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Hendon synagogue given Torah scroll saved from Holocaust
A TORAH scroll rescued from the Nazis was given to a Hendon synagogue on Sunday.
During the Second World War, the scroll belonged to a synagogue in Sobeslav — now part of the Czech Republic.
Many of its members perished in the Holocaust, but the 40-year-old scroll survived and was one of 1,564 rescued from the hands of the Nazis.
It was brought to Westminster Synagogue on behalf of the Czech Memorial Trust in 1963 and on Sunday was paraded through the streets under a canopy before a ceremony at Hendon Reform Synagogue, in Danescroft Avenue, attended by more than 150 synagogue members and children.
During his address, the current rabbi, Steven Katz, said his father Dr Arthur Katz had once been a rabbi at the Sobeslav synagogue. Dr Katz was also the first rabbi at Hendon Reform Synagogue.
In 1992 the father and son returned to Sobeslav hoping the mayor would agree to put up a plaque on a wall of the synagogue, which had been turned into a warehouse, to remember the Jews who had perished during the Holocaust – but the mayor refused.
At the end of the service a list of Sobeslav synagogue members, including children, who died at Auschwitz concentration camp was read out.
Rabbi Katz said: “This ceremony restores life to a Torah scroll from Sobeslav, a community my father served before the war, and it also gives an afterlife to the hundreds of Jews from Sobeslav who perished during the Holocaust.”
A Torah scroll is a special hand-written copy of the Torah, the holiest book in Judaism. It must meet extremely strict standards of production and is mainly used in the ritual of Torah reading during Jewish services.