We are honored guardians of a rare, pre-World War II Czechoslovakian Torah Scroll which rests in a glass  cabinet in our Temple foyer. It is one of 1500 scrolls which are often the only surviving remains  of some 153 Czech Jewish communities.

In 1964 Westminster Synagogue in London, England acquired the scrolls from the Communist government of Czechoslovakia.  The Memorial Scroll Trust was formed, and has given these precious relics a second life by lovingly restoring them (when possible) and loaning them to over 1400 communities around the world, thereby spreading their message to new generations.  The scrolls are not only reminders of atrocities committed against our brothers and sisters in Europe but they challenge us to confront prejudice and hatred.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary (February, 2014) of the rescue of the scrolls, Westminster Synagogue launched a renewed mission for the next 5 years: to hire an Archivist and an education office, and to create a travelling museum/exhibit so that many more people around the world can experience and learn from the scrolls.

To help reach the goal of five million dollars needed to fund this mission, and as a sign of our commitment to educate and build bridges across communities, the Hochberg Holocaust and Human Rights Fund of Temple Bnai Israel has proudly contributed $1,000 to the Westminster Synagogue Memorial Scroll Trust.

Jeanne Morascini for the Hochberg Holocaust & Human Rights Committee

Pictured with the Scroll are Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz and Ritual Committee/Spiritual Task Force Leader Judith Stein at the Temple’s Yom Hashoah observance on Sunday, April 27, 2014.  The Scroll is an important part of that observance.

About our Torah scroll cover and case

Our scroll cover (Torah Mantle) was designed and created, with guidance from Temple Bnai Israel’s Beautification Committee, by Anya Sokolovskya, a Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union who lives in Storrs. The Mantle, and the Torah it covers, are in memory of the six million Jews, known and unknown, who lost their lives during the Holocaust. The yellow color of the Mantel is intentional – we reclaim this color of life as our own, not as one foisted upon us and denigrated by the Nazis. The design of the Mantel is similar to a Talit, symbolizing our continued commitment to Jewish ritual and prayer. The words we chose for the Mantle, “You should teach them to your children and speak of them”, remind us of the Jewish commitment to teach and to remember.

The hardwood display case that houses our scroll was donated in loving memory of Abraham Piotrkowski by Joe and Gail Petrowsky and family. It was professionally designed, and lovingly, beautifully built, by Temple Bnai Israel member Jim Baber,  a master of custom hardwood creations, in April of 2003.

Funded by the Temple Bnai Israel Hochberg Committee on the Holocaust & Human Rights

For more information about the Czech memorial scrolls visit: http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org/