Its origin with our synagogue dates back to 1980 when the Synagogue For The Performing Arts became the caretakers of this torah. There is a story behind this scroll, and it is that this torah which is numbered 1399 - and to which we hold the certificate, - is one of 1564 Czech Memorial Sefer Torahs which formed a part of the treasures which were rescued by being collected in Prague during the Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945. They came from the decimated communities of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, all of which came under the control of the Czechoslovak Government. This scroll - #1399 -came from Kyjov in Moravia, and is one of 32 scrolls received from surrounding communities.
All the Czech communities were required to send their scrolls to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague in 1942. The 504 Jewish citizens of Kyjov – which is nearly the same number of people usually in attendance at our high holiday services – 504 Jewish citizens were deported to Terezin in one of three transports from Uhersky Brod on January 23, 29 and 31 1943. Their synagogue itself, was destroyed in 1945.
The scrolls were later re-acquired with the help of good friends from Artia, which is the Czechoslovak State Cultural Agency. The scrolls were transported to London and placed with the Westminster Synagogue in 1964. Much of the collection remains at Westminster but many of the torahs, like the one we have, have been entrusted to synagogues around the world to be cared for and displayed so that the memory of their origin never fades. This scroll – our scroll - was written in 1880. That makes it 134 years old. We took possession in 1980. It is not a kosher torah any longer, due to the fact that it had been damaged by the Nazis, and many sections of the scroll are indeed torn and mutilated.
We are proud to make it part of our heritage and display it every year on the high holidays.
This torah rests in the case we built to house it and, which also serves us as a memorial to the Synagogue For The Performing Arts members and their families that have passed on.