Temple Beth Rishon of Wyckoff will rededicate its Holocaust memorial scroll and unveil its new preservation cabinet during services on Friday, September 16, at 7:30 p.m.
The Torah scroll, created in the late 19th century, comes from Ivancice in South Moravia, Czechoslovakia. It is thought that the town hosted a synagogue as early as 956. Through the years the community flourished; at one point it supported a yeshiva that produced many noted scholars.
During World War II a large refugee camp was opened in Ivancice, and in 1942 the town’s entire Jewish population was deported to death camps. Early in the war, the Nazis established a museum in the Prague ghetto where they planned to display the culture and artifacts of the murdered European Jews.
Prisoners were assigned the task of cataloguing the collection and tattooing the hundreds of Torah scrolls. A wired swastika tag was attached to a wooden roller on each scroll, with the name of the town from which it came. Temple Beth Rishon’s Holocaust Torah is inscribed with number 431.
The cache was discovered after the war, and the Czech government established a museum in memory of the destroyed Jewish communities of Europe.
In 1963, the Westminister Synagogue in London became trustee of the Torahs of Prague. Since then, synagogues from around the world have the opportunity to acquire the Torahs on permanent loan. Beth Rishon is dedicating a newly designed cabinet that will continue to preserve the survivor Torah.