Houston Hillel's Holocaust Torah
In 1976 Houston Hillel and the University of Houston obtained joint custody of a Torah scroll from Czechoslovakia that had been rescued from the Nazis.
Today this scroll is on permanent display in the Special Collections Reading Room of the M.D. Anderson Library.
The Torah was obtained through the diligent work of
Dr. Irving Rothman, Professor English.
The Torah is believed to be from the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague. The Pinkas synagogue was founded in 1352 and was used for continuous worship until 1939 when the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia.
Known as a Czech Memorial Scroll, Torah # 1518 was one of 1,564 Torahs gathered from synagogues desolated throughout the region by Nazi officials. The Nazis were convinced that they would destroy Judaism, so they gathered artifacts and Torah scrolls from the communities they decimated, and stored them in a warehouse in Prague. Their goal was to build a museum after World War II ended, showing how the Jews were destroyed. Fortunately, their plan never materialized.
These Torah scrolls languished in the Prague warehouse until concerned Jews from the West pleaded for their release. After almost two long decades of waiting, the Westminster Synagogue in London received permission to obtain the scrolls.
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