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: www.tikkun.cz (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)

New book on Czech Torah scrolls featuring Pacov

“Light Beyond the Shadows: The Legacy of the Czech Torah Scrolls and the Renewal of Jewish Life in Czechia,” by Sheila Pallay and Julius Müller

The book weaves a beautiful pictorial history with stories of Jewish heritage in Bohemia and Moravia, connecting the reader with places that once had vibrant Jewish communities. It details a thirteen-week tour through the Czech Republic by Sheila Pallay, photographer, and Julius Müller, genealogist and guide, documenting current and mainly former synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and memorials commemorating their lost Jewish citizens.

In 1942, the Central Jewish Museum in Prague contacted every Jewish community in Bohemia and Moravia, asking that they send all of their remaining possessions to Prague. As a result, a treasure of 212,822 liturgical items survived the Holocaust, including 1,800 Torah scrolls. In 1964, the scrolls, many terribly damaged because of inadequate storage conditions, were offered for sale by the Czech communist government.  1,564 of them were delivered to the Westminster Synagogue in London, purchased by a philanthropic British lawyer. 

Shortly thereafter, Westminster Synagogue established the Memorial Scroll Trust, MST that has since cared for the scrolls. Over the following 30 years about 12 soferim, Torah scroll scribes, evaluated and repaired over 1,200 scrolls. These were then sent on permanent loan to caring congregations and communities in North and South America, Europe, Israel and South Africa.

There are 7 Torah scrolls, attributed to the Pacov synagogue on permanent loan to congregations in the US and the UK.

Jeffrey Ohrenstein, chairman of the MST wrote in the book’s Foreword that the MST is in communication with the congregations with scrolls, and “encourages their use in meaningful ways.” The hope is that the community will document the Jewish history of the place their scroll came from, along with the fate of their former Jewish residents, ensuring that their lives are never forgotten.

Rabbi Joseph Meszler, Spiritual Leader of Temple Sinai in Sharon, Massachusetts writes about Temple Sinai’s precious Torah scroll from Přeštice. The scroll is between 200 and 250 years old and he reflects on how the scroll was used throughout the years before the Shoah, and how it has continued to be in use 75 years afterwards. Another testimonial is from Rabbi Emeritus Norman Patz of Temple Sholom of West Essex Cedar Grove, New Jersey, writes a touching story about how the Dvůr Králové Torah came to their congregation.

Throughout the book we hear from others affilifated with the MST in the US, Lois Roman and Susan Boyer, as well as Rabbi Kevin Hale, torah scribe. and others with personal stories about their connection to former Bohemian and Moravian Jewish communities. 

Watch the panel discussion, LIGHT BEYOND THE SHADOWS with authors Sheila Pallay and Julius Müller and MST Trustee Lois Roman. Hosted by Rabbi Joseph Meszler, Temple Sinai, Sharon, Massachusetts.

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzZQy3jD5Gk

The book preview is available at http://toledot.org/SZS3.pdf

You can purchase the book through the following vendors:

In the UK, the book is available in English through the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust. 18 pounds, link through the MST Trust Shop. https://mstshop.org/collections/books/products/light-beyond-the-shadows

In the USA, the English edition is available through Temple Sinai in Sharon, Masssachusetts, on the Paypal link below. It is $25 plus shipping.

The Czech version is available in the Czech Republic, 540 Kč by contacting Julius Müller: jmuller@toledot.org

Pacov synagogue – overview of activities in the last year

Those of you who have been following the efforts to restore Pacov synagogue may be curious to know the latest news. 

First of all, we would like to send our sincere thanks to everyone who made a donation. Financial contributions of any size are crucial to our success. Even though we have applied for a number of grants, there are certain costs that cannot be covered by grants. Even when our grant applications are successful, we need to provide co-funding. Once again – many thanks! Your help is essential and always appreciated.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the city of Pacov, which has been supporting us over the years. With our joint efforts, we look forward to the renovation of an important component of Pacov’s cultural and historical heritage. 

As for many others, last year was a special one for us. The bad news is that we had to cancel some cultural activities, especially the “Restlicht/Remnant of Light” public installation by Czech-German sculptor Werner Mally, whose spouse Michaela Králová has family roots in Pacov. Similarly, we were not able to hold the open doors event on the occasion of Jewish Heritage Day in August last year. 

However, last year also brought some very good news representing a real turning point for Jewish heritage in Pacov and in particular the synagogue. At the beginning of the year, the synagogue was recognized as a cultural heritage site by the Czech Ministry of Culture. Future visitors to the synagogue will see an official plaque testifying this next to the entrance of the synagogue. During the course of the year we submitted all the necessary paperwork and received the building permit for the renovation of the synagogue. At the very end of year we heard that our grant application to the Czech-German Future Fund was successful. This grant application covers the renovation of the roof of the synagogue, and we will be able to commence this phase of renovation in the spring. We should also receive feedback on our grant application submitted to the Norway Fund at the beginning of the year.

We are also very excited that following negotiations with the Prague Jewish Community we have just purchased the former rabbi’s house and Jewish school at Malovcova street, which was also used as a ‘winter synagogue’. This important Jewish heritage site will now receive appropriate attention, and we foresee its piecemeal renovation and conversion into a cultural and educational space. This was the home of the last surviving member of Pacov Jewish community from before the Second World War – Nelly Guttmann, whose visit to Pacov in 2017 some of you might remember. She was very moved to hear the news in Israel, and urged us to renovate the matzo oven, which we intend to do. As the daughter of the last rabbi, Nelly grew up in the rabbi’s house and this was where she started her journey to Theresienstadt Jewish ghetto and later to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen. She was the only survivor from her family at the end of the war. This year she celebrates her wonderful 95th birthday.  

We have also made some changes to the composition of the board of Tikkun Pacov and welcomed some new members. We are very happy to see that this testifies to the fact that the synagogue continues to attract new audiences.

If the Covid-19 pandemic allows, we will open the rabbi’s house and the synagogue to the public on the Czech Day of Jewish Heritage in August. We plan to join forces with our colleagues from the Jewish Memorial Černovice, so that visitors in Pacov can learn more about the interesting history and activities in nearby Černovice. 

We look forward to seeing you in person this year if possible, and we look forward to accomplishing the first step in the renovation of Pacov synagogue, that of its historical roof.

Pavel Tychtl, Chair of Tikkun Pacov