One of the many things you can learn when you go kosher cruising is what Jewish communities are.
Židovská_obec or Jewish community ( in Hebrew קהילה Lauder) is nowadays under the laws of the Czech Republic registered a legal entity established religious organizations . The Jewish community is the smallest administrative unit of the Jewish community in the country, associates citizens of Jewish religion or Jewish origin in the given city and adjacent areas and ensures the proper functioning of their members’ lives in religious, cultural and social matters. The Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic (FŽO) is the overwhelming religious organization.
The term “village” has been used since the 13th century (see the Fourth Latehnic Council) when Jews were involuntarily forced to live separately from the Christian population in the so-called ghettos, and these territorial communities actually formed a closed community – the Kehil. It was almost independent in matters of internal administration. In most countries, the Jews were owned as property and controlled directly by the ruler, were therefore not theoretically subject to local courts. In certain times and areas. Jews were granted an extensive autonomy, both legally and in terms of property. Institut village persisted in modified form as well as the abolition of ghettos in the Czech lands in r. 1781 to to this day.
After the abolition of ghettos in the second half of the 18th century, Jews were allowed to move freely to Christian parts of the city, perform other jobs, own land etc. At the same time, however, Jewish communities were removed from the jurisdiction and many institutions with previously united communities or their scope was very limited, mostly only on religious and ritual questions, not on civil and criminal issues in which Jewish communities were subject to civil law, just like other religious organizations. For this reason, a so-called Jewish religious community (ŽNO) was set up, which continued to operate in that place and cared for the religious life of the inhabitants of that village (now in the sense of a residential).
The Structure of the Village
In the Czech Republic, the Jewish community is always fixed to a specific area in which it operates. The village has its own legal personality and its head is the chairman. Some villages have a rabbi, most not. If the rabbi and the working synagogues in the city are more, the chief rabbi is elected. In the Czech Republic, this applies only to Prague, which is the only city where more than one functioning synagogue is located. If the Jewish community does not have a rabbi, the chief regional rabbi, or his deputy, performs his functions.
Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic Today
According to the latest population census, Jewish communities in the Czech Republic have around 3,000 members (more than half of them are members of the Jewish community in Prague). This figure probably does not include all members of municipalities and does not include all citizens meeting the criteria for admission to Jewish communities. The total estimate of the number of Jews in the Czech Republic is estimated to be roughly between 5000 and 15000.
There are ten functioning Jewish communities in the Czech Republic:
- Jewish community in Prague
- The Jewish Community of Brno
- Jewish Community in Ostrava
- Jewish Community of Pilsen
- Jewish community Olomouc
- Jewish community Liberec
- Jewish community of Karlovy Vary
- The Jewish Community of Ústí nad Labem
- Jewish Community Děčín
- Jewish community of Teplice
In addition to these communities, there are other civic associations that focus on religious activities, but are not formally defined as Jewish communities. Some of them are incorporated into the structure of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic as so-called affiliated organizations.
Other Jewish Organizations
Other Jewish cultural and sporting organizations, which were – especially during the Second World War – were very much the rest of the cultural activities. It is worth mentioning for example Makabi, ZSK Hagibor, Hakoach, etc. One of the most active Jewish organizations in the Czech Republic since 1989 is the Czech Union of Jewish Youth (ČUŽM), which organizes religious, educational and cultural activities, trips, seminars, lectures and screenings movies with Jewish themes. ČUŽM also introduced Stolpersteine or Jom Ha’soa projects into the Czech public space.
You can learn more about Jewish history through a kosher tour.