Karol Sidon

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Karol Sidon in 2016
Karol Sidon speaking with Czechoslovak president Václav Havel

Karol Efraim Sidon (born August 9, 1942) is a Czech rabbi, writer and playwright. He is the Chief Rabbi of the city of Prague and of the Czech Republic.


Born in Prague during the war, Karol Sidon is a distant relative of rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld. His Jewish father Alexander Sidon came from Trnava, where his great-uncle Shimon Sidon was the first rabbi after a long expulsion of Jews from the city. Alexander was arrested in 1944 and imprisoned by the Gestapo in Pankrác and in Terezin, where he was tortured to death in the same year. Karol was then hidden away in the country until the end of the occupation. Mother raised him alone until 1948, when she remarried a Jew. His stepfather repeatedly escaped from the Terezin ghetto, Kladno mines, from Warsaw, Treblinka and the last of the Soviet gulag.

He began studying at the Academy of Musical Art in Prague in 1960 where he began writing film scripts, and radio plays for Czech public radio - Český rozhlas. Until 1968 he worked as a producer for Czech puppeteer Jiří Trnka. In the same year, Sidon's first book, which became a cult book "Sen o mém otci" ("Dream about my father") was published, in which the author deals with his being brought up without his Jewish father Alexander Sidon, who perished in the Terezín ghetto (his wife was a Christian). In 1977 he was a signatory to Charter 77. He received the Jiří Kolář prize in 1978. He was married to Marcela Třebická, and a father of the actors Daniel Sidon and Magdalena Sidonová.

In 1983 he emigrated to West Germany and he studied Jewish studies at the Heidelberg university. He became ordained as a Rabbi after studying for a time in Israel. He returned to the Czech Republic in 1992, where he became chief rabbi of Prague. Rabbi Sidon restored the Jewish Orthodox community. To help get invited many young rabbinical families from Israel. He founded the Lauder School (elementary school named Gur Aryeh and grammar s. Or Chadash), the construction of a mikveh, the establishment of a midrash Tiferet Uzi (named after his teacher Uzi Kalchheim), Beit Din or kosher shop and Certificates.


In Prague in 2005, tensions developed between Chabad members and its rabbi Manis Barash and Efraim Sidon. The Old New Synagogue in Prague's ancient Jewish Quarter became the scene of an emotional dispute between members of the Chabad movement and locals backing Karol Sidon, chief rabbi of the Czech Republic. The conflict led to violent brawls and hospitalisations on a number of occasions.[1] Sidon was eventually returned to his post.[2]

In 2004 Tomáš Jelínek, the director of the community council, fired Sidon as Rabbi of Prague giving the post to young Chabad rabbi Manis Barash. A grassroots campaign from community members led to the deposition of Jelinek as the community director. Jelinek then asked a religious arbiter in Israel to rule on the case who ruled in favor of Rabbi Barash. Sidon's supporters argued that the case was void since Jelinek had lied to the Judge telling him that the community board had been behind his actions in firing Sidon and appointing Barash. However, on 21 November 2005 he was reelected as the chief Rabbi of the city following the protracted dispute with Chabad.[3] Deputy chairman of the community Jakub Roth told the press: "this is part of the local Chabad’s striving to take over the community’s religious life. We have seen an ugly foray of Chabad in their attempt to take over the Old-New synagogue."[2]


  • Sen o mém otci, 1968, (Dream about My Father)
  • Sen o mně, 1970, (Dream about Myself)
  • Boží osten, 1975, (The Sting of God)
  • Brány mrazu, 1977, (Gates of Frost)
  • Dvě povídky o utopencích, 1988, (Two Stories about the Drowned People)
  • Evangelium podle Josefa Flavia, 1974, (The Gospel According to Josephus Flavius)


  • Zákon, 1968, (The Law)
  • Labyrint (cirkus podle Komenského), 1972, (Labyrinth, Circus According to Comenius)
  • Shapira, 1972, (Shapira)
  • Zpívej mi na cestu, (Sing Me for the Trip)
  • Maringotka Zuzany Kočové, (Caravan of Zuzana Kočová)

Children's books[edit]

  • Pohádky ze čtyř šuplíčků, 1979, (Fairy Tales from Four Drawers) (appeared under the name of his wife Marcela Třebická).

Doctrinal works[edit]

His doctrinal works can be found in the magazine Rosh Chodesh and the Jewish Yearbook. From this perspective, it is unquestionably the most important Czech translation of the Five Books of Moses, which was published Sefer. Important is also further translation activity. Translated New Prague Passover Haggadah, sidur (yet unpublished translation of the prayer book) or Machzor on high holidays.

Chaim Cigan[edit]

Pseudonym Chaim Cigan is the name of one of his ancestors. “Altschulova Metoda,” Atschul’s Method is the first of four books (Piano live, Puzzle, Outsider) in a science fiction series “mixing politics, prison cells and the secret police with the Middle Ages, Moses and Jewish history – a science fiction thriller told across continents and epochs,”

  • Atschul’s Method (2014)
  • Piano live (2015)


  • Bohemia Docta aneb Labyrint světa a lusthauz srdce (2000) (Bohemia Docta or Labyrinth of the World and Lusthauz of the Hearh)
  • Adam a Gabriel (1973) (Adam and Gabriel)
  • Otcové a děti (1971) (Fathers and Sons). Adaptation of a novel by Turgenev
  • Dovidenia v pekle priatelia (1970) (Goodbye in Hell Friends)
  • Ptáčkové, sirotci a blázni (1969) (Birds, Orphants and Fools)
  • Zběhové a poutníci (1968) (Deserters and Pilgrims)


  1. ^ Jewish conflict turns violent: Community, Chabad vie to control Prague's Old-New Synagogue, Dinah A. Spritzer, The Prague Post, April 21, 2005
  2. ^ a b Stoking controversy, Sidon is reappointed as Prague chief rabbi, Spritzer, Dinah A, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, December 9, 2005
  3. '^ Little Jerusalem' shul battle heats up, Lev Krichevsky, Jerusalem Post, April 13, 2005

External links[edit]

  1. Literature by and about Karol Sidon in the German National Library catalogue Literature by Karol Sidon in the catalog of the German National Library (German)