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.”