[I am in Praha/Prague (Praha means “threshold” in Czech) in the Czech Republic. The next few posts are some random observations.]
I was walking through the Jewish Quarter of Prague for the third time since my arrival here last week. On my first stroll through the quarter I couldn’t help but notice the many sidewalk shops and marionette stores selling magnets, statues, and puppets bearing the image and likeness of Hasidic Jews. It struck me as odd, but I didn’t think much about it.
On my second visit the irony of Czech pushcart vendors selling images of the very Jews their grandparents or great grandparents slaughtered during Nazi occupation was overwhelming. I felt the horror strongly, and this was only adding insult to unimaginable injury.
Today on my third visit the irony had turned to farce. These toy Jews were the only Jews most of the people I met had met. They knew Jews only as abstractions, ghosts from a past they no longer remember terminating.
Sadly the only Jews I met in Prague were puppets made in the image of massacred Hasidim, and the only Jews I heard people talking about were puppet masters manipulating the world to oppress Palestinians. I was something new to many: a Jew without strings.