Stories that connect us - From NJ to TX, The Board of Deputies, video conversations, our meetings in London, Prague & Elsewhere, our Scroll visits Hereford, more visitors from everywhere, and plans for our 60th anniversary "60 in '24"
MST Newsletter July 2022
The MST Torah Scrolls Schools Outreach
Welcome to our 26th newsletter.
A Very Special Thank You
Whilst at Temple Sholom, Cedar Grove NJ, Cantor Kenneth Feibush volunteered an enormous amount of his time and effort volunteering for the Memorial Scrolls Trust, continuing the work of Rabbi Norman Patz, the Rabbi Emeritus, caring for returned scrolls waiting to be allocated to new communities. He examined and photographed the scrolls , offering detailed information to new applicants, helping to choose a suitable scroll and arranging with Sofrim to restore them if required. On occasion he even brought the Torah to the new scroll-holder.
We offer our congratulations to Cantor Feibush upon his appointment as Cantor to Beth Israel, Houston, Texas wishing him a very happy and meaningful time with the congregation.
Board of Deputies
MST has accepted an invitation to join the Board of Deputies of British Jews. MST volunteer Jonathan Cole, based in Barcelona, Spain, has sat on the BoD International Committee for a number of years, representing Westminster Synagogue. He will now sit as MST's Deputy, and will work to further awareness of MST across European Jewish communities.
60th anniversary events
Over 12 communities are discussing plans with MST Volunteer Representatives for holding Scroll Gatherings for their regions across the world.
The first Scroll Gathering was in 1965, at Westminster Synagogue, when representatives of all British Jewish Communities gathered to daven at Westminster Synagogue, Kent House. Chief Rabbi Israel Brody led the congregation in saying Kaddish for all who had died in the Czech Holocaust.
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.
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.
"Taxidermied Jews?" History, Present, and Future of Jewish Museums
MST is proud to run the Czech Scrolls Museum in London. Our museum talks about the history of Czech Jews, of the Holocaust, the history of our partner the Jewish Museum in Prague, and of our own history at Westminster Synagogue, Kent House. Visitors have an opportunity to visit our 130 Czech Survivor Scrolls, and to view our over 400 Czech Survivor Torah Binder cloths. We are pleased to loan two Czech Survivor Torah Binder cloths to a new exhibition in Austria at The Jewish Museum of Hohenems.
June 26, 2022 until March 19, 2023
There are over 120 Jewish museums worldwide. However, even the definition of their designating adjective is by no means uniform. There are those to whom the institution itself is a Jewish one, to others the institution’s topic is Judaism – from the most diverse perspectives. For some, the adjective “Jewish” is unambiguous, for others, it is not just ambiguous but even full of contradictions. The question of definitions and perspectives are decisive for content and practices of museums – and thus also on the sovereignty of interpretation of what is “Jewish” in a social public sphere. The exhibition illuminates the history and present of the institution “Jewish Museum,” its collections and its canon – and thus reflects the urgent question of its role in society in the future.
An exhibition of the Jewish Museum Hohenems, in cooperation with the Saxon State Collections of Ethnography Leipzig, Dresden, and Herrnhut.
Tikkun Pacov, Czech Republic
The newest episode of Holocaust Remembrance Around the World is now available on the Fish Center website - a project for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. In this series, they find people from all over the world who are shaping and reshaping Holocaust memory and education.
This month, Lois Roman sat down with Karen Koblitz, the Founder of Tikkun Pacov, who is busy restoring the synagogue in Pacov, Czechia and bringing back to life the story and history of the Jewish Community from this town which was destroyed in WWII.
Talk at Hereford Cathedral - A Story of Bravery, Memory, and New Beginnings
Donal Savage will give a talk at Hereford Cathedral at 7 pm, 14th September on the Czech Survivor scrolls. "A Story of Bravery, Memory, and New Beginnings" to mark the successful completion of our museum loan of MST#1540.
Strangers : world views and marginalising the ‘Other’
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."
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 the Zall Family, members of MST scroll holder community Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation, CT, MST#752 & MST#1412
Stories from the lives of Scroll Holder Communities
Since the Czech Torah were distributed around the world Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein has been an outstanding example, working with his community the Ark Synagogue, (now led by his son Rabbi Aaron Goldstein) connecting to the towns their scrolls came from. We are delighted to share the article below he sent us:
KOLIN AGAIN PLUS
It may have been my sermon on Yom Kippur 1978 that started our interest in Kolín, it may have been Michael Heppner’s response and decades of encouragement and dreaming up new initiatives, it may have been a succession of Kolín mayors who have responded positively (from Mr Cabela through Vit Rakušan to the present Michael Kašpar),it may have been the enthusiasm of Kolín museum researchers from Drs. Rakušan and Jelinek in communist times to the ever enthusiastic Drs. Mirka and Jiromir Jouza, but for decades the vital fixer in Kolín has been Klara Zubicová. Ever since she saw a young Aaron Goldstein leading a group of NPLS young adults, climbing the wall to get into the cemetery, suspecting they were vandals and discovering they were actually out to help restore the New Jewish cemetery, she has been our constant link and organiser of our visits.It was Klara who got me invited to open a new exhibition in the synagogue in 2019, but then Covid intervened and the invitation was renewed this year for 17th June. It was also noted that it was the 80th anniversary of the deportation of the Jewish community to Terezín. But the ongoing pandemic and then the huge influx of Ukrainian refugees meant that we got the invitation too late to get the usual NPLS/Ark group to accompany us. Actually the exhibition had been opened three weeks previously by Murray and Meira Greenfield, travelling from Israel. Very fitting because the exhibition tells the story of Richard Glazar who had escaped from Treblinka following a revolt and was a cousin of Hana Greenfield!However, Sharon & I (together with Lindsay East, the other Ark member of our “group”) were invited for a civic reception in the Town Hall presumably, I thought, to commemorate the 80th anniversary. But no, it turned out to be an occasion to honour me and by extension our community! After a speech by the mayor, I was presented with a certificate in a velvet folder and a weighty medallion embossed with symbols of the town. I was asked to write words in the official book of honour (I hope they are legible!). I managed to think up a few words of thanks and stressed the fact that it was the leaders of Kolín who honoured us and honoured the memory of their lost Jewish community by the way they are constantly thinking of new ways to keep alive the Jewish heritage of the town.The Mayor and other councillors then led the way to Na Hradbách, the synagogue street, and to the rabbi’s house which the town had, at last, managed to purchase and was commencing a complete renovation. The medieval house had always looked small from the outside, but turned out to be quite large. In the downstairs room were three mikvaot (ritual baths) that had been hidden, but are now historic monuments. Upstairs was the large apartment that had been the rabbi’s home. Though it was a complete wreck, I wandered the rooms thinking of Rabbi Feder and his family living happily there before the Shoah and Rabbi Feder all alone after his return from Terezín.The restoration is being done to the highest museum standards, with research done at every stage to recreate the apartment, as it was pre-War. It will hold a museum to Rabbi Feder and the Jewish life in the town. An amazing sign of the non-Jewish leadership of Kolín committed to preserving the memory of its former Jewish citizens. Behind the house, in the garden, is another house that once was the home of the cantor. I’m sure there are stories to be told : all very well if the rabbi and cantor and their wives got on, but if not…! Obviously, this latest project will be another reason for Ark members to return in the future.We had to cancel the proposed walk from the Zálabí school (where the Jews in 1942 had been incarcerated before walking to the nearby Zálabí rail station for the trains to Terezín). It turns out that the pupils at the school had to leave early as the school was then being used to teach the children of Ukrainian refugees. However, Sharon, Lindsay and I did go to the Zálabí station and said a Psalm and Kaddish in memory of the 2200 Jews from Kolín and neighbouring towns who departed from there in June 1942, most never to return.The mood changed later, as we were joined, in the synagogue, by Rabbi David Maxa and his congregation, Ec Chajim, from Prague for a Friday night Shabbat service. As a “sermon” I talked about another Kolíner on that 1942 transport - Erna Meissner, who we knew so well and who died, in Prague, aged 100 just before the Covid outbreak. She came to join us in Northwood at several of our Czech Memorial services and it was nice to memorialise her in Kolín. In the dark days before the deportations, she worked for Rabbi Feder and if the work went on after the curfew she stayed over the rabbi’s house! Again a memory coming alive. We made Kiddush in fine Czech wine and tasty challah baked by Rabbi Maxa’s wife. And then we all went to a restaurant for a great Shabbat meal. Amongst the group from Prague was a cousin and family of our Rabbi Lea! Small world.Next day Klara had arranged a quite different programme. She used to work for the mayor of Kolín but now for the mayor of neighbouring Podĕbrady and she knew we had a connection there. On Michael Heppner’s second visit to Kolín, in 1980 he discovered Olga Kodíčková, the last identifying Jew in the town. She had a friend, Olga Ledererová, in Podĕbrady and Michael got the two Olgas together and took me to visit her and I went again to see her shortly before she died in 1985. For the 4/5 years we knew her she was in regular correspondence with Sharon. She lived in an old people’s home Dům Luxor that, in 1946, had been turned into a Jewish home for elderly Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. She had been a nurse in Terezín and, having lost her family, moved into the home –– as a nurse. One by one the other Jewish residents died off and she was the last Jew to die there. It reverted to being a general care home and exists as such today. It has been beautifully restored and its manager’s daughter lives in Israel. (I noticed that Podĕbrady is twinned with Netanya!). Klara, with the Podĕbrady mayor, had arranged for a plaque to be installed in front of the building to tell of its former use as a home for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.I was asked to speak to the residents and we found 25 or so alert elderly people all sitting waiting for us. I told the story of Olga Ledererová and of the period when it was a Jewish home. They seemed fascinated and clapped when Sharon sang to them Eli Eli. A social worker, who visited the home, came for the talk and said her mother was a resident at the time Olga was the nurse, so Olga must have looked after her. It was a nice connection and we saw Olga’s name and details in the hand-written register from the 1980’s. After lunch we gathered, with the mayor and other officials, outside the home (still called Luxor) to dedicate the plaque. Alongside the Czech and British flags there was an Israeli one.Podebrady is a delightful spa town on the river Elbe : maybe the Ark swimmers who are going to swim in Kolín in August 2022 could change course and swim downriver in the Elbe which connects both towns!Next day Sharon and I took the train to Bratislava. It passed through Kutna Hora and Časlav…the Jewish communities of those towns, as well as those of Podĕbrady were also on the Kolín deportation trains – another thought on the 80th anniversary of their sad fate. Our train travelled on for a happy post-Covid catch up with our friends in Slovakia.
Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein June 2022
Anshe Chesed, Fairmount Temple
30 years ago, Anshe Chsed acquired a torah through the Memorial Scroll Trust that came from the town of Melnik (current day Czech Republic). It was written in 1850 and survived the Holocaust. Throughout Shavuot weekend (June 3-5), the community honoured the 30th anniversary of their commitment to this incredible Torah. On Erev Shabbat, they heard children of survivors chant from this beautiful scroll; on Saturday evening, their Confirmation class teens chanted the 10 Commandments from this Torah; and on Sunday morning at our Shavuot and Yizkor service they chanted from this Torah.
Susan Ringel, MST volunteer, writes "I am proud of my congregation, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio, for taking care of our MST scroll, and for using it three times in three different services during this Shavuot weekend!"
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
Bohemian Jews were allowed to publish books in the early part of the Nineteenth century, even whilst they lived in the Ghetto in Prague. This book, printed in Hebrew and German, shows the mark of the King's Censor, a Hebrew translator authorised by the State to assure that such books did not promote sedition.
Roll your 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]