In the course of the Second World War, the Nazis stole the treasures from countless synagogues and Jewish communities and brought together about 1,800 Torah scrolls. After the war, they were warehoused in a town outside Prague. And then, in 1963, more than 1,500 of the scrolls were brought to England, where they were housed at the Westminster Synagogue, Rutland Gardens, in the Knightsbridge area of London. The undertaking was underwritten by a generous philanthropist, Ralph Yablon, who saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rescue these precious artifacts. The Memorial Scrolls Trust which also administers the Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum, has distributed the scrolls on loan to synagogues all over the world where they can be displayed as silent sentinels that by their very existence bear witness to the horrors of the Shoah. Shelter Rock is in possession of two Torah scrolls that bear such solemn testimony to the annihilation of the communities that once housed and cherished them.
One of the scrolls, #223, is from Horovice and was written at the end of the nineteenth century or the beginning of the twentieth. To learn more about its story, click here. To read more about the original synagogue that housed “our” scroll before it turned into an evangelical church, click here.
The other one, #99, is older, dating back to the first quarter of the nineteenth century, and belonged to the Jewish community in Kostolec nad Orlici, the town from which once hailed the grandparents of Madeline Albright. (The name of the town means “Kostolec on the [River] Orlici.”] To read more about the Jewish community from which our scroll came, you can click here to see what a Reform congregation in Florida that also houses a scroll from that town has put up on its website in its regard.
By their very existence, these scrolls exemplify the Jewish will to survive even in the most extreme situation. We are privileged and honored to house them in our building.