The Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust, London, was responsible for rescuing the collection of 1,564 Torah Scrolls and 400 Torah Binders, part of the precious legacy of ritual objects accumulated under the Nazis during their occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in Czechoslovakia.
The collection was stored on crude wooden racks in the synagogue in Michle, a suburb of Prague. At the instigation of Rabbi Harold Reinhart and philanthropist Ralph Yablon, art dealer Eric Estorick negotiated the purchase of the collection, which arrived at Westminster Synagogue in London in 1964. Over the next thirty years, the Trust undertook the restoration and distribution of the Scrolls across the world. They are a religious and educational symbol of Jewish survival, continuity and rebirth.
At Temple Sinai’s Shabbat service on 3 March 2007, Michael Heppner, the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust Research Director, spoke about the origin of the Temple’s Czech Torah scroll and its legacy during the service, which was followed by a community luncheon and in-depth address on the rescue of the Memorial scrolls and the Trust’s mission.
In October 2008 a Temple Sinai tour group, led by Rabbi Johanna Hershenson carried the Czech Torah Scroll with them to Poland and onto the Czech Republic where they visited the small town of Hermanov Mestec from where the Scroll originated. A blog of the journey has been prepared and can be accessed below.
Temple Sinai Czech Torah Scroll Tour 2008 BLOG
To listen to Michael Heppner’s presentation click on the audio files (MP3) below:
Radio New Zealand interview, Sunday 21 December 2008: You can listen to it by clicking on the following link:http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/20081221 You should click on the MP3 download.
New Zealand Jewish Chronicle article: An article about the Czech torah scroll tour was published in the December-February 2008/2009 edition of the Chronicle. Click here to read the article.