Czech Memorial Scroll
On 6th September 2023 at its daily morning service, the Leo Baeck College community welcomed into its midst scroll no. 163 on permanent loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, written in Czechoslovakia in the 1880s. It had been shipped to the Jewish Museum in Prague from Brno, during the Shoah. It is likely that it came from one of the many smaller communities in the area.
The service was led by Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh, Dean of Leo Baeck College, who shared the history of the Jewish journey in Brno which stretches back to medieval times, and which mirrored that in countless other towns and cities across eastern Europe.
The scroll was passed round all those present, each of whom had the opportunity to hold the scroll to their heart and welcome it in person, and before it was placed in the Ark for the first time everyone laid a hand on it and recited the Shehecheyanu blessing, then singing Etz Chayyim Hi, it is a tree of life, from Proverbs 3:18.
The scroll will now be used regularly for Torah readings at shacharit.
Rabbi Dr Middleburgh said:
All of us at Leo Baeck recognize the significance of taking in an orphan scroll, a legacy of the Shoah, and giving it a new and loving home. We are deeply grateful to the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust for this precious loan.
The scroll was presented to Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, LBC Principal, at Westminster Synagogue on 4 September 2023.