The Czech Torah will be dedicated to the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU | FIU News

This Sunday, the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU will host a virtual event for the official installation and dedication of a Czech Torah scroll in its museum collection.

The Torah was donated to Florida International University over a decade ago and was part of the archives of the Steven and Dorothea Green Library at CRF. A Torah is a compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

“We are very pleased to exhibit this Torah for the benefit of our CRF students and visitors and to share its important story in Jewish history,” said JMOF-FIU Director Susan Gladstone Pastnerak.

The Czech Torahs have an important history and significance within world Jewry. During Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938) – also called the Night of Broken Glass – Jewish homes, hospitals and schools were ransacked as Nazi attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers. Rioters destroyed 267 synagogues across Germany, Austria and the region known today as the Czech Republic. More than 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. After World War II, surviving artifacts were found all over Europe, including the Czech Republic.

“It appeared that the Nazis wanted to preserve the relics of what they intended to become an extinct culture. The Torah scrolls are perhaps the most sacred of these objects. Torah scrolls unearthed after World War II remind us of the fragility and endurance of Jewish life,” says Oren B. Stier, professor of religious studies and director of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program. and Jewish Studies at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.

The scroll was one of more than 1,500 sent to the Jewish Museum in Prague in 1942 for preservation. Then, in the early 1960s, British philanthropist Ralph Yablon purchased the scrolls from the Czechoslovak government and donated them to the Westminster Synagogue in London, which established the Memorial Scrolls Trust which loaned them to synagogues and other organizations. of the whole world.

According to the Memorial Scroll Trust, this Torah (numbered 797) is believed to have been written around 1850 and comes from the Klausen Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Prague. During World War II it was left at a Torah collection point in Strasnice at the New Chapel in the Jewish Cemetery. From there it went to the Jewish Museum in Prague for preservation.

“It is truly an honor for us to add this Torah to our collection. The fact that it was made around 1850 and crossed the ocean after surviving two world wars is astounding. At this point , its value is unquantifiable, and we are proud to give this Torah a home,” said JMOF Curator Jacqueline Goldstein.

The Trust, having assumed responsibility for the rescued Torah scrolls, works to this day to educate people around the world about the history of Czech Jewry through their care of the scrolls and their loans, through which synagogues and Jewish institutions around the world may apply to serve as custodians of individual scrolls and their stories.

To learn more about the Torah and attend Sunday’s event virtually, part of FIU’s Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week, please visit jmof.fiu.edu.