This past Summer at Philmont, a Scout became homesick on the trail. This is not an unusual circumstance, but in this case the Scout was from the Czech Republic. He had become quiet and withdrawn, moody and a bit cranky. Help was indeed provided by the Holy One, blessed be He in the way of a shy, quiet Veronika.
Some may remember her from the Handicrafts Staff. She helped by writing a letter to the trekker in her mother tongue, Czech. She is indeed special and she reminded me of a strange twist in Czech and Jewish folklore.
It is believed that the Altneushul synagogue in the city of Prague was built of the stones of the Temple. When the Children of Israel dispersed through the Roman Empire after the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, they took some of the stones of the Temple with them because of their strong faith and their great bitterness and aching heart, and in order to fulfill the verse: “For Your servants have desired her stones” (Ps. 102:15).
When they came to the city of Prague, they built a synagogue there, and in it they also set some of the stones of the Temple.
The synagogue’s real name is in Hebrew: The Al-Tnay Synagogue. Al tnay means in Hebrew “on condition”. The tradition says that the synagogue was built with stones from the King Solomon’s Temple ruins in Jerusalem and that when the time will come and the Temple will be rebuilt, this synagogue will be dismantled and its stones will rebuild the Temple; this is “the condition”. The people who did not understood Hebrew meant that “al tnay” are the Yiddish words “alt neu” = old-new”.
Let us all “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalms 122:6) and may Jerusalem be “built again as His house for all the ages” (Tobit 13:15)