Congregation Beth Ohr
Our Czech Torah
Beth Ohr is very fortunate to have on loan, for the life of our congregation, a Torah that survived the Holocaust. We thank The Memorial Scrolls Trust, an organization based in London, who for 60 years has been recovering, restoring and then sending these precious scrolls out to synagogues all over the world. Ours, Scroll MST #280, is on permanent loan to us since 1977 through our congregation’s founder, Rabbi Michael Roth (z''l).
MST#280 is from from Bzenec/Bisenz in Moravia in the Czech Republic and was written c.1850. Jews have lived in what is now the Czech Republic for 1000 years. There is a recorded Jewish presence in Bzenec dating back to at least the 15th century, when Jews could own vineyards there and Jewish traders represented the local rulers in selling their wine.
Following generations suffered waves of devastation as various wars were fought throughout the entire region. These alternated with periods of peace and relative stability. By 1863, the Jewish community had built a synagogue, for which perhaps this Torah was made.
We have read from our Czech Torah during the High Holy Days every year we’ve had it. This year, because of the challenges presented by Covid-19, it was read from at two b’nai mitzvah in the homes of the bar mitzvahs’ immediate families and then broadcast to the rest of their families and friends via the internet. So much more meaning was added to these life cycle events as these two young American Jews appreciated the privilege of being connected to their Ashkenazic backgrounds in such an immediate and tangible way!
It is with wonder to consider the meeting of this ancient communication of the story of our most ancient roots with the newest communication available today to our unimaginably spread out branches. Truly a tree of life!
The Memorial Scrolls Trust has asked us to provide the following link to its website, which we happily do here. This has been an extraordinary effort by this organization about which it is well-worth knowing. It has placed over 1000 scrolls across the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Central and South America, across Central Europe, in Greece, Australia and the Caribbean.
Find out where and much more at the MST website: