History of the Jews in the Czech Republic

Jews in Bohemia (also known as Bohemian Jews/Czech Jews), today's Czech Republic, are predominantly Ashkenazi Jews,[4] and the current Jewish population is only a fraction of the pre-Holocaust Jewish population. As of 2005, there were approximately 4,000 Jews living in the Czech Republic.[5] There is evidence that Jews have lived in Moravia and Bohemia since as early as the 10th century.[6]

Czech Jews, Bohemian Jews
Židé v Česku
Tschechische Juden
יהודי צ'כיה
טשעכיש אידן
Friedberg-Mirohorsky Emanuel Salomon - Jews Taking Snuff 015
Jews taking snuff in Prague, painting by Mírohorský, 1885
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Czech, German, Yiddish, Hebrew
Related ethnic groups
Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Slovak Jews, Austrian Jews, German Jews, Hungarian Jews, Ukrainian Jews
Historical Czech Jewish population
Source: [1][2][3]

Jewish Prague

Jews are believed to have settled in Prague as early as the 10th century. The 16th century was a golden age for Jewry in Prague. One of the famous Jewish scholars of the time was Judah Loew ben Bezalel known as the Maharal, who served as a leading rabbi in Prague for most of his life. He is buried at the Old Jewish Cemetery in Josefov, and his grave with its tombstone intact, can still be visited. It is said that the body of Golem (created by the Maharal) lies in the attic of the Old New Synagogue where the genizah of Prague's community is kept.[7] In 1708, Jews accounted for one-quarter of Prague’s population.[8]

Austro-Hungarian Empire

As part of the original Czechoslovakia, and before that the Austro-Hungarian Empire the Jews had a long association with this part of Europe.[9] Throughout the last thousand years there have emerged over 600 Jewish communities in the Kingdom of Bohemia.[10] According to the 1930 census, Czechoslovakia (including Subcarpathian Ruthenia) had a Jewish population of 356,830.[11]

The Holocaust

In contrast to Slovak Jews, who were mostly deported by the First Slovak Republic directly to Auschwitz, Treblinka, and other extermination camps, most Czech Jews were initially deported by the German occupiers with the help of local Czech Nazi collaborators to Theresienstadt concentration camp and only later killed. However, some Czech Jewish children were rescued by Kindertransport and escaped to the United Kingdom and other Allied countries. Some were reunited with their families after the war, while many lost parents and relatives to the concentration camps.

It is estimated that of the 118,310 Jews living in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia upon the German invasion in 1939, 26,000 emigrated legally and illegally; 80,000 were murdered by the Nazis; and 10,000 survived the concentration camps.[12]


Federace židovských obcí
Jewish communities associated under the Federation of Jewish communities and their administration within the Czech Republic, 2008

Prague has the most vibrant Jewish life in the entire country; several synagogues operate on regular basis; there are three kindergartens, a Jewish day school, two old age homes, five kosher restaurants, two mikvaot, a kosher hotel. Three different Jewish magazines are being issued every month. The Prague Jewish Community officially has about 1,500 members but the real number of Jews in the city is estimated to be much higher; between 7,000 and 15,000. Due to years of prosecution by both the Nazis and the subsequent Communist regime, however, most people do not feel comfortable of being registered as such. Moreover, the Czech society is the most secular in the EU.[13]

There are ten small Jewish communities around the country (seven in Bohemia and three in Moravia), the largest one being in Prague, where close to 90% of all Czech Jews live. The umbrella organisation for the Jewish communities and organisations in the country is the Federation of Jewish Communities (Federace židovských obcí, FŽO). Services are regularly held in Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Teplice, Liberec, Pilsen, Karlovy Vary and irregularly in some other cities.

See also


  1. ^ "YIVO | Czechoslovakia". Yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  2. ^ "YIVO | Population and Migration: Population since World War I". Yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-09. Retrieved 2012-03-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ http://www.jewishgen.org/austriaczech/MilaRechcigl.html
  5. ^ The Virtual Jewish Library - Jewish population of Czech republic, 2005
  6. ^ "The Jews of the Czech Republic". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot.
  7. ^ "''The Golem'', Temple Emanu-El, San Jose". Templesanjose.org. Archived from the original on 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  8. ^ Prague, The Virtual Jewish History Tour
  9. ^ "The Jews and Jewish Communities of Bohemia in the past and present". Jewishgen.org. 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  10. ^ "Czech Synagogues and Cemeteries". Isjm.org. 2003-01-04. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  11. ^ "The Holocaust in Bohemia and Moravia". Ushmm.org. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  12. ^ Kulka, Erich (1987). Jews in Svoboda's army in the Soviet Union : Czechoslovak Jewry's fight against the Nazis during World War II. Lanham, Md.: Univ. Press of America. p. xviii. ISBN 9780819165770.
  13. ^ http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/19/unlike-their-central-and-eastern-european-neighbors-most-czechs-dont-believe-in-god/

Further reading

  • Čermáková, Radka (2009). "Poválečné Československo obnovený stát ve střední Evropě" [Postwar Czechoslovakia as a Restored State in Central Europe]. In Soukupová, Blanka; Salner, Peter; Ludvíková, Miroslava (eds.). Židovská menšina v Československu po druhé světové válce: od osvobození k nové totalitě [The Jewish Minority in Czechoslovakia after World War II: from Liberation to a New Totalitarianism] (in Czech). Prague: Židovské Muzeum v Praze. pp. 23–35. ISBN 978-80-86889-90-0.

External links

Czech Republic–Israel relations

Relations between Israel and the Czech Republic, and its predecessor state Czechoslovakia, have varied widely over time. Initially warm, Czechoslovakia-Israel relations deteriorated, and the two countries did not have diplomatic relations during most of the Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. However, after the Velvet Revolution and dissolution of Czechoslovakia the countries re-established contact, and the Czech Republic is now one of Israel's closest allies, frequently demonstrating strong support for Israel at the United Nations and within the European Union.

Czech diaspora in Israel

In the 1940s and 1950s, Jewish immigrants from Czechoslovakia—many of them survivors of The Holocaust—took part in founding no less than twenty communities in Israel, including

Be'erot Yitzhak



Ein Ayala




Kerem Maharal

Kfar HaMaccabi

Kfar Masaryk

Lehavot Haviva


Ma'ayan Tzvi

Masu'ot Yitzhak


Mishmar Ayalon

Neot Mordechai

Nir Yisrael


Sha'ar HaGolanIn addition, a considerable number of people of Czech and Slovak origin settled in existing Israeli towns and cities. Israeli people of Czech descent include:

Yosef Alon

Edna Arbel

Tuvia Beeri

David Flusser

Gal Gadot

Esther Hoffe

Gil Lavi

Hezi Leskali

Gideon Levy

Leo Perutz

Demographics of the Czech Republic

This article is about the demographic features of the population of the Czech Republic, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, and religious affiliations.

Foreign relations of the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a Central European country, a member of the European Union, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the United Nations (and all of its main specialized agencies and boards). It entertains diplomatic relations with 191 countries of the world, around half of which maintain a resident embassy in the Czech capital city, Prague.During the years 1948-1989, the foreign policy of Czechoslovakia had followed that of the Soviet Union. Since the revolution and the subsequent mutually-agreed peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Czechs have made reintegration with Western institutions their chief foreign policy objective. This goal was rapidly met with great success, as the nation joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004, and held the Presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2009.

Great Synagogue (Plzeň)

The Great Synagogue (Czech: Velká Synagoga) in Plzeň (Pilsen), Czech Republic is the second largest synagogue in Europe.

History of the Jews in Slovakia

The History of the Jews in Slovakia goes back to the 11th century, when the first Jews settled in the area.

Jewish history

Jewish history is the history of the Jews, and their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Although Judaism as a religion first appears in Greek records during the Hellenistic period (323 BCE – 31 BCE) and the earliest mention of Israel is inscribed on the Merneptah Stele dated 1213–1203 BCE, religious literature tells the story of Israelites going back at least as far as c. 1500 BCE. The Jewish diaspora began with the Assyrian captivity and continued on a much larger scale with the Babylonian captivity. Jews were also widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.

During the Classical Ottoman period (1300–1600), the Jews, together with most other communities of the empire, enjoyed a certain level of prosperity. In the 17th century, there were many significant Jewish populations in Western Europe. During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes occurred within the Jewish community. Jews began in the 18th century to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. During the 1870s and 1880s the Jewish population in Europe began to more actively discuss emigration back to Israel and the re-establishment of the Jewish Nation in its national homeland. The Zionist movement was founded officially in 1897. Meanwhile, the Jews of Europe and the United States gained success in the fields of science, culture and the economy. Among those generally considered the most famous were scientist Albert Einstein and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. A large number of Nobel Prize winners at this time were Jewish, as is still the case.In 1933, with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, the Jewish situation became more severe. Economic crises, racial anti-Semitic laws, and a fear of an upcoming war led many Jews to flee from Europe to Palestine, to the United States and to the Soviet Union. In 1939 World War II began and until 1941 Hitler occupied almost all of Europe, including Poland—where millions of Jews were living at that time—and France. In 1941, following the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Final Solution began, an extensive organized operation on an unprecedented scale, aimed at the annihilation of the Jewish people, and resulting in the persecution and murder of Jews in political Europe, inclusive of European North Africa (pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and Italian Libya). This genocide, in which approximately six million Jews were methodically exterminated, is known as The Holocaust or Shoah (Hebrew term). In Poland, three million Jews were killed in gas chambers in all concentration camps combined, with one million at the Auschwitz concentration camp alone.

In 1945 the Jewish resistance organizations in Palestine unified and established the Jewish Resistance Movement, which attacked the British authorities. David Ben-Gurion proclaimed on May 14, 1948, the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel to be known as the State of Israel. Immediately afterwards all neighbouring Arab states attacked, yet the newly formed IDF resisted. In 1949 the war ended and the state of Israel started building the state and absorbing massive waves of hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the world. Today (2019), Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a population of over 9 million people, of whom about 7 million are Jewish. The largest Jewish communities are in Israel and the United States, with major communities in France, Argentina, Russia, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany. For statistics related to modern Jewish demographics see Jewish population.

List of Czech and Slovak Jews

There was a large and thriving community of Jews, both religious and secular, in Czechoslovakia before World War II. Many perished during the Holocaust. Today, nearly all of the survivors have inter-married and assimilated into Czech and Slovak society.

Officially recognized
Sovereign states
States with limited
Dependencies and
other entities

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