A Part of our Harrowing History
It was 1964 when 1,564 Czech Torah scrolls arrived at the Westminster Synagogue in London and 1980 when the Memorial Scrolls Trust (MST) was created as an independent organization. Over the years some 1,400 Torah scrolls have been allocated to over 1,000 communities and organizations around the world.
The MST Torah Scrolls are survivors and witnesses of the Shoah. Having been saved from destruction it is essential they and their history are preserved. The MST has started a project to encourage everyone of the Torah scroll holders to create a Czech Torah page on their website linked to the MST telling the history of their scrolls. This will ensure that the CBD Czech Torah (MST #941) remains identified and is never forgotten.
The original Czech Memorial Scrolls exhibit opened in 1988, which was then developed and expanded to become a Museum in 2006. It is now internationally recognized and tells the history of the Czech Torah scrolls.
(text adapted from MST newsletter)
Scroll 32816 origins
A town in the Plzen Region, Czech Republic
Domazlice is located approximately 84 miles (135km) from Prague. It was established during the mid-13th century. Until 1918 the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; after World War I and until 1933 it was part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia.
The cemetery is owned by the Jewish community of Pilsen (Plzen), which funds its maintenance. Its borders have shrunk, due to some of its land being used to build a road. In addition to the remaining gravestones, the cemetery also contains a Holocaust memorial.
Between the 14th century until the middle of the 19th century, when the Jews of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were emancipated, no more than 3 Jewish families were permitted to live in Domazlice. It was only after 1848, when the residence restrictions known as Familiant Laws on Jews were lifted, that Jews from neighboring villages began settling in the town.
During the 1860s a Jewish religious society was formed, and a cemetery was established; the religious society would eventually be recognized as the governing body of the organized community and the cemetery would be in use until 1941. A synagogue was built during the 1880s.
In 1921 there were 108 Jews living in Domazlice; by 1930 that number had dropped to 69.
Following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, about a year before the outbreak of World War II, the Republic of Czechoslovakia was disbanded and the Sudeten region came under Nazi control. Beginning in March 1939 Bohemia and Moravia were occupied by Nazi Germany and became a protectorate of the Third Reich, beginning a period of discrimination and violence against the Jews remaining in these regions. By the end of 1942 most of the Jews remaining in Domazlice had been concentrated in the Terezin (Theresienstadt) Ghetto. From there they were deported to concentration and death camps, mostly in Poland, where most were killed.
The synagogue of Domazlice was destroyed by the Nazis. Before the Jews of the town were deported to Terezin, 20 documents and 461 ritual objects were transferred to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague.
Czech Torah Scroll 32816 on left