Czech Torah scroll (Memorial Scrolls Trust No. 579)

Museum Work

Resource TypeDocuments
Date of Creation1850
GenreReligious Materials
Object IDL1994.001.001
Place of CreationSmíchov, Czechoslovakia
Place of Creation NoteSmíchov is a district of Prague.
DescriptionThis Torah was written in 1850 for the Jewish community of Smíchov, a district of Prague in the former Czechoslovakia. The Torah remained in the Smíchov synagogue and played an integral role within the local Jewish community until the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939. 
Inscriptions37111 written in white paint on the bottom plate of the right roller

579 inscribed on the side of the left handle
ProvenanceIn 1942 this Torah, along with 100,000 other precious religious objects from Jewish communities across Czechoslovakia, was gathered by the Central Jewish Museum of Prague and stored in the Michle synagogue. There has been much debate as to whether or not this was a project initiated by the Nazis to create a "museum of an extinct race" or initiated from within Jewish communities in an effort to preserve materials and memory. Despite having differing intentions, the plan to gather items from across Bohemia and Moravia was ultimately acted upon by Nazi officials. The Torahs and other religious objects were catalogued under Nazi orders and remained in the Michle synagogue throughout the duration of the war. The number for this scroll (37111) is still visible on the bottom plate of the right roller. In the face of devastation suffered by the Jewish communities in Czechoslovakia under the Nazis, many Jewish religious artefacts were able to survive the Holocaust under the care of the Central Jewish Museum of Prague.

After the Second World War, the Torah scrolls fell under the control of the Czech State Authorities and the subsequent communist government. In 1963, a British art dealer acquired the 1,564 surviving scrolls and donated them to the Westminster synagogue in London where the Memorial Scrolls Trust committee was formed in 1964. The repaired scrolls were allocated to a permanent loan collection where they have been received by institutions and synagogues around the world. 

This Torah was selected and brought to the VHEC by Anita Shafran, Israel Zev and Elaine Shafran and families in memory of their Grandparents Israel and Chana Shafran. 
Legal Statuslong-term loan
Owner's Credit LineOn loan courtesy of the Memorial Scrolls Trust