The Former Synagogue of Roudnice nad Labem
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Photo © Mojmir Maly'

Photo © Lisa Feder

These are views of the former synagogue complex in the summer of 2002. Click on photographs for an expanded view.

A brief history of Jewish Sites in Roudnice nad Labem

The Synagogue:
During the communist regime, ownership of the building was appropriated by the Czech state. The building was rebuilt completely in the 1950's, and none of the original architectural elements were preserved. A new ceiling was built in the main sanctuary, and none of the original components or design elements were retained, nor were the furnishings and hardware. All windows, doors and even the facade were replaced or rebuilt. Only in one small section can any of the original facade decoration be seen.

In 1998, ownership of the property was returned to the Jewish community of Usti nad Labem. (the Jewish community responsible for this region). The buildings have been unoccupied since 1991. The condition has deteriorated steadily and was worsened by the devastating floods of August, 2002. The Jewish community of Usti nad Labem tried unsuccessfully for years to find anyone who would rent the building and partner in its repairs. They asked The Czech Federation of Jewish Communities for assistance, and they too were unable to find anyone to help with the costs of repairing the building.

The estimated cost of repairing the building is $660,000.  The cost of rudimentary repairs to prevent the imminent collapse of the roof is approximately $150,000.

To correct what was written in the JTA Newsbrief, the building was not sold by the Federation, but by the Jewish Community of Usti nad Labem with the assistance of the Federation..  The building was not sold for $33,000, but $30,000 represents the proceeds of the sale after taxes, etc.  Most of the proceeds will go toward the restoration of the Jewish Town Hall in Usti nad Labem, and approximately $6,000 will be given to the Federation toward its ongoing effort to save the new Jewish cemetery of Roudnice nad Labem.

Any individuals or groups interested in sponsoring a commemorative plaque to be placed at the site may e-mail me:  lisafeder@chaiworks.org to make arrangements, but help is desperately needed to save the new Jewish cemetery of Roudnice nad Labem, and a detailed memorial is planned at the site when restoration is complete.  While the synagogue can not be restored, the cemetery can, and returning dignity to these burial sites represents the best way to honor the memory of this lost community.

The tragedy occurring in Roudnice nad Labem is not the sale of this former synagogue, but that ongoing efforts to save the new Jewish cemetery are largely left unsupported.  It is a mitzvah that should be undertaken not only for our fellow Jews who lie in this once hallowed ground, but for the murdered generation who followed, who never received proper burial, and whose gravesites can never be known.  

Please scroll down to see photos of this sad story and to see why your help is so badly needed.

 

The New Jewish Cemetery of Roudnice nad Labem

At this time, there are two Jewish cemeteries in Roudnice nad Labem. The first cemetery that existed there was liquidated in 1613. The second still exists, and is in good condition. It is a registered historical site.  The third Jewish cemetery was founded in 1890.  Last year, ownership of both Jewish cemeteries was returned to the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities. A caretaker is employed by the Federation to maintain both cemeteries.

The new cemetery is in a very damaged state. 90% of the surrounding wall is missing, and the majority of the gravestones were stolen during the Nazi occupation and Communist period, but the underground graves are intact.

The once beautiful Ceremonial Hall, in the "Moorish style" is currently in ruins. The surrounding wall must be replaced to protect the graves and prevent further vandalism or theft of materials.   The cost of restoring the cemetery - enclosing the area with a new surrounding wall, reconstructing the ceremonial hall, and restoring the cemetery is approximately $116,000. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo© Lisa Feder     

           Photo © Lisa Feder    

The new Jewish cemetery in June, 2002, after an initial clean
up by the Federation of Jewish Communities which removed extensive debris and garbage from the site.

The only surviving photo of the Ceremonial Hall. The original plans for the building's construction have been preserved.

The Ceremonial Hall in June, 2002 before repairs were
made to prevent the collapse of the structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



This faded inscription reads:  (in Czech)

"The dust will return to the earth as it was,
and the soul return to God who gave it."


Photo© Lisa Feder    

Photo© Lisa Feder    

June, 2002 before repairs were made to prevent the
imminent collapse of this section of the structure.

 

A view from late summer, 2002 showing some of the new
brick construction implemented to stabilize the structure
and prevent the collapse.

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and mail to:
Czech Heritage Action Initiative
(CHAI)
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