Security at Jewish Sites in Prague to Be Increased Amid Terror Concerns

Czech officials and leaders of Prague's Jewish community have agreed to tighten security and coordinate their efforts as the threat of attacks heightens.

A nighttime view of the Old New Synagogue in the former Jewish quarter of Prague, Czech Republic, January 2009.
Wikimedia Commons/Karelj

Security at Jewish sites in Prague and across the Czech Republic will be tightened due to increased terror concerns.

On Tuesday, Czech officials and Jewish groups signed a memorandum on cooperation on security issues. The Jewish groups — the Federation of the Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic along with the Chabad center and the Jewish Museum in Prague — agreed to form a security council that will be responsible for communication with the police and providing information to the authorities about potential threats. The council will also propose measures to make Jewish sites safer.

“The agreement should establish a more effective communication channel between Jewish organizations and the security forces,” Tomas Kraus, the Jewish federation’s executive director, told JTA. “It’s high time we start talking about more security measures to address the situation.”

No details on funding for the measures have been released.

The head of the Chabad center in Prague, Rabbi Manis Barash, called the security memorandum ” a good step in the right direction.”

“The agreement shows the Czech authorities take the threat seriously,” Barash told JTA, “but we will only judge the agreement by the steps that will follow.

“In terms of security, Prague has a lot of catching up to do. There is no systematic monitoring of the Jewish areas, no cameras, no plan of response to an attack.”

Following the Brussels bombings last month that killed 32, the Czech authorities increased patrolling and monitoring of Prague’s former Jewish quarter, the location of some of the popular Jewish sites, including the Old New Synagogue and the old Jewish cemetery. With some 600,000 visitors annually, the Prague Jewish Museum is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Czech Republic.