Over the last 13 years the FRS Czech Scroll Group has been very active in researching the origins of the scroll. The scroll is used at least once a year during the Czech scroll memorial service and it has been taken to the synagogue’s religion school on many occasions as a teaching aid when educating children about the holocaust.
Our first memorial service took place in September 1999. It was a most powerful and moving occasion and made all the more so by the inclusion of 12 other Czech Holocaust Scrolls brought by other London area congregations. This took place in the presence of a number of VIPs including the Czech Ambassador,
Members of the group wrote and presented an educational module to 9-11 year olds about the origins of the Czech Torah scroll and about the impact of the Holocaust on the Jews of Uhrineves and the Czech Republic in general.
In October 2004 Idit Gold, our then choir leader, organised, with the support of the Czech Scroll group, a choir tour of the Czech Republic. The 19 member choir flew to Vienna and travelled by coach to Brno, the capital town of Moravia. The choir gave concerts in Brno synagogue, Olomouc University and the Spanish synagogue in Prague. The trip was a great success and the group were warmly welcomed everywhere they went. The warmest welcome was in Uhrineves where we were treated as guests of honour of the deputy mayor, Karolina Pirklova and Libuse Votavova. They also met Rabbi Abrahams, a young orthodox Rabbi who grew up in Uhrineves and whose grandparents were married in the synagogue in Uhrineves.
In November 2006 the scroll was moved to its own display case in the synagogue. The occasion was marked with a fund raising concert.
You will see from our booklet and the other material around the synagogue that we have made a good deal of progress in getting to know our scroll community. We wouldn’t have been so successful however without the help of Libuse Votovova. In September 1942 Libuse, then a child of 12, said farewell to her Jewish classmates when they were transported to Terezin. When David Rose first met Libuse in 1999 she was actively trying to locate the Jewish class mates that had survived. One schoolfriend, Hannah, had poor health and was living in poor accommodation.
Photo of FRS choir visit in 2004
Scroll in Case
Libuse (top) and her friend Hannah (below) 1942
Libuse petitioned the Jewish home in Prague and eventuallyHannah was offered a place. Libuse was keen to develop a cooperative relationship between FRS and the town of Uhrineves. Libuse despite health problems is still actively collaborating with us.
Libuse Votavova standing in front of the Czech Ambassador in 2004
In September 2012 a small group from FRS led by Rabbi Cooper went to Uhrineves to attend a ceremony in the Jewish cemetery to mark the 70th anniversary of transport Bg that brought the 300 year old Jewish community of Uhrineves to an end. It was a very special and moving occasion, very well attended by adults and teenagers from the town as well as one or two survivors and their families.
This year sees another significant anniversary, the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Czech scrolls to Britain in 1964. The Memorial Scrolls Trust has a museum on the top floor of Kent House which tells the moving story of the Czech Scrolls and also displays a large collection of Torah covers, binders and other Jewish ritual fabrics.