In 1991, Congregation Beth Judah, in Ventnor, received Torah number 397.

The torah was one of 1,564 torahs that were found in an abandoned synagogue in Prague in 1963. These discovered torahs were part of a collection that was, according to the congregation, intended to be used in a "museum of an extinct race," of Adolf Hilter's making.

"During World War II, Hitler's goal was to wipe out the Jewish people, and in Czechoslovakia, in Prague, he wanted to make a museum of an extinct race, and in it he stored all types of artifacts from synagogues," Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, of Northfield, said.

A year after the artifacts were discovered, the Memorial Scrolls Trust was founded in London. It was created to catalogue and preserve the artifacts. The Torah scroll that Congregation Beth Judah received was from the community of Mlada Boleslav in Czechoslovakia.

"Congregation Beth Judah got involved in the (Memorial Scrolls Trust)," Myers said. "That's why in 1991, Beth Judah received Torah number 397 from the Memorial Scrolls on permanent loan."

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Memorial Scrolls Trust. This event coincides with Beth Judah's desire to restore Torah number 397 so it can be used. Myers, who is the education director at Congregation Beth Judah, thought it would be the perfect opportunity to teach students about tolerance.

"The (Memorial Scrolls Trust) had invited synagogues that do have scrolls to create some sort of poster," Myers said. "I thought because the kids are our future, we should have the kids make it."

With the theme of tolerance in mind, students at Congregation Beth Judah created a poster for the trust, and sent it to London. Myers also requested permission to restore Torah 397 from a company whose scribes - the people who restore Torahs - are approved by the trust.

"Some scribes will write a Torah because Torahs are written by hand," Myers said. "A scribe also checks a Torah in terms of condition. If it is written in ink, the letters can peel and tear off."

It is up to the Memorial Scrolls Trust to grant permission for restoration, Myers said, because technically, it is that foundation's property. Congregation Beth Judah will receive a decision about the Torah sometime this week.

"The town that (the Torah) came from no longer exists, so the only witness to what happened to the Jews in the town is essentially this torah," Myers said.

Contact Devin Loring:

609-463-6713