Staten Island Holocaust Center Receives Torah Scroll From Czech Republic
The Staten Island Holocaust Center is pleased to announce that we have received a Kosher Torah from the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, Czech Republic that dates back to 1775.
This newest addition to our archives was made possible thanks to a donation from Dr. Michael Kurzman of Staten Island and through the Memorial Scrolls Trust (MST#539) in London, England that allowed the SIHC to obtain the scroll. The Memorial Scrolls Trust cares for 1,564 Torah scrolls that represent the lost Jewish communities of Bohemia and Moravia. Some 1,400 have been allocated on loan to communities and organizations around the world.
The Pinkas Synagogue is the second oldest building in the Prague ghetto and began in 1535 as a private house of prayer. In the 17th century, the synagogue expanded to include a women’s gallery and was used for worship by the local congregation. Today its importance lies in its role as a memorial to the 80,000 victims of the Holocaust from Bohemia and Moravia, whose names are hand-painted on the walls. The list for the inscriptions was compiled from sources which include extant transport papers and registration lists. Pinkas Synagogue also houses a poignant exhibition of children’s drawings from Terezin concentration camp.
After World War II, the synagogue was closed for several decades due to its poor condition. After the collapse of the Communist regime it was reopened to the public following completion of renovation work. Approximately one-fourth of the hand-painted names suffered extensive damage after floods in 2002 and although insurance covered the majority of the structural damage, it did not include the repainting of the main hall or the names washed away by floodwaters. Pinkas Synagogue is a reminder of the Jewish community that once flourished in Prague and today the building serves as a Holocaust memorial and provides a space in which the public can learn about Jewish history in Prague and remember those lost during World War II.
We are extremely grateful and excited to add the Czech Torah Scroll as part of our growing list of items and historical artifacts for our archives at the Staten Island Holocaust Center.
You can learn more about the Czech Torah Scroll and the Memorial Scrolls Trust at their official website.
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