Jew community in Prague, Republic of Czech has been trying to revive its history
The community wants to resurrect its cemetery which has met with strong opposition
The former head of Jew community in Prague has been trying hard to restore the broken headstones to ensure the town remembers its Jewish past
Prague, Czech Republic, June 15, 2017: The Czech Republic- a nation state in the European continent is home to many ethnic groups including Germans, Romani, Poles and Hungarians from the neighboring nations. Jews have also been an integral part of the ethnic composition of Czech Republic.
On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist as a separate entity and its territory became two independent nations, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Jewish communities of the various regions hence differed substantially in their demographic, economic, and cultural aspects, with influences of assimilation to the Czech and German cultures prevailing in the West. However, constant conflicts with the Czech community led to the emigration and escape of Jews from the nation (specifically after Munich Conference and German occupancy).
Since then, the Jew population in the nation has been on a fall. It also seems like that Czech Republic may be trying to bury its Jewish history. One can tell so by the poor state of the important structures related with Jews which have now been converted into ruins. But the Jews still living in the country are making efforts to revive their history in the nation.
According to a leading news site, Mr.Tomas Jelinek, the former head of Jew community in Prague, has been trying hard to restore the broken headstones to ensure the town remembers its Jewish past. Mr.Jelinek has recovered 34 headstones in and around Prostejov till date.
He said that every few months, he receives a call from someone from Prostejov telling him that a stone has been found with Hebrew writing.
Talking to the leading news site, he said “Prostejov had a very bad history in the relationship to the Jews. It was famous for its anti-Semitism in the 19th Century. And it’s still in the population. You can hear it on the street, and you can also see that they just reinvent things which people thought would disappear for ever after the Second World War.”
Prostejov had been an important Jewish centre till 1942 when this history was brought to an abrupt end by Nazi occupancy. In 1943, the town’s Jew cemetery was bought by the town’s mayor and good quality marble was sold in the market leaving the place to be the Czech Republic ground.
Now, it is a small park, bordered by houses and a school. But 74 years after its desecration, plans to rehabilitate it have caused an uproar.
The US foundation represented by Mr.Jelinek has proposed to demarcate the old cemetery with a knee-high hedge and place some of the recovered tombstones there. However, the proposal has led to an uproar of opposition with a petition signed by 3,000 locals. As a result, the town council has withdrawn its support.
“Most of the people who signed the petition live opposite the park or are parents of kids who go to the school. So most people who signed the petition against it actually live there.” Said deputy mayor Zdenek Fiser.
He also dismissed the claims made by Jelinek that Prostejov was a hotbed of anti-Semitism (Antisemitism is hostility, prejudice, or discrimination directed against Jews as a group). He further added, “You’re asking me about anti-Semitic articles in the local press, but we didn’t write those articles, did we? As you well know, journalists need controversy, a ’cause celebre’, to make their articles interesting. If they’d just written about plans to turn a local park into a place of remembrance, no-one would be interested. But put ‘anti-Semitism’ in the headline, and all of a sudden everyone’s up in arms.”
For now, the newly discovered Bernhard Herlitzka’s tombstone is being stored with the rest at Prostejov’s New Jewish Cemetery, a short drive out of town. The town council and the foundation are still to concur over what to do with the tombstones which is going to take some time, considering the atmosphere.
– prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram. Twitter: @NikitaTayal6
Geneva, September 28, 2017 : Do you know which is the unhealthiest country in the world? If you think it is some region from the African continent, you are mistaken.
According to a new study by Clinic Compare, the Czech Republic has been recognized as the unhealthiest country in the world.
Drawing upon data gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO), CIA World Factbook and the World Lung Association, 179 countries around the world were assessed on three key factors,
Prevalence of obesity
The study thus revealed the most unhealthy country in the world – Czech Republic, and highlighted the need for citizens to change their lifestyle in order to combat life-threatening illnesses and maintain and enjoy a healthy life.
1. Czech Republic
10. Lithuania and the United States
As per the examination, the residents of Czech Republic positioned as the world’s greatest liquor consumers, with every individual expending 13.7 liters of liquor for each annum (around 1.5 shots per day). They additionally ranked eleventh on the list of the highest tobacco customers.
This comes as a surprise as poverty-stricken countries of Africa were instead found to be among the healthiest countries in the world.
According to the research, Eastern Europe emerged as the unhealthiest region in the world, occupying nine out of the best 10 top spots in the list.
41 per cent of the population in Samoa was further revealed to have a BMI over 30, making Oceania the world’s fattest region. Also included in the top 10 list of the fattest regions were Fiji, Tuvalu and Kiribati.
Healthiest Country in the World
The findings revealed that the healthiest country was Afghanistan with merely 2.7 per cent of the population having a BMI over 30. This places the country on the world’s second lowest rate of obesity.
It was further revealed that the citizens of Afghanistan consume the least recorded quantity of alcohol and smoke 83 cigarettes a year. This can be largely attributed to the nation’s laws that forbid the possession and consumption of alcohol.
The research placed Guinea as the second healthiest country, closely followed by Niger and Nepal.
Eight Countries from Africa made it to the list of the healthiest countries in the world, which comes as a pleasant surprise for all.
According to a WHO report released in mid-September, it was revealed that non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular diseases are an increasing cause of premature deaths all around the world, taking as many as 30 million lives annually.
These diseases cause self-inflicted damage and trace their roots to individual lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, drugs and unhealthy or unbalanced diet.
The new findings put greater pressure on the countries that have made it to the list of unhealthy countries, thereby urging them to undertake stronger measures.
“Unite the Right” rally on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia was about protecting a statue of Robert E. Lee
The rally soon suffused with anti-black racism and anti-Semitism
President Trump blamed both the sides for the violence
New Delhi, August 23, 2017: The “Unite the Right” rally On Saturday, August 12, in Charlottesville, Virginia, which was seemingly about protecting a statue of Robert E. Lee, spreading the message of white supremacy, was soon suffused with anti-black racism and anti-Semitism.
Saturday evening in a Jewish home is a sight to watch. Some look forward to restart their work, others pleased to use their cell phones again. Whatever it be, the end of Sabbath is an auspicious time when the holiness leaves, giving way to the regular week again. One makes the best of this time, to be able to deliver the approaching week happily, the reason why people at this time wish each other a “Shauva Tov,” or a good week.
This Saturday, However, was not like the usual Saturdays. In the world outside, Swastikas were being displayed and slogans were being shouted.
“I was in Israel and as I breathed the spices our sages teach us to comfort our soul while we lose our Shabbat spirits, this ritual barely prepared me for the news that was waiting on the other side. I turned my phone on, only to learn that a rally of White Supremacists and neo-Nazis took place in Charlottesville, Virginia and that those in attendance were shouting that ‘Jews will not replace us’ I realized immediately that it was not, in fact, going to be a shavua tov,” Said Jessica Spengler in a report published in Manhattan Jewish Experience website.
President Trump, two days later, blamed both the sides for the violence in Charlottesville. “I think there is blame on both sides. You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now,” He said, according to The New York Times report.
In a reaction to which, “Our president not only held counter-protesters to the same moral deficiency as the Nazis themselves but also claimed that not all people at the Unite The Right rally were antisemites. That might technically be true but not the kind of unequivocal condemnation of racism and bigotry we need to hear from the top,” Jessica mentioned.
“I rarely speak of Israel as a safe haven also since America has been a safe option for Jews for as long as I’ve been alive. The 1800’s saw large waves of immigration to the land of Israel due to the pogroms occurring in Eastern Europe. The rising anti-Semitism reinforced in Europe by 20th century Fascism brought, even more, refugees to what would eventually become the Jewish State. But here’s the kicker: as a Jewish American, I never had to put myself in their shoes. After all, we live in America! But the images of white supremacists and neo-Nazis marching with swastikas in America in 2017 jolted me and got me thinking…maybe Israel is still needed as a safe haven even for us?” Jessica who’s herself a Jew living in America added.
Jessica believes it’s our responsibility to confront racism and all forms of bigotry, particularly anti-Semitism. She finds it important to speak against the bigotry in America but holds, that to continue to strengthen Israel is equally essential.
– prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha
Buddhists are meant to refrain from any quantity of fermented or distilled beverages
The goal of Jainism is to escape the cycle of reincarnation
Ayahuasca is used by South American tribes as part of a powerful religious experience
August 12, 2017: Throughout the history, Religion and Drug use have been seen as intertwined but the nature of this relationship has changed over time, from one place to another, one religion to another and with changing times. It’s true that Alcohol and other drugs have played some crucial part in the religious rituals of numerous groups. Some religions have specific laws, others have interpretations from religious texts, while some religions have no official message about the use of narcotics. In this article, we will explore the relationship between religion and drug use as per different religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and many others.
Buddhism is not in favor of drug use. Though it offers suggestions on how one should try to lead their life. Buddhism make a valid point that alcohol and drugs should be avoided.
According to the fifth precept of the Pancasila, Buddhists are meant to refrain from any quantity of “fermented or distilled beverages” which would prevent mindfulness or cause heedlessness. The Pali Tipitaka (Buddhist scriptures) says, “I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness.”
The Dalai Lama has stated, “drug use hurts the mind’s ability to be introspective, which leads to unintended and unguided consequences”.
Followers of Jainism are instructed to abstain from anything intoxicating, unless for a medical purpose. The pollution of the mind should be avoided so as to avoid disrupting the state of the Supreme Being called Jina (Conqueror).
Jainism has a strict diet that is vegetarian and also excludes some vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrot, and radish, basically all root vegetables. Unlike some other religions, Jainism does not allow alcohol use as the process of alcohol formation involves fermentation, which includes microorganisms, thus it is not considered vegetarian. This is because they follow the principle of non-violence. The goal of Jainism is to escape the cycle of reincarnation. The spiritual effect, or Karma, of violent actions, stop them from attaining this. Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana, was the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara (who achieved salvation) of Jainism, said, “Kill not, cause no pain. Nonviolence is the greatest religion.”
Hinduism has one of the most intertwined connections with narcotics use in its origin. Arthashaastra of Kautilya (an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, written in Sanskrit) states, ‘The mind of a drunken person becomes confused, then the confused mind commits sins…a wise person should never even try wine and other intoxicants.’
While there are some Hindus who still use marijuana or psychedelics most of the Hindus dissuade their use. Soma, a drink with psychedelic properties, is directly mentioned in the Vedas (the first Hindu texts). Some images of the god Shiva depict him with a marijuana pipe. While there is no direct religious text denying them, leaders declare it hurts the ability to achieve spiritual harmony. Again, the goals of spiritual harmony and drug use are seen as contradictory. Laws of Manu an ancient Hindu text states that ‘He must not get willfully addicted to any… substances of self-gratification; he must try to overcome such dependence through will power.’
Islam is one religion which has a strong stance against the use of any substance, with direct quotations in the Quran about it. “Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer.” Therefore, many Muslims are taught to be completely substance free. Under Islam, it is considered to be haram (unlawful). Quran states, ‘concerning wine and gambling…as per them is a great sin…the sin is greater than the profit.’ Though some Muslims argue the Quran only bans alcohol and if the Quran does not explicitly deny something, it is permissible.
Interestingly some extremist Islamic groups like ISIS give their fighters amphetamines and justify it by saying that it is being used for a higher authority and has medicinal purposes.
Sikh doctrine is one of the few religions to specifically mention drug use. It is not vague about the prohibition of drugs, Bhagat Kabir said, “Those mortals who consume marijuana, fish, and wine – no matter what pilgrimages, fasts, and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell.”
As per Sikhism use of alcohol, wine and other recreational drugs used with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational or religious experience are condemned by the Sikh Gurus. Recreational drugs like LSD, PCP, tobacco, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy as well as inhalants like shoe glue, gases, aerosols, shoe glue, solvents etc are abhorred in Sikh religion.
The reason given is that the intoxicants affect your ability to focus on God all the time. Gurbani talks in the Guru Granth Sahib that “Those who do not use intoxicants are true; they dwell in the Court of the Lord.” There is an exception though, the Nihang of Punjab, a Sikh military order, used marijuana in meditation. But, this was banned in 2001 by the ruling body of Sikh clergy. The leader of the Nihang at the time refused to follow the ruling and was excommunicated. Its use for meditation is still continued by some Nihang.
There is no official doctrine on drugs in Catholicism. The Bible does not directly state not to smoke marijuana. Though, the Catholic Church has strongly been against the use of drugs and also for the nonprescription use of it. Pope Francis, the current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, said, “Every addicted person brings with them a distinct personal history, which should be listened to, understood, loved, and, where possible, cured and purified. We cannot fall into the injustice of classifying them as if they were objects or broken junk.”
Pope Francis has called drugs “evil” and does not support their legalization. His approach, matching his more liberal style, has been to focus on saying “yes” to spirituality.
There are several lines of Scripture recommending a sober mindset in general. New American Bible states, “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” Though it’s confusing, how can the Catholic Church say no to drugs while allowing alcohol in their ceremonies? The answer is moderation. The Catholic Church argues consumption of alcohol can be moderated, while most narcotics cannot, which is the reason they allow the use of alcohol versus other substances. This does not mean it is encouraged. As most priests encourage sobriety.
Christianity has the same view as that of Catholicism: No substance use, although alcohol is okay in moderation. However, there are Bible passages indicating total non-use of it: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.”
The variation between different belief systems means there are different variations on the use of drugs according to different religions. Some religious practices directly involve the use of psychotropic drugs. The Native American Church uses Peyote (small, spineless cactus with psychoactive alkaloids) to have spiritual visions and as a part of their religious ceremonies. They are legally allowed to use drugs this as its part of their religion. Other groups appreciate the influence of alcohol as a part of the natural world.
Ayahuasca (one of the most powerful hallucinogens on the planet) is used by South American tribes as part of a powerful religious experience. This has gained them popularity globally, with thousands of tourists venturing to partake in the drug and the unique ritual.
Shinto has an intimate connection with alcohol; it’s an ethnic religion of Japan. There is no mention of narcotics in the religious texts, so it’s left to their personal choice. Sake- the liquor of the gods is consumed at special occasions such as births or weddings. There is even holy sake called Omiki and practitioners drink this when visiting a shrine.
Given the high alcoholism rate in Japan and few seeking treatment, it is unclear if this practice should continue or not. It may be linked to cultural practices that go way beyond the religion. There is some historical evidence that marijuana was used for religious ceremonies, but it was not consumed. There are no moral absolutes in Shinto. The main ethical code is to follow Kami (spirits/deities). But even the Kami makes mistakes and are contradictory at times.
Shinto does try to eliminate impurities. This is called Tsumi and stands for pollution or sin. While there is no specific mentioning of narcotics, it can be argued they are Tsumi. This would require a cleansing ceremony, potentially using alcohol. But, it’s uncertain how many Shinto followers abstain from drug use.
In Judaism, the body belongs to God; therefore, the body must be treated with respect and dignity. While alcohol can be consumed at festivals and ceremonies, like the Sabbath, it must be done in moderation. All other substances are banned in this religion.
The Baha’i Faith explicitly prohibits drug use, Kitáb-i-Aqdas or Aqdas (central book of the Baha’i Faith) states, “Beware of using any substance that induceth sluggishness and torpor in the human temple and inflicteth harm upon the body. We, verily, desire for you naught save what shall profit you.”
Alcohol is also prohibited. Baha’i scholars state this comes from purity of the soul. They believe the spiritual effect on an individual is far graver than the legal consequences or health effects of drug abuse. The sale and trafficking of such substances is also forbidden
Other religions like Rastafarianism (Africa-centered religion) which allow the use of marijuana for worship and as a part of religious rituals, Wicca (contemporary Pagan new religious movement) there is no official rule condoning or denying drugs and Taoism (Chinese religion) doesn’t condone drug use.
– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08
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