Prčice is a town in the Czech Republic.

This town is sixty kilometers south of Prague. In fact, there is a yearly walk-a-thon from Prague to Prčice with thousands of participants.

There is an old synagogue on the town square that now hosts a small factory that makes sporting equipment. Not so much as a commemorative plaque attests to the building's past. A careful check of the doorjambs of the synagogue and houses around it might turn up an overlooked mezuzah or, at least, the nail holes. The discovery of such artifacts in the town would be the only proof that Jews ever lived there. The mourner as archaeologist. Located in a field somewhere beyond the town is the old Jewish cemetery. There are still said to be a small number of gravestones hidden in the overgrowth. In 1984 the Czech government gave permission to destroy the cemetery and use the plot for farming. Because of a shortage of labor and equipment this hasn't happened yet. When it does, however, Prcice will truly be "Judenrein" — free of Jews.

With all the Jews gone, a centuries-old interdependent community slowly built up and enriched by diverse connections, perspectives and a wholeness and continuity between the physical and the spiritual is gone along with them. That was destroyed one September morning in 1942 when eight families, twenty-six Jews, were herded from the town into cattlecars. Destination: Auschwitz.

In Prčice the flowers still bloom, trees bud, fields produce crops. But there is not even one Jew to acknowledge these delights by pronouncing the blessings for smelling fragrant flowers or upon seeing a beautiful tree or field.

(Thank you Arthur S. Block)

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