Healing Our Czech Torah-A Mitzvah for Generations

1018_4_STICKY-FEATURE_TorahIN 1942, a group of members of Prague’s Jewish community devised a way to bring the religious treasures from the deserted communities and destroyed synagogues into safe keeping in Czechoslovakia.

Fifty years ago, the West London Synagogue rescued these scrolls from Czechoslovakia and established the Westminster Memorial Trust.

Through the work of the trust, hundreds of these scrolls were distributed to congregations and Jewish communities around the world. Ours is one of over 1,500 that survived and we are honored to be its continued custodian!

Temple Beth Sholom is fortunate to have scroll number 675. This scroll is between 275 and 300 years old. It has unique features including script in Ashkenazic and Sephardic tradition as well as the Kabbalistic spiral Pey. This scroll is one of 1564 Torah scrolls.

As a host congregation, we are entrusted with the sacred privilege of not only caring for this scroll but holding on to the memory of the individuals and whole communities who perished in the Holocaust.

It has been in our possession for many years. While it was in desperate need of repair, it was not used as a “reading Torah,” however it is very light, so it was used for the “passing of the Torah” from generation to generation during Bar/Bat Mitvot.

We are looking forward to using this 300-year-old Torah scroll once again. This Torah, has been used by generations of people throughout Europe and now America and thanks to the generous donations and efforts of all involved, it will continue to be used as an ongoing part of Jewish life, here in Orange County. It is a reminder of our past and a way for us to ensure the future of Jewish people. Holding on to this scroll is an important statement that we not only remember the atrocities of the Holocaust, but that the Jewish people will continue for generations to come.

It will live in our ark, where it has always been. However, this time, with it being restored, we will be able to use it regularly for our Shabbat services. Our hope is that our B’nei Mitzvah students will read from this scroll. Torah’s were meant to be used, read and honored, not just as articles to sit in an Ark. We are so pleased that it will once again be a Kosher Torah that can be used by our future generations!

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