United Hebrew is privileged to have in our possession many Torah scrolls of significance to our community. But perhaps there is none as meaningful as our Czech Torah, which is a survivor of the Holocaust. This Torah scroll is one of 1,564 scrolls rescued from Czechoslovakia. Ours is an orphan scroll, meaning, when it arrived in Prague in 1942 from one of the synagogues in Bohemia and Moravia, its provenance was not recorded.
Why was our scroll in Prague? It is one of a number of scrolls collected by the Nazis as part of their plan to create a “museum of artifacts of the extinct race of Jews”. After the war, they were placed in a warehouse in Prague later to be moved to the Westminster Synagogue in London, England for repairs and restoration. The synagogue then distributed them for permanent display in Jewish Communities around the world.
In 1978, Rabbi Grollman, along with the help a member family, wrote to the Westminster Synagogue to request a Memorial Scroll. United Hebrew’s scroll is Memorial Scrolls Trust #878. It is our tribute to the continuing strength of Judaism and the Jewish people following the horrors of the Shoah. This Torah has an honored place in our Aron HaKodesh (the ark in our Sanctuary), and we use it ceremonially on Kol Nidre, on Simchat Torah, and it is always honored at our annual St. Louis Yom HaShoah commemoration.
Click here to see the original correspondence between Rabbi Grollman and the Memorial Scrolls Committee.