The Czech Jewish community in Prague is celebrating the start of Chanukah
which this year starts on December 2nd and ends on December 10th.
On Dec 6th representatives of the Jewish community, cultural figures and diplomats will attend the traditional lighting of the Menorah on Jan Palach square, just outside the historic Jewish Quarter of Prague.
The Menorah lighting ceremony was established in 2006 by one of Prague’s Jewish congregations. This year the Menorah is to be decorated with a Czech flag marking the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia.
In 1941, Nazi Germany turned the centuries-old Czech garrison town of Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. Over the next few years, some 155,000 people were held there in desperate conditions awaiting transport to the death camps further east. And yet, there was a well-documented flourishing of cultural life in the ghetto. Many artists also risked their lives to depict the harsh reality of daily life. But this is a story of the traces left behind by more ordinary people who endured those extraordinary times.
The Czech Republic is for the first time celebrating Red Wednesday, a
global event whose goal is to remember those who cannot practise their
faith freely throughout the world.
In a show of solidarity, a number of churches, synagogues and other religious sites throughout the country will be illuminated in red during the evening. In Prague, these include the St. Nicholas Church on Old Town Square and the Old-New Synagogue in Josefov, the historic Jewish quarter.
A conference on the role of religion in society is also underway in Prague, attended by representatives of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the pontifical foundation that launched the Red Wednesday initiative in support of persecuted Christians.
A new altar at Prague’s 1930s Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord
has been blessed. The altar, designed by architects Josef Pleskot and
Norbert Schmidt, was consecrated by Bishop Zdenek Wasserbaur during a
ceremony on Saturday evening.
The Roman Catholic church, which is located in the Vinohrady district, was designed by Slovene architect Jože Plečnik, who was also responsible for a number of other significant projects in Prague.
The new apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic, Charles Daniel Balvo, is
set to arrive in the Czech Republic on Thursday. The American, who has
already served at the Prague nunciature, was appointed to the post by Pope
Francis in September of this year. He will replace Giuseppe Leanza, who has
served as apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic for the past seven years.
Mr Balvo will be the fifth papal nuncio to the Czech Republic since 1990. Among his first tasks will be to choose candidates to replace Cardinal Dominik Duka in the post of Prague Archbishop, when his term in office expires.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo, who was appointed the new papal nuncio to the
Czech Republic, is expected to arrive in Prague on November 22nd. He will
be met at Prague airport by Cardinal Dominik Duka.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo was ordained priest in 1976 in New York. He entered the diplomatic corps of the Holy See a year later.
He has served in the nunciatures in Ghana, Ecuador, Chile, the Czech Republic, Jordan and Lithuania. He speaks English, Italian, Spanish, French and Czech.
A former Prague-based Islamic cleric, who faces charges of supporting
terrorism, has given up his right to lodge a complaint against his
detention and so will remain in custody pending a trial, along with two
Imam Samer Shehadeh could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on charges of supporting, promoting and financing terrorism. According to media reports, the other suspects are Shehadeh’s brother Omar and his brother’s wife.
The Czech intelligence services began investigating Imam Shehadeh in 2016. While in Prague, he had allegedly tried to radicalise Muslims and told them attending a Christian mass in a show of solidarity with people of different faiths would amount to a betrayal of Islam.
Recordings of Imam Shehadeh preaching elsewhere indicate that he was more radical than the Czech Muslim community, which expelled him, may have suspected at the time.
The Islamic cleric later briefly preached in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, from where he was also forced out. He was captured in Jordan and flown to the Czech Republic this week.
A new plaque was unveiled in Shanghai on Sunday commemorating China's
assistance to Czech Jews, who were fleeing Europe to escape the Holocaust.
The event was attended by Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, who is part of the government delegation accompanying President Miloš Zeman on his official visit to China.
Mr Petříček also visited the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, commemorating the Jewish refugees who lived in the city during World War II, which is located in former synagogue.
The official programme of president Zeman's visit starts on Sunday evening with a reception hosted by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. The two heads of state are scheduled to meet for talks on Monday.
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