Jewish, Czech in Czechia

People Name: Jewish, Czech
Country: Czechia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 3,900
World Population: 3,900
Primary Language: Czech
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Jewish
Affinity Bloc: Jews
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Czech Republic is also known as Czechia Prague is the capital city. Jews have lived in Prague since 970 AD. By the end of the 11th century there was a fully established Jewish community. From the late 11th century through the early 15th century, Czechia Jews faced persecution. This was repelled, and from 1522 to 1541, the Jewish population of Prague almost doubled. Jewish refugees, who were expelled from Moravia, Germany, Austria, and Spain came to Prague. The Jewish Quarter officially became the ghetto.

Most of Czechia Jews were isolated from the "high" culture outside their community, however, a number of them became mathematicians, astronomers, geographers, historians, philosophers, and artists who participated in the 16th century Czechia Renaissance. In the early 18th century, more Jews lived in Prague than anywhere else in world. Sadly, Empress Maria Theresa expelled the Jews from Prague from 1745 to 1748. The Jews returned to Prague and conditions improved during the reign of Emperor Joseph II (1780-90). From the 1830s to the 1870s, many Czechia Jews began to adopt the German language and assimilated German cultural patterns.

Following the 1870s, however, the growth of Czechia nationalism increased the level of antagonism felt by the Jews. In 1899, Zionism began to become popular in Prague among the young professionals and students. They formed their own Zionist organization, Bar Kochba.

The Jewish population was devastated during World War II when thousands were murdered by the Nazi invaders. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact armies in August 1968, a new wave of emigration started, about one-third of Czechia Jews left for Israel.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today the Czechia government is one of Israel's closest allies. The current Jewish population in Czechia often intermarries with Czechs or they deny their Jewish ethnicity. A majority of Czechian Jewish survivors from WWII were reluctant to talk about their experience or to give a Jewish identity to their children. A good part of society considers all religion irrelevant. Some Czechia Jews converted to Christianity, primarily the Catholic Church. Many Czechia Jews attempted to migrate to Israel, the US and the UK. Intermarried and secularism, then and now, has taken over many of their lives.

Almost 90% Czech Jewish people live in Prague where they assimilate into the Czechia culture. However, there are Jewish schools, kosher restaurants and a Jewish museum. Czechia Jews attend the local schools and many work in professional jobs in fields such as business, education and medicine. A small number live in rural regions where they work in agriculture.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Orthodox, Liberal/Progressive, and Conservative streams are all active in the Czech Republic. These four branches of Judaism are found in traditional synagogues in Prague which includes the Old-New Synagogue, the High Synagogue, the Jerusalem (Jubilee) Synagogue, and the Spanish Synagogue. Israel has sent rabbis to Czechia to train Czechia Jews to be leaders and teachers of Judaism.

Only a small number of Czechia Jews are active in the traditions of Jewish teaching according to the Torah. Younger Czechia Jews have become secular and identify as agnostic. They consider the Jewish community too rigid, old and Orthodox.

What Are Their Needs?

Older Jewish Czechias are deeply concerned that they are losing their people and feel they need a revival to restore the people back to their Jewish heritage and faith. This presents Christians with an opportunity to reach out to the Czech Jews. There is a church-planting movement with a small number of believers, house churches and growing cell groups. Written, audio and visual resources, including a new version of the Bible in everyday Czech language, are now available.

Prayer Points

Pray that the Church will be a strong witness of our Lord and patiently reach out to the Czechia Jewish people.

Pray Czechia Jewish people will know how much God loves them as shown in the Old Testament and the fulfillment of His promises as given in the prophecies.

Pray the Messianic Czechia Christian movements will grow strong.

Text Source:   Joshua Project