Earlier this year, an invitation to a bat mitzvah opened my eyes to an astonishing and tragic story from the blood-soaked years of Europe’s twentieth century. On a recent trip to the Czech republic, I got the chance to learn more. You can listen to my report on the BBC’s ‘From our own Correspondent’ programme here (from around 11’30). This is the first part of the script.
The story of the scrolls had moved me. It made me want to learn more. Earlier this year, a friend from my schooldays in Manchester invited me to his daughter’s bat mitzvah. At the appropriate time during the service, my friend’s daughter took her place in front of the synagogue’s congregation to read from the Torah, the law of God as Jews believe it was revealed to Moses.
The scriptures are written on scrolls. The scrolls from which my friend’s daughter read had a remarkable story of their own. They had been saved from a synagogue in Czechoslovakia—a synagogue where the worshippers had been wiped out during the Holocaust.
On a recent trip to Prague, I unexpectedly found myself with a free morning. The story of the scrolls had stayed with me, so I decided to visit the town from which they had come.