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Czech Torah Scroll #597

TORAH SCROLL “MST #597” is a story of perseverance and life.  It was written in 1885 (now 135 years old).  It is one of 1,564 Torah scrolls that were saved from the destroyed Jewish communities of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia (1939-1945).

In March, 1939 the Nazis took over this area.  First they passed a series of very oppressive laws making daily life extremely hard for Jews. In 1940, the Nazis seized the properties of the Jews and then prevented praying and all religious observance.  In Czechoslovakia there were 2,000 Jewish communities both large and small.  Our Torah may have been used on Shabbat in one of those destroyed small communities.  The Nazis collected thousands of Jewish artifacts and brought them to Prague.

Czech Torah “MST #597”  was one of 141 selected scrolls that were sent to the Pinkas Synagogue which became a collection point in Prague.   One of Prague’s most famous synagogues, the Pinkas can be traced to the 15th century.  Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel of this period was a leading rabbi, Talmudic scholar and creator of the story,” "The Golem”.  He was known as the “Maharal” (our teacher) of Prague.*  The Pinkas synagogue was restored in the 1950’s, and today is a memorial to the 77,297 Jews of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia who perished in the Holocaust.

During the 1960s a group of dedicated Jews of the Westminster Synagogue in London. England formed a trust, “The Memorial Scrolls Trust” to rescue and restore these “forgotten” holy scrolls. Their mission was to offer them to living synagogues all over the world to preserve the chain of tradition.   In 1968, our Rabbi Martin Rozenberg, arranged for The Community Synagogue to acquire MST#597.  He and his wife, Estelle, traveled to London to receive it and on their return flight,  MST#597 was assigned its own seat.  The TCS bulletin of April 25, 1969 announced that a gift of a Holocaust Torah was presented to the congregation by Mr. and Mrs. Simeon Weston in honor of their children, Evan, Joyce and Risa.

As our Rabbi Zeplowitz wrote: “We remain honored to house this special Torah in our ark on behalf of an anonymous community”.

ABOUT THE TORAH

The Torah was repaired in 1991-1992 by the Sofer, Neal Yerman.  June 2009—Sofer Rabbi Druin examined the Torah to confirm the identification based on its unique characteristics:

Writing: The Hebrew letters,”bet” and “taf” are slightly different and follow the style of the 16th century Maharal (teacher) of Prague. The stitching between the pieces of parchment: a double-loop style unique to the Czech lands.

ABOUT MST

Memorial Scroll Trust             

Fri, January 24 2020 27 Tevet 5780