My friend Richard Katrovas created the Prague Summer Program in the wake of the Velvet Revolution and I was fortunate to teach in it many times in the summer. I got to learn the culture of Prague, especially the Jewish culture of the Jewish Quarter with its twin icons, the Golem and Franz Kafka. Eventually I wrote a book about Kafka and his hidden connection to Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav, Burnt Books.
One of the weird and somewhat disturbing things about Prague were some rather open anti-Semitic iconography. There was the town clock which included a bearded Jew holding a money bag. There was a restaurant called the Golem that served a dish called “Rabbi’s pocket” which was like an empanada with cheese and ham. (Another restaurant back in the day served what the Czech’s called “Jew roast”(and Jews call “flanken”)– a misfortunate translation of the menu called the dish “Roasted Jew”. And then there were the puppets.
Prague is a great town for puppets and one of the great experiences I had there was the puppet version of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. If you haven’t–you must– see it.
You can also buy a puppet rabbi.
I bought one because it fascinated me and also disturbed me. It made me think of how we represent the other, only here I felt a close connection to the other whereas in other cases I failed to notice.
So what do you do when something fascinates and disturbs. You write a poem, that’s what you do, and Tikkun just published it The Rabbi Puppet of Prague