Memorial Scroll Trust Identifies Holocaust Czech Torah Scrolls at HUC/Jerusalem

Memorial Scroll Trust

From left to right: Rabbi Paul (Shaul) Feinberg, retired Associate Dean of HUC/Jerusalem; Jeffrey Ohrenstein, Trustee and Chairman of Memorial Scroll Trust; Cantor Eli Schleifer, Director of the Cantorial Program at HUC/Jerusalem, Emeritus; and Yaakov Ben-Ze’ev (Simkovitz) from Beit Theresienstadt.

Jeffrey Ohrenstein, Trustee and Chairman of Memorial Scrolls Trust, and Yaakov Ben-Ze’ev (Simkovitz) from Beit Theresienstadt, are working to locate and identify Czech Torah scrolls that were confiscated by the Nazis during the Holocaust for their planned Museum of an Extinct Race. Retrieved after the war, many of these 1,800 surviving Torah scrolls were loaned to Jewish communities around the world as a memorial to the destroyed Jewish communities that once cherished them.

One of the Sifrei Torah belonging to HUC’s Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem has been identified as part of a collection of such Torah scrolls that was donated to the State of Israel in the 1960s and are now scattered all over the country, each with a unique story. The scroll belonging to HUC/Jerusalem was given by the late Rabbi Barry Tabatchnikoff ‘68. The holders of these scrolls have a responsibility to look after them and ensure their precious legacy is remembered and transmitted to future generations.

Rabbi Naamah Kelman ‘92, Dean, HUC/Jerusalem, commented, “We were honored to welcome these guests who are following the distribution and use of these special scrolls. We are blessed to have our beloved retired faculty who know and cherish the history of the scroll itself and the donor. Telling these scrolls’ stories is a precious legacy that must be passed on.”

Rabbi Paul (Shaul) Feinberg ‘71, retired Associate Dean of HUC/Jerusalem, and Cantor Eli Schleifer, Director Emeritus of the HUC/Jerusalem Cantorial Program, met with the Memorial Scrolls Trust guests and examined the scroll, dating it to 1836.

The Memorial Scroll Trust has started a project aiming to link over 1,000 Torah Scroll holders in one place. The Trust is planning an event in 2024 to tell the story of the scrolls and is considering holding the event at HUC/Jerusalem.