Our community is honored to have the permanent loan of a Torah scroll from the Memorial Scrolls Trust (MST) in London, England.
This scroll, MST#11, was originally from an unknown town in Bohemia and Moravia. It was confiscated during the Holocaust and put into the Jewish Museum in Prague under the Nazis. After the war, the Czech government took ownership of the museum, and in 1964 sold 1564 scrolls to the Westminster Synagogue in London, financed by donor Ralph Yablon.
Subsequently the Czech Memorial Scrolls Centre, a charity later reorganized into the Memorial Scrolls Trust, was formed and the scrolls have subsequently been allocated to communities and organizations around the world, including Congregation Beth Emeth. The scrolls are never sold or donated, but are allocated on loan.
How MST#11, our Holocaust "Zachor" Czech Torah, Came to Beth Emeth
At Congregation Beth Emeth, we call MST#11 the Holocaust Torah, and also the Zachor (Remember) Torah, as the Hebrew word Zachor is part of the design on the beautiful cover. We thank several Beth Emeth families who were involved in acquiring, repairing and dressing our Holocaust Torah:
- The Marks family, led by Michael Marks, conceived the idea to acquire one of the "Czech Torahs" in 1995, to coincide with the opening of our major building addition in 1996. Michael worked with our then Rabbi Steven M. "Rabbi Steve" Glazer and our then congregation President David Kamerling to arrange for the loan of a Czech Torah, and the Marks family traveled to London to pick up our Holocaust Torah.
- The Schatz family donated the funds for the required donation to the Centre, in memory of Anna Perl.
- The Amsel family donated the ornate crown, in memory of Amsel family members of Slovakia.
- Families of the confirmation class of 1998 donated the Zachor cover.
More About our Holocaust "Zachor" Czech Torah and How We Use It
When the Torah first arrived at Congregation Beth Emeth, it was in very poor condition, and repairs were made so that it could serve our congregation as a living memorial and educational tool. Torn sections needed to be mended and sewn. Holes need to be repaired. This effort was completed in December, 1996. However, while the Torah was now in better physical condition, it still was not considered repairable to kosher standards, and thus cannot be used for regular worship.
The Torah was dedicated on May 2, 1997 in the presence of the the families who helped bring it to us and much of the congregation (see photo). You can read the dedication speech by Michael Marks, Rabbi Steven M. Glazer's remarks on the occasion, and the newsletter article Our Torah's Journey.
The Torah is kept in our ark, and is given a seat of honor on the bema at many b'nai mitzvah (see photo at top right). We read from it on Shabbat Zachor, and this Torah is also used for many educational events.
Display Featuring the Torah
In our sanctuary there is a beautiful display that includes photos of the Torah and the official certificate of loan, as well as an inspiring prayer spoken by Rabbi Harold Reinhart at the reconsectration of Scroll No. 931 at Westminster Synagogue, London, England, in 1968. Take a look next time you're here!
Photo of the Holocaust Torah for Learning Readings (for Shabbat Zachor Only)
Note: this torah is not kosher due to extensive damage during the holocaust, and it used by special permission for Shabbat Zachor only.