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Prague’s Jewish community celebrates opening of first primary school in 50 years

PRAGUE, June 2 (JTA) — The opening of the first Jewish elementary school to be established in Prague since World War II reflects the ongoing revival of a once-vibrant Jewish community that was all but annihilated during the war. Philanthropist Ronald Lauder was on hand late last month for the opening of the school — named after him — that was financed by the U.S.-based Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and other Jewish organizations. “You are part of a long tradition dating back thousands of years,” Lauder said to a group of children gathered around him at the May 26 event, which was also attended by representatives of the Czech and American governments and Israel’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Raphael Gvir. The chief rabbi of the Czech Republic, Karol Sidon, described the school’s opening as proof that the Czech Jewish community “believes in the future.” Ten first-grade students will start at the school in the fall. In addition to classes on Judaism, they will be taught computer and English-language skills as well as subjects required by Czech law. In recent years, the Prague Jewish community has overseen the opening of a club, an afternoon Hebrew school and a kindergarten, whose popularity convinced the community that there was a need for a primary school. The Lauder foundation has endeavored in recent years to encourage the renewal of Jewish life in Eastern and Central Europe through education.