The Synagogue in Krnov
The synagogue from the 19th century in Krnov (Jaegerndorf) will be renovated with the aid of the European Union and will be reopened in 2013. Even now there is already renewed activity.
Krnov is a little town in the Czech Republic. My mother was born there. In the past some 450 Jews lived in the town. After WWII not even a single Jew was left. Jews had been expelled from there in 1535 when the body of Abraham Hirsch
, then the leader of Krnov’s Jews was burned and in only in 1848 Jews returned to live there. The synagogue was built in 1871. I visited Krnov a few years ago, among other reasons I wanted to see the synagogue. But that was a difficult mission and only after some detective work I succeeded to find the place, which served as a centrally located storeroom of the municipality.
The synagogue is due to be re-dedicated in 2013, after massive renovation. This miracle is happening thanks to two wonderful young guys – no, they are not Jewish. Young people, decisive and full of good will who decided to do something. One is Pavel Kuča
, left-handed and a history buff, the other one, Jan Stejskal
, whose hobby are archives and old buildings. The two young men, Pavel and Jan, were very curious about the fate of the Jews of Krnov and the nearby community of Opava; they were looking for roots of a lost culture in Bohemia and Moravia. This curiosity led them into concrete astounding action, based on serious research with double results: the renovation of the synagogue and the publication in 2002 of the book “The Jews of Jaegerndorf and Opava”. The book deals with the Jewish community of these two adjoining towns.
The synagogue in Krnov, “The Temple” as it was called when it was built, is an imposing sprawling building with two towers at the front, in a quasi Spanish style common in those times in Austro-Hungary. Until WWII it teemed with communal activities, headed by rabbi David Rudolfer. As already mentioned, under the Communist regime it was a storeroom for the municipality’s archives. In spite of this, it has to be said that this is one of the few synagogues that survived the war. This was the outcome of a ruse by a senior municipal official who burned another building when the Nazis, in 1938, after “the night of the broken glass”, gave the order to destroy all synagogues.
The Federation of Czech Jewish Communities chose this synagogue as heritage site, out of 200 Czech synagogues outside of Prague and a few other towns; this brought about a project funded with 1.2 million Euros for its restoration. See details at the website Krnov synagoga
In April of this year Pavel visited Israel. His aim was to continue his research about Czech Jews in general and especially those of Krnov. He believes that already in 2013 the re-dedication event of the synagogue will take place. With this in mind he initiated and participated in the planning of an exhibition dealing with Czech Jewry. During his visit he invested much effort to meet and to talk, to listen and also to photograph many documents and pictures for the exhibition that will be displayed in the synagogue.
Among other places he was very interested in Beit Theresienstadt where he met Oded Breda and Sima Shahar. In conversations with me he expressed his appreciation of our activities.
Pavel told me that the communal activity at the Krnov synagogue is starting again and there are already concerts, literary evenings, lectures and Torah readings, attended by members of the Association of the Friends of the Synagogue (non-Jews).
Those who have written material or pictures of members of this community are invited to contact me (see below) and I will transmit the material to the two “angels”. When sending material, please mark it “KRNOV” so the mail will not be deleted.
I also believe that it is important to attend the re-dedication of the synagogue. Those interested to join such a trip are also invited to contact me.
Shosh Sade – Goldstein
24, Herzl Street, Hadera 38421, Israel
Maybe until then further descendents will come to the re-opening, to honor those that perished.
It was chosen and declared as a heritage site by the Federation of the Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic.