The distance from Prague, Czech Republic to Andover is more than nine hours in the air and thousands of miles, but recently Temple Emanuel, a Reform synagogue in Andover has managed to bridge that gap.
The temple recently donated about 100 books to another synagogue located in Prague.
The connection between the two groups was established during a Bar Mitzvah in Prague, where a member of Temple Emanuel met Rabbi David Maxa, of Ec chajim, which translates into English as “tree of life”. The synagogue was founded in Prague in 2019 and Maxa lacked a certain type of prayer book, so Temple Emanuel donated it.
“It’s the prayer book for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement,” said Max Chaiken, the rabbi of Temple Emanuel.
Maxa was born in Prague and is the son of a Holocaust survivor.
“As the son of a Holocaust survivor, he is committed to helping renew the Jewish community in the Czech Republic, silenced by the Holocaust and decades of communist rule. Our prayer books will provide significant support for this goal,” Dana Katz, first vice president of Temple Emanuel, said in a press release.
“The intention was to create a safe space for everyone, for all people of different Jewish backgrounds to reconnect with their Jewish identity. To have a safe space to learn, experience and also revive Reform Judaism in the Czech Republic,” Maxa said.
Both synagogues practice Reform Judaism.
“Reform Judaism is also known as Progressive Judaism in different parts of the world, and it is a contemporary movement within Judaism, founded in the 19th century, founded in Europe in fact,” Chaiken said. “Who really strives to adapt Jewish practice and to adapt ritual and Jewish life, and Judaism to the modern world.”
Maxa said Reform Judaism was predominant in Prague before the start of World War II.
“It’s something you can clearly see when you go to Prague and visit all the historic synagogues,” Maxa said.
This can be seen when looking at the instruments in the synagogues. Maxa said the organ was a key part of the Spanish Synagogue in Prague, which was the center of Reform Judaism before the war.
Temple Emanuel was founded over a hundred years ago and is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism. For more information about the temple, email email@example.com or contact the temple office at 978-470-1356.
“We are honored to be able to connect with Ec chajim in this way and to be able to support the wonderful work that Maxa and her community are doing to support progressive Jewish life in Prague,” Chaiken said.