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Torah Scroll Traveling Home From Raleigh to Czech Republic

A piece of religious history, the scroll rescued during the Holocaust has been kept for decades at Temple Beth Or.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A Torah scroll, the first five books of the Bible housed at a Raleigh temple, is being taken on a visit to its Czech home this weekend.

The piece of religious history, written on a 150-year-old parchment scroll, ended up at the Temple Beth Or synagogue in Raleigh during the 70s after being housed in a Prague synagogue until 1964 and then in London with thousands of scrolls rescued from Eastern Europe.

“It was sent over here (the West) with many ritual objects during the Holocaust when the Jews knew there was no hope of survival of the Jewish community in Eastern Europe,” said Rabbi Lucy Dinner of Temple Beth Or.

The Torah came from a synagogue in a village called Hermanuv-Mestec in what is now the Czech Republic.

“We consider it our sacred responsibility to care for the Torah, to use the Torah and to keep its word alive in the way that would be fitting of the Jews who died during the Holocaust,” Dinner said.

Dinner said her congregation always thought the Czech temple from which the scroll came had been destroyed, until Associate Rabbi Raachel Jurovics met a seminary student from the village.

“The synagogue was still standing – a miracle in itself it was still standing,” Dinner said.

Though only two Jews remained in Hermanuv-Mestec after the Holocaust, the village saved the synagogue. The locals even did a major restoration in 2001.

Now Dinner and other members of the Raleigh synagogue, joined by pastor of the West Raleigh Presbyterian Church, Rev. Joseph Ward, will bring scroll to the village for a 10-day visit.

It is important, Ward said “to go back in an act of reconciliation, that it should be a group not only of Jews, but also of Christians.”

After the visit, the scroll will return to Raleigh.