Karol Sidon (Photo: CTK)

In this week's Mailbox: Rabbi Karol Sidon and the Jewish Community in the Czech Republic, affordable camp sites and what they have to offer, and the winner of our monthly competition! Listeners quoted: Felicia Springs and Beth Gernsey.

Karol Sidon (Photo: CTK)
Felicia Springs from Ohio, in the United States who wrote us asking:

"After you reported that the very well respected Jewish writer Karol Sidon has been dismissed as Prague's head Rabbi, it got me wondering how big and influential the Jewish community is in the Czech Republic. I read some translations of Mr Sidon's work and admired his style. I can understand, though, how Prague's Jewish Municipal Council could find him a little too Orthodox. How many Jews live in your country and do they support Mr Sidon?"

Well, I'm afraid I cannot answer the last part of your question. I think most members of the Jewish community also admire and respect Rabbi Sidon, who has been Prague's head rabbi since 1992. Karel Sidon also signed the Charter 77 human rights manifesto, which opposed the Communist regime. I should also add that the Council of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic pointed out that its members stand behind Karel Sidon being Prague's head rabbi and disagree with the Jewish Municipal Council. As for how many are in the Jewish community in the Czech Republic - 3,000 people, of whom 1,600 are in Prague, have said they are practicing Jews.

Beth Gernsey writes from somewhere in the Czech Republic:

"My husband and I moved to Prague three months ago and will be staying here for two years. This summer, we plan to get to know the country. With my broken Czech, I gathered from a Mlada Fronta Dnes study that the country has many affordable camp sites. It would probably be a good way to travel from place to place and see the hidden treasures f the country without too many expenses."

Yes, and since the number of people planning to go camping appears to be quite low, it's not a bad idea to explore the country in this way as it can be fun and, as you said, quite cheap - that's if you have or rent a car and a tent, of course. According to Mlada Fronta Dnes, which is one of the leading Czech dailies, one week at a nice camp site for a family with two children can cost between 1,000 and 2,000 Czech crowns, which is about 30-70 Euros. These include rent for the space for your tent and car and fees to the local authorities. But please note that some camps fail to inform you that you have to pay extra for electricity or showers.

Time now for the names of the runners-up to Radio Prague's annual competition. You will also find the complete list as well as the top entries on the "competition" page on this website.

Alon Raab, Oregon, USA

Patrick Jeffers, Cheshire, England

Chris Nuttal, Hayton, England

Villiam Porochnuk, Alberta, Canada

Roy Kitson, Bangor, North Ireland

John Kolbert, Keele, England

Elaine Schumann, Colorado, USA

Robert Turizziani, West Virginia, USA

Jonathan Murphy, Mallow, Ireland

Louisa Krátká, Hamilton, Canada

Congratulations to you. But let me thank all of you who took the time to write about Czech music - it was a true pleasure reading your contributions and it was definitely a hard task to choose the best entry. I must admit that I've read all entries and appreciated them all as they helped me value Czech music more than ever before.

And of course, we've also got our monthly competition, for which it's time to reveal the winner for the month of June. The question was: "There will be nine anniversaries in June. Of the musicians commemorated, who was born exactly one hundred years ago?"

The answer is the composer, conductor, and representative of Czech avant-garde music Emil Frantisek Burian, who lived from 1904 - 1959. He was born on June 6, one hundred years ago. Some of you said it was Antonin Dvorak, but his anniversary was in May and it was the one hundredth anniversary of his death not his birth.

And the winner this time is: Joe Leader, from Bettendref, Luxemburg.


The new question for the month of July: "What is the name of the Bohuslav Martinu opera about a girl from a town where no-one can remember their past?"

A question that requires a little bit of research but I'm sure most of you will find it easy. We've had the answer to it in one of our programmes. Please get your answers to us by July 31st. Send them as usual to the Radio Prague English Section, 120 99 Prague 2, the Czech Republic or by e-mail to