Knowing Your Torah Scroll
Czech Torah scrolls are survivors and silent witnesses of the Shoah. Whilst many can still be read from during the services, even those that are no longer kosher can play an important part on Kol Nidrei, Yom Hashoah, Simchat Torah etc.
When allocated to a community, a plaque marked with the scroll MST# was fixed to a roller and a Certificate giving the scrolls provenance was also sent.
There is much you can do to make sure that the memory of those who perished are not forgotten:
- Familiarise yourself with the name of the town the scroll came from, its location and Jewish history.
- Dedicate one Shabbat a year, if possible on the day of deportation, to the Jews of the town your scroll came from. Have a special service to honour their memory. The Jewish Museum in Prague can advise the deportation date.
- On Yom Kippur, include a special prayer for the Jews of the town the scroll came from in the Memorial Service, and mention at least some of their names. They won't be included in any other memorial service.
- If possible use your scroll for all B’nai Mitzvah services and mention how the scroll was saved and continues to have a useful life. The B’nai mitzvah may wish to mention the name of a deported child in the D’var Torah.
- Download our free Education Pack from our website. By adding it to your B’nai Mitzvah curriculum will make sure the story of how these scrolls miraculously survived the Shoah will not be forgotten.
- Ask the MST for contact details of other communities caring for scrolls from the same town (we call the Scroll Circle) so you can compare notes and help each other to add a Czech Torah page to your website.
- Ask the MST for the names of other scroll-holders in your town, vicinity or State. We encourage gatherings of scrolls and try to attend some every year.
Rabbi Richard Feder Z”L 1875-1990, a survivor of the Shoah said to the lost members of his congregation "you were murdered for no reason" and "your names deserve to be preserved for generations to come". They are depending on us - the congregations that have been entrusted with their Scrolls - to remember them as people as part of the life of the congregation that received their Scroll.
Conditions of Loan
When a Memorial Torah Scroll is entrusted to a congregation on long term loan, it is on the understanding that the congregation makes a long term commitment to give this Sefer Torah a prominent and meaningful role in the spiritual and educational life of the congregation. This requires the rabbi and the leaders of the congregation to pledge to dedicate one Shabbat every year to the Jews of their Memorial Torah Scroll – the people, their community, their fate and their heritage. Each Scroll is a messenger from a martyred community that depends on its new community to ensure that their heritage is cherished as well as their remembrance as individuals.
The Memorial Torah Scrolls remain the property of the Memorial Scrolls Trust while they are on long term loan to the designated recipient institution to which they are allocated. It is the policy of the Trust to issue Memorial Torah Scrolls only to institutions and not to individuals. It is a condition of the loan that they revert to the Trust in the event of the closure or merger of the designated organisation to which the Memorial Torah Scroll is specifically allocated. In the event that a recipient wishes to transfer a particular Memorial Torah Scroll to another party, an application must be made to the Trust, so that it can consider whether to sanction the transfer or to reclaim the Scroll.
Conditions listThe conditions under which a Memorial Torah Scroll is issued on loan are:
- The Torah Scroll is the property of the Memorial Scrolls Trust.
- The Torah Scroll is issued exclusively to a designated congregation or institution (“the Recipient”) on long term loan, on the basis that the loan will normally be renewed every five years with no cost implications provided that the status and identity of the Recipient remain unchanged and the Torah Scroll can be shown to be playing an ongoing, prominent and meaningful part in the religious and educational life of the original Recipient.
- The Recipient will pay to the Trust an initial donation of $5000
- New Recipients shall make an annual donation to the Trust of $360. This amount may be increased at the discretion of the Trust every 5 years by not more than 10%.
- The annual donation is not obligatory for Recipients having had scrolls on loan before 1stJanuary 2015 under the previous terms. However we would ask congregations to have an annual fundraising for the MST and/or act to as a conduit for their members generosity.
- The Recipients website should have a page or an article about their Czech Torah and it’s history, as well as the Memorial Scrolls Trust and the Czech Scrolls Museum. The website should also have a link to the MST website www.memorialscrollstrust.org This will help with our project to link over 1000 Torah Scroll Holders to the MST and to each other.
- Recipients who are synagogues, shall have an annual commemorative service dedicated to the Jews of the Memorial Scroll town. The Recipient shall provide to the Trust a copy of any service booklet/a report of such annual commemorative services for the Trust’s archives.
- The Recipient must provide the Trust with a written report, which may be informal, a minimum of once every 5 years. This will give an update of the physical condition of the scroll and share highlights of the role it plays in the community.
- The Torah Scroll may not be transferred to any other organisation, and must be returned to the Trust in the event of the closure or merger of the designated organisation.
- Where a Torah Scroll has been loaned to a museum, it should be placed on display. If it is kept in storage for a period of more than 2 months, it should be returned to the Trust.
- The Recipient is responsible for the safekeeping of the Scroll, and for its condition.
- The Recipient must arrange and pay for any repairs or restoration that may be necessary while the Scroll is in their care.
- Before any repair or restoration work may be undertaken on the Scroll, advance notice must be given and permission needs to be granted by the Trust. The specified work must be undertaken only by or under the close supervision of a nominated certified scribe approved by the Trust.
- Where the Etz Chayim are replaced, the MST brass plaque with the Scroll’s identification number must be preserved and reaffixed on the upper surface of the lower right hand disc of the new stave. Any discarded elements (pieces of Etz Chayim or parchment) remain the property of the Trust. The Trustees must be informed of the details, so that a decision can be made whether to reclaim the elements or authorise their disposal.
- Under no circumstances whatsoever may the Torah Scroll be buried. If a synagogue considers that the condition of a Memorial Torah Scroll is no longer acceptable, The Trust should be contacted so that arrangements can be made for the return of the Torah Scroll.
- The certificate of origin that comes with the Torah Scroll must be framed and displayed in a prominent position near the Scroll. If the certificate cannot be found, then the Recipient must contact the Trust to arrange and pay for a replacement.
- The Recipient must maintain adequate insurance against normal risks, and the Trust’s ownership of the Torah Scroll must be endorsed on the insurance policy. Each Torah Scroll to be insured for $25,000.
- The Torah Scroll may not be unrolled in its entirety for any reason except that which pertains to its upkeep.