Every member of our Schechter community has a unique Jewish journey, including our Torah scrolls. We are honored to host two Torah scrolls that were rescued from a Czech warehouse after the Holocaust. Czech Memorial Torah Scroll
#181 comes from the town of Brno and currently resides in our M’kom Tefillah. Czech Memorial Torah Scroll #296 comes from the town of Trebic and currently resides in our Downstairs Beit Knesset.
During the Holocaust, the Nazis collected gold and silver ornaments, ceremonial objects and Torah scrolls from towns all over Europe. A group of Czechoslovakian Jews was forced to arrange and catalogue the items which had been assembled in Prague. After the war, the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia released the Torah scrolls.
In 1964, the Memorial Scrolls Committee of Westminster Synagogue in London arranged for the shipment of 1564 scrolls to the Synagogue, where they were catalogued and repaired and restored when possible. Each Torah was given a numbered brass plaque to identify its origin. Scrolls that could not be made fit for synagogue use were sent to religious and educational institutions as solemn memorials. This is how we received our two scrolls. Scroll #181 was brought to us by Mr. Arthur Weil, and Scroll #296 was brought to us by Mr. Larry Adler. In 1983, then Schechter grandmother Marvell Ginsburg z’’l published her children’s picture book The Tattood Torah, which lovingly describes the journey of Scroll #181 from its original, vibrant community in Brno to its installation at Schechter, where the community excitedly welcomed it and adorned it with a new mantle.
We believe that a Jewish life should be a joyous life. When we see our precious Czech Torah scrolls, we recall the words of the Psalmist: “You have turned my mourning into dancing” (Ps 30:11). Indeed, our students read from the Torah and dance to its words just as they learn to build a bright future for all people.
The Memorial Scrolls Trust, a U.K. non-profit organization, has recently begun to reach out to synagogues and other institutions who received the Czech scrolls to gather updated information about them. They plan to continue to enhance their website so it becomes "a repository of all knowledge concerning the 1564 scrolls, the Jewish history of the towns they came from, the Jews of those towns, their fate, survivors stories, photos etc. Also where the scrolls are now, how they are used and honoured etc." More information about the Memorial Scrolls Trust is available on their website