice Jewish Cemeteries Tours, Pacov Synagogue and Rabbi’s House Tour, Michal Foršt’s concert and a live show of the Schimmerle Klezmer Kabaret, all taking place during the Jewish Heritage Day and the previous Saturday on 13th and 14th August 2022. All photos by Karen Koblitz.

The Tikkun Pacov Synagogue Association wholly supports Ukraine as an independent and sovereign democratic nation. Our objective is to revive the memory of the lost Jewish community and renewal of their place in history, lest they be forgotten. The atrocities happening in the Ukraine and the mass exodus of refugees bring to mind the targeting of Jews and others in the Holocaust.

Tikkun Pacov warmly welcomes the Ukrainian refugees to the Czech Republic and to the Pacov community.

Czech Jewish Heritage Day 2021 in Pacov, Černovice, and Radenín

Dear Friends of Tikkun,

It‘s with great pleasure that I’d like to draw your attention to the rich programme of events we’ve put together to celebrate Jewish Heritage Day in Pacov and environs on 7-8 August, in cooperation with the nearby Cernovice Jewish Memorial. 

For a full overview, please refer to the programme published on our website.

We hope that many of you will join us this coming weekend, and take advantage of this opportunity to meet, to learn and to remember Jewish culture, which for hundreds of years was an integral part of the region‘s history. 

Pavel Tychtl

President of Tikkun

Sunday 8 August 

10:00 – 12:00 Guided tour of Radenín Jewish cemetery  

13:00 – 14:45 Guided tour of Pacov synagogue and Jewish school/former rabbi’s house and plans for the renovation of both buildings. Jan Autengruber ulice 318, Pacov 

14:45 – 16:00 Interpretation into English/French on request

15:15 – 17:00 Guided tour of Jewish Memorial to the Victims of the Holocaust and Černovice Jewish Cemetery by Michael Deiml, sculptor of the monument, and Tobiáš Smolík, Hebrew scholar and ethnologist. Access from Vodní ulice, Černovice u Tábora 

16:45 – 18:00 Interpretation into German/English on request 

19:00 – 20:30 Schimmerle Klezmer Cabaret – outdoor Klezmer Concert 

Pacov Community Centre, Španovského ulice 319, Pacov 

(Free entrance – contributions welcome) 

Saturday 7 August – Evening programme, Náměstí Svobody, Pacov 

19:00 – 20:00 Official inauguration of Restlicht (Remains of the Light) temporary memorial exhibit, presented by Werner Mally, German sculptor of Czech origin

Visitors are advised that the best time to visit Restlicht memorial exhibit for maximum effect is at noon on a sunny day 

Organisers: Tikkun Pacov and Černovice Jewish Memorial

All events are free of charge – everyone’s welcome!

Donations: (overview)

It’s started!

If you’ve been in the vicinity of Pacov synagogue recently, you will have noticed the busy renovation works that are happening right now! As reported earlier this year, we foresaw the complete reconstruction of the roof, in case it proved necessary. And indeed, according to a recent structural survey, the rafters were infested with woodworm, the roof was leaking and collapse was imminent. While reconstructing the roof, we will also remove a non-original extension to the southern wall, where an industrial lift was annexed to the synagogue in its warehouse days. 

Synagogue roof seen from the west (Photo by Marie Orlando)
Synagogue roof seen from the west (Photo by Marie Orlando)

The reconstruction works are made possible thanks to the financial support of the Czech-German Future Fund, the Vysočina (Bohemian-Moravian Highlands) Fund, the City of Pacov, the British Friends of Czech Heritage foundation, and donations by private individuals, including a generous contribution by Julian J. Hradecky, a Canadian of Pacov ancestry.

The reconstruction works are in the hands of Mr Jaroslav Nekovář of the Stavneko company, who has experience of similar renovations. If everything goes according to plan with no complications, this part of the renovation should be completed by the end of the summer. If you visit us in August, you can witness the reconstruction first hand. 

The synagogue and also the nearby house of the former rabbi will be open to the public on Czech Jewish Heritage Day, Sunday 8 August, 1pm – 4pm.

Synagogue ceiling vault seen from above (Photo by Marie Orlando)
Synagogue ceiling vault seen from above (Photo by Marie Orlando)

In case you are interested in the next steps, an architectural study has been drawn up, and we have a building permit for the entire renovation of the exterior and part of the interior. How quickly this proceeds depends entirely on securing additional funding. Hopefully it will not take too long for this important Pacov monument to regain its original appearance and open to Pacov residents and all those interested in the culture and history of the Czech Jews. 

Finally, I would like to mention two important anniversaries: 

November 2022 marks 80 years since the tragic event of the transport of the Pacov Jews to the Terezin ghetto, and from there to the Nazi extermination camps. Together with our colleagues and friends from the Jewish Memorial in Cernovice, we are preparing a programme of events to mark this anniversary, which we will share with you nearer the time. 

The second date is more joyful: the year 2023 marks the 200th anniversary of the completion of the (modern reconstruction of the) synagogue in 1823. We very much hope the synagogue will be in decent shape by this anniversary, so that we can take pride in our collective efforts.

Pavel Tychtl

President of Tikkun Pacov 

Synagogue roof seen from the east (Photo by Marie Orlando)
Synagogue roof seen from the east (Photo by Marie Orlando)