Tribute to my family. Tribute to all families. Thank you for honouring us with your visit. 

My mother told me that I was Jewish when I was 9 or 10. As a child performer in Theater Semafor (my name was Lenka Hartlova), I was invited to perform at the Prague Jewish Community's celebration of Purim. I didn't know anything at all...not even what "Jew" was. It took me a while to learn about my roots, as my mother did not say much about it; she did not know herself. My mother, while 100% Jewish, was brought up a Catholic by her family who left Judaism one by one. My great-grandmother described herself as "without faith" already in 1919, and my grandmother and grandfather left Judaism some 3-4 years later. There were no signs of Jewish roots in the households, Christmas was celebrated. Not a completely atypical Czech Jewish urban family, i believe; assimilation was wide-spread. Then the Holocaust... and my family was murdered. As an adult, I began learning.

The activities of the past 25 years of my life, since my first trip to Masada, have largely been an attempt to learn about, and honour my heritage in ways available to me: as a Yiddish singer (picking up Yiddish as an adult..) and musician, composer of music built in one way or another on Jewish traditions, and a singer of beautiful liturgy. My 2010-2012 project "Songs for the Breathing Walls" was the most determined milestone in my quest to honour and connect with the past  - via the history of the wider Jewish community of Czech and Moravian lands. None of the understanding that I may have gained came from my own family, for reasons explained above...However, the artefacts, and photos that I gradually uncovered in boxes at the back of closets in my mom's Prague apartment, provide wordless testimonies onto themselves. My family did not wish to be Jewish, but that is the fate that was given them and that led to the destruction of the family. While the mementos found on this page provided the seed motivation, the "Breathing Walls" concept (to be resumed in 2015) reaches well beyond my own family, projecting hope into the future. You can hear it and read about it here:
 BREATHING WALLS 

In my virtual museum, I intend to collect the objects in my possession, a number of them from my mother's files that I am discovering over time in her place in Prague. I begin today, on Yom Hashoa, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 18-19, 2012. The first exhibit is a "savings book" that belonged to my maternal grandmother Hannah (Anna) Friesova in Terezin. Every month, she seems to have deposited Moses-decorated "money" into this "account". You can also see the little marble monument my mom had made, in lieu of actual graves for her family members who all perished in Auschwitz and prisons in Czechoslovakia and Germany. As well, please note the pen drawing, created by grandma Hana in Terezin. It depicts the dreary hospital there. The song playing on this site, Child of Survivors, was my first attempt to come to terms with my heritage, and the path I suddenly felt that I had to take. It was written in 1988, recorded ten years later. 

 

 My grandmother's         

          



 

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