Museum of Jewish Culture is the only surviving house reminding the historic Jewish neighborhood of Bratislava. It belongs to the Slovak National Museum and its collections form part of the Slovak Jewish heritage. It documents the life of Jewish community before and after the World War II as well as the Holocaust period.
The Museum of Jewish Culture in Slovakia is located on Židovská street 17 in an old historical building. This former Jewish street was demolished in the 1960s when the new bridge (UFO bridge) was built up in Bratislava.
All rooms are quite small, with white walls and wooden doors. The way the objects are exposed and rooms are furnished makes you feel like walking from a living room to a living room.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE MUSEUM OF JEWISH CULTURE IN SLOVAKIA?
After entering the gateway and you will get to a small courtyard with a big stage couch and panels with photos. This part is actually the last one you should visit – the exhibition starts on the first floor, continues on the second one and ends here, on the ground floor. The lady at the cash desk will surely navigate you when you walk in :) This part is dedicated to the memory of the approximate 70 000 Holocaust victims from Slovakia.
Besides this courtyard, make sure you have a look in the 2 small rooms on the ground floor, too. One is a so-called Pantheon which symbolizes a cemetery of personalities of Jewish origin who made Slovakia famous for something in the past.
The second one is a Library where books giving an overview of Jews in Slovakia are exposed. You can walk in and ask for any book you want to read – they all are however only to be borrowed and read there on the spot, can’t be taken away. You are allowed to make copies though.
The whole permanent exhibition shows the history and culture of Jews living in Slovakia since the days of the Great Moravian Empire. When you get to the first floor, you will find rooms with objects of everyday life such as a dining table which looks like teleported from an actual kitchen :)
Different Jewish holidays, their meanings and traditions are described on the objects so you can get a better understanding of what you are seeing.
You will get to know which prayer objects Jews used a few hundred years back and what traditional clothes they used to wear to do so (left picture). There are two jugs from the 18th century you should definitely not overlook. They have a very big value as in the past they were used by the Jewish burial-society Chevra Kadiša which provided a dignified funeral for all community members and also took care of the surviving relatives. On the jugs (picture on the right), there are scenes from the activities of the brotherhood.
Wonder what a wedding dress looked like? Or maybe you want to examine the traditional wedding contract? Did you know that in this contract the husband gives commitment to his bride, the amount of the bride’s dowry as well as the sum that the woman would get in case of divorce or husband’s death are stated?
One of the rooms you will walk through is full of old photographs, books and portraits of important Jews who meant something for the community.
Textile curtains, blankets, metal candlesticks and other material objects of Jewish culture are exposed in the last room of the first floor.
The second floor is an exhibition of various photographs and maps showing the parts of Slovakia where Jewish communities used to live.
You can read some papers recording the persecution and deportation of Jews during the World War II, along with seeing the black and white photos and reading press articles.
A list and photographs of rabbis who died in the concentrate camps, and those who escaped and spread the word about the situation back home, are pictured on the walls.
The last room of the second floor includes documentation of the four years (1940-1944) that Jews spent in Bulgaria during the Holocaust.
Most of the parts are explained in English as well (except the Pantheon on the ground floor, sadly) – plus English guides are available at the cash desk if you want to have a proper explanation of everything.
PS: You are just a few steps away from the Museum of Clocks from here :)
Author: Maria Kecsoova