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I'm a baal teshuva with Czech Jewish ancestry. I have an interest in the minhag of my ancestors as well as in common cultural practices, and perhaps pass them on where I can. Have they been documented anywhere?

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Jakub: Welcome! Can you be a bit more specific about where your family lived? The national borders in Eastern Europe changed frequently and customs varied within the changing national borders. –  Bruce James Apr 3 '13 at 12:45
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The Maharal had a major influence in that area. –  sam Apr 3 '13 at 15:22
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As did the Noda' BiYhudah. –  Seth J Apr 3 '13 at 18:10
    
+1 for casting the spotlight on the הנהגות ומנהגי פלוני genre. –  WAF Nov 8 '13 at 12:55
    
@BruceJames The furtherest back I know (which isn't very far back) is that they lived in rural Bohemia near Borotin towards the end of the 19th century. (Apologies for not replying earlier - I was expecting an email notification!) –  Jakub Dec 24 '13 at 6:39
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1 Answer

There was in minhag in the Alt-Neu Shul in Prague of saying Mizmor Shir L'Yom Ha Shabbat twice on Friday evenings.

This psalm (Song for the Sabbath Day) is usually recited toward the end of the Kabbalat Shabbat service. Traditionally, reciting this psalm was the point when the worshiper began to observe the restrictions of Shabbat. This created a conflict when under kabbalistic influence, people would go out into the fields to greet the Sabbath Bride and Queen (L'cha Dodi). They would then say Mizmor Shir the first time to complete the Kabbalat Shabbat service (but not start observing the Sabbath yet), walk back into Prague to the shul, repeat Mizmor Shir again (really starting the Sabbath this time), then begin Ma'ariv.

Over time, they got away from the custom of going out into the fields, but the custom remained to say Mizmor Shir twice with a Kaddish in between them. This was seen as strange and remarked on by several observers from out of town in the nineteenth century.

The source of this information is:

Why Jews do what they do : the history of Jewish customs throughout the cycle of the Jewish year / by Daniel Sperber ; translated by Yaakov Elman

I do not have it in front of me right now, so I apologize if I have made any mistakes in recalling this from memory. If anyone has any corrections, I welcome them.

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Thanks for that! –  Jakub Dec 24 '13 at 6:42
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