CZECH MEMORIAL SCROLLS

In common with Jews across continental Europe, the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia had been wiped out, and more than 600 years of Jewish life was virtually brought to an end.  The people had been lost, but, uniquely, their Torah Scrolls had been saved, as a reminder of those communities that had survived the ebbs and flows of a turbulent history ..... until the last catastastrophe.    

                                                                              by Michael Heppner

Klausen Synagogue in Prague, Czechloslavakia.  

The original home of the Haftorah depicted above (and to the right) was the Klausen Synagogue in Prague, Czechloslavakia.  This and 1563 other Czech scrolls survived the Holocaust tagged with a number and label under German direction.  

At the end of the war, these scrolls came under the control of the Czech state authorities. But by 1963, a prominent British art dealer who had the confidence of Artia, the Czech government agency responsible for cultural property, arranged for the scrolls to be acquired by a London businessman and philanthropist with the understanding that they would be entrusted to a non-commercial entity. 

That entity was the Westminster Synagogue, an independent London congregation whose minister was Rabbi Harold F. Reinhart who accepted the responsibility, and the scrolls were carefully packed and sent to England and arrived at Kent House, in Knightsbridge, the home of the Westminster Synagogue.

Upon closer inspection, almost all of the scrolls bore some evidence of the tragedy of the Holocaust.  Many were blood-stained, some charred by fire, some with bullet holes, some with water damange, and in some instances, wrapped in personal clothing or a tallit as though to protect them from harm. 

Czech memorial scrolls are now in use in many parts of the world.  The United States has been the main recipient, but many requests from Israel have been met as have others from virtually every country in which Jewish communities flourish freely.

Having been re-numbered in England, our Temple Beth Sholom Haftorah is MST#1073. For more information, please go to www.memorialscrollstrust.org.

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