Temple Bnai Sholem is honored to be the custodian of a Holocaust Torah. The Torah scroll that we have at Temple Bnai Sholem in New Bern is scroll number 694. It is one of three scrolls originally from the synagogue in Trebon, a small city in the Czech Republic near Prague. A second scroll from Trebon is kept at Temple Emmanuel in St. Louis, MO, and the third is at the Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue in London, England.
Trebon had a very small Jewish population yet they maintained a synagogue and a Hebrew school. The synagogue building housed the school and the caretaker as well as the place of worship itself. After World War II there were no Jews left in Trebon. The former synagogue building is located at 50 Krcinova Street in Trebon and is now a private house. A neighbor of our Temple in New Bern recently visited the Czech Republic and took the photograph below of the synagogue building.
During World War II in the parts of Europe that were occupied by Nazi forces most Jews who could not escape were rounded up and transported to death camps. The religious objects they left behind included ceremonial objects and Torah scrolls. While in most places these artifacts were pilfered or destroyed, in Czechoslovakia the Nazis collected them in Prague and shipped them to a warehouse. At the end of World War II a total of 1,546 Torah scrolls from Czechoslovakia were stored there. When the Communists took control of Czechoslovakia shortly after the war ended the scrolls became the possessions of the new government. The Torah scrolls were retained, although not carefully preserved.
The Czech government periodically attempted to profit from the scrolls by selling them. The Czech government was unsuccessful at this until 1963, when the scrolls were purchased by Ralph Yablon, a wealthy Jewish philanthropist from London. The scrolls were entrusted to the Westminster Synagogue in London, where they are owned by the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust. The Trust catalogs the scrolls and restores and preserves them as much as possible. The Trust gives the scrolls on permanent loan to various synagogues and organizations to use and display in order to carry on the memories of the Jewish communities that were lost in the Holocaust.
At Temple Bnai Sholem we read from the Holocaust Torah on holidays, such as Simchat Torah, and on other special occasions.
Click here to read additional information about the Jewish community of Trebon, made available with the permission of the Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue (London, England).