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Holocaust Memorial ScrollMemorial  Scroll Trust Torah #706

Congregation Rodef Sholom received our Memorial Scroll Trust Torah #706 on permant loan in the 1990s.  
Our MST originally belonged to Pinkas Synagogue. 
The Pinkas Synagogue is the second oldest preserved synagogue in Prague.
Built in the late Gothic style in 1535, it was founded by Aaron Meshulam Horowitz, a prominent member of the Prague Jewish Community, and probably named after his grandson, Rabbi Pinkas Horowitz. It was originally a place of prayer for the Horowitz family and was located near a ritual bath (mikveh). It was restored to its original form in 1950-54.
 
 
The Nazis and the Czech Jews:  The Demise of the Jewish Communities
Jews had lived in Bohemia and Moravia for more than a thousand years. Over that time a rich Jewish culture developed, centered on Prague and spread across a large number of communities throughout the country. When the Munich Agreement was signed on 29 September 1938, Britain and France agreed to Hitler’s demand to be given the German speaking border regions of Czechoslovakia, and the Germans marched in. The Jews from about sixty congregations in the prosperous industrial and commercial towns in the Sudetenland had two or three days to flee to the interior, which was still a free and sovereign country. They left behind their synagogues, which were in German hands in time for the destruction of the Pogrom of November 1938, when synagogues across the expanded Germany, which now included the Sudetenland, were burned or vandalized and looted. In almost every case the ritual treasures of these Sudetenland synagogues were destroyed or lost.
In the remainder of Czechoslovakia, the synagogues and their swollen congregations were safe for the time being, and there was no program of destruction, even when the Germans invaded the rest of the country in March 1939. In 1940, the congregations were closed down, but the Jewish community administration was used by the Germans to execute their stream of decrees and instructions. In 1941 the first deportations started and the mass deportations of the Jews took place throughout 1942 and into January 1943. The Nazis decided to liquidate the communal and private Jewish property in the towns, including the contents of the synagogues. In 1942, Dr. Stein of the Juedische Kultusgemeinde in Prague wrote to all Jewish communities, instructing them to send the contents of their synagogues to the Jewish Museum in Prague. Thus the Torah Scrolls, gold and silver and ritual textiles were sent, along with thousands of books. The remaining Jews were deported in 1943 and 1944, but quite a number survived.
 
The Saving of the Judaica  –  The inventory of the Prague Jewish Museum expanded by fourteen times as a result, and a large number of Jews were put to work by the Germans to sort, catalog and put into storage all the items that had come from over one hundred congregations in Bohemia and Moravia. It needed over forty warehouses; many of them deserted Prague synagogues, to store all these treasures. When the task was eventually completed, the Jews who had been put to this work were themselves deported to the Terezin concentration camp and death. There were few survivors.
It was once accepted that the accumulation of this vast hoard of Judaica was intended by the Nazis to become their museum to the extinct Jewish race. There is, however, no evidence that any such museum was ever planned. The Prague Jewish Museum had been in existence since 1906, and was not created in order to house the Judaica collected in 1942. In 2012, the Prague Jewish Museum published “Ark of Memory” by Magda Veselska, a history of the museum that includes a clear explanation of how it was the Jews of Prague that worked before, during and after the war to protect a legacy that was threatened with destruction. After the defeat of Germany, a free and independent Czechoslovakia emerged, but it was a country largely without Jews. Most of the surviving Jews in Prague and the rest of Bohemia and Moravia were from Slovakia and further east from Subcarpathian Ruthenia. Prague, which had had a Jewish population of 54,000 in 1940, was reduced to under 8,000 by 1947, and many of these were to leave.
 
Czechoslovakia and the Communists  –  On 27 February 1948, after less than three years of post war freedom, the Communists staged a coup and took over the government of Czechoslovakia. The Prague Jewish Museum came under government control, and was staffed mainly by non-Jewish curators. In 1958, the 18th century Michle Synagogue became the warehouse which housed hundreds of Torah Scrolls from the large Prague Jewish community and what was left from the smaller communities of Bohemia and Moravia. The collection did not include scrolls from Slovakia, which the Germans had put under a separate administration. The Scrolls were left totally neglected.
 
The Communists Sale of the Scrolls  –  Eric Estorick, an American living in London, was an art dealer who paid many visits to Prague in the early 1960’s. He got to know many Prague artists, whose work he exhibited at his Grosvenor Gallery. Being a frequent visitor to Prague, he came to the attention of the authorities. He was approached by officials from Artia, the state corporation that had responsibility for trade in works of art, and was asked if he would be interested in buying some Torah Scrolls. Unknown to him, the Israelis had been approached previously with a similar offer, but the negotiations had come to nothing. Estorick was taken to the Michle Synagogue where he was faced with wooden racks holding anything up to 2000 Scrolls. He was asked if he wanted to make an offer, and replied that he knew certain parties in London who might be interested.

Holocaust Memorial ScrollMemorial  Scroll Trust Torah #58

Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah received our Memorial Scroll Trust Torah #58 on permant loan in the 1990s.  
Our MST was originally located in Lostice. 
 
The Jewish community was part of Lostice's history for almost 400 years. Several significant Jewish intellectuals were born or lived in Lostice, namely the acclaimed rabbi Arje Jehuda ben Rechnitz and his son called Salomo Loschitz, Hebrew scholar Lazar Flamm, rabbis Aron Moses Neuda, Abraham Neuda, Elias Karpelles and Ezriel Gunzig, historian Gustav Karpelles, writers Fanny Neuda and Carola Groag etc. Christians and Jews of Lostice lived together through periods of peace and prosperity and suffered in times of war, plague and economic depression. During that time they lived without serious hostilities, fights and pogroms. Both communities influenced and enriched each other and contributed to the economic, social and cultural growth of the town.
9th cent.
The presence of Jewish merchants in the Greater Moravia is documented by the Raffelstetten Customs and Shipping Regulations written in the early 10th century. However, the evidence of Jewish trading caravans operating in the present Czech Republic dates back to the Roman period.
1254
King Premysl Otakar II issued Statuta Judaeorum. This important decree codified the legal position of Jews in Bohemia and Moravia. Jews were direct subjects of the king and he in turn guaranteed their protection and freedom of religion. The document was confirmed by several successive rulers and became a basis for the legal position of Jews in this land until the end of the 18th century.
1454
King Ladislav Pohrobek expelled Jews from Unicov, Olomouc and other Moravian royal towns. However feudal land owners accepted Jewish settlers into their towns. This was the case in Usov and later in Lostice.
1544
Oldest record of Jewish settlement in Lostice: Benes - a man of Jewish faith bought a house in the town. At this time Lostice was a part of the Bouzov estate and its feudal owner was Vaclav Haugvic of Biskupice.
1554
A Jewish cemetery was established by the road to Palonin.
cca 1560
The first wooden synagogue was built in the Jewish quarter near the parish church.
1581
A Jewish self-run government (headed by a bailiff and counselors), a Jewish Community Register and a Community House were established in Lostice.
1618-48
A period of prosperity ended during the Thirty Years' War. The entire town including the synagogue was devastated and about half of the houses in the Jewish quarter were abandoned.
1651
A new wooden synagogue was constructed. The Jewish community prospered again. Jewish settlers from Poland, Ukraine and Latvia arrived in Lostice. They escaped persecution caused by the Chmelnicki uprising (1648 - 1656). Jews expelled from Lower Austria and Vienna settled here in 1670.
1727
The Jewish quarter was moved to the western part of the town. According to the Translocation Decree issued by the Emperor Charles VI, all Jewish houses which were in close proximity to Catholic churches in any town or city were to be moved to other locations. In Lostice the problem was resolved by an exchange. Jewish owners swapped houses with Christians. Owners of Lostice and its citizens fought this decree in vain. This move did not discourage the growth of the Jewish community in the new location.
1781-88
Reforms declared by the Emperor Joseph II began to remove the most discriminatory laws, made education accessible for all and prepared the conditions for integration of Jews into society.
1782
A Jewish school opened in Lostice. By request of the Jewish community, a local Christian schoolteacher, Josef Cap, began to teach there.
1793
A fire, which started in the Jewish quarter, spread to the town and destroyed 38 houses.
1805-06
A synagogue built of masonry in the Classicist style replaced a former wooden structure and is preserved to the present day.
1848-49
Revolutionary events caused a major reorganization of the state administration and an improvement of rights for all citizens. Jews attained civil rights with a final amendment in 1867. From now on Jews could relocate freely, choose any profession and marry without restrictions. Feudal ownership was dismantled and Lostice became a free town. Christian and Jewish communities created a joint municipal administration. There were 483 Jews in Lostice, which represented about 17 % of the inhabitants.
1900
Total of 115 Jews lived in Lostice. Their number gradually declined, as some families took advantage of a new freedom and moved to bigger towns and industrial centers. 44 255 people of Jewish faith lived in Moravia.
1919
Dr. Ezriel Günzig, the last Lostice rabbi who served his community from 1899, left the town. Dr. Berthold Oppenheim, the Olomouc rabbi, assumed the religious duties.
1928
A fire destroyed 16 houses in the Jewish quarter. The fire started in the house of a tvaruzky cheese maker, Mr. Eckstein. A strong wind quickly spread the fire to other houses. Almost 30 fire brigades rushed to Lostice to put out the blaze. The damage was extensive but no lives were lost.
1939
The start of German occupation and persecution of Jewish people.
1942
On June 22nd Nazis transported 59 Jews from Lostice via Olomouc to Terezin. From there they were sent to other concentration and liquidation camps, where most of them died.
1945
After the war, only Greta Eckstein with her parents, and Richard Morgenstern with his five children, returned from concentration camps to Lostice. The Jewish congregation was not renewed.
The Jewish community was part of Lostice's history for almost 400 years. Several significant Jewish intellectuals were born or lived in Lostice, namely the acclaimed rabbi Arje Jehuda ben Rechnitz and his son called Salomo Loschitz, Hebrew scholar Lazar Flamm, rabbis Aron Moses Neuda, Abraham Neuda, Elias Karpelles and Ezriel Gunzig, historian Gustav Karpelles, writers Fanny Neuda and Carola Groag etc. Christians and Jews of Lostice lived together through periods of peace and prosperity and suffered in times of war, plague and economic depression. During that time they lived without serious hostilities, fights and pogroms. Both communities influenced and enriched each other and contributed to the economic, social and cultural growth of the town.
 
London: The Memorial Scrolls Trust
1564 Scrolls Came to London  –  On his return to London, he contacted Ralph Yablon, a well-known philanthropist with a great interest in Jewish art, history, and culture. Yablon became the benefactor who put up the money to buy the Scrolls. First, Chimen Abramsky, who was to become Professor of Hebrew Studies at the University of London, was asked to go to Prague for twelve days in November 1963 to examine the Scrolls and to report on their authenticity and condition. On his return to London, it was decided that Estorick should go to Prague and negotiate a deal, which he did. Two lorries laden with 1564 Scrolls arrived at the Westminster Synagogue on 7 February 1964. After months of sorting, examining and cataloging each Scroll, the task of distributing them began, with the aim of getting the Scrolls back into the life of Jewish congregations across the world. The Memorial Scrolls Trust was established to carry out this task.
 
The Memorial Scrolls Trust and The Silent Messengers  –  It is the duty of the Memorial Scrolls Trust to care for these scrolls and to ensure that they are given a prominent role in the spiritual and educational life of the institutions to which they have been entrusted. The Trust endeavors to help these organizations to build a bond with the community symbolized by their Memorial Scroll, and to maintain a continuous awareness of the special significance of these scrolls.
Each Memorial Scroll is a messenger from a community that was lost, but does not deserve to be forgotten.
 
Thu, August 18 2022 21 Av 5782