For more information about the Memorial Scrolls Trust click on TBEI Holocaust Torah.

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The Torah in its Torah Cover, created by world-famous artist Jeanette Kuvin Oren, who also designed the 2022 Hanukkah postage stamp for the U.S. Postal Service.


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The TBEI Holocaust Torah turned to the column that lists the Ten Commandments


Port St. Lucie Synagogue Welcomes Historic “Orphan” Torah

Port St. Lucie – Monday April 10, 2023: Beginning with a ceremonial walk down St. Lucie West Blvd. and SW Bethany Drive and culminating in a program featuring community and clergy leaders, Temple Beth El Israel (TBEI) will be welcoming a historic Torah to its family on Saturday, April 15. TBEI is St. Lucie County’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation.

The Torah was written in the 19th century and a survivor of the Holocaust.

TBEI Rabbi Bruce Benson will lead the march, carrying the Torah, beginning at 10 a.m., from the Seacoast Bank parking lot, 1100 St. Lucie West Blvd., to the Temple at 551 SW Bethany Drive.  A program and memorial service will follow at TBEI at 10:30 a.m., focusing on the significance of this historic Torah, the Holocaust, and the troubling rise in antisemitism in America.  The event is being held during Holocaust Remembrance Week. It is open to the public.

This Torah, a sacred scroll that includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, is one of some 1500 that were seized by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia even as they were destroying the synagogues that housed them and decimating the communities that prayed using them. Chillingly, the Nazis planned to display these seized Torahs and other Jewish ritual objects in a “Museum of an Extinct Race.” After the war, the Torahs sat, mostly forgotten, in a warehouse outside Prague. They were acquired in 1964 by the Memorial Scrolls Trust (MST) with the intention of repairing them and placing them in synagogues around the world.

The Torah coming to TBEI, officially designated “MST860,” is considered an orphan because no information exists about its original home synagogue — except that it was located in either Bohemia or Moravia, regions now part of the Czech Republic where there were large Jewish populations before World War II. Most Jews in those areas were deported to and murdered in Nazi concentration camps.

The striking cloth Torah cover that will envelop MST860 is also noteworthy: it was created by world renowned artist Jeanette Kuvin Oren, who also designed the 2022 Hanukkah postage stamp for the U.S. Postal Service.

By “adopting” the Holocaust Torah, TBEI is accepting its responsibility “to preserve, protect and teach the message of tolerance that MST860 embodies.” The scroll will be housed in a special display case so it can be shared with all who enter the Temple; it will be taken out periodically to be read during special services and educational events.

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TBEI Rabbi Bruce Benson examining the Torah scroll with members of the congregation