Friday, 22 March 2019

California synagogue returning Torah scroll to Olomouc

10 October 2017

Olomouc, North Moravia, Oct 9 (CTK) - A parchment scroll of Torah dating from 1880 will be returned to Olomouc's prayer room as a permanent loan from the Jewish community in Foster City, California, at the end of October, Petr Papousek, chairman of Olomouc's Jewish community, has told CTK.

It will be the first Torah returned out of the 1,500 Bohemian and Moravian scrolls that are stored outside the Czech Republic nowadays, Papousek said.

The scroll will be festively installed in the Jewish prayer room on the occasion of the Jewish Culture Days in Olomouc on October 22.

"The return of the Torah to Olomouc is a historic event not only for Olomouc's Jewish community, but also for the town," Papousek said.

The scroll had to be restored and the writing had to be repaired professionally. The last letters will be finished just before the scroll's festive delivery into the prayer room, he added.

After Olomouc's synagogue was set ablaze at night on March 15, 1939, it was pulled down. The scrolls were gathered in the emerging Central Jewish Museum in Prague at first.

During the turbulent post-WWII period, the museum was nationalised and the scrolls were moved to a former synagogue in Prague's Michle neighbourhood.

In 1963, under the Communist regime, the torahs from Michle and other scrolls, a total of 1,564 pieces, were sold to the congregation of the Westminster Synagogue in London, which established the Memorial Scrolls Trust to preserve and restore them.

The trust lends them to Jewish congregations across the world, particularly to the USA.

The Jewish Culture Days are to take place on October 19-29 and will include an exhibition on the vanished Olomouc synagogue, an international conference on changes in the life of Jews, a theatre performance and a lecture by Israeli photographer Yosaif Cohain among other events.

This year, the Jewish Culture Days are dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the consecration of the Olomouc synagogue and the 150th anniversary of the birth of Berthol Oppenheim, the town's rabbi who was murdered in the Treblinka wartime extermination camp.

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor is not responsible for its content.