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Rabbi Harold Reinhart
Picture of scrolls on shelves
The Scrolls on their racks at Kent House in
1964. Photo: Memorial Scrolls Trust

Scrolls in the museum: Peter Day

Arrival of the Scrolls

In February 1964, the first of two consignments of scrolls arrived in London.
They were met by Rabbi Harold Reinhart and a group of his congregants, and unloaded from the trucks that had come from Prague. The Scrolls were laid out in the Marble Hall of the Synagogue, like so many lifeless bodies, in the polythene shrouds in which they had left the Michle Synagogue in Prague.

See: “The Story of the Torah Scrolls from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague after the Second World War” by Magda Veselskà. European Judaism Vol 41, No 1, Spring 2008, pp124-130. Publ. Berghahn Journals
www.berghahnbooks.com or http://journals.berghahnbooks.com/ej/

Upstairs on the second floor of the Victorian building, wooden racks had been specially constructed to hold them. Each scroll bore a small brown label from the museum in Prague, with its number corresponding to the German Card Index.
Some also had a painted number on the roller.

These numbers did not always tally with the lists, so an early task for the many willing helpers at Kent House was to create a new series of numbers on index cards, to which could be added all information available about the scroll, its origins, its condition, and any special features.

Then came the sad task of examining each Sefer Torah
to investigate its story. Some were so badly damaged, by
fire or water, or ill use, or so old that the possibility of
ever using them again was questionable. However, it
soon became clear, even to laymen’s eyes, that many
might be restored, to be used again in synagogue services
as they had been intended. And so the work began.

 


Torah labels.
Photo by Peter Day