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David Brand at his work table. Photo: Memorial Scrolls Trust
Picture of scrolls on shelves
Solemn Assembly Invitation
Source: Memorials Scrolls Trust

The Early Months

Working under Rabbi Pinchas Toledano, nine scribes spent many months establishing which scrolls might still be kosher or could be made usable, and which were possul and suitable only as memorials. Ruth Shaffer soon had the project running efficiently with all the data inscribed on index cards. But the work of restoration was overwhelming and a full time scribe became essential. The fortuitous arrival of David Brand, a professional sofer, solved the problem and he worked on the scrolls, restoring and repairing, for nearly thirty years.

The publicity surrounding their arrival brought a stream of requests for scrolls. Applications were considered only from recognised organisations, and the Trust retained the ownership, sending them all over the world on long-term loan. Opinions differed concerning the customs of the various Jewish traditions, some believing that the possul Scrolls should have been buried, others that the scrolls should have found sanctuary in Israel. The policy of the Trust remains that damaged scrolls should be used as memorials to the communities that perished.

On 25th June 1965 a Solemn Assembly was held at Kent House, attended by representatives from the entire Anglo-Jewish community who stood before the largest collection of Sifre Torah ever gathered together in London.

The world became aware of the work being done by the Trust, and requests for kosher Scrolls soon outnumbered those available, with even the damaged ones in demand. Each scroll was identified by a small brass plaque and accompanied by a certificate from the Trust.

Memorial Scrolls Trust Plaque (r).
Plaque on Scroll (l).
Photo by Peter Day