FPS provides a home for three of the 1,564 Czech Scrolls that were rescued from communities in Bohemia and Moravia during WW2. They were brought over in 1964 to Westminster Synagogue in London, where they were catalogued, repaired and restored, when possible. Each scroll was given a numbered brass plaque to identify its origin. Our scrolls come from Austerlitz (today Slavkov) and Kolodeje, but sadly we do not know where our small scroll comes from – we refer to it as an orphan scroll.
These scrolls are very precious to us and we often read from them during the year. Each year we hold a special service to remember the destroyed communities by honouring our Czech scrolls. We choose a date close to the anniversary of the deportations of Jews from Austerlitz and Kolodeje to Theresienstadt and look for fresh, different ways of commemorating the scrolls. In 2016 we dedicated a new Torah binder, the second one made specially for one of our Czech scrolls. These binders carry the names of new babies born into our community and form a living link with the lost Jewish communities of former Czechoslovakia.
Every spring we hold a special Czech Scroll service to remember the remarkable story of 1564 Torah scrolls confiscated by the Nazis from synagogues across Czechoslovakia. They arrived in Britain after the war and many have been distributed on loan to communities all over the world. FPS has given a new home to three of the Czech scrolls and we use them to read the weekly Torah portion. Our annual Czech Scroll services include music, stories and poetry. Members of our congregation read names (with age, occupation and place of death) of the inhabitants of a Czech village from which one of our scrolls came. The emphasis is on life and continuity, and on the binder of one of our scrolls we inscribe names of babies born into our community.
More information about the history of the Czech scrolls and their distribution around the world is available on the Memorial Scrolls Trust website.