Sunday, November 23, 2008

Items From the Past: Central Europe, November 1994

November was a fine month to be in Central Europe, at least in the immediate post-communist years. It wasn't any colder than in the Midwest and various places that would be awash with visitors in summer were a lot quieter, and probably somewhat cheaper.

Toward the beginning of the month, we were in southern Poland. Near Krakow is the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The "Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland" is a place of gray salt walls, sculptures and other artwork made of salt, and a considerable history in providing a formerly very valuable commodity. This exterior shot hardly does the place justice, but then again my snapshot from inside would do it even less justice.

This is a fall scene from Prague: the Old Jewish Cemetery, a burial ground from the 15th to the 18th centuries. It amazed me that this place survived the Nazis, but it did, and contains thousands of stones and countless other burial sites, including that of Rabbi Loew. The picture isn't his headstone, but of someone else whose identity can be known to readers of Hebrew.

Finally, here's an image from Vienna, that storied imperial capital with no more empire to preside over. We were fortunate indeed to be there for the annual Autohochhaltend Sängerfest. Choirs from all over Austria come to sing while cars were lifted in artful ways. I'd say there's no other festival quite like it anywhere. I managed to get a pic of some car-lifting, but unfortunately none of the singers.

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At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Wikipedia article on Judah Loew ben Bezalel (called the Maharal): "The Maharal is particularly known for the story about the golem, a myth that first appears in print close to 200 years after his death. According to the myth he supposedly created using mystical magical powers based on the esoteric knowledge of how God created Adam, but there is no contemporary evidence that this is true."


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