Holocaust Torah


Our memory of historical events and dates is short-lived. The significance of December 7, May 8, June 6, June 25, August 15 (Pearl Harbor, VE, D Day, Korean War start, VJ) is not only lost on most, but particularly the media, and I would guess, totally unknown by most youngsters. There’s danger in that, because forgetting the past and the lessons to be learned, causes repetition of actions and events that shouldn’t be repeated.

There is great concern that the Holocaust, even with the great emphasis on it, will fade out of the world’s consciousness in the not too distant future. If the lesson of the Holocaust had been learned, there would not have been a Rwanda, there would not be today a Darfur. We try mightily against the day when the Holocaust will be nothing more than a post-script in history books, but the tide of time is against us. There’s an example of that right here in our Congregation. In the 1970’s the Holocaust Torah was brought here with great fanfare and ceremony through the efforts of Heather Markowitz. Since then the population of our Congregation is almost totally changed. Today, the Holocaust Torah is brought out during the High Holidays. All other times it just sits in its display case. Few, if any, in our Congregation today know why it is a Holocaust Torah, how it became one, where it came from.

The story of these Czech Holocaust Torahs is a little known chapter of the Holocaust. In a way, the history of these Torahs is another example of Hitler’s failure to accomplish his goal. He had decreed that Prague be made a museum of a vanished race. To that end he instructed the Gestapo to round up Torahs and other Jewish artifacts from what then was Czechoslovakia. At the end of the war there 1565 such Torahs in a warehouse in Prague. Luckily the Communist regime kept them safe until in the middle 1960’s. A British art-dealer heard about them and was able to negotiate their release to the Westminster Synagogue in London.  Since then, the Czech Memorial Trust that was created to care for these Torahs, lent all but about 150 to Congregations around the world in the hopes that they would be honored as a remembrance of the Holocaust.  It takes more than just to display them (which unfortunately is the case in most Congregations), their story needs to be kept alive as Congregants change.  I would hope that repeating the story of the Czech Holocaust Torahs becomes an annual event, at our Holocaust Remembrance Day observation and becomes part of the curriculum at our school.

The scroll identifier MST#911 and unfortunately we do not know its provenance. www.memorialscrollstrust.org