Czech Jewish Community Marks Millennium on Small Scale Owing to Political Conditions

The Jewish community in Prague has begun a small scale celebration of what was to have been a major national event with thousands of visitors anticipated from abroad. The occasion is the Jewish millennium–the 1,000th anniversary of Jewish settlement in what is now Czechoslovakia.

Plans for a series of elaborate cultural and historical events in which Government authorities were to have participated were cancelled–for the second–time in view of the changed political situation in Czechoslovakia. Dr. Vilem Benba, curator of the State Jewish Museum in Prague, one of the focal points of the event, said in a foreign services radio interview that “the international situation is not exactly the most propitious for such celebrations.”

Nevertheless, the occasion was marked locally by a concert at the Spanish Synagogue of works composed by Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein and Hans Kraser while they were inmates of Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. An exhibition titled “Unknown Faces of the Jewish Past” opened and a series of lectures was scheduled on Jewish contributions to Czechoslovakian culture, literature and the arts.

The Jewish millennial celebration in Czechoslovakia was originally scheduled for the summer of 1968 but Czech authorities withdrew official support in the wake of the June, 1967 Arab-Israel war. The event had been re-scheduled for this summer.

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