Yitro – My Trip to Prague
I imagined the Ofanim and Holy Chayot standing in front of the Holy One Blessed be He saying Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh – Holy, Holy, Holy. When my eyes opened I saw the wooden star of David above the seat where the Maharal of Prague sat and beseeched G-d to spare his nation Israel of the pains of Galut, of the blood libels, of the high taxes and other anti-Semitic problems which were wrought on the Jewish people for two thousand years.
Our entire office of New Dimension Software (210 people) were treated, by the company, for a long weekend in Prague. We had the time of our lives.
Crammed into four days of touring we viewed many beautiful buildings found in this city, The Black Theater, A very spiritual Shabat, about thirty miles of walking, lots of anti Semitism, and lots of alcohol.
We saw many buildings. I am not good at matching faces with names. So, do not expect me to remember the different kinds of architecture found in this city. They have the Renaissance, Romanesque, Baroque, Art Deco, Bauhuas, Rococo and Gothic and the combos and fakos.
I think that for people like me they need to simply point to a building and say that this is Pointy style or Square, Rounded, with pictures or Colorful. If the building looks old but was really built only seventy five years ago they should say that it is Neo-Pointy.
In between sites of interest we drank the local brews of beer which are Pennies for a bottle and you get a few back for the returnable bottle. We also partook of Slivovitz and Whiskey. In order to avoid the morning after syndrome we tried to keep going until the morning.
The height of our experience was on Shabat. We prayed at the Alt-Neu Shul. This synagogue was built about six hundred years ago. The generations of Jews who prayed in it must have found much solace in it when escaping the almost constant anti-Semitism of Europe.
The current community which cares for the Shul and the Jewish/Israeli Tourists are wonderful people. As I am a Cohen I was granted the first Aliya. The Tefilah followed the “Prague” minhag of fame. They did not go too fast, so everybody was able to say the whole Tefilah with Kavanah.
The same happened on Shabat morning. As it was raining, we ran the several miles from The Hilton Hotel to the synagogue. We arrived about 20 minutes late. However, they said all of the Korbanot properly so that we arrived for Hodu.
I sat near an elderly gentleman who was a Mr. Mann, who should be healthy and live long, who is a Jewish Businessman from Frankfurt. He was born and grew up in Prague. He told me that after the War he was married in this very holy synagogue. His son’s Brit Milah was also performed there as well as the son’s wedding. I am sure that the Bar Mitzvah also occurred in that Shul.
That particular Shabat was a Shabat Chatan (The Shabat before a wedding). The atmosphere was festive. A beautiful Kidush was served of cake and beverages. The tourists and the locals happily mingled.
Our meals were served in the Community Center which used to be the Jewish city hall. The dining room is a restaurant which serves Kosher food daily to tourists. This dining room has a high ceiling and ornate walls.
We learned Torah for several hours after Shabat Lunch. Of course we studied the writings of the Maharal of Prague. Baruch Hashem, even though it was raining, the Beit Midrash was packed with people learning Torah on Shabat.
Some Interesting Experiences
We spoke with several of the native Czechs. In the Prague Hilton, like all hotels, some front desk people are nasty and some are nice. Since we were keeping Shabat we wanted to keep some hot water in a thermos for coffee before going to shul. After explaining to the lady at the front desk that we simply wanted some hot water she told us to call Room Service. After we explained it to her a couple times more that the room service water was not hot enough to keep in a thermos until tomorrow we were again instructed to call room service.
From this and several other VERY similar experiences we learned that when Czechs do not understand or care to understand they instruct you to simply listen to them and to pay heed to what they say. After spending a couple of days joking about this we were on the Czech Airline Airplane going back home to Israel a steward further fulfilled our joke. An Israeli passenger asked for some wine to drink. After asking for wine several times the Steward said “here is a good beer.”
After my Prague experience I got turned on to Franz Kafka. You can feel and see the scenes which Kafka used as the center of his stories. In several of his stories he uses our joke as an actual fact. An example of this is the rich uncle in “America” who organized Karl’s life. After not taking the Czech style hint and doing as he pleased the uncle disowned him. Indeed, most secondary characters in all of his stories act in this manner.
I believe that this attitude made it much easier for Czechs to simply listen to the murderous commands of Hitler and the previous terrible European rulers.
Another experience: On our second day in Prague our tour guide gave us tickets for the Subway. I am from Brooklyn and am an experienced subway rider so it was fun to get on one. These Subways are far under the ground. In order to get to the platform they have installed “Jet propelled escalators.” Kafka’s descriptions of the elevators in the Upstate NY Hotel in “America” was as absurd as these escalators. They were going at least twice as fast as any escalator I have taken. In order to get on you have to jump and grab the moving railing to stop yourself from falling. When getting off you burn the rubber off of your sneakers in order to stop. I suppose if the Subway is in the station one could simply continue to race for it with the momentum from the escalator.
All is Not Rosy in Central Europe.
During the four days we were there I experienced several instances of Anti Semitism which is several more than I was prepared for.
When we arrived it was the Anniversary of Christalnacht, commemorated by some. Perhaps this is why Jews were on the minds of those were currently in Prague.
We visited the Terezin (Terezinstadt) concentration camp. Although it had no Gas Chambers it was an especially terrible camp. So many people suffered at the hands of the cruel Europeans in this camp. The people died all sorts of terrible death after a torturing life. We visited a cellar [PICTURE] which was labeled an SS interrogation Bunker.
It was not on the beaten track of tourists. It gave us the true feeling of being with the European Nazis. One could feel the misery.
Since the War the Bunker, which is under a building, was not even used for storage. You could feel the utter evil emitting from the creaky doors. I could easily visualize the cruel yet incredibly stupid NAZI murderers looking forward to completing their evil task. They believed that they were doing the world a great favor by ridding the world of the Jews. In their sick yet popular minds a “weak” person who felt mercy for G-d’s Holy Nation was just as terrible as the Jews.
At Terezin the Czechs have opened a Museum. The building served as a school while Terezin was a “Ghetto.” In addition to seeing the exhibits we viewed a couple of movies. The movie about the children of Terezin demonstrated the Horrible circumstances under which most children died. A few of the 35,000 grew and survived. The most famous drawing of a Jewish child stated that “There are no butterflies here.”
The Beautiful children were as beautiful as my own children. The children of Terezinstadt did not have the opportunity to live in a Jewish country with a Jewish Army. Instead they were butchered to death with bullets, starvation, torture and Zyclon-b gas by the Europeans and then their little bodies burned to ashes.
I was very disturbed at how the movies and Museum presented the Holocaust. They do not reduce the suffering of the Jews who died there, if that is possible. However, the presentation was NOT described as the cruelty which most Europeans were happy to do or accept. Instead the savagery which took place at Terezin is presented as a sorry event in the annals of Human History.
They do not deny the fact that all of the occupants of Terezin were miserable but they seem to shy away from the fact that it was a crime against the Jewish people that they themselves perpetrated or for that matter that any Human perpetrated. For instance the signs on the exhibits say that many people died of starvation related diseases. It does not say that European Nazis intentionally and cruelly starved Jews to death. It is not even presented as something that humans participated in.
It is an imperative more for the European Gentile perpetrators than for us to use the phrase “Never Forget!” My experience has now proved this!
My personal brushes with European Anti-Semites were in the city of Prague. The first and most shocking experience was in the luxurious Prague Hilton’s dining room.
Our tour guide had pre-arranged with the hotel that since the price included breakfast the kosher people could take coffee, tea and sugar back to our rooms in the morning. Some of our Kippah wearing colleagues chose to drink their coffee in the dining room.
Sitting across from our friends were two chubby Europeans who looked more grizzlier (although they wore suits and ties) than certain truck drivers I have met. These Europeans were likely not native Czechs but were in the hotel for a medical convention discussing intestinal diseases. Perhaps they were students of Dr. Mengele.
During the course of their breakfast they stared at our friends. When we came to take some sugar packets for the coffee accompanying our Kosher Corn Flakes upstairs. Hinting at their disapproval they started to “Tuh tuh tuh” us. Upon leaving one of them was kind enough to inform me, “Now you know why we do not like you.”
I was now able to understand why the Crusaders packed us all into the Synagogue and burnt us.
I was now able to understand why the Inquisition stole our property, tortured us almost to death, cut open the bellies of pregnant women and inserted a hungry kitty cat, used spiked coffins and razor blade rooms, then before we could die they would burn us alive in public.
I was now able to understand why the Cossacks while butchering us in their pogroms then followed in the footsteps of the Crusades in burning us in the synagogue.
I was now able to understand the “truth” espoused by Adolf Hitler, whose name should be utterly erased.
The reason for the above are all as legitimate as the hatred I incurred by rightfully removing a bunch of sugar packets. The cold blooded murder committed by all of Europe for two thousand years was for the same reason.
Intelligence does not prevent a European from being an Anti-Semite. This rather massive Gastrointerolgist had all the reason to continue to perform Dr. Mengele’s research by checking the deleterious effects of certain ingredients on my Jewish digestive system. For the sake of Science it is fine to experiment on an evil Jew.
Although this assistant of Dr. Mengele’s who dined across from my pal was probably not a native of Prague I did have some other experiences with the inhabitants of this rather pretty city.
Remember that I was in Prague for 4 days. Soon after walking out of the Holy Alt-Neu Synagogue some man jumped and landed in front of us on the street corner and made rather weird non-word cooing noises in close proximity to our faces.
During the day while strolling on a very wide sidewalk a man walking past us shoved me rather hard.
While walking on our tour from The Prague Castle to the capitol building we walked through a narrow stairwell. On an arch crossing the stairs was a spray painted Swastika. [picture of swastika] We quickly took a picture of it before the next group of tourists needed to pass.
I read a little about the Charles bridge before we visited this central tourist site. I had read about the quaint vendors selling memorabilia and art work. We passed pictures of Kafka, earrings, paintings, Sickening some stupid Christian site where Goyim place their hands, statues of Jesus dying on the cross waiting to be consumed by vulchers.
When I saw those statues of Jesus I felt like lobbing up a big green glob of spit. I personally refrained from doing this, However, legend has it that another Jew more pious than myself did just that. Some sick pre-Nazi Christian saw him do this. The “kind” king gave the Jews an opportunity to avoid massacre. He forced the Jewish community to affix pure gold lettering which stated Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, YKVH Tzevaot, Yeshu Hu Elokim.” “Holy, Holy, Holy, Hashem Lord of host… Jesus is the one G-d.” The Holy man who had lobbed up the spit subsequently committed suicide. This Kadosh, Kadosh Kadosh was diametrically opposite to my experience I discussed at the beginning of this discussion.
Too disgusting to show