Stories that connect us - meet us in London, Prague & Israel in May 22, our Scroll visits Hereford, more visitors from everywhere, and plans for our 60th anniversary "60 in '24"
MST Newsletter March 2022
Save the Date - 60th anniversary Scroll Gathering, London, 2024
Welcome to the 24th edition of our Newsletter.
We are delighted to announce Westminster Synagogue will host a Scroll Gathering at Kent House 4th February 2024.
1564 scrolls that survived the Shoah in Prague, were saved from further deterioration under the communists and brought to London in 1964, thanks to the generosity of Ralph Yablon who donated them to the Westminster Synagogue. Subsequently the Memorial Scrolls Trust was set-up as an independent charity to care for the scrolls, retaining close links with the synagogue.
Westminster Synagogue and the Memorial Scrolls Trust look forward to welcoming Scroll Holder Communities and their scrolls to our celebratory service to mark the rescue of the scrolls and their arrival in Knightsbridge, London.
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.
We are all horrified by Russia's invasion and ongoing war in Ukraine. We remember the Prague Spring of 1968, and Russia's invasion of Czechoslovakia.
There are meany agencies supporting the Ukrainians, including:
Your Czech Torah scroll is very special and at least 100 years old. Please consider sponsoring an MST sofer to visit and maintain your scroll so it is ready for the 60th anniversary celebrations.
Can your community host a Scroll Gathering service for your region? We have previously had gatherings with from 20 to 74 Czech Scrolls participating.
Celebrate with your Czech Torah Scroll
Let us know of your Scroll celebration plans. We'll help publicise and offer you resource materials.
Your Czech Sefer Torah, a survivor and silent witness of the Shoah, commemorates the murder of Jews and destruction of Jewish life during the Shoah. You are offering the chance to celebrate the survival and return of Jewish life in Central Europe. We are united in our timeless love of Torah.
Czech Republic and Israel in May 2022 - join us in person or by live stream
The Memorial Scrolls Trust is allocating on loan MST#565 Torah Scroll, once used by the Jewish community of Olomouc, to Museum Beit Theresienstadt where it will become the inspirational source of a unique Bar/Bat Mitzvah Jewish Heritage educational program.
Beit Theresienstadt, together with MST, the International March of the Living, B’nai B’rith International, the Terezin Memorial and the Jewish Museum in Prague, will rededicate the MST#565 Torah Scroll at the Czech Republic annual Commemoration of the Liberation of Theresienstadt. The final event of this Journey of Remembrance and Renewal will take place when the MST#565 Olomouc Torah Scroll will be installed to its new educational home during the annual meeting of Museum Beit Theresienstadt (Kibbutz Givat Haim Ihud, Israel).
May 13th, 2022 Czech Republic:
(09:00) Welcome gathering in the Jewish Museum
Tami Kinberg (Director, Beit Theresienstadt)
Daniel Shek (Chairman, Beit Theresienstadt)
Jeffrey Ohrenstein (Chairman, Memorial Scroll Trust)
Alan Schneider (Director, B'nai B'rith World Center, Jerusalem)
Daniel Mariaschin (CEO, B'nai B'rith International)
Meeting with Dr. Leo Pavlát (Director, Jewish Museum Prague) prior to a comprehensive tour of the sites of the Jewish Quarter (until ~ 14:00)
18:00 Kabbalat Shabbat service with Rabbi David Maxa at the Ec Chajim Synagogue - recipient of an MST Torah scroll
Live stream via Ec Chajm
20:00 Festive Shabbat dinner at the Jewish Town Hall with the Jewish Community of Prague honoring the activities of B'nai Brith in pre-war Czechoslovakia as recounted by Daniel Mariaschin
May 14th, 2022 Czech Republic:
Morning hours free to join services, relax and tour…..
12:30 Shabbat Kiddush-luncheon with Tomas Kraus / Executive Director of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic
The story of the orphaned Torah scrolls redeemed by the Memorial Trust Scrolls will be told by Jeffrey Ohrenstein, Chairman of MST
At dessert there will be a special "Lehayim" in commemoration of a birthday that took place in Theresienstadt on May 11th, 1944 - Second Generation Memories of Yaakov Ben-Ze'ev (member of Beit Theresienstadt)
Afternoon tour: “In the footsteps of the Golem and Kafka” (optional)
~ 19:00 Dinner (The Jewish Community of Prague) / Havdalah
May 15th, 2022 Czech Republic, Terezin:
07:15 Departure from Prague
(08:30) Opening of the March of the Living Scroll at the Bohusovice Train Station. We will be joined by members of Ex Chajm, Prague, with their MST Scroll.
Bus to Small Fortress will be available for those who prefer not to walk
10:00 we will join the memorial ceremony commemorating the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Terezin, held at the Small Fortress
13:00 the Memorial Scrolls Trust & Beit Theresienstadt Olomouc Torah Ceremony and Petr Papoušek, President Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic
followed by a tour of Theresienstadt (return to Prague ~18:30)
• Installation of the Olomouc Torah Scroll at the annual Beit Theresienstadt Museum meeting
Tel: +972-(0)4-6369515, +972-(0)58-6369515
The ceremonies will be held as per COVID guidelines
Pencil the date, May 2023
We invite you to join us in Prague & Terezin mid May 2023 as part of a new annual educational program.
Strangers : world views and marginalising the ‘Other’
An exhibition at Hereford Cathedral, Mappa Mundi and Chained Library, Saturday 30 April to Saturday 3 September 2022.
MST suggests that you visit the following exhibition, to which we have loaned Sefer Torah Scroll MST#1540. We thank Peter Barber, our Trustee and also a Trustee of the body which looks after the Hereford Mappa Mundi medieval world map.
"Throughout history, human beings have covered their tribalism and fear of the unknown with stereotypical and distorted misinterpretation of those who appear different to themselves, the ‘Other’. It is vital to recognise this and counteract it.
‘Strangers’ looks at the situation from the viewpoint of both sides, displaying a wide range of books and documents from the cathedral’s collections relating to different peoples, places and periods. The exhibits include the Hereford Mappa Mundi, itself a medieval iteration of the problem, and Magna Carta in the context of its imperialist uses. There are images of important works from other collections and, in the Chained Library, a rare medieval Torah scroll (MST#1540), loaned by the Memorial Scrolls Trust, pays witness to the tragedy of European Jewry.
Some of the images and attitudes shown are shocking, but reflect the mentalities and realities of their day, including our own. We do not condone them, but seek to understand and challenge them. The exhibition ends on a hopeful note – the acceptance of difference and understanding of our commonality as human beings unites us.
In association with the exhibition, four talks held at the cathedral look at the problem in its historical context and present ideas about how we can promote tolerance and understanding."
Visit the Czech Scrolls Museum
Fordham University, London Campus visit, March 2022
MST hosted two visits for 40 Fordham University history course students, who are looking at the use and provenance of religious objects in history.
We invite you to visit the Czech Scrolls Museum for a guided tour, however you need to book your visit in advance.
Cheder and b'nai mitsvah group visits.
Individuals and families.
We do not charge for your visit - any donation offered goes to our Czech Scrolls Maintenance & Repair Fund.
MST welcomed Andrea and Paulo Kulikovsky, São Paulo, Brazil
When Time Stopped
Ariana Neumann, an American who had a Czech father visited our Museum today, with two friends.
We have a picture of the Pinkas synagogue showing some of the 78,000 names listed on the wall. Arianna was amazed to see both an Uncle and Aunt on the list.
Arianna grew up knowing nothing about her Czech background. After spending years of research, she has now written a memoir about her father's life When Time Stopped
This portrait of life in Brandỳs nad Labem is drawn from an interview given by Jiri Munk, to Terezie Holmerova, January, 2006, centropa.org, recalling his childhood.
In the late 19th century, there were 250 souls living in Brandýs who identified as Jews. Although they had achieved emancipation in 1860, allowing them to move to Prague (which many did), by 1930 only 60 of them remained. Others who were of Jewish origin, although they did not identify themselves as such, still remained in Brandỳs; they, too, would go in the Nazi Transports. There were about 80 of them in all.
The men in the Brandỳs community were mostly in the textile business, and had worked their way up economically during the first Republic (1918-1938). However, Mr. Umrath, who was of Jewish origin, owned the largest factory in Brandỳs , called Melicharka. His partner, Mr. Melichar, had been an ordinary blacksmith and locksmith, who made an important invention by improving seeding machines. He was poor, and made his machines by hand. When Mr. Umrath, who was wealthy, discovered this, he went to Mr. Melichar and they went into business together, creating the biggest farm machinery business in Czechoslovakia. The factory exported their machines all over Europe. Other prominent Jewish businessmen in the town were Adolf Munk, Jiri’s father, who was a lawyer, and Dr. Laufer, his close friend.
Courtesy of David Goldberg from his book on MST#373 The Dublin Scroll. “The Jews of Brandỳs in the Habsburg Era [1526 – 1918]”
"I have learnt from new research that I am still checking out, that my grandparents - Bertold and Helena Danzig – were not sent to the Treblinka extermination camp.
As a result of meticulous documentation left behind by the Nazi regime, and carefully pieced together by compassionate researchers, I now understand they were sent by train to the Sobibór camp, in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Sobibór was an extermination camp, not a concentration camp. Its sole purpose was mass murder, almost exclusively of Jewish people.
According to a newly published database of victims, Bertold was despatched to Sobibór on Transport Ax, no. 709 from Terezín in Czechoslovakia on 9 May 1942. Helena despatched on Transport Ax, no. 710 on the same day.
The train journey itself would have been unbearable.
Sobibór had only just been made fully operational as a place of mass extermination in the middle of May 1942.
So, if the train record is correct, my grandparents would have been among the first to perish there."
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
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 do the same with our scrolls in the Czech scroll museum.
We were honoured in 2019 for Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, to accept the personal loan of a kosher Czech Survivor Scroll
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 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.
The Recipient will pay to the Trust an initial donation of $5000
New Recipients shall make an annual donation to the Trust of $360.
The Recipients website should have a page or an article about their Czech Torah and its 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
Recipients who are synagogues, shall have an annual commemorative service dedicated to the Jews of the Memorial Scroll town.
The Recipient must provide the Trust with a written report 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
Under no circumstances whatsoever may the Torah Scroll be buried.
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.
UK £ Sterling Bank Account
Sort Code 60-04-04 Account 86880594
IBAN GB28NWBK60040486880594 BIC: NWBKGB2L
USD $ Bank Account
Sort code 60-04-04 Currency 140 Type 00 Account 87579650 [140/00/87579650]