Less than a week after the ordination of Rabbi David Maxa, the newly-created Ec Chajim congregation officially opened its new sanctuary and learning center in Prague on September 15.
Located within feet of the gothic Jindřišská tower completed in 1476, members and guests gathered install mezuzot, enjoy a short harp and piano recital, and hear welcome words by Anna Nosková, Chairperson of Ec Chajim, and congratulatory remarks from an impressive array of dignitaries including Daniel Meron, Ambassador of the State of Israel in the Czech Republic; Hans-Peter Hinrichsen, Deputy Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany; Dr. Robert Řehák, Special Envoy for Holocaust, Interfaith Dialogue and Freedom of Religion; Professor Tomáš Zima, Rector of the Charles University in Prague; Mariana Čapková, Representative of the Municipality of Prague; and Dr. Tomáš Kraus, Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic.
It is thanks to the enormous generosity of Liz and Jim Breslauer that enabled Ec Chajim’s to establish its own home in the heart of Prague. Housing a classroom, sanctuary, kindergarten and rabbi’s office, this represents a historic step in the creation of a new progressive community.
During the initial COVID-19 lockdown, Ec Chajim was regularly attracting up to 100 people to its online services. As Spring arrived, Kabbalat Shabbat services were held in some of Prague’s most beautiful outdoor locations including on Petřín Hill which overlooks the entire city.
Now, following the accession of David Maxa as its rabbi, Ec Chajim has a new place in time of the High Holy Days. “Having our own home makes all the difference. It gives us a real identity and provides a physical centerpiece for our important work in rebuilding vibrant Jewish life here in the Czech Republic”, said Rabbi David.
“We’re deeply indebted to the support of the entire WUPJ family and, of course, to the Breslauers for their amazing support. As we move to our new premises, it feels like a concrete manifestation of the outpouring of love that we have received since we started Ec Chajim less than two year ago”, he added.
When travel returns to normal, Ec Chajim looks forward to welcoming visitors from WUPJ across the globe to Prague.
Photo Courtesy of Leona Kalvodová