The European Day of Jewish Culture has a long-standing tradition in Bratislava due to the active engagement of B’nai B’rith Tolerance Lodge. Over the last 20 years, the Lodge has organised an “open day” of the most important monument in Bratislava – Rabbi Chatam Sofer Memorial. The Memorial includes Chatam Sofer’s tomb and the rabbinic section of the old Jewish cemetery which has been saved as by a miracle in 1941 – 1942 during the existence of the war Slovak state, when a large part of the cemetery was destroyed.
Another building opened on this occasion is the Orthodox Synagogue in Bratislava which also houses the Community Museum in the former ladies’ gallery. In the Community Museum, visitors may see the permanent exhibition of Judaica from the city and region of Bratislava. In addition, museum management launches a special exhibition each year. This year, it was the life story of Eugen Bárkány, a prominent Jewish developer, architect and especially a painter and collector of Judaica. It was 50 years since his death and, thus, it was an appropriate occasion to remember this personality as it is in particular his collection which forms the basis of the permanent exhibition in the Community Museum.
Within the framework of the European Day of Jewish Culture, the expositions of the Museum of Jewish Culture of the Slovak National Museum could also be visited free of charge. In 2018, a special exhibition devoted to Imi Lichtenfeld was displayed in addition to the permanent expositions. Imi Lichtenfeld, together with David Unreich, was one of the most successful Slovak wrestlers. In the world, he is known as Krav Maga martial arts creator, trainer and promoter.
In the past two years, B’nai B’rith Tolerancia Lodge of Bratislava prepared exhibitions “This was the Jewish Bratislava” and “Jewish Personalities of Bratislava”. Both exhibitions were displayed in the public space of the medieval town walls, where the Jewish Quarter still existed in the 1960s. The first exhibition presented historical postcards and photographs of the demolished neighbourhood. The second exhibition was devoted to the memory of 16 important, often world-famous personalities who were born or worked in Bratislava.
This year, we prepared an exhibition of drawings and paintings of artist Helga Weissová-Hošková who was deported at the age of 12 to the concentration camp at Terezín in 1941. Later, she survived three other concentration camps of Auschwitz, Freiburg and Mauthausen where she lived until liberation. She saw the suffering of the people around her, the natural struggle for survival as well as the despair and atrocities happening there through the eyes of a child. Little Helga painted and recorded the horrors, we can hardly imagine today, everywhere where she was. These drawings and paintings have been saved and some of them were exhibited under the title “Paint What You See” at the University Library in Bratislava. These were the farewell words of her father before his deportation to Auschwitz where he died.