Corona del Mar residents Aviva and Fredric Forster stopped by the MST Museum today for a visit during their 4 days in London. The MST is often honoured by visits from North American tourists whose hometown synagogues are guardians of a Czech Scroll. This visit, however, was special.
Fred explained that the trip to London was arranged about 10 months ago. His father was from Ostrava, and was barmitzvahed with a scroll that is probably one of the 15 scrolls from Ostrava in the MST collection. “A visit to the museum was always part of the plan,” he said. What he had not foreseen was that 5 days ago he would have been reading from a Czech scroll as part of his own Bar Mitzvah celebration.
“My parents were secular Jews,” said Fred, “so I was kind of on the outside, looking in.” He explained that Aviva had grown up in a Conservative family, and had even been Bat Mitzvah. She had provided the practical Jewish education for their children, and he was proud to have four Jewish grandchildren. However, upon hearing recently that there was now a date for the first Bat Mitzvah of the next generation, he decided that the time had come for him to come in, and to demonstrate to the grandchildren his belief in Jewish continuity. So Fred studied, and prepared, and last Shabbat he read Parshat Kedoshim at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, CA. And the scroll from which he read was MST #349 from Litomysl.
It was a joy and a privilege to walk with the Forsters through the story of the Czech Scrolls, and to hear how their story was woven into ours. We know they will return to the community in Irvine with renewed enthusiasm for the role an MST scroll can play l’dor va-dor, across the generations. Mazal tov Fred on your Bar Mitzvah! And kol ha-kovod to all at Shir Ha-Ma’alot for loving and using MST #349 so well.