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Eric Estorick Photo: Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Eric Estorick (1913-1993)

Eric Estorick was the owner of the Grosvenor Gallery in London, who frequently visited eastern Europe in search of works of art from Russia and the communist countries. He was approached in Prague by Artia, the Czech government department which controlled the sale of such items, to ask if he was interested in the purchase of a large quantity of Jewish artefacts. Having seen the Michle Synagogue where so many scrolls of the law were stored, he contacted a friend and client, Ralph Yablon, who involved Rabbi Reinhart, and together they asked Chimen Abramsky, a Hebrew scholar, if he would visit Prague to examine the scrolls. Estorick was then able to negotiate the sale of the scrolls.

Chimen Abramsky (b.1917)

Professor Chimen Abramsky is a Russian Jew, a distinguished scholar of Hebrew language and literature. He was appointed Goldsmith Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at London University and a Senior Fellow of St. Antony’s College, Oxford. He was also an adviser on Judaica to Christie’s in London, and manager of the Jewish publishers Shapiro, Vallentine & Co. He agreed to travel to Prague, accompanied by a young assistant to Eric Estorick, in order to report on the condition of the hoard of SifreTorah.

Dr. Harold Reinhart (1891-1969)

Rabbi Dr. Harold Reinhart was born in Portland, Oregon, and trained as a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati. He was the leader of several congregations in America before being invited to become Senior Minister at the leading Reform Synagogue in London, the West London Synagogue of British Jews. He was responsible for enabling some of Germany’s Progressive rabbis to escape to England, where they obtained posts, leading to the expansion of Reform Judaism in this country. In 1957 he and some of the leading members of his community left West London to form The Westminster Synagogue, which eventually settled at Kent House in Knightsbridge.

Ralph Yablon (1906-1984)

Ralph Yablon was born in St Louis, Missouri, but worked as a solicitor in Bradford.
In London, he became a close friend of Harold Reinhart, joining Westminster Synagogue on its foundation in 1957. A modest man, he contributed generously to many causes, and was instrumental in finding a permanent home for the congregation at Kent House and, with others, helped to finance its purchase. He was told of the situation regarding the Scrolls by his friend Professor Abramsky, and felt this to be a project which he would particularly wish to support. He agreed to fund the project if the scrolls could be housed at Kent House and run under the leadership of Rabbi Reinhart. Ralph Yablon continued to give it his encouragement, financial support and practical involvement until his death.