We were quite unprepared for the emotional intensity of Prague's Jewish Quarter, called Josefov. The Jewish Quarter consists of 7 main sites that tell the story of Prague's Jews. 6 of these sites (not including the Old-New Synagogue) are referred to as The Jewish Museum. (This totally confused me. I kept looking for The Jewish Museum. Now you know. )
The Nazi's plan was to create a " museum of an extinct race" therefore Prague's Jews were allowed to collect and archive their cultural treasures in the Jewish Quarter. In addition, Nazi's all over Europe sent confiscated artifacts to be housed in Josefov. Ultimately the Jewish archivists were sent to concentration camps but their work survived. Read more about The Jewish Quarter here.
The Old Jewish Cemetery contains some 12,000 tombstones. From 1439 to 1787 this was the only place in Prague Jews were allowed to be buried. Small rocks are left on the tombstones as a sign of respect. Small pieces of paper written with prayers are also left.
The Pinkas Synagogue, right next to the cemetery, is a powerful place. On the walls the names of 77,297 Czech Jews who were killed in concentration camps are written. The walls are stark white and the names are written in red (family names) and black (first names, birthdays and estimates of their deaths.) The names of the extermination camps the Czech Jews were sent to are written on one wall. A mournful reading of all 77,297 names is played in the Synagogue.
Upstairs in the Pinkas Synagogue is the Terezin Children's Art Exhibit. It will bring you to tears. The exhibit displays art work from children who were housed in Terezin and then killed in concentration camps. The children were given art lessons by a teacher also held there. When she was deported to Auschwitz she hid 4,500 pieces of art work in suitcases where they were later discovered and given to The Jewish Museum.