Jewish Life, Bratislava
Bratislava of course had a Jewish population. The first Jews probably arrived in what is now Slovakia in Roman times, and the first record of their presence in Bratislava dates from 1251.
By the 1930s, the Jewish population of Bratislava numbered more than 14000, with 5000+ having 'declared Jewish nationality'
Only a fraction of that population survived the Holocaust, and very little of the original Jewish quarter (in the streets leading up to the castle) remains.
There is a Holocaust Memorial, which stands on the site of the Neolog synagogue, destroyed during the Soviet period to make way for road-widening. The memorial was constructed in 1996, and includes a metal piece and a shiny black granite 'wall' with an engraving of the synagogue.
The word 'Remember' is engraved in Hebrew and Slovak. But there is nothing to say *what* should be remembered and that, I think, is a great pity.
When I first passed by there were only two stones on the memorial. That saddened me somewhat. But when I passed by on another day there were far more. So perhaps my first visit had coincided with a clearing-of-stones, or some random stupidity.
The striking synagogue on Heydukova Street is Bratislava’s only remaining place of Jewish worship, and lies close to the historical city centre. A historically and architecturally significant building, it was constructed between 1923 and 1926 in Cubist style. It is listed as a national cultural monument.
The synagogue’s austere exterior consists of a towerless, seven-pillared colonnade facing the street. Inside is a large sanctuary featuring modern steel-and-concrete construction. Along with Cubist details there are historicist elements, for instance the arcade of the women’s gallery, a metallic bimah, and the ark. The architecture observes traditional religious requirements, such as separate areas for men and women.
The new Jewish Community Museum opened from June 2012 with a permanent exhibition “The Jews of Bratislava and Their Heritage” is installed upstairs. This museum presents rich Jewish heritage, rare jewish ritual tools, gold-embroidered mantles protecting the holy biblical scrolls, unique photographs of students who had attended the famed Bratislava rabbi school and remembers also the atrocities of the Holocaust. The exhibition is open during the summer season up till the end of September, every Friday 1 till 4pm and every Sunday 10 am till 1pm, except of Jewish holidays. It´s really beautiful exhibition and worth seeing! For more info visit: www.synagogue.sk
Rare jewish ritual tools, gold-embroidered mantles protecting the holy biblical scrolls, unique photographs of students who had attended the famed Bratislava rabbi school that reveal even to this day the atrocities of the Holocaust.
And there is yet more that the new Jewish Community Museum shall unveil. The new Museum is situated at the only synagogue left in Bratislava, the one at Heydukova street. Visitors will be able to behold the exhibited Jewish ritual tools in an authentic, genuine environment for which they were created.
For the first time they will have a chance to glimpse into the rich history of the local Jewish community and see its treasures.
Jewish Community Museum will showcase a permanent exhibition called “The Jews of Bratislava and Their Heritage”, taking the visitors through tens of some of the rarest artifacts connected to significant dates in history and present of the community, as well as introducing to the public Jewish holidays and customs.
Among the unique items present in the permanent exhibition one can find e.g. a plaque with a picture depicting the fire of the Bratislava Castle in 1811 that spread also to the Jewish hospital or a rare photography of students of Bratislava rabbi school – a yeshiva. Awe will certainly be in place when admiring objects of elaborate liturgical cloth like mantles covering the scrolls of Torah or the curtain for the tabernacle in which Torah is kept. Decorative Torah finials crafted at a Jewish goldsmithing workshop in the early 19th century are a pride of this exhibition. Not to mention some beautifully gilded or silvered menorahs or chanukkiahs and other ritual items of great artistic value. A holocaust memorial wall will remind the visitors of the tragic fates of many Jewish families in Bratislava, whose names are ornamentally carved there, dating the year 1940, which is before they were dispossessed and deported to the concentration camps.
An exquisite piece is also the whole synagogue itself that even to this day serves as a place of Jewish worship services. It is the first time that the synagogue is open for public in its entirety. This synagogue built in 1923-1926 is among the most intriguing ones from its era.
The Museum is open for public yearly during summer up till the end of September, every Friday 1 till 4pm and every Sunday 10 am till 1pm, except of Jewish holidays.
For more information, visit www.synagogue.sk or Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/zidovskekomunitne.muzeum
The Jewish memorial in Bratislava is in the Old town a few metres from the padestrians underpass. It is here because the construction of the Novy Most (New Bridge) on river Danube between 1967 and 1972, necessitated the demolishion of large parts of the old town including the jewish quarters here with two synagogues. It stands as a memorial of the demolished jewish quarter and is right at the beginning of the bridge.
The Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the jews of Bratislava who became victims of Germany’s Nazi regime, is a moden sculpture. It is placed beetween St. Martin’s church and the Novy most, close to the tunnel leading to the castle. Such monuments should make you think about the crimes which happened in the past. Unfortunately, the location, the graffitti and the 1950s-style art makes your first thought be "Oh my god, is that ugly".
Between the castle and the main street, you’ll find the remains of the old jewish quarter. Most of it was destroyed during the construction of the main street and the new bridge (Novy Most). Take your way through the streets and alleys on your way up to the castle. If interested, make a stop at the jewish museum or at the clock museum.
The monument pictured stands, as you can see in the photo, right beside the start of the huge Novy Most (New Bridge) which is, in effect, the reason for it being there.
The bridge was opened in 1972 when Slovakia (then still joined with the Czech Republic) was under Communist control. To allow for such a vast structure over 200 buildings, predominantly Jewish, were torn down (the Old town side of the bridge is in the old Jewish quarter). Included in the destruction was one of Bratislava's two synagogues with it's attendant burial ground.
The monument was erected to commemorate the destruction and the word Pamataj means simply - Remember.
I have also heard an alternative view that the monument is a Holocaust memorial. To be honest, I'm not sure which is correct - if anybody could enlighten me definitively, I,ll be glad to amend the tip with appropriate credit.
The New Bridge project destroying some 226 buildings in its construction, and mostly in the Jewish Quarter of the city.
One of the city's two synagogues was unceremoniously destroyed during construction of New Bridge (Nový Most). A sacred Jewish burial ground, which houses the grave of the revered 19th century rabbi Chatam Sofer, but next to the bridge footings near the church of St Martins stands a lone Monument. The monument is called Pamataj which means Remember..
Below the castle was the former Jewish quarter. The houses are small and clustered on the foot of the hill. By the edge of the highway, across St. Martin`s Cathedral stands a narrow rococo burgher house called "The Shepherd`s House". Locals say that it is Europe`s narrowest building.
A few meters away is the Jewish Museum that documents in five rooms Jewish history in Slovakia.
This one and only synagogue in the old town is certainly eyecatching.. but polystyrene?? .. touch it and see.