Czech Holocaust Memorial Torah
Czech Torahs Found
The congregation of the Flemington Jewish Community Center is honored to have one of the 1564 Czech Torah scrolls rescued from a mass of deteriorating items found in a storage area of the Michle Synagogue in Prague.Upon discovery of the cache, the Torahs were cataloged and brought to the Westminster Synagogue in 1964. Under the direction of the Memorial Scrolls Trust, many of the sacred items were repaired and distributed to congregations throughout the world. Part of the collection remains in a museum at the Synagogue as a remembrance of the Jewish communities from which they came.
FJCC Receives Torah
After Rabbi Jaffe made arrangements to receive this memorial scroll on permanent loan from the Trust, an FJCC congregant traveled to London to transport the Torah to Flemington. With a special "antiquities transport Visa" to exit London and enter the United States with the Torah, Mel Affrime lovingly carried the package on his lap on the plane. He remembers that he "was somewhat intimidated by the whole experience and was just glad to be leaving the airport with the Torah in hand."
Orphan Scroll #765
The certificate that accompanies the Sefer Torah number 765 authenticates the Torah as one "of the Jewish treasures saved in Prague during the Nazi occupation of 1939-45. [It] came from the desolate communities of Bohemia and Moravia..." Although the Torahs were tagged, along the way this scroll and 215 others lost their identification cards and they became known as the "orphan scrolls." So, although scholars are sure it came from this region and was written in the 18th century, there is no evidence of its specific origin.
Torah Sits in Ark
Rather than lock the Torah in a display case, the congregation of the FJCC decided to keep it in the ark, along with the Torahs that are read at services each week. Despite its fragile condition, the Torah is taken out for many of the Jewish holidays, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Simchat Torah. In June, when the FJCC commemorates the Shoah, the Torah is featured prominently as a reminder of the individuals, families, congregations, and communities that were lost during the Holocaust.