Monday, 17 April 2017

Prague Jews have first new Torah scrolls since 1930s

ČTK |
20 March 2017

Prague, March 19 (CTK) - Two Torah scrolls that were stored in the Old-New Synagogue in Prague on Sunday have been the first new scrolls that the Prague Jewish Community has had since the 1930s, the community's spokeswoman Dita Snajdrova said after the ceremony last night.

The scrolls were hand-written by a sofer, Jewish scribe Daniel Khalamish from Israel. The last 30 letters of the scrolls were symbolically written by sponsors from the community and rabbis on Sunday, under the sofer's supervision.

"Every Jewish community needs a Torah because it reads from the Torah three times a week," Czech Chief Rabbi Karol Sidon said.

The Torah, or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible that the Christians call the Old Testament, is the basic text of Judaism.

Sidon said the Prague Jewish Community had hundreds or even thousands of Torah scrolls before World War Two, but the Czechoslovak Communist regime started selling the scrolls abroad in the decades following WW2.

In 1963, 1,500 Torah scrolls were sent abroad.

"Only a few of them remained for us," Sidon said.

In the early 1990s, the Prague community had restored ten of these scrolls in Israel.

Apart from Czech and foreign rabbis, new Israeli Ambassador to Prague, Daniel Meron, took part in the ceremony on Sunday.

After the writing was completed, people danced with the new Torah scrolls in the street despite rain and then they brought the scrolls to the Old-New Synagogue. Several hundred people attended the ceremony.

The Prague Jewish Community has about 1,500 members.

In January 2016, new Torah scrolls were stored in a reconstructed synagogue in Brno.

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