Czech Torah Scrolls
Memorial Scrolls Trust
Proudly Preserving Our Heritage
Temple Beth Torah Sha’aray Tzedek is home to 2 of the 1,564 sacred Torah Scrolls which were acquired in February 1964 from Czechoslovakia after Nazi persecution. Originally, the Scrolls were secured at Kent House, the home of Westminster Synagogue in London. Our temple is home to orphan scrolls MST#920 and MST#1494. Their provenance is not known. These scrolls were allocated on permanent loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust. (www.memorialscrollstrust.org)
Our temple has honored our Jewish heritage and the tradition of these precious Scrolls by educating our Jewish community on the important history surrounding these sacred artifacts. These Torah Scrolls are prominently displayed in our temple lobby, just outside our main Sanctuary.
What Was Saved
About 1,800 torah scrolls once had homes in shtetls and shuls in Prague and its surrounding communities. Following the Nazi invasion in 1939, congregations were closed down and their synagogues destroyed or deserted. There were at least 350 synagogues in the region, but by the end of the war, more than 60 had been destroyed. In November of 1938, during a vicious pogrom, 50 of them were attacked and the majority of their contents were lost.
In 1942, a group of Prague’s Jewish community devised a way to bring the religious treasures from the deserted communities and destroyed synagogues to the relative safety of Prague. The Nazis were persuaded to accept the plan and more than 100,000 artefacts were brought to the museum there. Among them were these 1,800 torah scrolls. Each was meticulously recorded, labeled and entered on a card index by the museum’s staff with a description of the scroll and the place it had come from.
After the war, the scrolls were transferred to London, where they were organized and sent out to synagogues and organizations (not only Jewish) throughout the world. Thus, several years ago, two scrolls found their way to two temples in South Florida – Temple Beth Torah and Sunrise Jewish Center. This is why, after our merger, we are one of the few, if not the only synagogue to be fortunate enough to have two scrolls!
It is miraculous that after decades, these scrolls have traveled thousands of miles over oceans, and have found a home in our synagogue. We invite you to visit our temple lobby and view these treasures we have in the glass display.
Caring for the Scrolls is about remembering the past while looking to the future, to ensure that the tragic events that led to the acquisition of the Scrolls will never be repeated. We are encouraged to remember and honor European Jewish life before the Holocaust, to stand against prejudice and hatred, and to inspire commitment to our Jewish heritage.