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 Jewish community of Golcuv-Jenikov which was wiped out by the Nazis. This Torah is a reminder to us all of the resilience of the Jewish people. Am Yisrael Chai!
The history of our Holocaust Memorial Torah Scroll (#1384) began in 1890, the date when it is believed to have been written. It was a cherished part of the Jewish community of Golcuv-Jenikov. Just 50 years later, in 1939, the Nazis invaded Bohemia and Moravia. In 1942, a call went out to have the Jewish communities send all of their religious items, including Torah scrolls to Prague to be included in the Jewish Museum there. All of the items were carefully documented and stored in warehouses. When the Nazis were defeated, the scrolls remained in the State Jewish Museum in Prague until the communists took control in 1948. They had the scrolls moved to the old Czech Synagogue of Michle. 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.
On February 5, 2019, Temple Sinai and our Torah traveled to Temple Emmanuel in New York City to participate in the largest gathering of the Holocaust Memorial Torah Scrolls. It was an incredibly moving experience to see so many scrolls together in one place and to see how they are a vibrant part of the life of so many Jewish communities. Click the link below for the full article:
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.
In 2002, congregant Jeff Olson began a project to find out more information about our Holocaust Torah. He contacted people from the Memorial Scrolls project and through them made many connections and learned more about our Torah and the community it was from. Through his research, in 2003, we were able to have a Holocaust Survivor with family ties to Golcuv-Jenicov attend a service in our sanctuary to be reunited with the scroll.
Jeff was able to get a list of names of the members of the community who were deported to concentration camps and perished. We encourage our congregants to include these names and think of this community when they say kaddish.
All of that information can be found in the document that Jeff created, Virtual Memory: Technology, History and A Connection to the Holocaust. You can scroll through that document here: