Today is February 25, 2024 /
Our Sefer Torah, no. 27, with the accompanying certificate, is one of the 1564 Czech Memorial Scrolls which formed part of the Jewish treasures saved in Prague during the Nazi occupation of 1939-45. The Scrolls came from the desolate communities of Bohemia and Moravia and were for some time under the control of the Czechoslovak Government.
In 1963, the Artia, a company run by the Czech Communist government approached Eric Estorick an art dealer who frequently visited Prague to buy paintings for his Grosvenor Gallery in London, to ask if he was interested in buying some Torah and other scrolls. He approached a client, Ralph Yablon who discussed the situation with Harold Reinhart, Rabbi of the Westminster Synagogue.
It was decided to instruct Chimen Abramsky, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College, London to examine the scrolls in Prague and report on their authenticity and condition, on receipt of which Ralph Yablon generously agreed to fund the purchase of 1564 scrolls that arrived in London in February 1964. Nobody was aware that the Czechs had previously, unsuccessfully offered to sell the scrolls to the Israeli government.
Over several months a team of sofrim (scribes) examined the scrolls to determine those which were kosher, could be repaired and/or restored and which were in such a poor condition could only be used as part of a memorial.
The Memorial Scrolls Trust has allocated Czech scrolls to synagogues and organizations around the world. The scrolls are never sold or donated, but allocated on loan. The Czech scrolls are survivors and silent witnesses. They represent not only the lost communities of Bohemia and Moravia, all those who perished in the Shoah. The MST encourages all their scroll-holders to use their scrolls for inter and intra-faith work, as well as for ritual and education.