During the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in the Second World War, the Germans methodically removed, recorded and stored all the Torah from all the Synagogues.
At the end of the war, these scrolls were discovered and, in 1964, the first of two consignments of these scrolls arrived at Kent House in London, the home of Westminster Synagogue. You can read more about the history of the scrolls at http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org/czech-scrolls/
Over the subsequent years, the scrolls were circulated to Jewish communities around the world. EDRS received one of the scrolls, which, we were advised, came from a town called Golchev Jenikov.
In 2008, a small project was undertaken to find out more about the history of our Czech scroll. It was identified that, on 9th June 1942, the town’s Jews were transported to Terezin and then to the labour camps "in the East" never to return. 59 people ranging in age from 7 to 87 were transported. Our scroll is one of three that are all that remains of that congregation.
In 2010, a visit was made to the town with an English speaking guide. The synagogue itself is still standing and appears from the outside to be in very good condition. It is now being used as a store by the Prague Jewish Museum. Unfortunately, it was not possible to gain access to the inside of the building.
Our Czech scroll is not in good condition and certainly could never be used for religious purposes. Nevertheless, it is used for educational purposes, in particular with reference to the Holocaust.
A picture of the Golchev Jenikov Synagogue and a certificate from the Trust giving details of our Czech scroll, have been framed and are now displayed prominently on the wall in our main entrance hall (The Woolstone Gallery).
We have now introduced Shabbat Golchev Jenikov which is held on the Shabbat closest to 24th Sivan each year (the Jewish date of the transportation). On this Shabbat, as part of the weekly Torah Service, the Czech scroll is paraded with the weekly scroll(s), carried by a Post-Bar Mitzvah youth, and held on the Bimah throughout the Torah service before being paraded back to the ark at the end of the service. The Rabbi explains to the congregation why this is happening. In addition, towards the end of the service, during the weekly Yahrzeit, when all the names for the week are read out, the Rabbi also announces ‘the Jews of Golchev Jenikov’. The objective, of course, is to keep alive the memory of these 59 people.