The Sefer Torah number 465 which this certificate accompanies, is one of the 1564 Czech Memorial Sifre Torah which constituted part of the treasures looted by the Nazis during the 1939-1945 war from the desolated Jewish Communities of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia, and which had been cared for by the Czechoslovak Government for many years, and which were acquired, with the good-will of the Czechoslovak Government, by good friends, from Artia (the State Cultural Agency) for Westminster Synagogue, where they arrived on the 7th February 1964.
Some of the collection remain at Westminster Synagogue, a permanent memorial to the martyrs from whose synagogues they come; many of them are distributed throughout the world, to be memorials everywhere to the Jewish tragedy, and to spread light as harbingers of future brotherhood on earth; and all of them bear witness to the glory of the holy Name.
This Scroll came from Kostelec n/Orlici and was written in 1830.
Czech Memorial Scrolls mark 50th year with trip to London
- ED WITTENBERG
CJN Staff Reporter
- Posted Jan 31, 2014 at 8: 30 AM Updated Feb 11, 2014 at 8: 19 AM
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Rabbi Matthew Eisenberg of Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights hold the Torah scrolls they will take to London for a special ceremony Feb. 9 at the Westminster Synagogue.
CJN / ED WITTENBERG
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In the 1980s, Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights and B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike received Torah scrolls scribed in Czechoslovakia that survived the Holocaust. These scrolls were sent to the synagogues on loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust in London.
They are among 1,564 Torahs, known as the Czech Memorial Scrolls, that arrived at the Westminster Synagogue in London Feb. 7, 1964. They were eventually distributed to more than 1,400 communities around the world.
On Feb. 9, people from around the world will gather at the Westminster Synagogue for a service commemorating the 50th anniversary of the scrolls’ arrival. Temple Israel Ner Tamid and B’nai Jeshurun each will send a delegation, led by their respective rabbis, to London for the event.
The ceremony will include a procession of all the visiting scrolls. A special liturgy is being prepared that will include music written by Czech composers who died in the Holocaust.
Temple Israel Ner Tamid’s Sefer Torah, identified as No. 465 among those distributed, was scribed in 1830 and came from Kostelec nad Orlici in Czechoslovakia, Rabbi Matthew Eisenberg said.
“This Torah is a precious legacy from a small Jewish community in Czechoslovakia, and it has an honored place in our ark,” Eisenberg said. “Every time we open the ark doors, we see it. Every time we read Torah, we take it out of the ark for the hakafah (Torah procession).”
Temple Israel Ner Tamid, a Reform synagogue, received the Torah in July 1985, just three months after it was founded, Eisenberg said.
“For some time, this was the only Torah scroll we had,” he said. “Since that time, it’s been in use, but these kinds of Holocaust commemorations with living witnesses will continue to diminish with the passage of time.”
Rabbi Fred Eisenberg, founding rabbi emeritus of Temple Israel Ner Tamid and Eisenberg’s father, will be part of the temple’s delegation traveling to London for the ceremony. Temple president Gerald Strom and Eisenberg’s son, Teddy, 20, will join the two rabbis.
“We will have the privilege of passing this Torah through three generations – from my father to me to my son,” Eisenberg said. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Eisenberg said he has heard more than 40 communities, mostly from the United States, will be represented at the ceremony with Torah scrolls from their synagogues.
“I imagine this commemoration will have an air of poignancy,” he said. “These communities live on through the Torah scrolls which now reside in vibrant Jewish communities throughout the world.
“As we painfully remember those lives extinguished and those communities extinguished, I imagine the power of that moment will bring me to tears.”