The history of our Holocaust Memorial Torah Scroll (#1384) returns us to when the Nazis deported the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia, confiscating religious items like Torahs. The Nazi plan, after murdering all the Jews, was to put these items in a “Museum of the Extinct Jewish Race.” These scrolls were carefully documented and stored in the old Czech Synagogue of Michle. When the Nazis were defeated, however, the scrolls came under the control of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. Sadly, the scrolls began to deteriorate because of poor storage and inadequate funds for repair.
In 1963, the scrolls came to the attention of the Westminster Synagogue in London. All of the Torahs were transferred from Prague to London where they were catalogued and assessed. Torahs that were in good condition were made available to congregations throughout the world. Although the communities these Torahs had come from were destroyed, Jewish communities around the world now welcomed the Torahs into thriving Jewish communities. Of the 1,297 Czech Torah scrolls catalogued in London, 692 have been sent to synagogues and other Jewish Institutions; 466 are in the United States, 61 in Israel, 90 in Great Britain, 16 in Australia, and the remaining scrolls are in places including New Zealand and Argentina.
Temple Sinai is proud to have, on permanent loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, a Czech Holocaust Memorial Torah Scroll from the town of Golcuv-Jenikov. Through the continued use of this Torah, we honor the memory of the community of Golcuv-Jenikov and keep its spirit alive.
On Shavuot evening 5763 (2003), Temple Sinai member Sandy Cohen presented a new cover for the Holocaust Memorial Torah. This beautiful Torah cover incorporates pieces of fabric donated by members of the Temple Sinai community into the leaves of a golden Tree of Life. The fabric pieces include scraps from clothes worn at special celebrations like a wedding, bris or naming ceremony, or Bar or Bat Mitzvah and fabric from Purim costumes, holiday tablecloths, chuppah covers, kippot (yarmulkes) and tallitot (prayer shawls). This memorial scroll that honors our Jewish past is now draped in a mantle that represents the special, joyous occasions of a vital Jewish community.