Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Jewish Cemetery (Židovský hřbitov), Stráž nad Nežárkou, Czech Republic

A Harvest of Sorrows

Mark discovered there was a Jewish cemetery, Židovský hřbitov, in Stráž nad Nežárkou while we were looking at the map of the town, following our exploration of the castle (Zamek) and looking at wildflowers. We had completely missed this, having driven right past it on our way to Jindřichův Hradec several times...even our friend Lynn did not have a record of this cemetery.
So, after a sunny day spent in Stráž nad Nežárkou, we head to the western edge of the village past the green field where we can already easily see the Prayer House at the edge of the forest.
We first had to discover which way to enter the cemetery. At first we tried the north end, thinking a small dirt road would get us there. This was to no access whatsoever. So, we head back around the field and try the southern end, where we finally find a small driveway.

Two things already strike us as unusual here: 
1) there are no notations above the doorway indicating that this is a sacred Židovský hřbitov Prayer House (usually these have always been repainted above the main entry door);
2) there are numerous recent plantings of horticultural crops, such as forsythia (Forsythia europaea)
along with daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) and tulips (Tulipa xhybrida).
Other odd things emerge, including a well cover (usually there is never any water access to be found):
fruit trees and a garden...
Then it hits us that someone must now own this and live in the Prayer House!

Here you can see the demarcation of the backyard garden with the current line of the cemetery.

We're sure that the garden is on top of many Jewish unbelievable Harvest of Sorrows.

Horrified, we carefully walk around the entire walled area to see if we can find an entry gate into the cemetery. At first, we find nothing at all,
although there is a clear line demarcating the front (now residence) and the rear section (the cemetery):

A Harvest of Sorrows
Reflections on disrespect

Neil O. Anderson
(c) 2011

Walls and trees meld in lines, vertical.
Casting shadows
one on another,

moving slowly across
to mark days and time
of sundials.
corners reach around us,
inviting forward.
Of these
we know
the daily silence
cannot overshadow
the past
and what has happened here.
It is still happening.
Silver dollar Lunaria rediviva
in stone
and life
gently shakes
upon April breezes.
Listen carefully
as the stones speak
and rattle
of horrors
Do walls
and locked gates
keep us from feeling?

Vinca minor
slithers silently 
under gate,
catching our feet
wrapping the pulse of life
of lives giving,
yet kept apart.
Who can harvest such
Paths crossing
through the forest
which edges us in closer,
but kept
at trunks' length.
Glimpsing within
we see,
soak in 
the chill of moist soil.
Lean our stones
towards trees
that shade
and hold us up.
as trees,
as stones, 
we blend as one.
In starkness
comes the night.

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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