Surrey man’s barmitzvah held in Czech ‘ancestral’ town
REFORM MOVEMENT head Rabbi Tony Bayfield was one of four rabbis officiating at the barmitzvah of a North West Surrey Synagogue member held in the home town of his Czech ancestors.
More than 60 of Richard Barth’s friends and family made the trip to Klatovy in the south west of the Czech Republic to celebrate his barmitzvah. During the weekend, guests also toured sites of Jewish interest, visiting the Jewish cemetery in Klatovy, where past members of the Barth family were buried, as well as the relatives of other members of the group going back more than 100 years.
On Friday evening, a service was held at the Pilzen synagogue. Rabbi Larry Tabick of Shir Hayim, Hampstead Reform Synagogue, conducted the service and Rabbi Bayfield gave the sermon, reminding the group that this was probably the first barmitzvah in Klatovy for at least 64 years. The Klatovy Jews were transported to Terezin in 1942.
The Shabbat service was held at the Town Hall, with all four rabbis — Rabbi Jackie Tabick of North West Surrey Synagogue and her husband Rabbi Tabick, Rabbi Cliff Cohen of Thanet and District Reform and Rabbi Bayfield — taking part. The Mayor of Klatovy was also present at the ceremony.
After reading his portion, Richard’s father Thomas handed him the Kla- tovy Scroll, which he had brought over from Weybridge.
Mr Barth explained the reason for the trip: “I wanted Richard to appreciate where his grandfather and many previous generations of Barths had come from, and what happened to the Jewish congregation of Klatovy during the Holocaust. The Klatovy community was about the same size as our community in Weybridge. We are grateful to those family and friends who made the journey to Klatovy with us.”
Michael Reik, a North Western Reform Synagogue member who made the trip, commented: “Tom’s idea to return to his roots has enabled 60 of us to relive our Jewish identities.”