Friends, welcome to the 13th issue of our Newsletter.
We start the new year with the hope a solution will be found to destroy to the pandemic causing havoc around the world. Despite the continued lockdown, with travel and socialising forbidden, fortunately we are able to continue a lot of our Czech Scrolls work remotely, with the benefit of modern technology.
Czech Torah webpage project
We have now made 445 links to scroll-holders pages referring to their Czech Torah scrolls at https://memorialscrollstrust.org/index.php/scrolls We need help to reach our target of making over 1000 links. If you need help creating a suitable page, please let us know.
Czech Jewish books publishing
Please browse our e.shop where we are adding books with a Czech Jewish interest, including our first publication "Light beyond the Shadows", the legacy of the Czech Torah Scrolls and the renewal of Jewish Life in Czechia, photographed by Sheila Pallay and written by Julius Muller.
Roll your scroll regularly. Torah scrolls are made from parchment, which is bio-degradable. The ink sits on top of the parchment and the ink colour fades when exposed to light, and may also fall off. By rolling your scrolls regularly, the parchment is kept soft and the ink colour fades more evenly and at a slower rate.
We have created an Editorial Board, headed by Peter Barber OBE, one of our trustees. The board will advise our Trustees on the quality, accuracy and suitability of our publishing projects, whether in paper, websites, or video. Members are: Peter Barber, recently retired as Head of Maps at the British Library; Dr David Lawson, co-author of two books on Jewish life in Ostrova; Yehudit Shendar, previously Deputy Director & Senior Art Curator at Yad Vashem, currently Senior Curator of the envisaged United Holocaust Memorial in London UK; Rabbi David Maxa, Rabbi at Ec Chajim, Prague, Czechia.
Czech Jewish Books Project
We thank Dr David Lawson for taking on the lead on our Czech Jewish Books project. You'll see some of the books he has found, which are currently in print, appear in our new shop mstshop.org.
We also wish to build up the MST Library, and we thank Marita Boe for the donation of Czech Jewish books from her Father's collection, Leo Wildmann Z'L of Prague.
PS We publish many short articles and Czech Scroll Museum visitor pictures on our Facebook page - please click Facebook Like to keep in touch with us.
Temple Sinai, MA, event January 31st for 'Light Beyond the Shadows'
MST Volunteer, Sheila Pallay’s evocative book focuses on history, future of Jewish life in the former Czechoslovakia
Touching a 250-year-old Torah scroll rescued from the Shoah launched Sheila Pallay on a life-changing journey that culminated with the recent publication by Memorial Scrolls Trust of her collectible new book, Light Beyond the Shadows: The Legacy of the Czech Torah Scrolls and the Renewal of Jewish Life in Czechia.
The experience began in 2015 when Pallay’s congregation, Temple Sinai of Sharon, undertook a year-long restoration of MST Torah scroll 655, one of 1,564 Czech scrolls entrusted to the Memorial Scrolls Trust (MST) in London in 1964. Using her photographic skills to document her synagogue’s restoration of its Torah inspired Pallay to volunteer for the MST and undertake a 13-week journey to the places in Bohemia and Moravia where Jewish communities once thrived.
Pallay and co-author/genealogist Julius Müller’s recently published volume contains hundreds of the 2,000+ images taken by Pallay during their 4-month travels through the former towns and places where Jewish communities once thrived. The photographs depict the depth and breadth of Jewish life eradicated by Naziism and hate. In addition, Pallay’s richly colored images provide a hopeful look at the new Jewish communities arising in modern-day Czechia as well as memorials to the Jews created by Czechian communities because, “it is the right thing to do.”
Essays by Sofer STaM Rabbi Kevin Hale, Temple Sinai Rabbi Joseph Meszler, Memorial Scrolls Trust Chairman Jeffrey Ohrenstein, and others, add texture to this evocative volume.
A Zoom panel discussion about the book will be hosted by Temple Sinai on Sunday, January 31, 2021, at 1:00 pm EST. The program will feature co-authors Pallay and Müller, MST Trustee Lois Roman, and photographs from the book.
On Sunday, February 7, 2021, at 1:00 pm EST, Temple Sinai will host an online screening and live discussion of the documentary film, Commandment 613, about the sacred work of Torah scribe Rabbi Kevin Hale. Filmmakers Miriam Lewin and Randi Ceccine will be on hand to discuss the movie along with Pallay and Rabbi Hale.
Using Zoom, MST is delighted to offer sessions to provide educational content about the rescue and ongoing commemoration of 1,564 scrolls from Bohemia and Moravia. These scrolls survived the Shoah and have been spread around the world for safe keeping and to pay tribute to so many lost communities. Our story resonates with all kinds of people: scroll holders, non-scroll-holders, people of all faiths and backgrounds but especially seniors and B’nai mitzvoth students. Our virtual content can help educate and entertain during this unusual time of social distancing requirements.
We offer, free of charge, opportunities to share our programming and expertise with your congregations. We have volunteer Experts available to speak about the following topics:
The Czech Scroll Story: From Bohemia and Moravia to the Diaspora
Our Binder (wimpel) collection: Custom-made Textiles representing 200 years of Jewish life in the Czech Republic
Czech Jewish Towns: A photo journey about the towns that held scrolls
During lockdown, we are reminding scroll holders that, if possible, you should "air" your scrolls, to stop the build up of any moisture or fungal spores. Scrolls should be rolled from beginning to end once a year, even if your scroll is a Memorial and not readable. We’ll be doing the same with our scrolls in the Czech scroll museum until we are allowed to re-open.