Thursday 17 December 2015

Message for Florida Scroll-Holders!

Susan Boyer has sent us the following message:

We are pleased to announce that Temple Beth El of Hollywood in conjunction with the Memorial Scrolls Trust is hosting Florida’s first ever Holocaust Torah Reunion.  This weekend long event will take place on February 12 – 14, 2016. 

The events of the weekend have been planned to educate and celebrate.  The foremost authorities will be present to host workshops and lectures on the restoration, preservation, and continued use of these treasured scrolls.  Expert sofrim will be on hand to examine the Torahs and reveal their individual histories.  Learn how many of the scribes used hidden mystical symbols in creating these scrolls, and find out if your congregation’s Holocaust Torah has these, too.  Many holocaust survivors will be present to share their stories of endurance – not unlike the unique stories of survival each of these scrolls has as well.

We hope to reunite many of these precious Torah scrolls for the first time since they were rescued and taken to the Westminster Synagogue in London in 1964.  It was soon after they were rescued that the Memorial Scrolls Trust was established.  The Trust’s purpose was, and still is, to ensure that these precious scrolls would be distributed to congregations throughout the world to be loved and cherished by future generations. 

Your participation is crucial to that very cause and to the Torah Reunion’s success.  Please consider attending and bringing your congregation’s Holocaust Torah with you.  Round-the-clock security will be on hand to guard the Torahs in our sanctuary, should you decide to bring and store your scroll with ours. 

A detailed schedule of events is available for all participants.  Honor your Holocaust Torah by learning as much as you can about it, while honoring us with your presence.  Please contact Lynn Strauss at 305-205-5151 for further information.  You may also contact our Temple office staff at 954-920-8225 to accept our invitation.

As valuable as these Torahs are to preserve and protect, they are even more valuable restored and read from regularly.  They must be used and cherished, or the evils of WWII will have got what they’ve always wanted – to take our religion and traditions from us.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Siyum for MST #655 in Sharon, MA

MST Chair Jeffrey Ohrenstein has just returned from a weekend in Sharon MA where he attended a siyum for the repair of our scroll MST #655 from Prestice, on loan to Temple Sinai for the last 26 years. Westminster Synagogue is also the holder of a scroll from Prestice,and in his role as Chair of the synagogue, Mr Ohrenstein brought MST #178 to Sharon to join 16 other New England scrolls and Sofer Kevin Hale  for a moving reunion in the Temple Sinai sanctuary.  He writes:
"...there were 18 MST Sifrei Torah and there were a lot of wet eyes in the congregation. Rabbi Meszler and his community have done an incredible job and I was privileged to take part in the siyum."
One attendee wrote:
"I have been to events at Temple Sinai for over 25 years and this was so very, very special. It was the BEST. Seeing those other 17 Torahs reunited from Czechoslovakia pre Holocaust and having our own Czech Torah restored for use by our congregation gave us chills and memories that will be forever remembered."
Mr Ohrenstein was also invited to Shabbat services at Temple Israel of Sharon, holders of MST #1029 from Prestice, and spoke to the congregation about the work of the MST. The congregation was thus motivated to begin restoration work on their scroll, and to join with the MST to develop education projects in their community.
If your congregation is interested in hosting a Scrolls Reunion for the MST scrolls in your city or state, do contact us and we shall do all we can to assist and support such a project!

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Keeping the Memory Alive

Evelyn Friedlander was interviewed last year by Andrew Miller for his university degree project on the Jews of Klatovy. We just found this copy of the interview on YouTube, and hope you will enjoy it!

Thursday 4 June 2015

Murdered Jews of Pribram Commemorated

Susan Boyer and other friends of the Memorial Scrolls Trust were present in Pribram, Czech Republic, on 3rd June for the unveiling ceremony of a memorial stone for Shoah victims from Pribram. We just received a copy of the words spoken by the mayor of the town, Jindrich Vereka:

"Dear Rabbi Sidon [Chief Rabbi, Czech Republic], dear Mrs. [Susan] Fisher Boyer, dear Mrs. [Judy] Mannaberg Goldman, dear Mrs. [Beverly] Karp, dear [200] guests:

Let me welcome you, in this rare moment, on behalf of Pribram City Hall.

We have gathered here today to honour the memory of the Jews  fallen and martyred during the Second World War.  Unfortunately, we would be hardly able to find another nation which was throughout its long history persecuted as much as the Jewish one.  Synonyms such as genocide, the Holocaust, the extermination, the Shoah, pogroms, and others accompany the nation for tens of centuries.

To say the truth, it is a miracle that despite all the centuries of persecution the Jewish nation survived.  And in today's world, it represents not only moral but also economic power, which can't be missed.  In addition it is necessary to mention the tiny percentage of Jewish people to the world population--only a quarter of one percent.  This gives reason to admire even more the deep trace left by this pious and capable nation in the annals of  mankind.

Today, at this place, we commemorate the tragic fate of the Jewish population during the Second World War, and not only of Jewish people from Pribram.  It is very sad to say that once again it was just the Jewish nation that suffered the most.  With great respect we remember, and we will always remember, the unimaginable number of 6 million lost human lives, which at that time meant more than two thirds of Europe's Jewish population.

I am really proud that just by virtue of my position as the Mayor of Pribram, I can take part in these memorial events and give a clear signal of not only my personal, but also the official, attitude to this delicate issue.

I sympathize with all killed, murdered and fallen members of the Jewish nation and express my respect to them.  We are standing here today because nothing like this could even happen again.

Thank you"

Thursday 28 May 2015

Memorial Scrolls Committee Welcomes New Members

Memorial Scrolls Committee members:  (l-r) Nick Young, Tony Yablon, Jeffrey Ohrenstein (Chair), Miles Laddie, David Lawson
Memorial Scrolls Committee members: (l-r) Nick Young, Tony Yablon, Jeffrey Ohrenstein (Chair), Miles Laddie, David Lawson
The Memorial Scrolls Committee, meeting regularly to advise the MST trustees and discuss issues connected to the Trust, has welcomed its first members drawn from communities beyond Westminster Synagogue. MST Chair Jeffrey Ohrenstein was delighted to welcome four new members to the committee, including Tony Yablon, son of the Scrolls' benefactor Ralph Yablon; and David Lawson from Kingston, Surbiton & District Synagogue, one of the most active scroll-holding communities in the United Kingdom. We look forward to working with them, and also welcome our friends Nick Young and Miles Laddie to the group.

Thursday 14 May 2015

MST Scrolls in Interesting Places

MST #803 from Vodnany is in the care of Camp Tawonga, on the doorstep of Yosemite National Park. Do send us your photos of our scrolls so we can share all the roles the scrolls play in communities across the world!

Thursday 16 April 2015

The Work of the Memorial Scrolls Trust

Here's an upgraded version of Josh Newman's short film about the MST. Feel free to share it with anyone who may be interested!

Thursday 26 March 2015

MST #486 Finds a New Home on Loan in New Hampshire

Rabbi David Senter and his wife Elissa just shared this photo journal of their journey to collect our scroll MST #486 on loan and take it to its new home at Temple Israel in Portsmouth NH. Mazal tov to Temple Israel, and myriad thanks to Rabbi Norman Patz for his loving care for the scroll while it waited for reassignment.

.Copyright © 2015 Temple Israel, All rights reserved. 

Thursday 19 March 2015

Arizona Scrolls Reunion Procession

Last month all the MST Scrolls in Arizona gathered for a reunion. It was a most moving experience and one we recommend to all our scroll-holders. If you are interested in being part of a similar event, do let us know so we may work together to create it!

MST #310 leaves on loan to West London Synagogue

MST Chair Jeffrey Ohrenstein hands the scroll to Rabbi David Mitchell of WLS

The Memorial Scrolls Trust is thrilled to report that our orphan scroll MST #310 was officially handed over on loan to West London Synagogue on the 18th of March, 2015. Rabbi David Mitchell and Wendy Pollecoff Woolf collected the scroll from the MST Museum and transported it carefully to the synagogue sanctuary.
MST #310 previously spent several years serving the Jewish community in Bangor, North Wales. ReverendMalcolm Weisman remembers that the scroll had its own aron hakodesh (ark) there and was kept for many years in the house of Isaac Pollecoff, Wendy’s great uncle.
The scroll will be officially welcomed at WLS on the 20th of March at the Kabbalat Shabbat service marking 175 years of liturgy at the synagogue. Asher Swidler will carry the scroll in, and the next day he will be the first to read from MST #310 for many years as he celebrates becoming Bar Mitzvah.
MST #310 has many years of work ahead, meeting thousands of students each year as part of their study of Judaism, Torah and the story of the Czech Scrolls. Mazal tov to all involved in this wonderful project!

MST #310 in the West London Synagogue Sanctuary

Wednesday 11 March 2015

MST #444 & Mayor Teddy Kollek in Aspen

While working on some research about MST scrolls collected in Prague-Strasnice, we just came upon this little gem via the website of the Aspen Jewish Congregation in Colorado. The page that tells the history of the community has a note about its Torah scrolls and states:

Our first Torah came from the Westminster Synagogue in London. The torahs that were confiscated in the Prague and elsewhere in Czechoslovakia during WWll and survived the Holocaust were eventually sent to London to be restored. They created a registry know as the Memorial Scrolls Trust. We received one of those Torah scrolls on a perpetual loan.  Herman and Marty Edel flew to London and arranged for this first Torah to be shipped to Aspen. It was a historical and joyous event for the AJC. There was no ark, so Herb Weisbard built one by hand. The congregation got together and carved letters from the Ten Commandments on the ark doors. Mayor Teddy Kolek of Jerusalem was visiting Aspen, and he carved a letter, too. This is the very same Ark we use today.  

Mayor Teddy Kollek helped to build an ark to hold our scroll MST #444. Who knew?!

We love this story, and we love the folk in Aspen because they have also put a direct link to the MST website on that web page. Every one of our scroll-holders should be doing that! Have you done that yet? Why not?!

Thoughts of Richard Zelin on a visit to Prague


From darkness to light

Prague 3
Outside of Old-New “Golem” Synagogue in Prague.
This winter, my family and I visited Prague, home to the 16th century legend about the Golem, a mythical figure who protects the Jewish community. Like other major East European cities, Prague faced, in a cruel historic irony on the Golem legend, the twin evils of the 20th century: both Nazism and Communism. The anti-Semitic and murderous totalitarian regimes of Germany and the Soviet Union wreaked havoc on the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, leaving “a hole in the heart of the world,” as chronicled by Jonathan Kaufman in his riveting book about the Jewish experience in those countries before and after the war.
The unspeakable crimes of the Nazis was brought home to us, in vivid and shocking display, when on a bitterly cold and dreary winter day, we touredTheresienstadt, a Nazi labor camp 40 kilometers north of Prague, where approximately 70,000 Jews brutally died either because of the horrendous conditions in the camp or because they were eventually transported to Auschwitz, where they met their ultimate demise. 
Not only were an unimaginable number of Jewish lives tragically lost, but also in the aftermath of the Nazi (and subsequent Communist) takeover of Czechoslovakia, the country’s vibrant Jewish religious and cultural life was almost completely wiped out, with many synagogues either abandoned or destroyed.   
However, while touring the old Jewish quarter of Prague, which has become a popular tourist attraction since the Velvet Revolution and downfall of Communism, I happened upon a fascinating and inspiring story, with a Chicago connection. In defiance of the Nazis’ nefarious plan to extinguish Jewish life throughout Europe, I learned that in 1942, a group of dedicated Prague Jews helped save approximately 1,600 Torah scrolls from synagogues in Prague and the surrounding Jewish communities by bringing them to the Central Jewish Museum (and later housing them in the Michle Synagogue outside of Prague), where they were cared for, so it was hoped they could be used again after the war.
Tragically, all but two of the curators of the museum, who repaired and carefully documented where each scroll had originally come from, died in the Holocaust, meaning that their sacred work could no longer continue. But in another miraculous twist of fate, in 1963, Rabbi Harold Reinhart of London’s Westminster Synagogue, with the help of a number of prominent British philanthropists, purchased the scrolls from the Communist Czechoslovakian government and brought them to London, where they have been preserved. The full story about the Prague scrolls is told in Philippa Bernard’s powerful book, Out of the Midst of Fire.      
Today, through the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust, many of the scrolls are on permanent loan throughout the world. Besides making them available to Jewish communities around the globe, in 2008, the Trust opened a museum in the Westminster complex containing a poignant exhibit about the rescue of the scrolls.
When I returned home, I discovered that 20 synagogues in the Chicago area are using them for religious and/or educational purposes. I was especially delighted to hear that one of the scrolls, originally from Prossnitz, located east of Prague, where a number of leading Jewish intellectuals had lived, is at my own synagogue, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park. They are also being used at both Camp Ramah and Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute. There is also one on display at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.
Besides their religious, educational, and cultural significance, the saved Torah scrolls help celebrate the revival of Jewish life in Prague, albeit on a dramatically smaller scale than before the war, as well as help enrich our own community by connecting us to our past and giving us hope for the future. This remarkable achievement also gives concrete expression to the renowned Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim’s famous dictum of not providing any posthumous victories to Hitler. Indeed, this uplifting tale, while not new, is today a positive antidote to the latest troubling developments in Europe, particularly in France, where extremism and anti-Semitism have reared their ugly heads again.
Richard D. Zelin, Ph.D. was Associate Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund and Director of the Chicago Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Monday 9 March 2015

Man Suspected of Murdering the Fiedlers Arrested in Prague

Over one year after the shocking murder of our friend Jiri Fiedler and his wife in their flat in Prague, news has reached us that a suspect has been arrested in the case. The JTA reports:

"After a yearlong investigation, the man suspected of the brutal crime was arrested in western Czech Republic ... police investigators told reporters. The man belonged to the couple's wider circle of acquaintances, the police said, and robbery was ascribed as the motive. The suspect has confessed to the crime, investigators said."

An article may be found in the Forward. A fuller version may be found in the Prague Daily Monitor.

May they rest in peace.

MST Travelling Exhibition visits Bromsgrove School

We are delighted to note that the MST Travelling Exhibition has just returned from a week at the Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire. Not only did all students have an opportunity to view and enjoy this mini version of the Memorial Scrolls Museum, but Year 9 students also had a special lesson about the scrolls. We thank our trustee Sarah Derriey for arranging the visit and transporting the exhibit. Do let us know if you would like the Travelling Exhibition to come to you!

Sofer David Brand z"l

t is with profound sadness that the Memorial Scrolls Trust shares the news we have just received that our beloved Sofer David Brand died in Israel at the beginning of February. Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet. May his memory be for a blessing.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

AEJM Curators visit the MST

The Memorial Scrolls Trust was privileged to be part of the London 2015 itinerary for the Association of European Jewish Museum's Advanced Curatorial Programme. At the invitation of Joanne Rosenthal from the Jewish Museum of London, 24 people from 14* countries learned about the work of the MST from Evelyn Friedlander and Rabbi Ariel J Friedlander. They were then able to examine a selection of binders from the MST collection. Earlier in the day they had looked at some torah wimpels in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and were able to compare and contrast the two collections. The visit concluded with a trip upstairs to see the wall of torahs and the museum whence the binders had come.
(* the 14 countries were Austria, Crimea, England, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland and Turkey)

Thursday 29 January 2015

MST in the US House of Representatives

We just found the following information regarding our scroll MST #1230 online via the Congressional Record Volume 140, #111, for Thursday 11th August 1994:



                      HON. GEORGE J. HOCHBRUECKNER

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, August 11, 1994

  Mr. HOCHBRUECKNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the 
Hampton Synagogue located in Westhampton Beach, NY, which will be 
celebrating its dedication ceremony on Sunday, August 14, 1994.
  As founding Rabbi Marc Schneier said, ``It is the synagogue that 
embodies Jewish continuity and makes that continuity possible; the 
Hamptons are now linked with that historic continuity.'' The Hampton 
Synagogue is the first traditional synagogue built in the Hamptons, and 
most of its interior is from Israel, including large stones that were 
shipped in from Jerusalem.
  Famed director Steven Spielberg and the Honorable Gad Yaacobi, 
Israeli Ambassador to the United States, are the two guest speakers who 
will celebrate the dedication with the congregants. During the 
ceremony, Mr. Spielberg will also be invited to join Rabbi Schneier in 
a rededication of the community Torah scroll of Domazlice, 
Czechoslovakia. This scroll was one of many that was destroyed during 
the holocaust. It will serve as a permanent memorial to the more than 6 
million jews who were massacred by Hitler's regime.
  There is much excitement in the community surrounding the completion 
of the new synagogue, and an enormous turnout is expected on September 
5, when the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, will be celebrated. I wish 
them happiness during that celebration and commend each person involved 
in the foundation of the synagogue for making it possible with their 
time, effort, and caring attitude.
  Mr. Speaker, it is quite evident that the Hampton Synagogue will be a 
special place. I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing the 
historic dedication of the Hampton Synagogue.


Steven Spielberg has been part of a service for one of the MST scrolls? That's almost as exciting as the scroll being mentioned in the Congressional Record! I wonder if there may be photographs of this event .....?

Tuesday 27 January 2015

A Visit from the Brands

This morning the MST had the great pleasure of meeting 2 of the grand-daughters of Sofer Brand. They are in town for a family wedding and their mother told them that they must check out the museum! In a mixture of English, Yiddish & Ivrit we shared the story of the scrolls and the part that their zaide played in preserving and restoring these last witnesses to Jewish life in Bohemia and Moravia before the Shoah.

Sara & Chaya were excited to hear about the work of their grandfather and to see the rooms in which it took place and the tools that he used. They took many photographs for the folks back home.

I was also able to speak with their mother, Sofer Brand's daughter, since they called her when we were chatting in the MST office. She mentioned that Sofer Brand's health is not too good at the moment. We shall add Eliyahu David ben Feige to our prayers for healing.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Sorrow for Charlie Hebdo Victims

Our hearts and thoughts are with the family and friends of those murdered at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris yesterday. It is hard to think about the joy of Shabbat approaching when there is such evil in the world. We can only hope that the rest we get will give us strength and energy to continue the work of tikkun olam, the healing of our world. 

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Southern Teacher Training for the MRJ

This Sunday 11th January at the Sternberg Centre

If your synagogue has a Czech Scroll, come and hear about our FREE new Education Pack - a 6 week module containing everything you need for B'nei Mitzvah students to learn about the role of the Torah in Jewish life then and now.

Presented by Rabbi Ariel J Friedlander, MST Administrator

Monday 5 January 2015

MST Education Pack visits Manchester

Rabbi Ariel J Friedlander presents the new MST Ed Pack at the MRJ seminar in Manchester. Photo:  Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers
Rabbi Ariel J Friedlander presents the new MST Ed Pack at the MRJ seminar in Manchester. Photo: Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers
The advent of the new Gregorian year saw Rabbi Ariel J Friedlander travelling north to spread the word about the MST's new Education Pack. At the kind invitation of the Movement for Reform Judaism, she spoke to a group of educators from Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle about the Czech Scrolls and how this programme for B'nei Mitzvah students may enrich their connection to a Jewish life. Cheder teachers were enthused, and plans are already in motion for integrating the pack into synagogue Religion School studies!