Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Of Prague and Clocks

During June my wife and I went on our honeymoon. I didn't mention it here beforehand, or during, as I'm not overly fond of letting the world know that I am not going to be home over a long period of time. But it's time to share some photographs. Many of them are of genealogical or historical interest.

Our first stop was Prague.  And we stopped by the clock tower.

No, not the Astronomical Clock:

We stopped there, too.  Constructed in 1410, with some additions in 1490, it is perhaps the best known clock tower in Prague. But there's another.

Located in the Jewish Quarter, these clocks top the Jewish Town Hall, and were constructed in 1586. The higher two of the three clocks have Roman numerals. The lower one on the left has Hebrew, and it rotates what can only be called 'counter-clockwise' except the term doesn't really make sense, does it?  Whatever direction a clock turns is clockwise for that clock.

Is this 'correct' for a Hebrew clock? How does one define 'correct?' While the language reads right-to-left, this doesn't necessarily require the clock to turn in this fashion.

We would visit Israel later in this trip, and though I saw several Hebrew watches in gift shops, none of them rotated in this fashion. However, wrist-watches are a relatively new invention, and Israel is a modern state.  There aren't many places in the world where one might find a Hebrew clock dating back to the 16th century. Prague may be alone. If it is, how does one decide if Prague's clock is 'correct'?

The Jewish Town Hall stands next to the Alt Neu (Old New) Synagogue.

Constructed in 1270, it is the oldest active synagogue in Europe. According to legend, the golem created by Rabbi Judah Loew sits in the attic, waiting for a time of great need to return.  (As a tour guide suggested to us...that time came, and no golem. There is a story that one Nazi agent died after entering the attic.)

Photo Credits: 
Astronomical Clock - Jenifer Newmark - June 2012
Jewish Town Hall and Altneu Synagogue - John Newmark - June 2012


Anonymous said...

Clock with hebrew letters on the dial and backward movement (like on Jewish Town Hall in Prague) now made as wrist watch by Lanswood (UK). Name of this clock is "Zman Avar" (hebrew "Time Back"). Full info you can find here:

John said...

The watch is 5x as expensive as what I paid for the watch in Prague, but it looks nice.