45. Vodňany

The Jewish settlement in Vodňany is documented from the end of the 14th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Jews were either expelled from the city, or their numbers were reduced. In the middle of the 18th century, there were 8 Jewish families documented in the city, in 1831 there were 93 Jews (3.4% of all inhabitants), 237 Jews in 1857 (5.5%), 256 Jews in 1880 (6.4%), 149 Jews in 1900 (3.7%), and only 114 Jews in 1930 (2.6%).

Jewish houses were concentrated on what used to be named Jewish Street (now Majerova Street) between the square and the eastern city wall from the end of the 17th century. This was not a closed ghetto, since most of the street’s population was Christian.

The synagogue was built between 1837-1852 on Majerova Street in the immediate vicinity of the old synagogue from 1744, which was demolished in the middle of the 19th century or merged with house No. 152. This simple late-Classicist building with vaulted hall was enlarged in 1877. It served for worship until World War II. In 1956, it was rebuilt for the needs of the city museum, which is still housed in the synagogue. The main prayer hall was divided by the ceiling into two stories. The former schoolhouse, No. 153, is located behind the synagogue.

The cemetery is located 700 meters southwest of the village of Pražák, on a hill at the edge of the forest on the red hiking trail. It was founded in 1840 on land purchased from the city in November 1839. The entrance to the cemetery leads through a bricked segmented gate which is closed by an iron grid. All that remains today from the mortuary or the vehicle house are the peripheral walls. To date, 245 tombstones have survived on the cemetery area of 1,608 square meter since the time of its foundation until the 1930’s. The cemetery is freely accessible.

Interesting: There is a tomb decorated with the motif of a broken tree, based on the biblical text “he uproots my hope like a tree”. This motif was popular in Central Europe and symbolizes the prematurely terminated life of a child or young person.