Approximately 150 years ago the Jewish community of Kolín, Czechoslovakia gathered to dedicate a new Torah scroll. For 80 years the words of that Torah scroll were read aloud in the Kolin synagogue. The Torah was witness to baby namings, B’nai Mitzvah, weddings and funerals. It was among the prize possessions of the Kolín Jewish community.
In June of 1942, the entire Jewish community of Kolín was deported to the Terezenstadt Concentration Camp. The Nazis looted the synagogue. The ritual items were shipped to Prague, where they were to become part of Hitler’s “Central Museum of the Extinct Jewish Race”. The Kolín Torah was among 1,564 Torahs gathered and stored by the Nazis in Prague.
After the war, these Torahs were nearly forgotten.
Following the efforts of a London art dealer, these Torah scrolls were purchased from the Communist Czech government and were later donated to The Westminster Synagogue in London. A memorial Scroll Trust was established to loan the Torah scrolls’ to Jewish institutions around the world in an effort to perpetuate the memory of the original Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis.
Thirty-six years ago, the Memorial Scrolls Trust loaned Scroll #559 to Manetto Hill Jewish Center. To learn more about this wonderful organization, please click on memorialscrollstrust.org.
Our Holocaust Torah, Scroll #559, originally belonged to the Jewish community of Kolín, Czechoslovakia. Our Torah has remained in a museum case as a silent memorial to the decimated Jewish community of Kolín.
We spearheaded a campaign that culminated in the Re-dedication of this Kolín Torah. It was our obligation to transform this Holocaust Torah into a living memorial to the Jews of Kolín.
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to perpetuate the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. Each time the Torah is used, not only is it a living part of our community, it is a testament to the continuity of Jewish life and the failure of Hitler’s final solution.
— The Israel, Jewish and Community Affairs Committee