05 April 2009

Television: House of Life, Prague

If you are in the US, do watch out for the screening of "House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague." Reports indicate that various PBS stations are scheduling it this week, so check your local listings.

Narrated by Claire Bloom, the documentary tells the story - layer by layer - of The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, which attracts nearly 700,000 international visitors each year.

It chronicles history, including lore, mysticism, tradition, philosopy, great rabbis and philanthropists, and even the Golem.

The 12,000 stones on the surface of The Old Jewish Cemetery may be covering as many as 100,000 members of Prague's historic Jewish community.

During World War II, it was the only place where Jewish children were allowed to play. When the country was under communist rule, lovers used it as a meeting place.

The cemetery serves, as does the film, as a reminder of the indomitable spirit of a people compelled to honor their past and preserve the lessons of history.

1 comment:

  1. Genealogy is a wonderful exploration of the past as you never know where it's going to lead you. In my particular case it led me to the Jewish cemetery in Prague, but not in the manner that most would seek long lost ancestors. It is said that mine wasn't buried in the cemetery, but some place specially selected by Rudolf II. We know the body never made it back to the cemetery in Brody, so the search is still on to find Yakov Kahana. What was discovered though in the process was a completely different story to the Golem legend. One steeped more in historical facts and events, which in turn brought the legend to life not as a myth but as something far more sinister. Singer based his book on the original legend as passed down by Katz who just happened to be the Maharal's son-in-law. Obvious distortions occurred as a result but more so out of necessity than by accident. Yes, there was a banker involved, as was the mayor and several other prominent people. The Emperor did have reason to lay charges and historically, did take possession of the mayor's fortune after Meisel's death. These are all facts and the story as presented by Singer, although quaint and enchanting, does not come close to the history behind the actual events. The crimes committed by the banker, the printing house and the Golem were more than legend but in actuality historical facts.
    The reality was that in the year of 1588, the city of Prague was held in the grip of terror, victim to the murderous rampage of an inhuman monster created from the seeds of hatred and sown through religious intolerance and mortal greed. Therefore the legend of the Golem must be viewed from this perspective to appreciate it fully.
    I highly recommend reading Shadows of Trinity released by Eloquent Books http://www.eloquentbooks.com/ShadowsOfTrinity.html in order to compare the legend against the historical documentation. In this story, there is an exposure of those intentionally proclaimed as its heroes to be nothing more than the notorious villains who were prepared to destroy their own world.
    Shadows of the Trinity, for the most part, is a non-fiction historical novel, revealing a series of strange and world-shattering events that occurred during the years 1588 and 1589 in Prague, the Bohemian capital of the Austro-Hungary Empire. It is a story of family; my family. It is also a social commentary on why people believe that in order to achieve something good that they must commit evil to do so.