The Czech Memorial Scrolls

In 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, which resulted in not only the destruction of Jewish people and communities, but also the material culture of Judaism there, which had been there for over 1,000 years. The synagogues were directed to send all their Judaica (Jewish materials) to Prague, where it was stored in the Jewish museum. Some 200,000 items were collected from all over the Czech regions of Bohemia and Moravia. For the remaining Jews, this was an attempt to save their sacred objects. More than 1,800 Torah scrolls were among the items collected.

In 1964, the remaining 1,564 remaining Torah scrolls were sent to the UK, and many were sent to Jewish communities around the world. Around 150 remain in London, a part of the collections of the Czech Memorial Scrolls museum.

In 2016, the Memorial Scrolls Trust entrusted Scroll # 795 to Congregation Beth Israel in Media, Pennsylvania. Scroll #795 belonged to a synagogue in Prostéjov, Moravia. Beth Israel then hired Rabbi Kevin Hale to restore the Torah. Rabbio Hale’s cousin Miriam Lewin, a filmmaker, recorded Rabbi Hale’s work on the Torah and with members of Congregation Beth Israel, and released the documentary film Commandment 613, in 2020.