Stories that connect us - From Prague to Dubai, video conversations, more visitors from everywhere, and plans for our 60th anniversary "60 in '24"
MST Newsletter January 2023
MST Czech Survivor Scroll on loan to Crossroads of Civilisation Museum, Dubai, UAE
Welcome to our 29th newsletter.
From Prague to Dubai
In the news in November, UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis visited Dubai as the guest of the 9th annual Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace. He was welcomed to a new exhibition on the Holocaust at the Crossroads of Civilisation Museum by founder HE Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori.
We are delighted that the Museum has accepted the loan of MST Czech Survivor Scroll MST#537 to this exhibition.
This is the first time that one of the 1564 Czech scrolls has been allocated to a museum in the Arab and Islamic world.
The number 48272 was tattooed on the Etzim (scroll poles) when catalogued in Prague where it had been sent from Svetla Nad Sazavou in Bohemia. This was one of over 200,000 items shipped to Prague and which survived the Shoah.
I will be present at the official opening of the MST Czech Survivor Scroll display at the Crossroads of Civilisation Museum on Saturday 28th January 2023.
Please join us via YouTube starting 8:00 pm Dubai Local Time (12:00 am New York/EST Time).
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.
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis with museum founder HE Ahmed Obaid AlMansoori at the Crossroads of Civilisation Museum’s Holocaust exhibit in Dubai, November 2022.
From L to R: Edwin Shuker, VP of The Board of Deputies, Ahmad Obaid Al Mansoori and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Olive Media)
Gideon Klein: Never forgotten
Don’t forget about me: The short life of Gideon Klein, composer and pianist, is the new biography by David Fligg about the remarkable Moravian-born musician who was murdered in an Auschwitz sub-camp, aged 25.
Klein was born in Přerov, but by the age of 11 he had moved to Prague, there developing his prodigious musical talents. By his teens, he was already well-respected within the capital’s astonishing inter-war musical and artistic circles. But Klein never forgot his Moravian roots, not least in December 1932 when he returned there to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, on Shabbat Vayishlach, in Přerov’s synagogue.
Most likely, one of the three extant Přerov Torah scrolls now in the MST’s collection, would have been used on that occasion. These scrolls are MST#67 at Liverpool Reform Synagogue, MST#947 at Congregation Agudas Achim, Austin TX, and MST#1120, at the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley, Allentown PA. The MST’s Quarterly Newsletter for autumn 2016 carried the article From Moravia to Merseyside: The Curious Story of a Torah Scroll, which focuses on David Fligg’s encounter with the Liverpool scroll.
Less than seven years after Klein’s Bar Mitzvah, the religious freedoms which Czech Jews under Tomáš Masaryk’s enlightened presidency enjoyed were stopped in one fell swoop. The Germans occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and Gideon Klein found himself imprisoned in the SS-controlled Terezín (Theresienstadt) prison camp and ghetto. David Fligg’s biography on Klein, the first full-length monograph on the musician in almost 30 years, details all of this: from Klein’s Moravian childhood to his final imprisonment in the Fürstengrube slave labour camp, via the liberal artistic milieu of pre-war Prague, and Klein’s tireless efforts to bolster prisoners’ spirits using music, to his final, tragic death. The book draws on first-hand, previously unpublished testimonies, interviews with those who knew Klein, and includes over 100 illustrations, many hitherto unpublished.
The book’s foreword was written by Zdenka Fantlová who remembered Klein from Terezin. Sadly, Zdenka passed away, aged 100, in November 2022, just five days before the book’s publication.
Don’t forget about me: The short life of Gideon Klein, composer and pianist
Gideon Klein, aged 18, in a signed photo from the famous Langhans Studios, Prague, 1938
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.
We invite you to visit the MST 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.
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]