Memorial Scrolls Trust Torah Scroll
In 1942, all Jewish communities in Bohemia and Moravia were sent a letter from the Jewish Community in Prague instructing them to send all their possessions to the Jewish Museum in Prague which had been founded in 1906. As a result, more than 210,000 artefacts were shipped to Prague, included in this treasure of Judaica were some 1800 Torah and other scrolls, as well as silver, books, textiles and even furniture. To this day we do not know why the Germans gave their permission.
After the war, some fifty Jewish congregations re-established themselves in the Czechoslovakia and were provided with some of these religious artefacts, not necessarily from their own communities. When the Communists took over the government of the country in 1948, Jewish communal life was again stifled, and most synagogues were closed. Their possessions went to the Jewish Museum of Prague which was allowed to stay open as seen as anti-fascist.. The scrolls were transferred and warehoused in the damp and ruined synagogue at Michle, outside Prague, where they remained until they came to London in 1964.
In 1964, Ralph Yablon, a British solicitor and philanthropist, became aware of the Torah scrolls and funded the purchase and transport of 1564 Torah Scrolls from Czechoslovakia and donated them to Westminster Synagogue in London. The scrolls were shipped across Europe by train to London where they were catalogued, repaired, and restored when possible. Each Torah was given a numbered brass plaque that identified its origin. Scrolls that could not be restored were sent on loan to religious and educational institutions as memorials. Scrolls repaired and able to be used in religious services were sent on loan to fulfil requests of synagogues all over the world in return for a contribution toward the restoration expenses. In London, they have been administered by the Memorial Scrolls Trust (www.memorialscrollstrust.org) which took on the task of preserving and distributing these scrolls to Jewish communities throughout the world. The Memorial Scrolls Trust, having assumed responsibility for the rescued Torah scrolls, works to this day to educate people globally about the history of Czech Jewry through their care of the scrolls and through their loans, and synagogues and Jewish institutions all over the world can apply, as we have, to serve as custodians of individual scrolls and their stories.
Our community is privileged to have received on loan scroll MST#1260 from the towns of Pisek and Strakonice, which is unusual as they are two distinct towns, albeit quite close. The scroll was catalogued in the Prague Jewish Museum during the war as artefact number 73490.
To view the recording of our dedication, visit (timestamp: 1:23:56): https://www.youtube.com/live/SKivCte49CM?feature=share&t=5036