In 2012 Goucher Hillel received a Torah from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, commonly known as a Holocaust Scroll, designated as Torah #1335 brno. The scroll had been housed for years at Shaare Tikvah Congregation of Waldorf, MD. It is a beautiful Torah written in 1831 in the city of Brno (now the Czech Republic), and was one of almost 1,600 Torah scrolls saved by the Jewish community of Prague during the Holocaust. Our Torah is unique in that the bottom of the Atzei Chayim (Torah Rollers) have an engraved band which has the year of the Torah’s writing along with the names of the leaders of the congregation in Brno.
Over the course of 2012-2013, with the help of Rabbis Moshe and Gedaliah Druin at Sofer on Site, our Torah was lovingly restored. Goucher alumnae/i, parents, and students, along with Baltimore community members, took part in writing letters in our Torah and contributing the funds necessary to restore the Torah. We are particularly grateful for the gift given by the Linder family of Philadelphia enabling us to acquire the Torah and begin the work. The Torah was dedicated in a ceremony at our annual meeting in May 2013, along with a second Torah from Shaare Tikvah Congregation that was donated to Goucher Hillel. In 2015, we dedicated a newly built Aron Kodesh (Torah Ark) in memory of Rafi Lehmann ’04, dedicated by the Lehmann and Linder families.
Known as a Czech Memorial Scroll, Torah # 1335 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.