Eastern and Central Europe (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

(Ben Green) #1

The everyday language of North Eastern European Jewry was Yiddish. By
the early 19th century, Vilnius had emerged as a centre of Jewish learn-
ing. The religious customs of the Litvaks, as Lithuanian Jews are known
in Yiddish, were marked by a rigid analysis of the Talmud, the Jewish
laws and traditions. However, any proliferation of Yiddish litera ture was
cut short by the devas tation of Jewish com munities in World War II.

The Sarajevo Haggadah,
illustrating the Jewish
Passover, is a beautifully
illuminated manus cript
written by Sephardic
Jews in 1350.

Franz Kafka (1883–1924), renowned
for his surreal stories written in
German, was part of a German-
Jewish literary circle in Prague, where
he spent most of his life.

Mark Rothko
(1903–70), a
pioneer of
brooding, medi ta-
tive abstract art,
was born in the
Latvian city of
Daugavpils. He
later moved to
New York.

Sigmund Freud (1856–
1939), the father of
modern psycho analysis,
spent much of his life in
Vienna until Hitler’s inva-
sion of Austria drove him
to London.

The Jewish Museum
in Prague is spread
between four his toric
synagogues. The
museum’s collections
provide a fasci nating
insight into all aspects
of Jewish culture.

The Jewish Culture
Festival in Cracow,
held in June each
year, fea tures films,
theatre, choral
performances and
tradi tional klezmer
music, and is one of
the biggest festivals
of Jewish culture in
the world.

Vilnius was regarded
as the European
Jewry’s most vibrant
cultural centre. It
was famous as a
centre of study
as well as of art
and literature.

Banned from taking up
most professions until the
late 19th century, Jews lived
largely as traders. However,
over time many gained rec-
ognition in the fields of art
and literature.

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