Early in February 1964, 1,564 Torah scrolls, representing hundreds of Jewish communities in Bohemia and Moravia that had been wiped out in the Shoah, arrived at the Westminster Synagogue in London. For over 20 years the scrolls had lain unused and unattended in a Prague synagogue that had been converted into a warehouse, until they were purchased from the Czech government for $30,000. Over the years that have passed since, they have been sent out to Jewish communities across the world to be cherished as memorials to a tragic past, but at the same time to be read and studied by a new generation of Jews.
The Torah scrolls from Czechoslovakia were part of a huge collection of Jewish ceremonial objects that the Germans confiscated. Jews in Prague were compelled to sort, classify and catalog these treasures. For the Jews thus employed, it was s short reprieve; when their task was completed, most of them were deported and eventually perished in the death camps. However, one would like to believe that as the scrolls and the other sacred objects passed through their hands, these martyrs took comfort in the hope that ultimately Hitler would fall and that the ceremonial objects would be returned to restored Jewish communities.
For more information on the Memorial Scrolls Trust, please go to www.memorialscrollstrust.org