Pavel Fried was born in the village of Třebíč, Czechoslovakia, in 1930. Fried lived a middle-class Jewish life; he was in the midst of preparations for his bar mitzvah when his family was deported to Terezin. In the camp, he told interviewers from the Vienna-based oral history project Centropa, he had a secret ceremony. Pavel and his parents both survived, but his sister and her husband weren’t so lucky.
Fried was one of nine Jews who returned to live in Třebíč after the war. He never left, and today he is the chairman of the Jewish community of nearby Brno. He has held the position since 2004, during which time he has been instrumental in organizing Shamayim Třebíč: Jewish Culture Festival, a celebration of Czech Jewish life and music held each July.
A festival might seem a peculiar choice, given all the lives that were destroyed. But festivals — of which there are now several — are key to understanding both what was lost and what remains. They are a way for local and tourist alike to delve further into that all-but-vanished world.
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