Ceremony Held to Commemorate Synagogue’s 300th Anniversary

A small Czech town that once housed one of the largest Jewish communities in the region celebrated this week the 300th anniversary of its synagogue.

Czech political and religious leaders joined British, Israeli and Czech Jews on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the dilapidated temple in Kolin, a central Bohemian town east of Prague that the Germans settled in the 13th century and plundered during World War II.

Some 200 to 400 guests visited the renowned cathedral of St. Bartholomew and the town’s two Jewish cemeteries.

They also attended a commemorative ceremony in the synagogue, which featured the presence of Torah scrolls brought from a London synagogue.

After World War II, the British temple inherited the Torah scrolls from Kolin’s ruined synagogue and also the decorative arch from the town’s Jewish cemetery.

About 20 Holocaust survivors attended the event, including a handful who once lived in Kolin.

One of them, Hana Greenfield, described the event as “very poignant. There has not been a service in that synagogue in over 50 years.”

“There are no Jews left in Kolin,” she added.

The day ended with a performance of “Stones of Kolin,” a play about six centuries of Jewish life in the town.

Author Judi Herman, who is a member of the London synagogue, said she found the inspiration for the play during a visit to Kolin’s medieval graveyard last year.

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