Sinai provides a home for one of 1,564 Czech Scrolls that were rescued from communities in Bohemia and Moravia during the Second World War. They were brought to the UK in 1964 to Westminster Synagogue in London.
Here they were catalogued, and, if it was possible to do so, repaired and restored. Each scroll was given a numbered brass plaque to identify its origin. Unfortunately, we do not know where our scroll originated from, which makes its survival all the more poignant.
The scroll sits inside the Aron Kodesh, and is used each year in our service for Yom Ha Shoah, and it is used in our B’nei Mitzvah classes when we teach about the Shoah; having an artefact from that period, which is damaged in places and holds so many stories untold of the people for whom it was a valued part of their lives, cut short, helps our students to empathise with them and understand why this tragic period of Jewish history must not be forgotten.
We also show it to the children who come to visit Sinai from various schools in the area, as part of their Religious Studies curriculum. We explain how precious it is to us and why. This tends to lead to lots of questions about the Holocaust and about how this particular scroll came to survive.
A plaque hangs on the wall just outside the synagogue, giving a brief history of the scrolls which were rescued and why they have been distributed to host synagogues throughout the world.
If you would like more information about the history of the Czech scrolls and their distribution around the world please visit the Memorial Scrolls Trust website at http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org