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TURNOV: Semily, Liberec, Bohemia PDF Print E-mail

Turnov has long been known for expertise with gemstones that attracted many medieval craftsmen and artisans who produced jewelry from the local Bohemian garnet. Its Museum of the Bohemian Paradise has a significant collection of gemstones and jewelry, as well as exhibits on geology, archaeology, and folklore.

This town, not under direct responsibility of the Jewish Community of Liberic, is part of the Jewish culture of northern Bohemia. The first Jews were settled here in the 14th or 15th century. The oldest written document regarding the first Jews from the town records dating back to 1527 talks about a Jew named Moses, a hatter, who paid his debt to his son-in-law Jakub. At that time, only a few individual Jewish families lived in the center of the town. The relationship between Jews and Christians was not bad thusno strict urban separation (ghetto) resulted. At the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century, the Jews in Turnov owned seven houses and by the second half of the 18th century, eighteen of the majority of which were concentrated on Krajířova Street. Even after many reconstruction projects, this part of town was spared. In the mid-19th century, 45 Jewish families lived in Turnov. The community spoke Czech and has had its own rabbi until 1916. The 1910 Jewish population was 478 Jews or 3% of Turnov. In 1930 the number decreased to 104. At the beginning of 1943, Turnov's Jews were transported to Terezín. Most of them later died in Auschwitz.  The nineteen returning Jews after the WW II revived the Jewish Community, but in the 1950s, the 1710 synagogue became a church and lapsed into disuse in the early 1960s. Today, people of Jewish origin is relatively high in the region but only a few are practicing Jews. Between 1950 and 2006 the synagogue was a warehouse but will be restored as concert site and memorial. The old Jewish cemetery is in a relatively good condition with many tombstones dating from the beginning of the 18th century. A Holocaust memorial recalls the 115 Jews murdered by Nazis in WW II. partial source [February 2009]


US Commission No. CZCE000001

Alternate name: Turnau in German. Turnov is located in Bohemia, Semily at 50°37′N 15°10′E , 21 km SSE of Liberec. Cemetery: 0.5 km SW, in Sobotecka Street. Present town population is 5,000-25,000 with than 10 Jews.

  • Town: Mestsky Urad, 511 01 Turnov.
  • Regional: Okresni urad-odbor kultury, 513 01 Semily.
  • Interested: Muzeum Ceskeho raje, Cs. armady 71, 511 01 Turnov. Zidovska Nabozenska Obec, Maislova 18, 110 01 Praha 1 and Statni Zidovske Museum, Jachymova 3, 110 01 Praha 1.

Earliest known Jewish community was 17th century. 1930 Jewish population was 104. The landmarked Jewish cemetery originated in 17th century with last known Conservative Jewish burial in 1950s. The isolated suburban hillside has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all via a broken masonry wall and non-locking gate. The pre- and post-WWII size of cemetery is 2183 sq. m.

100-500 stones, all in original location, date from 17th century. The sandstone, marble and granite flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, flat stones with carved relief decoration or multi-stone monuments have Hebrew, German and Czech inscriptions. Some have portraits on stones and/or metal fences around graves. The cemetery has no special sections but has a wall and sexton's house with morgue. The pre-burial house has a tahara. ZNO Praha owns Jewish cemetery. Adjacent properties are between the street and recreational gardens. Occasionally, private visitors stop. Vandalism occurred occasionally, 1981-91. Local non-Jewish residents did restoration occasionally. Now, there is occasional clearing or cleaning by individuals and regular caretaker paid by Praha Jewish congregation. Moderate threat: uncontrolled access and vandalism. Slight threat: weather erosion, pollution and existing nearby development.

Vlastmila Hamackova, Zabelska 37, 312 15 Plzen completed survey on 15 Nov. 1991. Documentation: census 1930; Jewish Cemeteries in Bohemia and Moravia(1980); Gold: Die Juden und Judengemeinden Boehmens. (1934). No site visits or interviews occurred.

"Le Cimetièjournal, review juif de Turnov", 2663, article p. 000616, 12/9/1996, HAMACKOVA Vlastimila in Judaica Bohemiae, Volume XXVI/2", Judaica Bohemiae, pp. 1-8. Source: Daniel Dratwa This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (Jewish Museum of Belgium).

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2009 18:50
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