Tuesday 27 August 2013

Buried in Bury

The Memorial Scrolls Trust was on the front page of the most recent edition of the Jewish Chronicle, the main national Jewish newspaper in the United Kingdom. The JC was reporting the schande that is the burial of one of our scrolls. Although it is Orthodox Jewish tradition to bury sacred text that is no longer kosher, the congregation did not have the right to do this because the scroll did not belong to them. It was on loan from the MST. The fact is that they did not even consult the Trust to discuss the matter. Since a torah scroll is made of biodegradable matter it is likely that it has decayed since its burial and thus the prospect of disinterment is unlikely. We are not sure what will happen next.

This is the online text of the JC story:

Buried in Bury: how a synagogue cast historic Sefer Torah aside

By Simon Rocker, August 21, 2013
A Sefer Torah from a historic Czech collection saved from the Nazis has been buried by a Manchester synagogue without permission from the trust that loaned it.
The London-based Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust is furious at the action of Bury Hebrew Congregation and wants the scroll to be returned.
Evelyn Friedlander, chairman of the trust, attacked the burial by Bury shul: “Everyone here is extremely angry. They had no business taking it on themselves to bury it.”
Traditionally, Sifrei Torah which are considered no longer fit for ritual use and beyond repair are buried in a Jewish cemetery.
More than 1,500 scrolls preserved by the Jewish museum in Prague during the Holocaust arrived in London in 1964.
Although some were irreparable, others were restored by the trust, which is housed at the independent Progressive Westminster Synagogue. Over the years 1,400 have been loaned to synagogues across the world.
The 18th-century scroll, loaned to Bury in 1966, comes from Lostice in Moravia. Fifty-nine Jews from Lostice were deported by the Nazis and only three returned after the war.
Mrs Friedlander said, “The scroll is of historical interest.
“They were told at the time that it was on loan and not theirs to dispose of.”
It is unclear when Bury decided to bury the scroll.
Ian Joseph, Bury’s chairman, said this week that “the events referred to with respect to the scroll predate the current shul executive. 
“We will investigate internally the matter and then respond via the appropriate channels with any findings”.
You may also link directly to the JC story here.