Holocaust Torah Scroll
The Sefer Torah, number 348 which is shown above is one of the 1564 Czech Memorial Sifre Torah which formed part of the treasures which were saved by being collected in Prague during the Nazi occupation 1939 - 1945 from desolated Jewish communities of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, and which then came under the control of the Czechoslovak Government for many years. The Scrolls were acquired, with the help of good friends, from Artia (the Czechoslovak State Cultural Agency) for Westminster Synagogue, where they arrived on the 7th of February 1964.
Some of the collections remain at Westminster Synagogue, a permanent memorial to the martyrs from whose synagogues they come; many of them are distributed throughout the world, to be memorials everywhere to the Jewish tragedy, and to spread light as harbingers of future brotherhood on earth; and all of them bear witness to the glory of the holy Name.
This Scroll came from Lostice and was written in the middle of the 19th century.
This Holocaust Memorial is dedicated to those who perished and to those who survived the darkest period of recent Jewish history. The horrors of "The Shoah" (the Holocaust) are represented by the flames of the ovens and by the tangled barbed wire of the camps. The black granite background is a visual wall of silence, representative of the idea that no words can adequately describe the anguish of those who suffered nor the enormity of this calamity. This sculpture is a mixed media construction of brass, steel, and copper, cold and unyielding in its texture. Prominently displayed at the top of the sculpture is the word Zochreinu ("Remember Us") demanding of us that we not forget the suffering and those whose lives were taken.
There is a special emphasis on remembering the young victims of the Nazi horror. The doll, the tiny pair of shoes, and the bicycle all serve to remind us that one-and-a-half million children were murdered during the HOlocaust. Our Temple Sinai school helped to raise one-and-a-half million pennies - weighing 9000lbs - to symbolize each of the children whose lives were cut short by the Nazis. Additional funds were contributed by members of our congregation. To read more about the pennies raised, click here.
The enshrined Torah scroll that appears in the center of the piece is intended to bring light to the darkness of the sculpture. This scroll is one of two Torah scrolls on loan to our synagogue from Westminster Synagogue in London, England. These were two of 1,564 Czech Memorial Scrolls which were purchased from the Czechoslovak Communist state and taken back into Jewish hands in 1964 by Westminster Synagogue. The Torah scrolls have found a home in synagogues around the world testifying to the Jewish People's survival and rebirth.
Entangled in the barbed wire are several sacred objects, integral to Judaism: a burnt prayer book open to the Sh'ma (our affirmation of a single God); a fractured set of tablets symbolizing "the Ten Commandments"; a set of broken Shabbat candle sticks representing the home; and a cracked menorah that reminds us of our sacred traditions.
On the left-hand side, are the words of a contemporary prayer entitled "We Remember Them" recited as part of our Yizkor service throughout the year. The words remind us to remember the Holocaust's victims in our thoughts and prayers.
Appearing on the right-hand side of the memorial is the quote "We laughed, we played. We loved, we prayed. We are the children you remember." This comes from a book that asks us to remember the children who never had the chance to live, to grow, and to flourish.
On the Torah scroll, there hangs a small silver breastplate which is all that remains of a synagogue in Vettweiss, Germany destroyed on Kristtalnact in 1938. It was donated by Lotte Marcus, a Holocaust survivor from Vettweiss.
This memorial was created by David Ascalon of the Ascalon Studios in New Jersey in concert with the Holocaust Memorial Committee of Temple Sinai.
The Holocaust Memorial was dedicated on Thursday, April 19, 2001.
Special Thank You To our
Holocaust Memorial Committee
Ethel Chernow z"l
Jerome Hirsch z"l
Selma Hirsch z"l
Ed Kashub z"l
Jack Kolodner z"l
Anneliese Nossbaum z"l