Czech Torah Scroll, MST#68, Brno

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 206 MS 1985
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      the scroll is c.32 metres long, on average each parchment skin is 0.57 metres in height, the mantle is 89 cm long x 48 cm wide x 21 cm deep, the rollers are 98 cm long, its handles are 13 cm wide 1 scroll made of 47 parchment skins 1 velvet mantle 2 wooden rollers 2 wooden rollers;

Scope and Content

Comprises a Czech Torah scroll in Hebrew containing the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Known as the Brno scroll, it originally came from Czechoslovakia.

The scroll is written in black ink on a scroll of 47 sheets of parchment. The sheets are sewn together with thread made out of animal sinews. The scroll is on a pair of wooden rollers.

There are some repairs to the scroll. There are marks from a copy pencil on some sheets.

The Sofrim (scribes) who write Torah scrolls must not sign them or mark the date. Experts have advised the Memorial Scrolls Trust that the scroll known as MST#68 was written c.1850.

When the Torah scrolls and other Judaica came to the Jewish Museum in Prague from Bohemia and Moravia, each item was catalogued and given a number. On their arrival in London the Memorial Scrolls Trust allocated the numbers 1-1564 to the scrolls, and kept a record of the original Czech number. In the case of MST#68 the number in the Jewish Museum Prague records is 32788.

The mantle in which the scroll is housed is not the original one in which it would have been kept. The mantle is made of purple velvet with a crown and wreath embroidered on it in gold thread. The crown is inscribed CT, which is an abbreviation for 'Crown of Torah'. The wreath is inscribed 'Burial Society of the HC (Holy Congregation) of Ettingen (or Oettingen) 1905'.

The scroll is on loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, see

Specialised handling requirements apply to this item. Please see access arrangements.

Access Information

This is a religious document and there are certain traditional handling requirements which need to be observed. The writing on the scroll should not be touched by hand. A pointer or finger should be used to indicate passages of interest. The scroll should not be left open in an unoccupied room.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in copyright. Photocopies or digital images can only be supplied by the Library for research or private study within the terms of copyright legislation. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain the copyright holder's permission to reproduce for any other purpose. Guidance is available on tracing copyright status and ownership.

Custodial History

In 1942 the Nazis ordered all remaining Jewish communities in Czechoslovakia to send the contents of their synagogues to the Jewish community in Prague, for storage in the Jewish Museum. The communities of Bohemia and Moravia sent their Sifrei Torah, silver Torah ornaments, books and textiles. Forty warehouses were required to contain these treasures. The inventory of the museum, set up in 1906, expanded fourteen fold. The German occupiers had the items catalogued by Jews, who were deported once the work was finished. Only one curator, Hana Volavkova (1904-85), survived deportation.

For many years it was believed the Germans planned to create a Museum of an extinct race. The 2012 publication of 'Ark of Memory' by Magda Veselska (1) of the Jewish Museum says that there are no documents to prove this and suggests that the Jews in Prague tried to preserve this legacy. However we have no documents to prove this either, so we may never know the truth.

In 1964 Ralph Yablon (1906-1984) bought 1,564 of the Torah scrolls in the care of the then State Jewish Museum. He arranged for them to come to the Westminster Synagogue in London which set up the Memorial Scrolls Trust (MST), and loaned the scrolls to over 1,000 synagogues and organisations around the world. The MST retained 130 scrolls that form the basis of the Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum at Kent House, Knightsbridge, London.

The Brno scroll was one of 1,564 Czech Torah scrolls acquired by the Memorial Scrolls Trust. It was taken to London, where it was designated 'Number 68. Czech Memorial Scrolls'. According to Dr Magda Veselská, Jewish Museum in Prague, the scroll came from the city of Brno (2). Jeffrey Ohrenstein of the Trust says it could originally been from a smaller, outlying community that had sent its Torah to Brno when its synagogue closed (3). Brno has been in the Czech Republic since 1993.

MST#68 was loaned to Leeds University in 1971 at the behest of Mr Ralph Yablon who was a solicitor in Leeds. It was presented to Lord Boyle at the Westminster Synagogue, Kent House, London, on Tuesday, 11 May 1971. Ralph Yablon brought the scroll to the University in September.

It is available for study in the Library's Special Collections. For information regarding the Memorial Scrolls Trust see

(1) See Magda Veselská, Archa paměti. Cesta pražského židovského muzea pohnutým 20. stoletím [Ark of Memory. The Jewish Museum in Prague's Journey
through the Turbulent Twentieth Century], Praha: Academia – Židovské
muzeum v Praze 2012.

(2) Communication to Dr. E. Frojmovic, University of Leeds, 22 February 2016.

(3) Communication to Dr. E. Frojmovic, University of Leeds, 4 February 2016.