In First, stories

The Memorial Scrolls Trust and the History of the Czech Scrolls

Holy Blossom Temple is honoured to share the inspiring story of the survival and second life of 1,564 Torah Scrolls from Bohemia and Moravia.

Through the generous sponsorship of Nora and John Freund, we continue to honour and preserve the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust by caring for one of these rescued Czech Torah scrolls, a precious relic of 20th-century European Jewish History.  More than 85% of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia who were unable to flee before 1941 were murdered during the Holocaust, chiefly in Auschwitz.

The Torah scrolls survived the Nazi regime’s efforts to extinguish all forms of Jewish life and culture. Thousands of scrolls were confiscated from Jewish communities throughout Europe. It has been suggested that Hitler planned to create a museum of an extinct race—the Jews—using artefacts such as these. Instead, many Czech Torah scrolls were rescued and ultimately taken to London, England, where they have been distributed around the world as a source of Jewish continuity.  These scrolls are on permanent loan from the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust. (www.memorialscrollstrust.org)

The scroll that HBT will care for originates from the small town of Chotěboř’, located in the southeast of Prague in today’s Czech Republic. This Jewish community, with its prayer hall and cemetery, dates from the 1860s, but by the end of the 19th Century, as Jews began moving to larger cities, the population began to dwindle, and only 39 Jews remained by the 1930s. Deportations of Jews of Chotěboř were likely to have taken place during the first half of June 1942, along with other deportations from the region, although no specific record exists. The USC Shoah Foundation houses two Chotěboř survivor testimonies in its archives.

John Freund’s family history in Czechoslovakia and connection to Chotěboř can be found here.

We received our Torah scroll on Monday, April 22, 2019. 

Click here to read about our Scroll dedication ceremony.

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