Shabby Jews of Prague Observe New Year; Worshippers Still Wear Prison Clothing

The pitifully small Jewish community of Prague filled three synagogues this Rosh Hashonah as they offered their thanks for victory and for their liberation. Services were held in the historic Altneuschul, where the only survivor of the city’s rabbis, aged Aladar Deutsch, officiated, and in synagogues on Dushni and Simchov Streets. Although all three were crowded there was sufficient room for Prague’s Jews.

The congregations appeared shabby and underfed, reflecting accurately the situation of the Jews in Czechoslovakia. Several of the worshippers were the striped suits which had been issued to them by the Germans when they were confined in concentration camps. There were few prayer books to be seen and almost no one were prayer shawls. Many soldiers of the Czech, Russian and British forces were present, and one could hear Czech, Russia, English and Hungarian, but little Yiddish.

The observances differed sharply from pre-war years. The congregants were eager to give thanks for their freedom, but they obviously had much less contact with ancient traditions than formerly. The majority of the Jews visited the synagogues and then returned to their everyday tasks.

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