Our Czech Scroll – Holocaust Memorial Torah #442
The congregation of Temple Avodat Shalom are the privileged and trusted custodians of a Holocaust surviving Torah Scroll that is known to be from the town of Vyskov (Wishchau) in the South Moravian region of the Czech Republic. The Nazis collected gold and silver ornaments, ceremonial objects and Torah scrolls from towns all over Europe. A group of Czechoslovakian Jews was forced to arrange and catalogue the items which had been assembled in Prague. After the war, the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia released the Torah Scrolls.
Here are photographs of the brass plaque on the scroll's Etz Chaim, the Scroll, and the only Synagogue in Vyskov (which still stands today). The Synagogue was built in the neo-Romanesque style in 1885. Services ended before 1929. In 1931-54 the building was used as the town museum and then as the chapel of the Czechoslovakian Hussite religion from 1957.
In 1964, the Memorial Scrolls Committee of Westminster Synagogue in London arranged for the shipment of 1564 scrolls to the Synagogue, where they were catalogued and repaired and restored when possible. Each Torah was given a numbered brass plaque to identify its origin. Scrolls that could not be made fit for synagogue use were sent to religious and educational institutions as solemn memorials. Those that were repaired and could be used in religious service were sent to fulfill requests of synagogues all over the world in return for a contribution toward restoration expenses.
The Memorial Scrolls Trust, a U.K. non-profit organization, has recently begun to reach out to synagogues and other instititutions who received the Czech scrolls to gather updated information about them. They plan to continue to enhance their website so it becomes "a repository of all knowledge concerning the 1564 scrolls, the Jewish history of the towns they came from, the Jews of those towns, their fate, survivors stories, photos etc. Also where the scrolls are now, how they are used and honoured etc." More information about the Memorial Scrolls Trust is available on their website.