Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jewish Bratislava

The Jewish Museum in Bratislava had a very different energy from those that I visited in Prague and Vienna. The story they presented was one of survival...rather than of decimation and extermination. There was an extensive presentation on Chatam Sofer (1762-1839) who apparently was quite charismatic and had a huge following. The crypt containing his remains was undisturbed by Nazi intruders and remains in place today. And the biblical school he founded continues on in Israel.

The exhibits included much Jewish cultural finery - seder plates, chanukah lamps, sabbath candlelabras, tfillin, spice boxes, wedding gowns, etc. Then there was art produced by several master Jewish painters and photographs of famous rabbis. Discussions of Medieval Jews being banished from their homelands, placed them in nearby border outposts so that they'd continue to be in contact with important cultural centers. Largely the exposition was a tribute to Jewish survival, despite the disturbing loss of many thousands of Slovakian Jews.

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